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Letter from the Director Ask Emerson Best Buddies Spotlight Conversation Starters e-Buddies of the Month e-Buddies in Action In Your Own Words The State of e-Buddies


The State of e-Buddies

By Lisa Marlene Derx

Best Buddies board member Ted Leonsis announced e-Buddies by e-mailing with his e-Buddy, Ken Holden, at the Best Buddies Ball in October 1999. A few weeks later, Best Buddies Founder and Chairman Anthony K. Shriver asked me to run e-Buddies, and, a few weeks after that, on December 8, 1999, I officially became the Director of e-Buddies.

What a busy time that was! Best Buddies mentioned e-Buddies on our website, with a form to fill out and e-mail if interested. Within a short time, hundreds of volunteers had submitted that form. It was quite a feat keeping them informed and inviting their patience while we worked feverishly to get our database operational.

On March 21, 2000, Anthony and Ted appeared on The Early Show with Bryant Gumble to officially launch e-Buddies. Seventy-two people joined immediately, and we were off and running.

In the ensuing eight years, we have had a total of 15,094 individuals join e-Buddies, and 61% have become active members. Nearly 50% stay active for a second year, 20% for a third, 12% for a fourth, and 10% for a fifth. These are impressive figures, as too many programs experience a high dropout rate. For us, too, since all members are in our database, it is easy for anyone to become active again, even after years of inactivity.

Looking at statistics like these tells an interesting story about e-Buddies. This article is the first of a new series called The State of e-Buddies. A few times each year, Iíll write about some facts and figures that tell us something interesting about our program.

I like being able to pull this data from our system, I like quantifying our impact. It is fun to check gender percentages, or count how many e-mails our members send each day. And, of course, funders like to see hard data to prove our program works. In coming articles, I will share various facts and figures with you.

Even as I do that, though, I can also tell you that our true impact can never be measured, for the joy of having and being a friend can never be contained in a chart or counted on a clipboard. To do that, I simply remember my own e-Buddy, Daniel Thompson, and know that the way he touched me is immeasurable.

Letter from the Director | Ask Emerson | Best Buddies Spotlight
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