I couldn’t “fix” LAM, so I’m raising money for those who can

Samantha, lauren, and kristin, with their aunt dana

In November 2020, my 24-year-old daughter Kristin was diagnosed with LAM.  As a mother, I’m used to fixing problems for my children. But this was one I simply couldn’t fix. So, I went into fundraising mode to help my daughter.

Fundraising has been a part of my life for over 15 years. Working for a company that encourages employees to do more and give back, I am a community action leader responsible for engaging others in many types of fundraising for several wonderful nonprofit organizations. We raise money by asking for donations, holding fundraising events, such as bowling events, parties with a purpose, raffles, and other fun affairs.  I reached out to The LAM Foundation, made some amazing connections there, and we committed to fundraising for research.  However, this was during the pandemic. How could we make this happen?

We were not going to let the pandemic stop us. Using social media, email, phone calls, and mass text messages, we got our word out.  My sister and I figured we could at least raise $1,000 by doing a virtual tricky tray raffle.  What happened next was incredible – the donations came pouring in day after day! We pushed to a new goal of $5,000. Then we found out from The LAM Foundation that if we raised $20,000, we could double our gift with a matching grant.

We did just that.

I further maximized my donation through my company’s program that matches a charitable gift, dollar-for-dollar.  Perhaps your organization or company has a matching gift program,  or even contributes money to a nonprofit organization when you donate your time. Ask, find out, then take action.  If you have a matching gift program at work, take advantage of it!  If you don’t ask, you don’t know. 

I would like to share some thoughts, ideas, and suggestions to help you create a successful fundraising event:

SamaSamantha lauren and kristin with their aunt danantha, Lauren, and Kristin with their aunt, Dana.
  • No donation amount is too small. One dollar leads to five – five to ten etc.
  • Who do you know and how can they help? I sell cosmetics use my direct sales to raise money for charity.  What other friends or family have a business that would be willing to help, while getting publicity for their name or product? Do you know someone who owns a bowling alley or a pizza shop? Perhaps a small business owner can donate a prize. Ask everyone and anyone – “no” is the worst thing you can hear.
  • How can your work family help? On my darkest, scariest days, besides my family, my work family helped me get through. They donated prizes, raised money, and held bake sales. It’s amazing what your work team can do for you.
  • Along with work comes matching gift programs. Does your job have matching programs? Inquire. Again, “no” is the worst thing you can hear. If they do, find out how to maximize your fundraising.
  • Think outside the box. Before COVID, we did events in person. During COVID, we did virtual events – tricky tray raffles virtually vs. in person. Just giving out information about the organization you are raising money for is the first step, then full speed ahead.
  • Some ideas that we have put to the test: Designer Bag Bingo, golf outings, parties with a purpose, bake sales, and events at family-friendly businesses, like mini-golf or bowling.
  • Use social media to benefit your cause. Friends know that when I am “back” on Facebook it is for a reason: to tell my story. Tell how you are planning on using the money you raise.
  • Get family and friends involved. I could not have done these events without them.  They may need an outlet too – plus they know different people than you do.  The more you can reach, the more money you can bring in.
  • Find out what works for you and then make it yearly, quarterly, or whatever you can do.  We had such success with our first Designer Bag Bingo – we let everyone know it will be a yearly event. Find a time that works for you and be consistent. We have decided that our annual bingo will be every May. We will also do an event in February for Rare Disease Day. Make sure everyone knows so they will make the time to get involved.

Finally,  this is your journey, cater it to work however you need or want. Don’t give up. You may not have great success the first time — but just keep pushing.  I wish you much success and pray that we help researchers find a cure to end LAM.