Confession. I never liked fundraisers. Growing up, I didn't strive to sell the most magazine subscriptions at school. I didn't sell cookie dough and I never went door to door selling Girl Scout cookies. You can imagine how surprised I am that at age 32 I find myself fundraising harder than anyone I went to school with.
The sudden turn of events occurred three years ago when my son, Major, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. I quickly learned how important donations are to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. More importantly, I saw the impact that fundraising dollars have had. Major, and babies like him, are expected to live longer and have a better quality of life than babies born with CF 20 years ago. With continued research and fundraising, I have faith that one day he will live without CF.
There are many approaches to fundraising in the CF community. Here are some of mine:
- Don't do it all at once. Great Strides walks are typically held in May. For our family, the beginning of the year is pretty crazy. Come to think of it, the whole year seems to be busy, doesn't it? With that in mind, I'd rather fundraise in pockets throughout the year versus wearing myself out in the first five months. I make my biggest push before May but have more campaigns in August and November.
- Ask everyone you know. And their friends. And their family. You will hear more than one “no,” but you will also get “yeses” that you never would have expected. Asking is hard, but explaining to Major why I didn't seems a lot harder, so I forge ahead.
- Social media. Use it like crazy! Who doesn't love an easy-to-follow link to shop? Make it easy on your donors by giving them your link repeatedly, so they can donate when they want to. I periodically run mini-campaigns via Facebook. I set (and share) a goal of raising $3,000 in three days. I tell my followers what to expect -- that for the next three days, I'm going to share snippets of our life with CF and ask for their donations. Then, I honor that schedule. I share pictures, videos, and CF facts. I try to make the facts personal. I use pictures and share what impact the information has on our day-to-day life.
- Passion events. Do what you love. My husband loves CrossFit and is at the gym at 4:30 a.m. every day. He has partnered with the gracious owners of his CrossFit to create a competition in Major's honor. It is a really fun day for people to do the workouts they love for a cause that means the world to us. Drew is so passionate about this event, and I love bringing Major!
- Share the hard stuff. Whether it's on social media, in a letter, or a conversation with your friend, share your heart. Anyone can Google “cystic fibrosis.” I find that sharing my fears as well as the good things really helps people understand what we go through as parents.
- Celebrate the milestones. Inform your donors when there are new medications brought to market. Tell them when your child benefits from a new therapy. If I'm donating to something and you are my only connection, I'd love nothing more than to hear the impact my dollars may have had.
Whether you're reading this as a parent of a child with CF, a family member, friend, or someone who is looking for an organization to volunteer with, I hope that one or more of these tips are helpful to you. If the world's worst Girl Scout can do it, you can too.
What tips do you have for fundraising?