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Fundraising Tip #5: Ask for birthday gifts

Written by on June 9, 2010 at 11:00 am

As we get older, we tend to acculumate more "stuff". Rarely is there anything left that we truly need. When you're walking for the MS Challenge Walk, just being able to put one foot in front of the other is a gift. It's one we want to give to those with multiple sclerosis — so for your own birthday, why not ask for that?

Gift box

The best gift brings us closer to a world free from MS.

If you have a reason to celebrate this summer (or anytime, really), save your friends and family the trouble of hours of shopping for "just the right thing" that will inevitably end up being a book you won't read, a gift certificate to an unhealthy restaurant, or a knick-knack that would look just horrible in your apartment. Instead, explain to them how much this cause means to you, and that a donation to the NMSS in your name would be a far greater honor than any birthday gift you could ever ask for. Chances are your loved ones may initially be taken aback at how "impersonal" this donation is, but once they see your sincerity and earnestness and the vigor with which you are tackling the cause yourself, they'll understand that their donation is the best way to contribute to an important part of your life.

I've found the best way to celebrate my existence on this planet is to know it's helping someone else. I've been asking for non-profit donations every Christmas for the last six years, and far more good has come of it than if I'd received ugly sweaters instead.

Can't you feel the warm fuzzies already?

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.

Charity Checks make the perfect holiday gift

Written by on December 4, 2009 at 11:49 am

This month, you may find yourself exhausted from shopping expeditions for the latest knick-knacks to give the loved ones in your life. Or maybe you'll be regifting what you received last year and never found a use for, making room to receive more well-intended but useless junk. Buying more "stuff" and "things" can leave you feeling disconnected from the spirit of the season. So why not give a gift that not only everyone can use and appreciate, but actually will make the world a bit of a better place?

Charity Checks are gift certificates that can be redeemed only by registered 501(c)(3) non-profits. When you order checks — which come in denominations of $25, $50, $100, and $250 — the recipient field is blank. You can then give a Charity Check to anyone as a gift, and they'll fill in their favorite charity's name and mail it to that organization. There is no additional cost or hidden fees or caveats, other than the cost of shipping (usually only $5). Checks can be ordered by check or credit card and ship US Priority Mail usually within two days, in time for the holidays. Plus, your gift will be tax-deductible.

Charity Checks let your loved ones choose the non-profit to benefit from your generosity.

Charity Checks let your loved ones choose the non-profit to benefit from your generosity.

I've been giving Charity Checks every Christmas for six years, and the response has always been phenomenal. They are not only a thoughtful and moving gift, but a timely one, as in today's economy, not all of us are able to give to charity on the scale we'd like. And though it may not be your intention, you may be doing yourself a favor as well: You'd be surprised how many of your loved ones will be so moved by your thoughtfulness that they'll return the favor by donating their newly received Charity Checks back to the NMSS.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is one of over 800,000 non-profits in the United States. Every year, MS Challenge Walkers ask their friends and family to support our cause above 799,999 others. This holiday season, consider returning the favor.

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.

The hardest part

Written by on May 20, 2009 at 11:57 am

The other day, one of my friends asked me what the hardest part of the Challenge Walk was, and, she added, "you have to tell me in one word." I knew what she was expecting my answer to be. After all, walking fifty miles is no piece of cake. And I am no athlete.
"Asking," I said.

Her eyebrows lifted. "Asking?"

I nodded. "Asking for money is the hardest part of all."

Soliciting donations in a terrible economy can be a daunting task. And for people involved with the Challenge Walk, asking for money is likely not a one-time thing. So how to you raise the $1,500 minimum, not just in year one, but in years two, three, four, five?

  1. Relationships count. Don't hesitate to email, call or write to families and friends. They love you and want to support you. Asking them for contributions includes them in your challenge. They have a vested interest in seeing you succeed.
  2. Explain why you need the money. Tell people not only about the Challenge Walk, but about the people it benefits: direct services, programming and grants. Make it personal.
  3. Partner with another group. Speak at a Rotary, Lions or Kiowans meeting and offer to "partner" with them on an event. By sharing the workload and splitting the ticket sales, both groups will benefit.
  4. Acknowledge every gift. "Thank you" isn't said enough. Say it often!
  5. Consider in-kind services. If an acquaintance isn't able to support you financially this year, consider asking him or her for for an in-kind donation.

Asking for money is never easy, but know this: the people living with MS thank you. Over and over again.

Diagnosed with MS in 1994, Patty responded the way many do: she refused to discuss it. It took her ten years to realize that silence isn't the answer. She, her friends and family formed the Blister Buddies for their first Challenge Walk in 2004. Patty is now on the Challenge Walk Steering Committee and chairs the PR Subcommittee. In November 2008, she became a member of the Greater NE Chapter's Board of Trustees.