Day 73

Nick’s To-Do List for the Chol Chol Foundation

Now that the Brazilian volunteers are gone and that our artisan visits have slowed down, I feel like my to-do list has become more refined. Previously, I had spent much of my time working with the Brazilians, answering questions as best I could (let’s be honest, I just made up answers most of the time), and ensuring that they stayed busy working on projects that interested them. In my other time, I would be visiting artisans with Sarah, serving as her chauffeur, and assistant video director and microphone holder. Therefore, I wanted to update everyone on my current list of projects / to-list. I did my best to organize them in a somewhat logical manner. Enjoy!

Owning the “Volunteer” Intake Process

Managing On-Site Volunteers – As has been previously mentioned, I managed the Brazilian volunteers during their time here, which was a lot of fun. It is assumed I’ll lead any other volunteers that join during the time that Sarah and I are both here. Rumor has it that a French volunteer will be joining us in May – no confirmation if this person speaks any English or not.

Fielding Potential Volunteers Inquiries – Now that Susana has caught wind that I enjoy working with the volunteers, she basically forwards me any emails she gets from potential volunteers and has me vet them. There was even an instance when someone just showed up to the foundation and started asking questions about volunteering, and Susana basically delegated that conversation to me haha. I’m not entirely sure how Susana makes her decisions on what volunteers to accept or not, so I created a rubric for “grading” volunteers based on their experience, Spanish language skills (which I would fail), and reason for volunteering. I’ve tried to make it clear to Susana that she should really try to get lots of volunteers – I know they take time to onboard, but if she finds the right ones, they can work autonomously and really provide value to the foundation at the perfect price … free!

Updating Accounts on Volunteer Websites – There are many websites out there in which people search for organizations to volunteer with. Chol Chol has some accounts at a few sites and Susana has handed over the username/passwords to manage the applications and email inboxes that are connected with those sites. Right now, Chol Chol has accounts with GivingWay.com and VolunteerWorld.com – which I’m in the process of updating with more accurate information and pictures / videos that Sarah has made. I also need to create an account with UniversalGiving.org. I should probably see what other sites are out there to create accounts for Chol Chol. One step at a time.

Seeking Donations / Grants

Determining Foundation Needs – The foundation heavily relies on volunteer power and donations and grants to survive. Susana has been pretty historically good at receiving grants from the Chilean government, but much of those grants come with a political twist (of course). For example, grants from the government appear to be heavily skewed in public events (for example, the International Women’s Day event) because it hopes promote that the government is providing funds to some of these organizations. That being said, there are still many financial needs that the foundation has. Susana has spoken a lot about the women empowerment project, in which the foundation provides activities, training, and support to women who want to develop a weaving skillset and become more economically independent. However, it is often difficult to get to the next layer of this project, detailing what are the concrete activities and how would money benefit those activities, etc. Therefore, I’m taking small steps to better understand all of the needs so I have a better story to tell when reaching out to organizations for financial assistance.

Identifying and Contacting Corporate Organizations for Grants/Donations – As mentioned above, the foundation has plenty of needs. Now we just need to “cold call” (is there a term for “cold emailing”?) some organizations to see if they would be able to provide donations, supplies, grants, etc. One of the Brazilian volunteers scanned a document from a few years back which had a list of corporate organizations that have a history in funding organizations that support indigenous peoples causes. I need to go through that list and identify organizations and just start the process of reaching out to many of them and see who bites.

Researching Online Donation Platforms – I know we’ve mentioned this before, but the foundation doesn’t have an online portal to receive donations. Right now, they just have instructions on their webpage on how to complete money transfers to their bank, which I don’t think is that productive. I remember them saying they’ve received like 3 donations over the past couple years via money transfer. Sarah started to do some research on this topic when they wanted to raise funds for the artisans who were impacted by the wildfires, but more needs to be done to identify what would work best for them.

Identifying and Applying for International Fairs

Analyzing List of International Fairs – One of the Brazilians did a lot of research to identify potential international fairs that Chol Chol could apply to and possibly send an artisan or two to attend and sell some products. I haven’t had a moment to review her findings, but I need to go back and prioritize what fairs would work best for the foundation and help them reach out and apply as necessary.

Applying to the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico – Prior to arriving at Chol Chol, Susana had already identified that there is a really good fair in Santa Fe, New Mexico each year. I have already looked at the application for it and converted it into an Excel that will be easier to fill out, but the new application (with updated questions / criteria) will come out in a couple weeks, so I’ll need to revamp my file and then work with the foundation to get some people to apply for this. The application for this fair mirrors a college application – it’s a bit intense.

Inquiring about opportunities with the National Museum of American Indians (NMAI) in Washington, DC – Susana also mentioned that they have had contacts in the past at the National Museum of American Indians in Washington, DC. So I need to reach out to them to see what kind of events may be upcoming and how Chol Chol could possibly attend if it makes sense.

Identifying Business Partnership Opportunities

Heckling Local Hotels – The foundation is always looking for ways to sell more products or create partnerships with other organizations. They used to work with a local hotel and sold them products to help furnish their rooms. Therefore, I’ve been heckling a lot of the major hotels in Temuco and trying to arrange meetings. I have one warm lead on a hotel that said they’d be happy to meet – now I’m just trying to hammer down a date/time and hopefully that leads to some sales for the store.

Identifying US-Based Stores – I haven’t started this yet, but I need to spend some time researching shops within the United States that sell artisan goods. There are so many products from Chol Chol that I feel would sell well within the US in the right markets, but we just need to find some of these opportunities. I just reached out to The Little Market today to see if they would be interested in partnering with Chol Chol. We’ll see what happens.

Improving Store Operations

Analyzing Customer Survey Results – The Brazilians each spent a day in the museum store handing out customer surveys. I finally got around to analyzing the survey results and compiled a summary report for Susana and Viviana along with some recommendations of changes to make within the store. Hopefully Sarah and I can help implement some of the recommendations. Of course, we just found out today that the new saleswoman in the store (who just started like last week) apparently quit already. So I’m not entirely sure when they will have a replacement. This is just another example of the constant curveballs that take place here.

Researching Point of Sale & Inventory Systems – After some research, I found a point of sale system called Lightspeed that looked like a really good fit for the foundation. It was a user-friendly POS and inventory tracking system that cost about $75 a month. The company completed a demo with me in English, and then we arranged a demo in Spanish for Susana and Viviana and they liked what they saw. However, they had a few follow up questions related to Chilean government requirements, and unfortunately, Lightspeed came back and indicated they could not make the necessary changes for it to be a viable option for Chol Chol (or any Chilean business). So back to the drawing board here, as I’ll need to get back and do some more research on potential systems.

Analyzing Product Pricing – Now that I’ve visited with many of the artisans and understand how much effort goes into certain products, I need to analyze their sales data that one of the Brazilians compiled. My hope is that I can provide some insight into changing some of the product pricing – primarily to increase the amount that the artisans receive for some of the top-selling products (especially if they don’t make much money off of them to begin with). Their data and reporting capabilities are pretty basic, but what the Brazilian put together was pretty good. More to come.

Other Duties as Assigned

Being “tall” – I’m 6’1”. I guess I’m above average in height in the US, but in Chile, I’m definitely tall. That being said, I am the de facto person that does things that tall people do. I get things from high places, I hang up banners, I try to put the Internet on the roof, and I find myself standing on chairs/tables more often than I probably should. All-in-all, happy to help.

Driving a PT Cruiser – I think that the foundation enjoys Sarah and me as volunteers. I find us helpful and making a difference. But boy, I think they love our car more than us. We run errands for them and often time find ourselves as a delivery service between the foundation and the museum store, which is totally fine. At the end of International Women’s Day, Arturo (Board Member) was going to get an Uber to head back downtown and we were quickly “voluntold” to drive him downtown. Arturo only asked two semi-alarming questions while we were driving: 1.) Do you know where you’re going (nope, was my answer, since he never told me a destination, I just assumed downtown), and 2.) Have the cops stopped you yet (also nope, but apparently it’ll happen soon enough!). Honestly, all the up-front stuff with Lemmy was a pain in the butt (e.g., repairs, getting insurance, doing the border run, etc.), but I think it has put us in a very unique situation that has been great for visiting artisans and just providing extra help to the foundation. Go, Lemmy.

Anyone have any free time to help? Great – let me know.

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