Maxing Out Your Strides – Mark A. Levine

By Mark Levine

Here we are again, on the precipice of another Great Strides Walk season. Not sure about you but I have already sent out my second email, a gentle reminder, to my entire list to increase the size of my team and boost my donations. It’s an exciting time of the year and a great event to be a part of that fulfills a lot in my life, specifically…

1)      BEING PART OF THE SOLUTION: I am an engineer, not a doctor or a scientist, and fundraising gives me the mechanism I need to be part of the process of finding a cure. It helps that the CF Foundation is at the top of their game in regards to efficiency as a not for profit organization and that they have been so successful in supporting the right companies to do CF research. It is  easy to put myself behind this event for this very reason.

2)      YOU’VE GOT MAIL: I find the excitement of the “donation on your behalf” email almost addicting. The day I send out my first batch of 400 emails to family, old friends and new friends, I inevitably get donations within the hour. The first day there is always a spike but new donations come in almost daily for at least the first week. And of course donations will stream in for weeks… until that reminder is sent which sparks a second wave of donations.

3)      GOTTA LOVE THE STATS: As an Excel junkie who loves math, the statistics fascinate and energize me. I find it fun to keep track of my walker / donor information and to annually build on that list. Who gives year after year; how many people increased their donation from last year; what percent of the total list makes a donation; which group (family, high school friends, work friends, neighborhood friends) give the most; etc. Look at it as a game you will always win.

4)      STRATEGY AND ATTITUDE: Here are a few tips for a more successful fundraising season.

a.       Do not take things personally. Offended that your good friend did not make a donation? Let it go. Think your friend can afford to make a bigger donation? Not your call. Concerned about asking the same people year after year for a donation? Have no fear. Most people are disappointed if you do not ask them and everyone appreciates a good tax deduction.

b.      Have a back-up fundraising plan. A few months after Great Strides, I participate in a Cycle for Life bike ride event (I used to participate in a second walk a few weeks after the first). To fundraise for the second event, I send an email to everyone who did not make a donation to my first event, giving them an “in case you missed it” opportunity. Believe it or not, most people are relieved that they get a chance to fulfill the donation request without having to make an “I lost your email” excuse.

c.       Leverage social media. Don’t forget to use the Facebook link on your Great Strides home page to share your efforts with your Facebook friends. Every year, I am gratefully surprised that an old high school friend who I have not spoken to in years makes a very substantial donation. It just goes to show you how generous some people are and how much of an impact you have had.

Best of luck in your fundraising efforts and happy striding.

5 thoughts on “Maxing Out Your Strides – Mark A. Levine”

  1. I think this is a testament to leveraging your (extended) network for fundraising. Most people don’t have 400 close friends and family members to reach out to for donations. However, like you said even an old high school buddy on Facebook can surprise you. Re: people not donating at all or as much as you’d hoped for, you never know what people are dealing with financially.

    Once you’ve tapped out your network, remember that there are plenty of fundraising resources for volunteers that don’t depend on contacting people you already know. For example, here’s a long guide on volunteering to raise money from strangers

    However, people you actually have a personal connection to (even work acquaintances!) are probably the best bet. Going outside of your comfort zone and straight up asking people for donations at work can surprise you as much as the old FB friends.

    1. Michael,
      Thanks for your comments. Funny, the 400 contacts number is an accumulation over time. I certainly didn’t start with that number but every year I find more and more people to add. That is why keeping track is so important. Best of luck! Be well.

  2. On behalf of the CF community, thank you so much for your efforts! As a patient, I once had my own team every single year and even chaired a committee or two, but as time passes and my disease progresses, I find I no longer have the energy to take on the challenges. Thanks so much for sharing your energy and time for us. I am so glad that you have so much fun with it! Your enthusiasm is contagious.

    1. Thanks for your comments Kathy,
      Yes, I do find fundraising via email campaigns fun to do and I’m glad my enthusiasm is contagious because as you know, my CF is not. Best of luck to you. Be well.

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