This document was written for our Gift Coordinator (GC) volunteers, to answer their frequently asked questions about the ‘Accepting a Match’ stage in our process.
Is Accepting a Match and Making a Gift a Mandatory part of the Gift Coordinator Role?
No, it isn’t mandatory. In the past, YCSAB required GCs (formerly known as Donation Coordinators) to make one gift per month, unless they were on a break, but we no longer have that quota. Allowing you the freedom to decide if and when you make a gift for a family in need feels more aligned with our project value of self-determination. YOU are the expert in your life and YOU know when you have the time and energy to invest in making a baby gift. The GC role has many opportunities to contribute to the gift making process, like collecting and preparing donations, promoting YCSAB, participating in Mini-Blitzes et cetera. We are confident you will find a way to contribute to reducing our wait list of 200+ Manitoba families in need.
If I accept a Match and Make a Gift, do I have to Deliver the Gift to the Gift Applicant?
No, you don’t have to deliver gifts unless you want to. If you have a desire to accept a match and create a gift for a specific family in need, but aren’t able to deliver the gift yourself, simply write a post in ‘YCSAB Volunteers’ FB group requesting the help of a Delivery Coordinator. We know some volunteers prefer to work only from home, so if leaving your home to deliver a gift does not suit your availability then our Delivery Coordinators are happy to accommodate you and deliver your gift. Many start volunteering with YCSAB just so they can deliver gifts to Gift Applicants, so please be sure to ask for their help.
I am Ready to Accept a Match. How Do I get a Match?
There are three ways to approach starting your gift:
- Collect donations until you have enough for a complete gift (a set of 0-18 month clothing, one big ticket item, and a minimum of three misc. baby items), contact our Match Coordinator with a description of your items, and an appropriate match will be sent to you, or;
- Ask our Match Coordinator for a match to the next Gift Applicant on the waiting list. If you chose this option, you will need to seek out the needed baby items based on that applicant’s needs. Sometimes this approach is chosen by Gift Coordinators because they don’t want to wait for donors to drop off items, and prefer to reach out to their social networks for donations or by asking other GC’s if they have clothing and items to share. If this is the case, GCs find they are more successful at receiving donations when the potential donors know a little bit of info about the family. Most volunteers who chose this second option, contact their social network and say:”I am making a baby gift for a newcomer family expecting a girl in July, do you have any once-loved baby items to drop off to my location in the next week? The family is really hoping for clothing in sizes newborn-18 months, a bassinet, size 2 diapers and wipes, a nursing pillow and educational toys. If you have something to contribute, please let me know asap. Thanks.”This second option is less desirable if you don’t have a social circle that is likely to donate, or who has already donated items to you.
- The most common approach is for you to review our Match Coordinator’s weekly posts in our Facebook group ‘YCSAB Volunteers’. Turning your group notifications to on, or checking in daily to our page wall, will ensure you receive these updates. The Match Coordinator will write a post saying something like, ‘Here are the next 5 Gift Applicants and their needs and locations’ and you review the matches to see if any of them suit you. If one does, please comment below the post that you can accept that match.
Regardless of which approach you take; email our Match Coordinator Chandra Hermanson at email@example.com or comment in Chandra’s Facebook posts, and she will happily assign you a match.
How Long should it take for me to make one Gift?
A one-month timeframe is ideal; starting from when you receive your Match’s information to when you or a Delivery Coordinator delivers the gift. One month allows you a fair amount of time to contact the family in need, prepare and coordinate the gift delivery, while not asking the Gift Applicant to wait too long.
Occasionally exceptions can occur. For example, if the family requests that the gift is delivered after the baby is born and the due date is still 3 months away, or perhaps the family is very hard to contact so it has taken longer to complete the match. In these situations where it will take longer than 1 month to deliver the gift please let the Match Coordinator know. As well, please keep in contact with the Gift Applicant as needed.
I was Assigned a Match, what are the next Steps?
1) Learn about the Gift Applicant
Review all the information our Match Coordinator Chandra shares with you about your match before contacting the Gift Applicant. There are many reasons to do this, but the most important reason is that sometimes there are safety concerns for the applicant if their spouse or family learns that they have asked for a baby gift.
Chandra will share the Gift Applicant’s info with you either by email or in her weekly YCSAB Volunteer post, that announces the next Gift Applicants ready to be matched. If you need more information about the match, contact Chandra at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask if there is additional info to share. If there isn’t, then you can seek out that information from the Gift Applicant.
2) Contact the Gift Applicant
Please contact the Gift Applicant as soon as possible to:
a) Introduce yourself and give them the good news that you are starting to make their baby gift. Knowing that a gift is being prepared, even if it is a month before the gift is delivered, is important to Gift Applicants because it provides them peace of mind and allows them to the opportunity to budget.
b) Confirm their baby’s needs and contact/delivery info. It is likely our Match Coordinator has recently asked the Gift Applicant what their baby needs, or if their contact info or delivery info has changed, but because this info can change quickly, it is best to ask them again.
c) Inform the Gift Applicant that if they have any future questions they can email you at your YCSAB email address or if you are comfortable you may provide them with another contact method if you or they don’t prefer email.
d) Please track your match progress on paper, in a notes/word program so that details can be kept organized for both you and the Match Coordinator or future volunteers, like a Delivery Coordinator who may get involved.
I am having Trouble Contacting the Gift Applicant, what should I do?
Communication challenges are especially common when trying to reach people living in or near poverty for a variety of reasons. Often one or two contact options are given to us by the Gift Applicant, but by the time the family is at the top of our waiting list, those contacts may no longer work. We do our best to find people because the busy, or unpredictable, nature of their lives shouldn’t make them less eligible for a gift.
Here are some thoughts/solutions:
-Double check with our Match Coordinator Chandra, that you have the correct and most up to date information.
-Try all contacts provided right away. You will learn more quickly if this person can be contacted if you phone them, email them, and Facebook message them (this example assumes they have provided all three methods).
-If the phone is not in service/not available/steady busy signal/full voicemail etc. be sure to try back a few times as sometimes people’s phones become available again after a few days.
-If email is the only contact info provided and there is no response after one week, try emailing again, or try emailing from a different non-YCSAB email address. Occasionally our YCSAB email is flagged as spam. If you have heard nothing after 2 weeks, please contact our Match Coordinator for advice and possibly a new match.
Can I leave a Message Stating it is YCSAB on a Gift Applicant’s Phone?
It depends on whether the information you received from our Match Coordinator mentions any message restrictions. If there is no mention of a restriction, then yes, you can leave a message stating it is YCSAB and ask the Gift Applicant to phone you back. If there is a restriction, the Match Coordinator will make an obvious and clear note for you, and then you can either:
a) Call the Gift Applicant and if the answering machine picks up, don’t leave a phone message and hang up. Then try to phone back at an alternative time, or,
b) Leave a message only stating your first name and call back phone number. If someone other than the person who applied phones back, do not provide them any info about who you are or why you called, or
c) If provided, contact them via another method, like email or Facebook, as often those accounts are private and pose less of a security risk to the Gift Applicant.
The most common reason a Gift Applicant does not want YCSAB to leave a branded message is to keep their spouses or family from knowing they are asking for help, in order to protect their pride.
I am having Trouble Understanding the Gift Applicant, what should I do?
Another element that may make communication complicated is when the Gift Applicant’s primary language is not English. If you suspect, or have confirmed that language may be a barrier to communicating with a Gift Applicant, it is ok to ask if they are willing to communicate by a written method, like email, so that the applicant can take more time to understand what you have said, or use a translation guide if necessary, and possibly so you understand them better too. And if you do speak on the phone, it is ok to simply and politely tell them you don’t understand what they are saying. Being direct with them is better than just going with the flow and having no idea what they said. You can ask if they have a translator who can call you or a family/friend who is home that speaks more English. Or ask them what their first language is, perhaps we have a volunteer who speaks that language.
3) Prepare the Gift
Now that you have communicated with the Gift Applicant and have an up-to-date list of their needs, you can start building their gift.
My Match Needs a Lot of Items. Will they be disappointed with the Gift I Make for them?
As much as we wish we could, we don’t have the resources to give Gift Applicants everything that they need. To help you and them feel better about this, please know that Gift Applicants are very clearly told by our website and Match Coordinator that they can ask for anything they need but to keep in mind that each YCSAB gift has approximately the same value and will include a set of clothing in sizes up to 18 months, one big ticket item, plus at least three baby items or varying value and a big sibling gift if requested. If Gift Applicants don’t get exactly the items they hoped for, what they do receive will support their budget to buy the items they still need.
Why is each Gift Made by YCSAB of Approximately the Same Value?
Having the goal of equally valued gifts,
- helps our Gift Applicants feel equally cared for,
- takes some of the guilt away from us since they know prior to delivery that we aren’t providing them with everything on their wish list and
- makes us more comfortable posting photos of completed gifts onto social media page because the gifts will look and be fair.
What Items are Included in each YCSAB Baby Gift?
To help keep the value of our gifts consistent, Gift Coordinators are asked to make gifts that have approximately the same value and same components. The main components for one gift, assuming they are requested by the family, are:
- Set of baby clothes;
- One big ticket item;
- At minimum, three miscellaneous baby items of varying value;
- Big sibling gifts if applicable and;
- YCSAB Paper resources.
Below are the Gift’s Main Components but with additional detail:
1) Set of Baby Clothing
How much Clothing goes into each Gift?
Please try to include the amount of clothes that a family would need when doing laundry once every 7 days. Many Gift Applicants don’t have washers/dryers in their homes and can only make it to the laundromat once a week. Each bullet point is the equivalent of what is included in one Mini-Set.
- For 0 to 3 months: 7 pajamas, 5 casual bottoms, 5 casual tops, and 2-5 special or matching outfits
- For 3 to 6 months: 7 pajamas, 5 casual bottoms, 5 casual tops, and 2-5 special or matching outfits
- For 6 to 12 months: 7 pajamas, 5 casual bottoms, 5 casual tops, and 2-5 special or matching outfits
- For 12 to 18 months: 7 pajamas, 5 casual bottoms, 5 casual tops, and 2-5 special or matching outfits
These numbers are general guidelines only. If you are short on sleepers for example, try to make up for it with comfy pants or tops, or compensate in another area of the gift. We do our best to have a predictable gift, but we also want to use our time wisely and not drive half way across the city to pick up 2 pairs of pants. If you are lucky enough to already have made or been given mini-sets then include the one of each mini-set needed by the Gift Applicant.
*To learn more about Mini-Sets visit our Volunteer Resources section at ycsab.org and open the ‘Make Mini-Sets’ document under the heading ‘Gift Coordinator Guides’.
How Do I Prepare the Baby Clothes for the Gift?
- Prior to delivery, all clothing needs to be washed (a rinse cycle with no soap is often enough, unless there is visible dirt), in order to freshen them up and remove wrinkles, pet hair etc. and then dry and neatly folded.
- It is ideal but not required to organize clothing into gift bags by their sizes. Some volunteers separate clothing sizes into separate gift bags and label the bags so the family knows, or some place a layer of tissue paper in between the sizes with a label when using a large bag that holds multiple sizes.
- Be sure to let the family know at gift delivery, or if you won’t be there because a Delivery Coordinator is delivering your gift, then attach a note to the gift explaining that the items have been freshly washed, sorted and are ready for baby.
2) One Big Ticket Item
What Baby Items Count as Big Ticket Items?
Use your best judgment but items can include either physically large items or an item with high value (approx. $50 and up if bought new). The goal of the big ticket item is to make the family feel like ‘wow, this is amazing’. That response can be accomplished by providing them with an item they are very hopeful to receive, something expensive, or something big and fun and showy (assuming they have room for it and have not indicated they don’t need it). Our Match Coordinator’s goal is to provide you with a match that needs the big ticket item you already have, but if we don’t, it is ok to contact the family and say something like, ‘I see you needed a crib, but sadly we don’t have one available right now so I can offer you either a [insert the item/s you have to offer]?’
Here are some examples of big ticket items. The list is not conclusive. Please chose only one item from the following list to include in your gift, unless the family has indicated that their number one wish is something different: Crib (with or without mattress), Bassinet, Baby Furniture (one of change table, dresser, rocking chair etc.), Stroller, High Chair, Exersaucer, Baby Carrier, Breast Pump, Bouncy Chair, Swing, and Video Baby Monitor.
Someone Donated a Baby Item that Requires Manuals and/or Hardware, like a Crib, Stroller, Playpen, Bassinet etc. How do I know it is Safe to include in a Gift?
Most donors who want to drop off a valuable and/or large donation contact Gift Coordinators first their item is needed or won’t be sitting on a front step and at risk for theft or weather damage. If this is the case and you get to speak with the donor before they drop it off, please ask them to also deliver the information that identifies the manufacturer, model number, date of manufacture, and preferably the assembly instructions/manual, as well as all the original hardware. If they do not have the instruction manual, please search online for a version and either print out a copy to include with your gift, or as a last resort, send the family the manufacturer’s website link. If you do not get to speak with the donor before they leave their donation, please thoroughly assess the donation to ensure it meets our standards.
-Cribs made before September 1986 do not meet current safety standards and are illegal to sell under the law. No drop-side cribs, homemade cribs or cribs without original hardware please.
-Please note that strollers made before 1985 may not meet current safety standards, and may not be sold. Strollers must come with a lap belt, or safety harness that is solidly attached to the seat or frame. Strollers must be accompanied by information that identifies the manufacturer, model number, and the date of manufacture.
-In order to accept car seats, they must be brand new in the box or with tags still on, or if used, you must have had the donor provide the car seat history and expiration date.
If you have any questions, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Erica at email@example.com.
3) At Minimum, Three Miscellaneous Baby Items of Varying Value
What Is There to Know About This Category?
Each gift should include at minimum, three miscellaneous baby items (not from the Clothing or Big Ticket Item list) that would be helpful to your match. Items can be as simple as baby’s first cutlery set, a nursing pillow, a box of diapers, bin of toys or books etc. The items don’t have to be on their wish list, but of course if they are it would be a bonus. There are always lots of miscellaneous baby items in our Volunteer Inventory so if you are short, have a look to see what stock in already near you. So be generous and have fun packing items in for your Gift Applicant. On average, most gifts contain 1-3 gift bags filled with miscellaneous baby items.
4) Big Sibling Gifts
How can I Make the Big Sibling Gift Special?
If there are older siblings in the family, please take the extra time to include a simple gift for them so they know they are special too. Families have space in their online Gift Application to indicate the big sibling’s name, age, and interests, so please be sure to review this before making the gift. It is not required to seek out an item that the family has listed as being an interest to that child, rather the suggestion is there in case we happen to have something that would be a good fit. We occasionally have donated items like Manitoba Museum passes to give to families as a big sibling gift, or brand new/used books from the program ‘Share the Magic’ (contact Joy at firstname.lastname@example.org to request books). The gift can be as simple as wrapping a book, or toy. If the family has indicated that the big sibling needs clothing, and if you have some available, you are welcome to count clothing as their big sibling gift. There are often big sibling items in our Volunteer Inventory so if you are short, have a look to see what stock in already near you. Not all Gift Applicants list their older children in their application, so if you arrive to deliver a baby gift and you see older children, please don’t ask them why they didn’t mention the older kids, as the parent likely had a reason.
5) Paper Resources
What Is There to Know About This Category?
One set of YCSAB Paper Resources is required in each gift and includes:
- one YCSAB branded, postcard-style greeting card;
- one business card (that has space on the front for a message or your YCSAB contact info;
- when in stock, one brochure called ’10 Things Your Baby Wants You To Know’ and one called ’10 Things Your Toddler Wants You To Know’, a ‘Get Your Benefits’ booklet, and Winnipeg Public Library Literacy info.
Before delivering the gift, please write the family’s name on the back of the greeting card, and sign it. The card can be easily given in an envelope or hole-punched and laced through with a ribbon or gift bag handle
Our paper resources sets are costly to mail, so in an attempt to save money, our team tries to distribute them when we see each other. Or you can pick up a stack of them from Pamela at 31 Woodvew Bay or in a pinch, email her at email@example.com and she can mail you 1-2.
How Should I Decorate and Prepare the Gift?
Our goal is to create a gift that looks and feels like love. YCSAB is unique because of the attention to gift preparation, attaching a greeting card and making gifts customized by ensuring that the items we give are what they need, and that we make a gift to help with the first year including a sibling gift. Finding gift packing materials is the responsibility of the Gift Coordinator. Perhaps if we ever have more reliable funding we can provide materials to you but for now the best we can occasionally offer is second hand gift bags, donated reusable Ikea Knalla bags or to encourage finding and using second hand materials found for free.
Ideas for gift packing:
- a cardboard box decorated with your or your kid’s handprints or drawings
- pack gift into reusable containers like laundry baskets, storage bins, canvas bags
- wrap items in baby blankets and secure with pretty string/ribbon
- place items into pillow cases and tie them secure with a ribbon
- traditional wrapping paper and bows
- gift bags (new or gently used in baby or neutral themes, wide bottom bags work best)
- If you aren’t receiving enough gently used gift bags or don’t have other materials to package gifts, and you want to buy a bag new then Ikea or Dollarama sometimes have a plastic zipper-topped bag that holds a lot of weight. Ikea’s is named ‘Knalla’ and if you use your Ikea Family card at checkout, the $4.99 bag sells for $2.99. The ‘Knalla’ bags are in the upper level of Ikea right beside the kid’s area, closest to the restaurant/bathrooms near the top of the stairs, or sometimes also in the Home Organization section. Dollarama’s bags are slightly smaller (2 ikea bags fit into 3 dollarama bags) but they are less expensive at $1.50 each. Benefits of using this style of bags are that they hold a lot of clothing, items can’t spill out once closed and the Gift Applicant can reuse them.
My Gift Is Complete and it Looks Great, Can I Submit a Photo and Caption for Use on YCSAB’s Facebook page, Instagram account or website?
Yes, we would love that! Once your gift is completed please take a staged photo of the gift and email it to us. If you would like to include a statement with it, or a great quote, feel free. The benefit of sharing these images is that it helps promote our project, your drop spot if you chose to mention those details, and inspires future donors or volunteers to get involved with YCSAB. If possible please stage gift in front of a simple background so the gift remains the focus, not your shelving or home furnishings. You are welcome to include yourself or your family in the photo if you desire.
**Thank you very much for reading our document. If you see a way to improve the document or need help understanding part of it, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Erica Halmarson at firstname.lastname@example.org.