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Another spring — time to kickstart my fundraising

Written by on June 5, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Okay, I know what you are going to say. And you're right: I should be fundraising all year long in preparation for the MS Challenge Walk. When I was on staff at the Greater New England Chapter and overseeing the MS Challenge Walk, I couldn't fathom why a person would wait till the spring to start their fundraising for the September event. But here I am, starting in spring.

I have enjoyed getting back into the swing of my team's fundraising efforts. My focus for this year was to create an informative, personal, and meaningful solicitation message for 2014. In addition, I am attempting to send as many 1:1 emails as possible to past donors and new friends/colleagues that I might solicit for the National MS Society. Simply, this means that I will be sending out more emails and personalizing them as much as possible to better target the donor.

Here is the trick, though: to really reach, connect, and engage a friend to give to the National MS Society, I need to think about how that person will mentally and emotionally receive what I've written, and what part of my family's MS journey is important to them.

For example, when I had a significant MS attack last August, many friends reached out to show support and hear how I was doing. Well, you better believe that in this year's solicitation message to those folks, I will highlight what we went through together last summer as a motivator to stay involved. Other friends like to discuss the impact that research will have on eradicating multiple sclerosis. For those people, I'll have to work in a few points about the cutting edge research done through the National MS Society.

Given my work schedule, I tend to send my NMSS solicitations in the evening. Being tired after a long day, it is hard for me to avoid sending out one email to a group of people for the sake of efficiency and time. But I find when I send out the 1:1 solicitation emails that the response rate and dollars donated are higher.

How is your fundraising going this year? On behalf of the MS Challenge Walk Steering Committee, might we be of service in any way to you or your team?

Todd, formerly the Director of Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is now the the Regional Director of FAS Capital Giving at Harvard University. In addition to reading his blog posts, you can also find Todd on Twitter.

Let the fundraising begin!

Written by on March 28, 2011 at 10:27 am

I was in Columbia, South Carolina, for the weekend as my family there hosted our team's annual fundraising golf tournament. It is always a beautiful time of year down there, and a great time is had out on the course. My deepest thanks and love go out to my family for continuing to support the National MS Society by organizing this fundraising tournament each year.

Our family's team fundraising campaign is kicked off each year with golf tournament, which raises a significant portion of the team's funds. We are fortunate for so many wonderful personal and corporate supporters.

Now that we have entered our fundraising season, I look forward to reaching out to friends, family and new co-workers (if done selectively) to ask them to support our family's team at the upcoming MS Challenge Walk. As I've been mentally (and manually) organizing my "ask", and starting to compile a list of people to solicit, I am eager to take advantage of the online tools in my Participant Center.

While its functionality (and ease) is great, I don't it to lull me into laziness in my solicitations. It would be easiest to import all the email addresses from my contact list into my Participant Center and shoot out a generic email to all, asking them for money. While there is a group of people to whom I will send such an email, I'll avoid this approach for just everyone. When you think about it, there are some people who should be sent an individualized email or letter. I mean, isn't the money they give valuable enough to take another moment to send them a special correspondence. I think it is.

The point is this: think about each person to whom you are soliciting. If someone falls into the category of receiving a more general email, that is fine. But if you come across someone who for whatever reason prompts your mind (or heart) to pause and suggest you send a personalized correspondence, follow your instincts and go that route. If you need help writing your letter, check out our advice and templates. The extra minute it will take to send them a personal solicitation may just turn out to be your biggest donor because of the attention and care you showed them. The money they give is worth your investment of time.

Todd, formerly the Director of Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is now the the Regional Director of FAS Capital Giving at Harvard University. In addition to reading his blog posts, you can also find Todd on Twitter.

Ideas for workplace fundraising

Written by on February 16, 2011 at 11:39 am

For those who read my first blog post on the subject, you'll know that I am trying to uncover a little information and guidance about how to solicit donations from colleagues at my new job.

While every work culture is different, I plan to selectively solicit new professional colleagues with whom I have already developed a bond. I'm not gearing up to email the entire department asking for money. They work in fundraising already, and at least half of the recipients wouldn't know me from a hole in the wall. But I'll create a list of 15–25 employees with whom I can correspond with confidence that they will donate. My stretch goal then will be to have others hear about what I'm doing at the MS Challenge Walk and want to donate because they have been touched in some way by MS.

As part of my research, I have uncovered several resources. I don't know if these are practical for me in the first year of my new work, but they are great ideas that I wish to share. There are some really cool workplace party ideas here that could easily be a fundraising. eHow provides some basic charity fundraising ideas for the workplace. There is good money to be made with ten fun and great fundraising ideas for your workplace. And if that's not enough, here are one hundred fundraising ideas at work.

Could you envision your workplace doing any of these? If so, start making them happen!

Todd, formerly the Director of Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is now the the Regional Director of FAS Capital Giving at Harvard University. In addition to reading his blog posts, you can also find Todd on Twitter.

Fundraising on Facebook

Written by on January 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

As we start to kick our team's fundraising into gear, I activated the Facebook "Boundless Fundraising" tool recently. For those who haven't seen this yet, just log into your Participant Center, click on the "Fundraise with Facebook" icon near the end of the page, and it will take you through a few easy steps so that you can fundraising for the Challenge Walk directly through your Facebook page!

Although this application no longer offers a thermometer on your profile like it used to, it will still share your fundraising progress with your friends, encouraging them to help you reach your goal. You'll need to issue these updates manually, not automatically like before. Full instructions are available online.

Boundless Fundraising

Fundraising on Facebook is just a click away.


Boundless Fundraising is really an easy process and usually results in donations from old friends that you wouldn't have normally secured. Good luck fundraising!

Todd, formerly the Director of Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is now the the Regional Director of FAS Capital Giving at Harvard University. In addition to reading his blog posts, you can also find Todd on Twitter.

Fundraising at a new job?

Written by on January 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm

As you may know, I am in a new professional capacity this year and as such am learning the currents around my new office environment at the Harvard College Fund. This change also means that I will be able to return to walking again at the MS Challenge Walk in September with my family's team, Krohne's Buzzards!

One of my fundraising goals this year is to solicit my new colleagues for financial support for the Challenge Walk. But I don't know quite how to do that yet. There are so many new (and unforeseen) turns in a new job, but also I know that there are a ton of generous and supportive people at Harvard. How/what/when/where can or can't I ask them to contribute?

As the year goes along, I hope to uncover many of these answers and will keep you posted. Maybe it will help as you fundraise "around the water cooler". In the meantime, if you have any ideas or suggestions, please don't hesitate to share.

Todd, formerly the Director of Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is now the the Regional Director of FAS Capital Giving at Harvard University. In addition to reading his blog posts, you can also find Todd on Twitter.

My favorite time of year

Written by on July 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm

This is a wonderful time of year: summer fun, swimming, BBQ, vacation, and making final preparations for the MS Challenge Walk. That last summer favorite I just listed may sound a little strange, but I relish the later summer months when we as staff lock down all the Challenge Walk event logistics, send the Travel and Information Guide, create the cabin assignments at the Sea Camps, and put the finishing touches on all the festivities and evening programs with the MS Challenge Walk Steering Committee.

By the time we get to the crew training night on August 11 at our Waltham office, I will be fully immersed in Challenge Walk "spirit". Each year, that night brings back those special memories about Challenge Walk weekend. Seeing the familiar faces of crew members at the meeting reminds us staff of all the wonderful relationships we've developed over the years and gets us excited to make new friends.

The staff will make numerous trips to the Cape throughout the year to plan for the Challenge Walk. I love the feeling of driving to the Cape Cod Sea Camps and heading up that long driveway to the big white house. Special memories flood through me as I view the walk route, and it reminds of priceless moments spent with walkers and crew.

Todd and Ken. Photo by Steve Sookikian.

It won't be long before the NMSS staff is back at the Sea Camps with all their friends!

You as Challenge Walkers have spent the entire year preparing for September. Many sacrifices of your time and energy have been expended while you train and raise vital dollars for the MS community. We recognize the amazing commitment you have made to creating a world free from MS by walking in the MS Challenge Walk.

On behalf of the National MS Society staff and the MS Challenge Walk Steering Committee, we truly appreciate your support. We are excited and will be ready to give you a great Challenge Walk experience come September.

Todd, formerly the Director of Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is now the the Regional Director of FAS Capital Giving at Harvard University. In addition to reading his blog posts, you can also find Todd on Twitter.

Fundraising and team-spirit contests

Written by on June 19, 2010 at 11:35 am

Raising $1,500 is a challenge for all walkers. The NMSS's goal is to support and encourage your fundraising efforts every step of the way. With that in mind, we are offering two special fundraising incentives for walkers and teams at the Challenge Walk.

One of the keys to successful fundraising for the MS Challenge Walk is to ask absolutely everyone for support. The more donors you solicit, the more donations you get! The walker with the highest number of donors as of August 15th will "feel the love" and receive special recognition along the walk route and lunch stop each day and during the evening programs.

Another important part of the MS Challenge Walk is teams, which help their members strive for even greater heights. The team with the highest per-walker fundraising average as of August 15th will also be given special recognition along the walk route each day and during the evening programs. In addition, they will receive premium transportation on Sunday from the Wixon School Prefinish BBQ to the Hyannis Transportation Center before the finish line walk and closing ceremony.

Keep up the good work fundraising and recruiting others to join the movement at the MS Challenge Walk. We need your help in continuing to grow this wonderful event. Don't forget to utilize the new and exciting MS Challenge Walk videos on YouTube as a fundraising and recruitment tool.

If you would like to discuss your fundraising campaign and brainstorm new fundraising strategies, please contact us at mschallenge@nmss.org or 800-344-4867 option 2. You can also sign up to receive regular email updates , including a weekly fundraising idea.

Todd, formerly the Director of Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is now the the Regional Director of FAS Capital Giving at Harvard University. In addition to reading his blog posts, you can also find Todd on Twitter.

Team clothing made easy

Written by on January 13, 2010 at 11:00 am

There are many advantages to being on an MS Challenge Walk team, including support and camaraderie. We're happy to now announce yet another benefit: looking good on the route!

The NMSS has partnered with Spreadshirt.com to create an easy-to-use application to design and order MS Challenge Walk shirts and apparel. You can order as many or as few t-shirts as you want or need. They can even create and ship your order in less than 48 hours. The best part is that Spreadshirt.com will donate 20% of each order back to the National MS Society.

You can design team hats, t-shirts, jackets, and more! Choose from any style, color, cut, etc. Use the pre-selected images or upload your own. Once you have designed your product, you can order for the whole team or customize yours individually.

To let each teammate customize their apparel with their names, just email your final image to challenge@mam.nmss.org and they will add it to the program's image gallery. However, if a team captain places the entire order of shirts for the team (not ordering shirts individually), the NMSS can use this information to track purchases and then count 20% of the order toward the team's fundraising efforts.

You're already a team in spirit; now be a team in style!

Todd, formerly the Director of Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is now the the Regional Director of FAS Capital Giving at Harvard University. In addition to reading his blog posts, you can also find Todd on Twitter.