Keys to Successful Fundraising, Part II

Last month, I blogged about tips I’ve gathered along the way while coordinating the Butterfly Benefit Fashion Show and Luncheon. This month, I wanted to offer some general advice for fundraisers and EB Awareness events. I encourage you to look for new ways to reach out to people and share information about EB. I find that once people are introduced to EB, they usually want to know more about what they can do to support those affected.

  • Know what you want to accomplish before you start planning. How large do you really want your event to be? Are you appealing to the masses to simply attend and be present? Or are you planning an event that would benefit from a smaller number of people? Sometimes events that attract a more defined group that is interested in hearing from speakers and learning about the issue can lead to those individuals hatching even more creative ideas to raise EB awareness or dollars as they talk among themselves.
  • Make certain your event suits your goals and vision. You may enjoy golf and want to coordinate your own golf event, but know in advance that a golf tournament can be a truly ambitious undertaking, and often so much money must be invested into putting on the event that the organizations do not benefit as much financially as with a smaller function. If you can get a golf country club to donate the course’s greens fees, go for it. But if raising funds is your main goal, consider a walk or an auction that has the potential to raise a lot of money and typically costs far less. Just make sure if you’re hosting a walk/run that you notify your city beforehand should you need police to block off any streets for participants.
  • Find a local connection to EB before reaching out to area media outlets. It can sometimes be challenging to get the word out about your event, because there may not be an EB family in your community. You should first consider reaching out to these families in a nearby city or elsewhere in the state to see if they’d be willing to be involved and attend the event. You may also ask them if they would be open to talking with local media who may want to ask them about life with EB. Once you’ve been able to confirm their interest in taking part, you have a great foundation to appeal to local TV stations and newspapers that tie an otherwise unknown disease to your upcoming event and a story source.
  • Get local vendors involved in your event. It’s always smart to check with larger brands or organizations to see if they would like to lend their support as a sponsor, but whenever possible, try to offer an opportunity for smaller businesses in the community, too, such as vendor tables, food providers or sponsors of some valuable parts of the event such as printing, promotion, goody bags and raffle items. These businesses are part of your community and want to be connected with the people you hope to draw to your event, and most local boutiques and stores can really use the media coverage by being a part of something bigger than themselves. On a related note, regarding sponsors …
  • Be sure to reach out to any of the national EB-focused vendors about getting involved, such as Hollister Wound Care and National Rehab. Your event ties with their mission of supporting EB families while providing a valuable resource for you during planning. You might even approach them about whether they would be willing to match funds raised up to a pre-set limit. In this way, you can transform a smaller $1,500-$2,000 fundraiser into a much bigger deal for the nonprofit you’ve selected.
  • Always look for new, innovative ways to raise interest and draw people to your event. For example, next year, my goal is to incorporate QR code technology so that people shopping at boutiques participating in the fashion show can buy tickets to the event right from those stores, using the customers' smartphones.
  • Try staying away from collecting supplies and stick with raising funds instead. Because so little is known about EB by most people, if you were to host a medical supplies or bandages drive, you are likely to get mostly traditional bandaging products, such as Band-Aids and Neosporin, which are helpful for other families, but due to very specific care needs, may not be appropriate for an EB family. So unless you are very specific with your drive requests, you may wish to avoid hosting this type of event and focus instead of awareness or research funding. And never underestimate the value and power of holding an awareness event. Educating the public is just as critical as raising research funds.
  • Share information about your event with women’s social and business networking groups in the area. We moms know firsthand that if you want to get something done, get a group of mothers together and they’ll make it happen! For many women’s groups, there may be a philanthropic element to the group, so your event can offer them an opportunity to give back to the community or a cause they can stand behind. Also, groups sometimes like to carry out their own internal fundraising campaign to support a community event and do so by raising dollars from their members at their monthly meeting or by recruiting volunteers or participants for your event. So spread the word heartily, but especially make certain you reach out to these ladies who care.
  • Let the organization for whom you are raising funds know about your event ahead of time. Sometimes groups can help out by promoting it on their website or in e-newsletters. Others may want to send literature or giveaway items. For my past events, DebRA has been really helpful in mailing me pamphlets and EB Awareness bracelets for the event. Some groups have a fundraising information packet or event planning kit that they can send you, too.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck with your event! And don’t forget to keep us in the loop so we can help you spread the word.

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