Oh my goodness. I am so sorry that there has been such radio silence. I updated on twitter but have been so busy that – to be honest – it totally slipped my mind to update here. I know there's no excuse for that and I'm sorry I left you hanging.

A donation was made to Shelterbox for just over $8750. That is amazing, really amazing. Especially given the obstacles, especially given this was in just over two weeks. Thank you, everyone.

Letterpress cards were printed, by me, and each one of you should receive one as a thank you – blank so that you can send it out to someone or keep it for yourself. If you haven't yet, please be patient. I had to ask for some helping hands from friends because there were close to 500 cards to send out. I just couldn't do it myself and I know those who stepped in to help are also busy people. I was really overwhelmed by the project – the scope of it, the bureaucratic stumbling blocks, the amount of time it took. But I was so pleased, too, by what our hearts and hands brought together.

Thank you.


where to go from here

Thank you so much for your very sweet emails and your understanding. I'm sorry for the short lapse in communication. My studio computer broke down on Tuesday afternoon and I had to replace the hard drive, all while trying to manage the mess that this project had become. I want to clear up where we stand with HEARTS + HANDS after my conversations with real live people at PayPal. Thank you to those who retweeted my messages to PayPal on Twitter. It may have been a coincidence, but I received my first call from someone at PayPal shortly after those and after posting my open letter to the blog. One thing I've learned (and keep learning) is to not be afraid to make yourself heard when it matters – with doctors, with insurance, with accessibility and inclusion, with PayPal :)

None of the donations or payments that have already come in have to be refunded. 100% of this can still go to ShelterBox – about $8.75K!! This is great news. However, the raffle aspect is just straight up not going to fly. Renaming it giveaway or drawing won't work, not for PayPal. Allowing entries just for getting the word out doesn't change anything either. That is just a dead end. As per PayPal's instructions, I also had to remove ALL references to raffle/giveaway/etc from the blog in order to get the PayPal account set right – except for the explanation right now.

So – where to go from here? Although the focus and intent of HEARTS+ HANDS was and still is really on
giving not receiving, I think it's true that a tiny part of the draw for people was the amazing list of artists and studios who wanted to help with this project. I believe it brought people in, even if they were happy to just donate. And I know that people heard about HEARTS + HANDS through each of the artists. It was a way of reaching out to a larger community and asking for action. And it worked. $8.75K in less than two weeks – that's incredible and I'm proud of that. I think we all should be, as a community. I'm disappointed, too, that bureaucracy is so limiting, so impersonal. I think it's a shame that HEARTS + HANDS can't continue.

I have given a lot – A LOT! – of thought on how to keep on with this project as I really hate the idea of being brought to a standstill by bureaucracy. I thought about a pop up shop, but then realized that this would be a lot of behind the scenes work – complicated by lots of admin details. I thought I could offer everyone who donated a credit for the store, but then it was pointed out to me that we would run out of items IF everyone cashed in on those. This should probably have been obvious to me – but since it wasn't, I realized that I need to find a way to end this as gracefully as possible. The last thing I want is to create or find myself – or all of us – in another mess.
What we can do is offer each person a thank you gift for donating. This will come in the mail, but please give me a little time to print everything. Again, I know this is less than ideal, but I'm not sure how else to proceed. I would like to offer any of you who donated or purchased a card the option of a full refund. All you need to do is let me know. I plan to email each person who donated with an explanation of what's happened – essentially the raffle was shut down. I'll offer each the chance to get a full refund in that email ... but this may take me just a little bit of time while I try to get caught up around here.

My brother, sister-in-law and 3 year old nephew arrived yesterday, so I am not going to work this weekend. I've been working a lot and sleeping little, so I need to take a break. I need to bring this project to a close so that I can focus on my family, our upcoming surprise trip for Liam to Legoland (!!) and Satsuma Press. I am sorry that I jumped in without knowing what would come – and yet we are still able to send $8.75K to ShelterBox. This is a good, good thing and I am so grateful for your help in doing this. Thank you.


an open letter to PayPal

Friends– you are many ...

Thank you for your support and understanding. As you know from my post last night, I am having problems with PayPal and the HEARTS + HANDS project. One of the most frustrating aspects to this is that PayPal's compliance department does not have a phone number. Email is the only option – and they have 24-72 hours in which to respond. Each response I have gotten has failed to actually answer all of my questions.

And so I just sent this email to PayPal. Please, if there is anyone out there that can offer solid advice – or knows a way to reach the right people at PayPal, let me know. Let's make our voices heard – all we are trying to do is something good, together.


Open letter to PayPal sent this morning –

Thank you for your reply. However, I am increasingly frustrated that I cannot speak to a person in real time about this situation. I appreciate the email replies, but they don't ever answer all my questions – and then I'm left waiting for the next round of emails. Please reply in full or have someone who can help call me at (my phone number here). If I am unable to answer the phone, please leave a message with a name and number so that I may return the call.

Last night I removed the PayPal button, essentially shutting down Hearts + Hands, so that we could work together to resolve the problem at hand without further transactions coming through.

Here are my questions in list format.  I would like to get complete answers for each question in full so that I feel we are both working hard to resolve this issue.

1. Because Shelterbox has given permission to fund raise, is Hearts + Hands allowed to continue to accept straight donations?

2. Am I able to still sell the letterpress cards on Hearts + Hands if the giveaway is removed? 100% of each sale goes to Shelterbox.

3. Please state clearly what you need me to do in order to be able to continue fund raising at Hearts + Hands.

4. Please state clearly what I am supposed to do with all of the donations and payments that have come in thus far. Are they valid and transferable to Shelterbox if the giveaway is removed?

5. What if
every single person donating were to receive a thank you gift? This is no longer a raffle/giveaway/call it what you will. It just becomes a thank you gift, plain and simple, that every single person receives. There is absolutely nothing wrong or illegal about sending a thank you gift to every person.

6. Please state clearly if, in fact, my only option at this point is to refund every single transfer that has come in, despite even the option above in #4. Would it change things if donors were clearly informed that there is no longer a giveaway involved? That is, if each person was notified that instead of a receiving an entry to the giveaway, their donation would simply go toward Shelterbox – and he or she agreed – would the transaction be valid?

7. Why is it that huge for-profit corporations are allowed to add the phrase "no purchase necessary in order to win" and then carry on with the same sort of giveaway – and yet Hearts + Hands is not? I would like to restate that this is not for financial gain in any sense – for any of the artists involved, myself included. In fact, quite the opposite for me as I've spent numerous hours – when I would usually be working in my studio for paying clients – to both organize this project and now put things right.


I look forward to hearing back, but would really appreciate a phone call from a person who is able to address and answer all of my questions.

Thank you for your time,

Lynn Russell

HEARTS + HANDS for Japan


some obstacles

I want to try to explain what's been going on behind the scenes for me with the Hearts + Hands project – and why I've been making all these changes here and there to the way this project works. On Friday night, I received a notification from PayPal that Hearts + Hands was not in compliance with their (fine print) rules and regulations. I had no way of knowing or anticipating the bureaucratic nightmare this would become.  I am literally in tears over this and feeling so, so badly for many reasons.

What began as a spontaneous project with the best of intentions has become incredibly stressful as I try to deal with PayPal. There is no way to reach a real live person at the compliance department of PayPal; it's email only and they have up to 72 hours to respond. I've been on the phone with my lawyer as well as the state attorney for charitable activities in Portland. I've been doing everything I can, but mainly the decision is up to PayPal. I am also trying to keep up with my studio work and I have so many emails coming in every day ... and this afternoon, my studio computer had a major meltdown and won't start up again at all ...  so I'm pretty much at my wit's end here – but glad that I have this very old laptop that at least still works, even if it sounds like a small jet plane is taking off when it's on. 

So – raffles are considered a big, huge no-no. Basically, they are seen as a form of gambling. I didn't know. I am doing my very, VERY best to figure this out so that Hearts + Hands can continue to raise money. It's hard and I'm incredibly sorry for the confusion and multiple changes on the blog. 100% of the proceeds are still going directly to Shelterbox. The intent of this effort has not changed one bit, but everything is getting mired in technicalities and bureaucracy. I understand that it would be better to have it be straightforward on the blog (a donation = an entry), as it was at the start. I wish it could be this way, too, but clearly this won't work for PayPal.

I thought that by offering an actual product – the letterpress cards – and making the giveaway a separate part, we'd be okay. The reason I decided to offer entries to the giveaway for people who help get the word out is because it makes it a no-purchase necessary to enter or receive something. I thought this would get us around the issues with PayPal. I'm not so sure this is the case because I got another vague email from PayPal today stating there are still violations. I am waiting to hear back from them once again.

In the meantime, I have decided that Hearts + Hands needs to be put on hold until I can straighten things out with PayPal. For that reason, I have removed the PayPal link for now. I hope this is temporary. I just need some time to first off sleep, be with my family, get my computer fixed, communicate with PayPal – and then decide how to proceed. The very worst case scenario, which would break my heart, is that I will need to refund every single donation that has been made. This makes me sad – because I lose credibility, but most of all because then the $8.75K we've collectively raised is therefore not going to Shelterbox, not going toward relief efforts in Japan. And this is such a shame. I know this will raise questions and I'll answer all those as they come in, as fast and efficiently as I can. Please, please remember that it's just me and there are only so many hours in a day.
And please know that I will either figure it out with PayPal – or refund your money. This is not a scam at all.

I really can't tell you how sorry I am for this horrible, awful, no-good mess – and how upsetting it is to me personally. I know we are all in this for the very best reasons and intents. I am working as hard as I can – while still trying to get Satsuma Press work completed – to get everything straightened out. I know – and I'm kicking myself for this, very hard! – that this all seems very unprofessional ... and, well, it's because I don't really have a background in fundraising – which is abundantly clear now.  I am sorry that I jumped in feet first without knowing all this in advance. I'm learning as we go along – not always the easiest way. Trust me, it's hard to make mistakes in a very public open-to-the-world way.

Please hang in there with me.
I wish it wasn't – at least in this case – so hard to do something good. I will be doing all I can to make this right for everyone, but first I need a little time to get my head on straight again. Thank you for, I hope, your open hearts and understanding.