‘Passion About Your Mission Will Fuel Your Drive’ and Other Reach & Raise Fundraising Tips

May 12, 2017

At Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Reach & Raise thousands of people come together for a unique morning of connection and inspiration. Money donated to Reach & Raise funds LBBC programs that help people affected by breast cancer have the information and support they need.

Julia Wilson gives fundraising tips and talks about why Reach & Raise is important to her.

Ahhh, the art of fundraising.

The delicate (and at times, awkward) subject of how to ask your pals to relinquish their hard-earned green for a cause that is near and dear. Just how do you appropriately approach the subject and avoid feeling like you are asking for a handout?

Before my involvement with LBBC and Reach & Raise, my philanthropic resume (specifically that of the raising of funds) was comprised of door-to-door candy bar sales for my little league team. Sure, I could work magic with my gap-toothed grin for a new snack shack and fresh uniforms. I was a naive 10-year-old – innocent and ignorant of the $3 price tag of KitKat. It was king-size, after all. To me, it seemed like a fair deal. 

Fast-forward a quarter of a century. This, undoubtedly, was a far different task at hand.

At 35, I was now directly tied and entrenched in what I was pedaling. This was much bigger than chocolate bars and polyester jerseys.

I was diagnosed with stage I invasive ductal carcinoma on February 15, 2017. I was stunned (to say the least) when I received the news that I had cancer. I was relatively young, my daughter was not yet 2 and I was a newlywed. My head was spinning. I exercised regularly, I ate well and my family had hardly any history of cancer. How could this be happening?

I made the decision to go on short term disability from my job as a photography manager/producer, as my job can be stressful and requires a decent amount of travel. I knew it would be hard to juggle that along with my chemotherapy. I am grateful to work with such supportive co-workers that have been my cheerleaders through this journey, as I know not everyone facing my battle can say the same. I started the first of six chemo treatments on March 27. I will return to work, part-time, on May 22 until I complete my chemo in mid-July, after which I will return full-time. Radiation treatments will start in August or September.

I know that the support from my family, friends and organizations like LBBC is what has kept my spirits high throughout this new phase of my life. The majority of my friends and family were privy to my recent breast cancer diagnosis, but I was still weary of directly asking for “handouts,” even if the cause was something I wholeheartedly supported. Money can be a tricky and sometimes touchy subject. How would I comfortably approach friends and family with my palm out? Or shall I say … my virtual palm out.

Cue the greatest invention of the modern era: social media. Our loophole for direct human-to-human interaction and your greatest ally when it comes to fundraising.

You can cover more ground with a simple Instagram post than a month’s worth of doorbell ringing would ever get you. You just have to be tactical about your proposal. And for those friends and family you can’t reach via social media, a personalized note straight to their inbox is just as effective.

Additionally, your supporting cast for spreading the word is just as important as your own outreach. Enlist others’ help and encourage them to join the cause (and your team!) In addition to the people you see or talk to on a regular basis, your local community can be another outlet for informing others who may otherwise be unaware of the event. It can be a great way to gain a few more team members and/or donations.

Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Social Media. My mediums of choice have been Facebook and Instagram. In fact, I created a designated Instagram account for a play-by-play of my journey through my diagnosis (@juliaofthewolvez). Imagery paired with compelling storylines are the best post technique. Followers love a story that they can relate to, and the chances are, unfortunately, most people can relate to cancer. 
    • But when? According to forbes.com, Wednesday and Sunday are the ideal days to post. I started posting approximately 2 months before the Reach & Raise fundraiser and updated my ask every 3 weeks, but upped it to once per week a month before the event. You have the strongest fundraising tool literally at your fingertips. You just have to know how to use it.
       
  • Email. It may be 2017, but that doesn’t mean the entire world’s population is on social media. I still have a handful of family members, friends and co-workers that are not avid Instagram scrollers. I typed up a personal email to each of them and included a photo of myself before my lumpectomy surgery. I explained my recent battle and my involvement with LBBC and how passionate I felt about their mission and how much I wanted to help spread awareness.
     
  • Build Your Cast. I think the biggest asset for my fundraising success was my team members. Again, people genuinely want to help a good cause, so the idea that they can join the fight makes them feel purposeful. Friends, family members and co-workers are eligible candidates. Locally, reach out to shops, restaurants and classes you frequent and ask if you can post a flier and leave information cards about the event.

All in all, fundraising shouldn’t feel like a chore or a hassle. It’s important you feel passionate about your mission. That will fuel your drive. I have been uplifted by so many other women I've met thus far in my breast cancer experience – women who are facing a far more difficult climb than myself. It's an inspiration and reminds me to keep fighting every day. That's why Reach & Raise is such a powerful day. To spend my morning surrounded by so many hopeful, positive women is the purest medicine I could ask for.

Comments

Hi Julia, Your little girl is super cute! I am so interested in your blog and fund raising effort advice. As a past Manager of a Breast Care Boutique and a Certified Mastectomy Fitter, I have suggested to my patients that they actually fund raise for a wig or additional bras and breast forms that may not be covered by insurance OR my patients may not have had any insurance at all. I have lots of information at pinkribbonconsulting.com, which is my breast cancer support website . My goal and hope is that patients refer me to their medical teams who have limited resources to stay educated about the broad range of products available to breast cancer patients. Having done countless in-services to physician practices, I know patients receive little information at diagnosis. And often never get to take advantage of the benefits of post-op camisoles and bras that help with their recovery and drain management.

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