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My wife, Lisa Quinn, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at 36 years old. After finding out only 2-5% of funds are allocated for stage 4 research, we decided fundraising would be a way to focus our energies toward making a difference for future generations. I believe fundraising encourages those affected to tell their story which helps process the emotions and focus their energy on something other than the diagnosis.
Prior to Lisa’s diagnosis, we had no experience with fundraising, so everything we have accomplished in the past 5 years we learned on the way. The first thing I learned was not to try and reinvent the wheel when fundraising. We modeled the NWA Metsquerade gala off another large fundraiser in Northwest Arkansas. I borrowed the forms, letters, and processes from them and customized them for our event. I had worked in restaurant management in the past, so putting on events was something I was used to doing and we knew we had no choice but to be successful.
Together with my wife and another local advocate and co-founder of the NWA Metsquerade, Kelli Davis, we have hosted the NWA Metsquerade, the national Metaribbon Challenge (an online fundraiser), Runway IV Research, a lemonade stand that my daughter ran (featured on ABC World News Tonight), a Grand Night of Giving, and numerous Facebook fundraisers which have raised over $1,200,000 after expenses for metastatic breast cancer research in the past 5 years. In addition to the local events we hosted, we have helped others to organize galas including several Metsquerades around the country, birthday fundraisers (Metabash), bingo nights (Pat’s Purse Party), walks, 5K runs, virtual events, a golf tournament, and others.
You may be asking yourself what it takes to pull off a successful fundraiser. I believe there are three things you should analyze before determining what type is best for you. First, understand that anyone can fundraise. It simply takes asking others for money. It is easier to fundraise when you are raising money for a non-profit than it is to fundraise for yourself or a for-profit organization. Not everyone feels comfortable asking others for money, but my experience is that friends, colleagues, and family want to do something to help the cause and give you support (after-all, everyone knows someone affected by cancer). It is important to understand not everyone will say “yes” to your request for funds, but a lot will. It may even surprise you who becomes your biggest supporter.
Second, decide if the fundraiser will be an in-person event or an online fundraiser. Several of the large galas started off with the organizer raising money either through the Metaribbon Challenge or doing a Facebook Fundraiser, which are both online fundraisers. This started the story process for the organizer and allowed them to see how many people would be there to support them before putting on a larger event.
Third, it is important that if you do an in-person fundraiser you have a good understanding of your network of people. This network of people are the ones who support you and will help you to put on a successful fundraiser. We recommend you invite another person to co-chair the event if it is an in-person gala or fundraiser (this will help divide the workload).
Finally, if you are going to do an in-person event, it is important to evaluate if you live in an area that will be supportive of an in-person fundraiser. Some areas may already be oversaturated with galas and it will be difficult to get sponsors and support. If this is the situation, you may opt to do an online fundraiser or something unique for the area.
Metavivor Research and Support appreciates every individual who raises money for research. There are multiple individuals at Metavivor who can give you recommendations, advice, and guidelines on fundraising for Metavivor. Please reach out to [email protected] with questions or to discuss your specific event and what it will take to accomplish it.
Thank you for taking the initiative to raise money locally for the best research nationally!
Vice-President and Director of Fundraising
Metavivor Research & Support, Inc.