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How to Use Email to Fire Up Your Fundraisers

You know the drill.

People sign up to take part in one of your programs with every intention of raising big bucks, but then life happens. They get distracted and, suddenly, it’s event day and they’ve hardly raised a dollar.

To change that pattern, fundraising guru Mandy O’Neill has a simple piece of advice: Give them a helpful nudge when they’re most likely to act.

People are most likely to start raising money right after they register for your event. That’s when they are most excited and engaged, said O’Neill, chief strategist for Connected Nonprofit

But here’s the kicker: you have to capture that energy before it wanes.

To do that, O’Neill recommends creating five automated emails that get sent to every new registrant over the course of eight days in the following sequence:

Day 1 — An instant welcome email

Day 2 — A prompt to self-donate

Day 4 — A script that shows them what to say when they fundraise

Day 6 — A sample fundraising email they can send to friends, family, and co-workers

Day 8 — A prompt to post on social media, with a suggested post and image

Want more practical advice and examples of what to include in those emails? Then sign up for our next Office Hours webinar featuring Mandy on Tuesday, July 9.

In addition to presenting practical solutions to get participants fundraising, Mandy will take your questions. She’ll also provide insights on how to engage donors who are about to reach fundraising thresholds, how to get them fired up before your event, how to thank them afterwards … and much more.

Register now!

Inside SickKids Foundation’s Bold Decision to End a Successful Walk Program

SickKids Get Loud challenged participants to reach new heights with their fundraising.

With a prominent title sponsor, 3,000 annual participants, and revenues of $2.44 million, The Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk had all the markings of a successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

But when Nancy Jordan and her team at the SickKids Foundation looked under the hood, they worried that the 5-year-old walk event had already seen its best days.

So they took a bold step and started over.

Instead of trying to squeeze dollars from what was still a successful campaign, the SickKids Foundation decided to pull the plug and replace the Great Camp Adventure Walk with something new.

The result was SickKids Get Loud — a campaign designed to reignite the interest of some of the previous walk’s participants while also attracting an entirely new group of supporters.

While the Great Camp Adventure Walk was a 20-kilometer walk aimed at families with young children, SickKids Get Loud! followed a different formula.

The new event featured a shorter, 5-kilometer walk, followed by a music festival featuring popular bands such as Barenaked Ladies and Magic! To attend the festival, participants need to hit a fundraising minimum of $300. But any participant can take part in the walk, regardless of how much money they raise.

This new formula gave participants a greater incentive to raise money — and it helped draw more people.

SickKids Get Loud debuted in the fall of 2018 with more than 4,350 participants, $2.3 million in revenues and a spot on Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada’s ranking of the top 30 P2P programs.

More importantly, Jordan sees growth on the horizon.

SickKids is looking to draw up to 5,000 participants and raise $2.6 million this year.

What’s more, the organization has provided a blueprint for when to make the often painful decision to move on from a successful peer-to-peer campaign at the right time.

Here are four key lessons:

Know your audience — One of the biggest factors in SickKids’ decision to move on from the Great Camp Adventure Walk was its audience. The walk was designed to be very kid friendly. This was appealing to younger children and their families, but the format made it difficult to get them to keep coming back as they grew older.

“It wasn’t cool enough,” Jordan said of how the walk was seen by older kids.

As a result, participation had plateaued — and the organization was devoting considerable resources to recruit new participants each year to replace those who had aged out of the program.

Create long-term agreements with sponsors — SickKids takes an uncommon approach to sponsorships — pushing to lock its key corporate supporters into 5-year contracts rather than year-to-year agreements. This helps the organization build consistent revenue bases for multiple years. It also gives SickKids an opportunity to discuss contract extensions years before their current agreements end.

Because of this approach, Jordan said the nonprofit was able to learn years ahead of time that two of its largest initial sponsors were unlikely to return for a second contract. While this news was painful, it also gave her a heads up about a potential revenue decline.

Assess what has changed — Like some couples, nonprofits and their peer-to-peer programs can grow apart. When SickKids launched its innovative SickKids VS branding campaign in 2016, it grew increasingly difficult for Jordan and her team to connect the Great Camp Adventure Walk to the nonprofit’s brand.

Rather than continuing to fit a square peg into a round hole, SickKids determined that it might work better to develop a new program that was more aligned with its new brand.

Break old habits — As peer-to-peer programs begin to age, it becomes more difficult to break bad habits. In the case of the Great Camp Adventure Walk, SickKids continually drew a large number of $0 fundraisers — or those who raised only a small amount of money.

And once that habit becomes a part of a campaign’s culture, it’s difficult to break.

Rebranding the campaign and giving it a new format gave SickKids an opportunity to start over, set new expectations, and change its messaging around fundraising.

Sunsetting a longtime peer-to-peer fundraising campaign isn’t easy — nor is it for everyone.

But by being thoughtful, deliberate, and creative, you can create something completely new and successful out of the ashes of a sagging program.

5 New Things Every Fundraiser Should Know

Summer is coming — and with it, you’ll hopefully have a chance to catch your breath between the hectic spring and busy fall event seasons.

Here are five things worth exploring during your down time:

Instagram’s Donation Sticker — Your campaign will soon have an opportunity to add Instagram to its social media toolkit. Instagram this month launched its new Donation Sticker feature, which allows users to attach attach a “Donation” button to their stories and connect money raised through the button to registered charities. For now, the feature is limited to a select number of nonprofits — but it likely won’t be long before your organization can leverage it for its own P2P campaigns.

Getting Your Fundraisers to Come BackA new report by Classy finds that peer-to-peer fundraising pages on its platform that are started by return fundraisers raised more than twice as much money on average as pages created by one-time fundraisers $501 vs. $222, respectively. But here’s the rub: only 14 percent of fundraisers returned for a second time. Luckily, we have some practical advice on how to get your fundraisers to come back.

Ideas for Your Next Campaign — Looking to reach a new audience with a new campaign? The ever-growing Big List of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising includes nearly 140 ideas for P2P campaigns. Our latest favorite? The “Don’t Talk-A-Thon”, in which supporters take an oath of silence to raise money for Project ALS.

Insights from Amsterdam — Peer-to-peer fundraising is growing quickly in the Netherlands — and new research from Peerworks Consulting includes some great lessons for fundraisers in North America. Learn more.

Building Better Corporate Partnerships — Cycle for Survival continues to set new records — reaching $42 million in revenues from more than 245,000 donors this year. Katie Klein, director of fundraising events for Memorial Sloan Cancer Center, will share how the series has been working with new corporate partners to help bolster its revenues in a webinar on June 13.

Canadian P2P Fundraising Programs Increased Revenues in 2018


Fundraising revenue for Canada’s 30-largest peer-to-peer fundraising programs increased 1 percent in 2018, to $243.3 million, according to the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Thirty survey of Canadian fundraising programs.

It marks the first time in the survey’s five-year history that revenues increased for these bellwether programs and shows that efforts by a number of Canadian charities to retool their programs are paying off.

“All across Canada, nonprofits are seeing strong results in their peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns,” said David Hessekiel, president of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada, which produces the annual survey. “Growth is coming from some familiar names — as well as some newcomers who are energizing a new generation of supporters who are eager to raise money for their favorite charities.”

The Ride to Conquer Cancer tops the list of Canada’s largest peer-to-per fundraising programs.

The Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Thirty survey ranks the 30 largest peer-to-peer fundraising programs in Canada.    

Peer-to-peer fundraising is the practice of having a nonprofit’s supporters take part in an activity such as a walk, bike ride or challenge and reach out to their friends, family members and colleagues for donations.

Survey Highlights

This year’s survey of the top 30 programs is led by The Princess Margaret Cancer Center’s The Ride to Conquer Cancer, which saw its revenues total $41.8 million, up more than 6 percent from $39.4 million in 2017.

The Ride, which drew an estimated 10,000 participants in four cities, has held the title of Canada’s largest P2P program since the survey began tracking campaigns in 2014.

The Terry Fox Foundation’s The Terry Fox Run, moved into second place on the list, with $24.7 million — up 2.4 percent compared with 2017. The Terry Fox Run leapfrogged over the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life campaign, which posted $23.7 million in revenues and ranked No. 3 in the survey.

Despite being one of Canada’s oldest and most established P2P programs, The Terry Fox Run has seen significant gains in recent years — even as other longstanding programs have struggled.

“The Terry Fox Run shows that with a disciplined approach, long-running peer-to-peer programs can resonate with supporters for decades,” Hessekiel said. “At a time when many nonprofits are experimenting with fundraising via live streaming and other technology, The Terry Fox Run demonstrates that there’s still room for traditional programs to thrive.”

In a fitting bookend to the Terry Fox Run, this year’s survey also includes a brand-new program —SickKids Foundation’s SickKids GetLoud, an event that was part walk and part music festival.

This first-year event pulled in $2.3 million and helped the SickKids Foundation sunset a previous program, the Great Camp Adventure, which was discontinued in 2018.

Other highlights from the survey include:

    • SickKids Foundation had the fastest-growing large campaign in North America in 2018. Its Great Cycle Challenge saw its revenues increase by a 86.4 percent to almost $4 million. This was the largest percentage increase of any campaign in Canada or the U.S. in 2018.
    • Two hockey-themed campaigns were among Canada’s fastest-growing programs of 2018. Hockey Helps the Homeless, held at 13 sites across Canada, pulled in more than $4.2 million, up 21.3 percent over the previous year. Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation’s Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer, meanwhile, raised nearly $2.7 million, up 3 percent.
    • Blue Sea Philanthropy’s Coldest Night of the Year also continued its growth trend, raising just short of $5 million in 2018, up 6.1 percent from $4.7 million in 2017. Coldest Night of the Year’s revenues have doubled since 2014.
  • Another new arrival to the list is Heart and StrokeFoundation’s My Own Fundraiser, which raised $3.2 million — making it one of the few DIY themed campaigns to make the top 30 in either the U.S. or Canada.

Download the Top 30 Narrative and Dataset

 Top 10 list

  1. Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer — Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation ($41.82 million)
  2. The Terry Fox Run, Terry Fox Foundation ($24.65 million)
  3. Relay for Life, Canadian Cancer Society ($23.7 million)
  4. Movember Canada, Movember Canada ($16.87 million)
  5. CIBC Run for the Cure, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation ($16.2 million)
  6. Jump Rope for Heart, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada ($13.33 million)
  7. MS Bike, MS Society of Canada ($8.68 million)
  8. MS Walk, MS Society of Canada ($8.13 million)
  9. World Partnership Walk, Aga Khan Foundation Canada ($7.2 million)
  10. Big Bike, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada ($7.05 million)

Facebook is Coming: Is Your Nonprofit Prepared?

As we start a new year, I’ve been thinking a lot about what will impact P2P fundraisers the most in 2019.

And I keep coming back to one thing: Facebook.

While Facebook has been allowing individuals to raise money on the platform for about three years, it has only recently been stepping up its efforts to partner directly with charities and fundraising platforms.

The social networking site said in November that it has raised more than $1 billion for charities and personal causes — with roughly $300 million coming through DIY-style birthday fundraisers hosted on the platform.

Facebook’s huge user base clearly offers huge opportunities for nonprofits that manage P2P programs — and organizations such as the National Kidney Foundation, March of Dimes, and Susan G. Women for the Cure have already been integrating Facebook into their existing programs.

But partnering with Facebook also has drawbacks — namely that it requires nonprofits to give up access to donor data. As more nonprofits undoubtedly jump on board in 2019, it will be interesting to see whether they are able to successfully build relationships with the new donors who contribute through the platform.

To help you wrestle with how — and whether — to integrate Facebook into your program, we’ve put together some interactive sessions at our annual conference in New Orleans on Feb. 27-28.

During the course of this year’s event, you’ll have a chance to hear from Facebook’s Kendra Sinclair, P2P fundraising professionals from the National Kidney Foundation and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and experts from Blackbaud.

Register now!

‘The Ultimate Team Captain’ Honoured as North America’s Top Volunteer Fundraiser

oCash, Sweat & Tears Award Winner Chris McPhee’s Cycling Team Has Raised Nearly $700,000 for Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

Chris McPheeChris McPhee is the type of supporter nonprofits dream about.

The 42-year-old paramedic has personally raised $30,000 for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation through the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. But the ride’s organizers say his work leading the Paramedics for the Cure ride team — an effort that has raised nearly $700,000 for the organization — is both inspiring and extraordinary.

In recognition of his inspiring example, the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum is honouring McPhee as the 2018 recipient of the Cash, Sweat & Tears Award as North America’s outstanding volunteer fundraiser.

In addition to his fundraising work, McPhee also coordinates efforts to have paramedics and law enforcement officials donate their time and ambulances to ensure the safety of participants in the event — and shares his time and expertise to help organize other teams that participate in the ride.

“We wish we could clone Chris McPhee,” says Steve Merker, vice president of business development for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. “Good team captains are vital to the success of peer-to-peer programs like ours. But exemplary team captains are few and far between — and Chris is truly an exemplary team captain.”

The Cash Sweat & Tears award honours an extraordinary volunteer who has gone above and beyond to conduct peer-to-peer fundraising for charity. McPhee received the award during a ceremony tonight in Miami at the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum conference.

In peer-to-peer fundraising, a nonprofit’s supporters reach out to their friends, family and colleagues for donations often in connection with an activity such as a walk or ride. Collectively, these campaigns raise billions for nonprofits across North America.

The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer is Canada’s largest peer-to-peer fundraising program, raising more than $39.4 million in 2017, according to Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada’s survey of Canada’s 30 largest campaigns.

And McPhee has been a driving force in its success.

McPhee began participating in the ride in 2009 in honour of his mother and mother-in-law, both of whom had died following battles with cancer. In 2010, he joined the Paramedics for a Cure team — and was asked to take over as team captain four years later.

Since then, he has worked to build the size and impact of Paramedics for a Cure — growing it from 10 riders who raised more than $25,000 to a group that counted more than 50 riders who raised $130,000 in 2017. All told, the team has raised nearly $700,000 for Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation during the past seven years alone.

“It’s humbling and rewarding when you look back and know that this has made a difference,” says McPhee, who has been an avid cyclist since he was a teenager and is passionate about working to find a cure for cancer.

McPhee says he is constantly energized by the experience — and that he works to instill passion in others who care about finding a cure.

“You experience an overwhelming feeling of emotion when you cross the finish line each year. For me, it was images of all of the people I’ve lost and people I’ve encountered in my job as a paramedic,” he said. “I want others to experience that same feeling of crossing the finish line. That’s one of the huge motivating factors I have for bringing all of these people together.”

Merker says McPhee has become an ambassador for the cause — and has inspired countless supporters to not only take part in the ride, but to raise money.

“He’s not just passionate. He has this gift of being able to inspire others,” Merker says. “He has an amazing ability to create energy and get people excited. When he invites you to get involved, you can’t say no.”

These qualities are what ultimately set McPhee apart from a field of other outstanding volunteers from the United States and Canada who were nominated for the award, said David Hessekiel, president and founder of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum.

“Team captains are vital to the success of peer-to-peer fundraising programs — and Chris is really the ultimate team captain,” Hessekiel said. “Not only is he active in riding and raising money, his infectious spirit pushes countless others to get on a bike and support the fight against cancer. He’s an amazing example of what peer-to-peer fundraising is all about.”

In addition to the Cash, Sweat & Tears Award trophy, McPhee gets a $1,000 check from award sponsor Blackbaud.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Thirty Survey Shows an Industry in Transition

2017 Top Thirty Benchmarking Survey Results Released


Fundraising revenue for Canada’s 30-largest peer-to-peer fundraising programs declined 1.5 percent in 2017 to $238.8 million, according to the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Thirty survey of the nation’s largest fundraising programs.

The modest drop follows several years of more substantial declines in revenue among these 30 bellwether programs and suggests brighter days ahead for many groups. More than half of the campaigns in this year’s survey, in fact, saw revenues increase or stay even in 2017.

“2017 was an encouraging year for Canadian charities that manage peer-to-peer fundraising programs,” said David Hessekiel, president of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada, which produces the annual survey. “A number of prominent programs are thriving — and a number of other organizations have been adding new programs and campaigns that augment their longstanding campaigns.”

A number of campaigns saw significant growth, headlined by Canada’s largest peer-to-peer program, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation’s Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. The campaign saw a massive 13 percent increase in 2017 and posted record revenue of $39.4 million.

Blue Sea Philanthropy’s Coldest Night of the Year also boasted another record year, with revenues totaling more than $4.7 million — a 21.8 percent increase over its total in 2016. The results made Coldest Night of the Year the fastest-growing large peer-to-peer fundraising program in North America.

“Coldest Night of the Year is leading a wave of newer Canadian peer-to-peer programs that are building strong connections with their supporters and spurring them to take action,” said Bill Wood, president and CEO of FrontStream, makers of the Panorama peer-to-peer fundraising and engagement platform, and sponsor of the 2017 survey.  “Each year, Blue Sea Philanthropy stays ahead of the curve by listening to participants and adjusting their online strategies to inspire 120 communities across the country to go the extra mile for good causes.”

The Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Thirty survey ranks the 30 largest peer-to-peer fundraising programs in Canada.    

Peer-to-peer fundraising is the practice of having a nonprofit’s supporters take part in an activity such as a walk, bike ride or challenge and reach out to their friends, family members and colleagues for donations.

In the past, peer-to-peer fundraising was dominated by large national health charities that played host to multi-city events.

But the landscape has shifted in recent years with the explosion of social media and independent peer-to-peer fundraising in which individuals can easily launch their own campaigns to raise money for their favorite charities.

“Peer-to-peer fundraising is becoming much more diverse — and much more efficient — than ever before,” Hessekiel said. “Nonprofits report that they are taking steps to make sure they are managing their costs and getting more bang for their investments.”

Other highlights from the survey include:

  • SickKids Foundation is seeing significant growth among two of its peer-to-peer programs — Great Cycle Challenge and the Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk. Both campaigns are among Canada’s five fastest-growing peer-to-peer programs — an impressive achievement considering the fact that both programs are new. Great Cycle Challenge debuted in 2016, while the Great Camp Adventure Walk started in 2013.
  • The Terry Fox Run — the oldest campaign in the survey and Canada’s third-largest peer-to-peer fundraising program — saw revenues increase by 2.5 percent in 2017. It marked the second-straight year of strong growth for the program, which raised more than $24 million.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada conducts the survey with sponsorship support from FrontStream.

Download the Top 30 Narrative and Dataset

 Top 10 list

  1. Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation ($39.4 million)
  2. Relay for Life, Canadian Cancer Society ($25 million)
  3. The Terry Fox Run, Terry Fox Foundation ($24.1 million)
  4. CIBC Run for the Cure, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation ($17 million)
  5. Movember Canada, Movember Canada ($15.5 million)
  6. Jump Rope for Heart, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada ($12.7 million)
  7. MS Bike, MS Society of Canada ($8.5 million)
  8. MS Walk, MS Society of Canada ($8.4 million)
  9. World Partnership Walk, Aga Khan Foundation Canada ($7.6 million)
  10. Big Bike, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada ($7.5 million)

How Moves Management Can Improve Your P2P Results

If you are looking to convert more of your low-dollar fundraisers into high achievers, consider adopting Moves Management.

Moves Management is the process of stewarding donors from entry-level to major donors using a series of planned touches or “moves”.

And if it’s employed properly, Moves Management can help your P2P program move its revenues to an entirely new level.

Just ask Kristin Flickinger, who employed Moves Management strategy to engage donors who took part in AIDS/LifeCycle and saw an immediate $1 million increase in revenue.

“Moves Management in a peer-to-peer context is more about stewarding participants than donors,” Flickinger says. “While the ultimate goal is to raise more money, that’s done by inspiring and empowering the participant to make asks and steward their contacts/donors.”

To do that, Flickinger and her team developed goals and benchmarks for its participants using historical fundraising and participant data — then used those benchmarks and data to develop a series of communications efforts and incentives that aimed to move each participant to a higher level of giving.

The AIDS/LifeCycle team analyzes data to determine how much individual participants have raised, develops a series of incentives for participants in different fundraising levels and targets them with specific asks.

“Depending on what the data suggests regarding where people need to be with fundraising in order to be retained, or achieve a certain fundraising level, you develop calling periods to impact those brackets of people,” Flickinger says. “Incentives are placed to assist with the upward movement, and messaging is crafted according to overarching communication themes.”

You can learn more about how to employ Moves Management at your P2P program during a special webinar on Thursday, Oct. 26.

Register now to learn how AIDS/LifeCycle used Moves Management to increase its fundraising totals — and how you can use the same strategy to improve results at your program.

Will Your Leadership Go the Extra Mile for Your P2P Program?

When climbers began their ascent of Toronto’s CN Tower in April to raise money for WWF Canada, they stood alongside 9,000 athletes and passionate supporters.

But there was one participant who carried a special title up each of the 1,776 steps to the top of Toronto’s tallest landmark — David Miller, WWF Canada’s president and CEO.

Many top executives talk a good game when it comes to supporting the P2P programs at their organizations. But Miller was willing to go the extra mile to show his support for his team — and to give thanks those who are willing to raise money for the organization.

“He felt that it’s important as a leader to step up, as you will, and show that the organization supports the event,” said Carey Suleiman, WWF Canada’s Director of Community Giving. “Having the organization’s leadership be willing to put their tennis shoes behind it really resonated with a lot of the people who took part in the climb.”

Miller’s participation was one of many highlights of this year’s climb. Fundraising revenue totaled $1.4 million — a healthy jump from the $1.225 million raised in 2016 and a record for the event.

And for an event that is attractive to corporate fundraising teams, Suleiman said Miller’s support carries an especially powerful message — a message that is likely to resonate as they organization seeks to attract climbers for its 2018 event.

“Joining thousands of Canadians climbing 1,776 steps to the top of the Tower is an incredible experience,” Miller says. “I can’t overstate the energy, the enthusiasm and the unity of purpose as we all joined together, right here in Toronto, to raise money to stop the degradation of nature.”

Fewer Participants, More Revenue: A Reverse Model for P2P

Peer-to-peer fundraising has long been built on the idea that more is better. More events and more participants bring more dollars, which, in turn, more help to those in need.

But the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is proving that the opposite can also be true.

MMRF, which raises money to combat a specific strain of cancer that annually affects about 30,000 people in the U.S., has been experimenting with a new campaign that brings together small groups of passionate supporters to participate in adventure-based P2P events.

The campaign, Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma, succeeds because of participation is exclusive — as small as 12-15 people per excursion — and the level of interaction among participants is high.

To date, MMRF has played host to 6 treks to exotic locations such as Mt. Kilimanjaro, Machu Picchu and Mt. Fuji — and it has been able to underwrite the cost of staging the event through sponsorship from a pharmaceutical company that provides treatment for the disease.

And the results have been extraordinary — 112 participants have raised $1.2 million for the organization during these six events.

“This is a very different type of program,” says Alicia O’Neill, MMRF’s director of partnerships and business development. “You have to set up each group to be high touch. This is almost like stewardship of major donors in a development office.”

Such a model won’t work for every organization. But it can be highly successful, particularly if an organization is able to meet some or all of the following conditions:

A Strong Community

Unlike some nonprofits that raise money to fight diseases, multiple myeloma is a disease that affects a relatively small population. As a result, MMRF doesn’t have a huge base of supporters who have a close connection to the cause.

It does, however, have a highly committed group of supporters — many of whom have a close connection to the organization and its work.

This intimacy between the organization and its supporters lends itself to smaller, more focused events. It also means that some of its supporters are willing to take on extreme challenges and devote significant time to raising money on its behalf.

“We’re not an organization that is going to have a 1,000-person ride,” O’Neill said. “But we’re going to have 18 people who want to cross the country to raise $400,000.”

MMRF is careful to ensure that each person who takes part in the excursions has a close connection to the cause — either as a patient, a family member of a patient, or a medical professional who works with multiple myeloma.

A Committed Sponsor

Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma’s financial model is built, in large part, on the fact that participants do not have to pay for their trips.

Instead, those costs are underwritten by a sponsor, Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

The company agreed to sponsor the programs to help market a new drug that it had developed to help multiple myeloma patients.

“We don’t pay for people’s trips,” O’Neill said. “But with the support of Takeda, we have a grant that allows us to cover all of the costs.”

The sponsorship means that MMRF doesn’t need to cut into fundraising revenues to pay for the trip — and participants don’t have to worry about shelling out their own money for the effort. In turn, this frees them to focus on raising more money to support the organization.

A ‘High Touch’ Approach

Unlike larger events, Moving Mountains succeeds because of its intimacy.

Not only are participants carefully selected, they are also mentored by MMRF staff — and each other — throughout the process.

Participants are part of a private Facebook group, where they get to know each other as they train for the event, have personal get-togethers months before the event, and are guided through the journey by MMRF.

“I’m right there with them,” O’Neill said. “I’m training. I’m climbing the mountain. I’m fundraising. I’m experiencing everything that I’m asking them to do.”

To go big, sometimes it pays to think small!