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Jumpstart your online fundraising

Written by on Feb 8, 2013

A growing percentage of MS Challenge Walk fundraising occurs online — and why not? Which is easier: sending a letter to your friend in Nome, Alaska, her writing a check and returning it in your self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE), you then writing a receipt and mailing the check to the NMSS; or sending your friend an email and asking her to punch in her credit card online?

Not only does the online approach get the money into the bank more quickly, it also gives the National MS Society a bigger cut, as fewer hands need to be hired to process a check. It's a winning situation for all parties.

There are other online fundraising tools, too: you can make every email into a fundraising solicitation; a handy Facebook application can do your fundraising for you; you can promote your offline events in an online event calendar; you can even get to give you a piece of the action.

I reviewed all these tools and more at last month's Jumpstart Your Fundraising meeting. Didn't attend? A 20-minute recording of that presentation is available in the below YouTube video:

If you want more details about any of these opportunities, please email me or leave a comment. For more advice from Jumpstart, listen to the MS Challenge Talk audio recordings. To be alerted to future Jumpstart sessions, sign up for free email notifications!

Ken joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also an alumnus of the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.

Fundraising on Facebook

Written by on Jan 26, 2011

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.

Crossing the first finish line

Written by on Aug 27, 2010

So we're only a few weeks from the Challenge Walk, and something I hoped but never thought would happen has happened: I completed my fundraising goal.

It's not that I thought it was impossible to raise $1,500 — I know people who've done this walk before, and overachievers like Ken set their goals thousands higher than that minimum. I just thought it was impossible for me. I have a small family, my friends are all starving graduate students, and "spare time" in which to do fundraising activities is about as foreign to me as sub-Saharan Africa. I depended almost exclusively on my solicitation letters — and yet, somehow, it all worked out. I reached my goal.

With that strange sense of calm, I can look back at what I did and see how it worked. I sent about thirty solicitation letters, and about twenty of those recipients donated. The few no-replies were mostly long shots — cousins with burgeoning broods of children whom I rarely see. For the most part, my family has been exceedingly generous about an event they are actually quite far removed from. (Is there a prize for having the most non-regional sponsors? Because the vast majority of my donations are from Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska!)

But I also wouldn't be even close to my goal if it hadn't been for the non-solicited donations from friends. In one day, a single, unexpected cash donation moved me from "I might get close…" to "I'll definitely reach my goal!". I also earned some bonus bucks through MS-related events that haven't tallied into my count yet. A friend of mine who thought I still had another hundred to go was pleasantly surprised to learn he had actually put me over the top!

Another factor I've started noticing is my Facebook counter has been getting me some last-minute donations. Apparently, people find a cause more irresistible if you actually look like you're going to succeed in meeting your goal. Because those bonus bucks are still out there, I've gotten a few donations even after reaching $1,500, which gave me a new goal: to actually raise the money I'd gotten in fundraising remission. It would be an amazing sense of accomplishment if I could actually "cancel out" the bonus bucks I thought I'd have to rely on!

I started this fundraising process thinking I'd be very lucky to make even half of the minimum, and I solicited without really expecting much response. But the one thing that has kept surprising me throughout this endeavor is the unexpected generosity people will show for a good cause. This Challenge Walk has given me a renewed hope — not just that people with MS can have better lives, but that we all can when we work together toward a worthy goal!

Kahmmie was a first-year walker in 2010 and had just started to get involved with the MS community, with the inspiration of her then significant other, Ken, this site's webmaster. She lived in the Boston area and attended graduate school full-time.

Fundraising Tip #9: Using online tools

Written by on Jul 7, 2010

The MS Challenge Walk is an annual event that gives us the sense of community we need to do what we do all year round. The rest of the year, it's difficult, if not impossible, for us to get together in person. That's why online communications, such as this blog and our Facebook page, are such wonderful opportunities to complement, not substitute, that vital face-to-face interaction. Those same venues can be used to help you meet your goal of a world free from MS.

Boundless FundraisingIf you belong to Facebook, then you can enhance your profile by displaying your fundraising progress and reminding friends how to donate. See our instructions on how to use Boundless Fundraising.

If you prefer the one-to-one communication of personal email, there's a way to make that work to your advantage, too. By adding a brief reminder of your goal to the end of every email, your friends and family will find it convenient to click to your participant center and donate online. Learn how to add an email signature.

Want to make it easy to tell people how to donate online? Don't send them a really long Web address that's hard to remember. Create your own personalized shortcut.

Finally, if you are holding or organizing a fundraising event, be sure to publicize it! Add it to our event calendar, and we'll make sure all of this blog's readers and all our Facebook fans know about it.

What other online tools are you using to fundraise for the MS Challenge Walk? What online resources can we provide you to help you meet your goal?

Ken joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also an alumnus of the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.