Fundraising 101-Get your Walk On

It is still quite early to be thinking about the annual MS walk scheduled each spring. Or is it? This will be my third year participating in my local MS walk and each year I learn just a little bit more and get a little more creative. I am ever so fortunate to have co-captains who are equally as involved and creative.

Last year, we held a fundraiser and faired well raising over 1,000 dollars through auctioning items. We were creative in getting donations~we know our community. We even had a local tattoo shop donate a gift certificate worth $150. We also had vendors on site giving great deals and donating part of the sales to our cause. We sold team TShirts and with the help of our local Patrolmans Association recieved a generous donation which allowed us to sell the first 50 shirts for pure profit. We did a great job last year raising nearly $6,000 dollars without the support from any big business but rather local small business and independent business owners. We did however win an award from our chapter for placing 6th place over all for our fundraising efforts among more than 300 teams. Not too bad!

This year we are even more organized. The more I do this, the less afraid I am to ask people for money! I have already begun approaching people for support for the walk this spring. I approached the hospital CEO where I workded for 30 yrs before I had to leave due to my MS. I asked him to help our team by donating money to help us purchase team shirts and also to allow us to sell them outside the cafeteria in exchange for putting the hospital logo on our shirts. Last year we met resistance. Not this year, we have been promised this will be no problem!

We are certain the Springfield Patrolman's Association will also support us in the same way again which will again allow us to purchase even more Tshirts at a pure profit for our MS team. In return, we place their logo on our shirts as well. We will also be doing another fundraiser with raffles, food and drink. In addition, we will be hosting a Monte Carlo night at the Firemens Clubhouse this year which is a new adventure. We will also be adding another new adventure which is a great "girls night out". It is an establishment in which you go sip wine and learn how to paint! They will also advertise for you, sell raffle tickets for a basket they provide and allow your team to raffle off other prizes as well.

The other thing I have found very helpful is wearing my MS pullover jacket with the MS logo. Seems like no matter where I go, someone strikes up a conversation either by saying they know someone with MS or ask what MS is. Sometimes it happens in the best of places~say a sub shop in which I always end the conversation with, "it was really great talking to you today. Do you mind if I give you a call in the spring for a food donation for one of our functions?". Most people are really helpful and more than willing to help in anyway they can.

The point of my story is the first year I participated I would have never been so bold. The second year, we ventured out a bit and got lots of donations for raffle items and some sponsorship from the city police. Now going into our third year, we have no fear. We know this money is needed to make the lives of people better who are now living with MS. More importantly, we know we want to find a cure so that someday not one more person will ever have to walk in our shoes.

My advice for all of you ~ know your community! Not every community would want to bid on a tattoo, but ours sure does! Think big, think outside the box! Don't be afraid~if someone says no it is not the end of the world!

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