Anyone Can Be a Fundraiser

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by Brent Benefield, Husband of a LAM patient

My name is Brent Benefield and we’re from Madison, AL. My wife Kristy was diagnosed with LAM in early 2013. We were devastated when we first found out, as I’m sure most new patients are. But, we became much more encouraged after getting involved with The LAM Foundation and learning about all the research they have generated, and the successes that have come from this research.

From the start, Kristy and I committed ourselves to giving all we could to support The LAM Foundation’s research. But after a couple of years I realized there is only so much that one family can do alone. So, I decided I was going to have a “fund-raiser”.

I had heard many of the success stories about patients, their families and friends having fund-raisers. But, even though I have always enjoyed giving to other people, the idea of asking for money for myself (or even for my family) makes me uncomfortable. I know that a lot of people probably feel this way, but this just was too important to let those feelings deter me.

Since I had never fund-raised in my entire life, I really didn’t know where to start. I liked the idea of having some sort of activity (a bicycle race, a fun run, a golf tournament, etc.). But, my job was placing some real limitations on my free time this year. So, I decided to simply do a letter-writing campaign this time.

First, I came up with a list of people that I felt would be potential donors. I started with our family’s Christmas card list, but you could start anywhere. Then, I went through my business contacts and identified several that I have become close to over the years.

Finally, I wrote up a form letter explaining what LAM is, why support is so badly needed and how our friends and family could donate. I chose to hand-address the envelopes and send by US mail because I thought my donor group would appreciate this, mostly a little older demographic. But, you may not want to spend that much time. If you think your donor group is more social-network connected, that may be your best and most efficient approach.

I set a soft-deadline and a dollar-figure goal for our campaign and sent out about 65 letters. I think that letting your donor group know what the goal is and how many letters you’re sending is a good idea. It gives them some guidance about how much they might want to donate. I think that information helps people and most appreciate it. Also, I’d recommend keeping your donors informed as you advance toward your goal. I was surprised at how interested many of them were when they repeatedly asked me how we were doing relative to our goal.

In our case, over 40 of our 65 requests turned into donations (some surprisingly generous) and we exceeded our goal. It almost seemed as if they had been waiting to be asked. I felt truly blessed to know how much our friends and family cared about Kristy’s condition and how glad they were to donate.

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