Author: Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member
As a seasoned team captain with 11 Buddy Walk® events under my belt, I have done a lot of fundraising. About a month before my local Buddy Walk® launched its fundraising efforts, ds-connex published a blog (Keys to Buddy Walk Fundraising) which offered my advice to team captains with ideas for raising money for your teams. Now that my fundraising for this year’s walk has come to a close, I thought I would reflect on these strategies to share how well they worked for my team.
Importance of Grassroots Efforts
As soon as registration opened for our event, I posted about the Buddy Walk at least once a day on my team’s Facebook page, and then I would also share that post from my personal page to increase the post’s reach. I tried to keep the Buddy Walk® in everyone’s newsfeed, always including the link to our fundraising page. In Columbus, we are able to fundraise beginning on World Down Syndrome Day, so we have six months to build our totals. The role of social media is imperative in keeping the Buddy Walk® in daily online conversations. Asking my family and friends to share my posts definitely aided us in raising almost $10,500 for our team!
Include Local Businesses
Fundraising is a big business these days. Many chain restaurants have a fundraising program; Team Alex partnered with City Barbeque, as we have for the last several years, and received $94.70 (25% of our sales from that day) just by inviting our local friends to dine at the restaurant and take our flyer on a particular day. All of our communication with the restaurant, and the distribution of flyers, happened via email (with announcements on Facebook too, of course!), so I put forth very little effort in pulling this event together. Direct sales representatives are also very eager to assist in fundraising efforts. This year, Team Alex hosted an online Tupperware party, and received $167.20 (40% of our party sales) as a result. I chose to host it online in order to accommodate orders from outside our city, again using Facebook to help spread the word. Because it was an online party, it required little effort on my part to set it up, and everything was delivered directly to those who supported the party. There are many great direct sales companies that offer similar fundraising opportunities.
One of my favorite fundraisers from this year came from a partnership with I Heart Garments; my eight year old daughter, who is becoming an awesome advocate for her brother with Down syndrome, helped me design our #InclusionMatters campaign. Again using social media to promote our campaign, we received $480 from I Heart Garments (and gained some really cool t-shirts!).
Keep It Simple and Have Fun
Wow, did Team Alex have some fun this year! Through some really easy fundraising tactics, we raised a significant amount of money. We brought back our $10 Tuesday campaign again, simply asking on Facebook and Twitter for donations of $10 (or more!) every Tuesday. We received $380 this year from these efforts.
In July, we hosted the second annual Team Alex Kickball Game, charging $5/child and $10/adult to play (there were separate games for the kids and adults). We had such a great time, and with the help of some fantastic volunteers from Kohl’s and their Associates in Action program, we raised more than $1700 for a fun afternoon of kickball.
Alex’s birthday is also in July, right in the midst of our fundraising, and you can bet I used that to raise some money for our Buddy Walk®! Inviting donors to contribute in honor of Alex’s 10th birthday, we received $179.
Borrowing from the ever popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, we designed the first #TeamAlexPieChallenge. If nominated, you had the choice of getting hit in the face with a pie and donating $5, or skipping the pie and donating $25, and then either way nominating three more people. This was another easy way to raise money (more than $500 came in as a result of this!), we saw many great pie videos, and everyone had fun doing it.
We also established the #AlexVsNick2014 challenge, in which Team Alex (fans of The Ohio State University Buckeyes here in Columbus) shared a friendly fundraising competition with Nick’s Crew (fans of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor). We leveraged the rivalry between these universities to raise another $300 for Team Alex in the last weeks leading up to our Buddy Walk® event. With college football season coinciding with Buddy Walk® season, friendly rivalries such as these should be easy to engage to help further fundraising goals across the country!
With all of these efforts added to our team’s registration fees as well as general donations, Team Alex raised $10,498.84, which placed us in the #2 spot on the Columbus Buddy Walk® leaderboard. We will absolutely use these ideas again next year, and hopefully brainstorm new concepts for our list of events between now and World Down Syndrome Day 2015. The possibilities are truly endless, and share the same key features: simplicity in planning for the team captain, using social media to drive results, and relying on help from your supportive team members. As your team grows each year and builds a bond, this will also add to the success of your fundraising efforts. What fun, innovative ideas have you employed to raise money for your Buddy Walk® events this year?