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Making Diabetes Fundraisers Fun

Tips for organizing successful and stress-free events

There may come a time in a life with diabetes on board when those impacted want to do. They want to be a part of change, to take action for a better future. And usually at that time, that ambition may lead to fundraising.

Asking members of your community or network for donations might feel awkward, even for the bravest of people. But here’s the good news: Done right, fundraising for your charity of choice may be a perfect blend of empowering, educational and fun.

Lisa Treese knows this. Nearly a year after her son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, she found herself ready to be part of what she likes to call the “difference makers.”

“I was doing all I could to take good care of him, but I wanted more,” she said. “I wanted to teach people who don’t know about [diabetes], and also connect with people who do.” Today, the local walk she created and developed on her own is one of the top fundraisers annually for the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI).

How does someone like Treese, a mom and teacher by trade, make that happen? By the right combination of research, planning, outreach, and yes, some faith. Here are some steps to help you make the move to successful fundraising and empowerment.

  • Choose wisely. Who do you want to fundraise for? There are a wealth of diabetes-related options, from JDRF to the American Diabetes Association to DRI to diabetes camps, individual researchers and even scholarship programs for students with diabetes. To make your choice, think hard about what you are passionate about. It’s important to choose what matters to you personally, because it will reflect in your messaging to those you ask to give. Once you’ve decided what makes you tick, research the organization(s) that align with your passions. Make sure they spend their donations wisely. Check out charitynavigator.org and ask around, and then call them and ask them the questions you care about. If they’re not quick with a response, they might not be a great match. If they are and you’ve found what you care about, you should be good to go.
  • Decide your method. Join the organization’s annual walk or gala? Build and promote your own golf, whiffle ball, tennis or other tournament or road race? It depends on your time budget (and it is important to set a time budget). Joining up on an existing event is the simplest. Most organizations will provide you with all the materials and support you need to fundraise for them, and there’s the added benefit of the opportunity to meet other people in the diabetes world.
  • If you want to launch your own event, build a team of supporters and friends who will help you make it happen. Set a monetary budget and make sure you expect to raise well more than it will cost you (as a guide, your expenses should be ten to fifteen percent of your total raised at most). And be realistic about your reach. Make sure you can bring in the people you need to make it a success by doing some early outreach/feelers.
  • Make it unique and fun for all. People hear about and are asked to take part in fundraisers all the time. Make yours special with small touches that matter. Trophies and plaques are not expensive. Consider doing some fun awards that will build a buzz for future events: “Most spirit award,” “youngest fundraiser award” and more may become incentives to draw folks in. They may be used at any fundraiser, and they make people feel good. If you are doing a large program event like a walk, a post-event party at your house that feels personal works well too. Friends will not only feel thanked, but once they see your party is fun, it might entice them to join again in future years.
  • Remember: It’s FUN, not a job. Organizing a fundraiser may get stressful, that’s why it’s always important to remember those first three letters: Fun. Make sure you surround yourself with helpers, and budget your time in a way that does not impact your entire life. And if you start to feel like the stress of doing this is getting to you, dial back a bit, and reassess your goals. (Read more on how stress may affect blood sugar.)

At the end of the day, the goal is not only to raise funds to help the world, but to feel good about the entire experience. As for Treese, she puts many hours into her annual walk, and raises over $20,000 annually for DRI. But, she says, she gets back even more. “It’s the emotional support I feel from the entire thing that really means an extra something to me,” she said. “I get that, and I get it over and over. I’m lucky.”

Moira McCarthy is an acclaimed writer, author, and public speaker who has shared her story – and lessons – on raising a child living with type 1 diabetes in the media, through books, and on her popular blog, despitediabetes.com. McCarthy has appeared on CNN LiveGood Morning America, and Fox News. She was recently recognized as the JDRF International Volunteer of the Year. Her six books include the top-selling The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children With Juvenile Diabetes and her latest Raising Teens With Diabetes: A Survival Guide For ParentsMcCarthy is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.

© 2014 The DX: The Diabetes Experience

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