If one were to describe my fundraising or selling skills, it might read something like,"Has difficulty asking for money even when the cause is noble; is too shy to barter even when in Mexico on vacation; required younger brother's assistance selling Girl Scout Cookies."
Trouble selling Girl Scout cookies! How bad is that? So here I am, about forty years later, preparing for my fifth Challenge Walk and proud member of the very successful Blister Buddies — and my knees still knock when I think about raising money.
So what kind of advice could this former Girl Scout and all round selling weenie have to offer?
- Personalize the asking — My brother, sister, parents, aunt, and cousins all support me. I walk for Patty, my team captain; some of my family have met her, while others only know her story through me. I talk to them about MS and how it impacts Patty and those I've met at the Challenge Walk. Never forget how important it is to tell your MS story.
- Have a bake sale — Even I can stand behind a table filled with homemade treats and make a sale. The Blister Buddies added a bake sale component to our annual yard sale this year, and not only did it add to the revenues — it slowed people down long enough to hear our story. I can't tell you the number of people who said "keep the change" when paying for a cookie or piece of cake.
- Wear your message — I have a drawer full of MS shirts, hats, bags and pins. I wear them as often as I can, with the result that someone almost always asks about the event or the team.
- It's okay to think small — Tens and twenties add up. Next year I plan to recruit people to have a yard sale with all or part of the proceeds going to MS. Our team has in-kind support from two printing companies, so I can provide my fundraising recruits with signage and other assistance. Bakes sales, dinners, similar functions all can be hosted by others to benefit MS; think about the number of new ears that will hear your MS story!
Fundraising isn't easy for most of us, so just remember that when you're telling your MS story, the listener can't hear your knees knocking!
Joan joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2004 when her friend and now Blister Buddies team captain, Patty Thorpe registered to walk. Patty, diagnosed with MS over 10 years ago, shared her diagnosis with Joan early on in their friendship. The undertaking of that first Challenge Walk and the three that followed not only strengthened Patty's and Joan's friendship, it began an MS educational journey that continues well after mile fifty each year.