Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Is it a Yard Sale or a Really Inexpensive Department Store? Come See For Yourself.

There are so many ways to raise money for the fight against MS. If you need ideas to help you toward your fundraising goal, checkout this link

My team, the MS WARRIORS, has used a yard sale to help us raise money for Challenge Walk every year.  I'd like to share some "Hot Tips" for a successful and easy yard sale that we've learned over the years. Here are some things that work for us:

 #1  Have an awesome sign.  The title of this post is one idea for a sign I saw on Pinterest. However, we like customers to know the WHY of our yard sale, so make sure people know you are raising money for a great cause.

#2  Have an awesome organizer in charge.  This is my daughter, Annie.  Trust me, "Organized" is her middle name.

#3  Try to collect some larger items from family and friends. Furniture sells! BIG ITEMS = BIG BUCKS.

#4  Organize (there's that word again!) and price stuff by table, not by item. Whew!! This saves you a ton of work and customers really like it. Also, don't haggle. We gently remind the cheapskates...er bargainers...that the money is for charity!

#5  Highlight your really awesome junk items.  I mean who can resist a "Gone With The Wind" ornament??? (It sold, by the way!)


#6  Have a "Fill the Bag" deal at the end of your sale. Our community has a Garage Sale Facebook page that lets us communicate in the moment with customers. We used the fill-the-bag-for-a-dollar approach for the last hour of our yard sale. You really don't want that stuff back, right?! And guess what? Because it's for a great cause, people will sometimes give you more than a buck!

#7 Pray for no rain. Okay, it's out of your hands, but have a contingency plan. Like an adorable child with a bright orange umbrella to show people that rain won't close you down!

Have a great sale!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Color My World

by Jackie Piper

Only 45 days until we step off for the 2015 Challenge Walk MS in Door County

I’m thinking that there are not enough training days left. I’m thinking it’s time to immerse myself in the fundraising. I’m thinking I need to go get a new pair of walking shoes. I’m thinking lots of Challenge Walk-related thoughts.

But, mostly I’m thinking about orange.

As I train for the Challenge Walk and trek all over my smallish city, I try to always wear an orange shirt. I am participating in my 6th Challenge Walk, so I have many options when it comes to orange shirts. But, does color really matter? Ask the people involved in the breast cancer movement, who took the color pink and raised awareness around the world and rallied people to their cause. That sort of awareness translated into funding for research that has been instrumental in changing the outcomes for people with breast cancer.

I’d love to make “orange” the new “pink”.

I’d love to have the world identify the color orange with the movement to end MS forever. It can happen.  It starts with a t-shirt, a hat, a backpack, or ....an umbrella.

Last fall, while vacationing in Europe for my 40th anniversary, I pulled out my orange Challenge Walk MS umbrella to walk the rainy streets of a small Austrian town. The next day, I offered my arm to another woman from America as we walked down the steps of our tour boat. She asked, “Are you the lady with the orange umbrella?”  I said, “Yes, I am.”  She replied very simply, “You walk for me.” 

So let’s color our world.

Get your “orange” on.

Monday, June 8, 2015

“I feel this is something I should be doing for myself…”

Jay Saunders is taking the term milestone literally in marking the five year anniversary of his MS diagnosis by taking on the 50-mile Challenge Walk MS.

Jay Saunders took this selfie at Walk MS: Milwaukee.
He has 
decided to commit to Challenge Walk MS this 

year, in honor of the five-year anniversary of his MS 
A Walk MS participant since his diagnosis in 2010, he decided to make 2015 his year for Challenge Walk after talking to his colleague Fran Mclaughlin, who had done it before.

“She told me how great of an event it was and she eased any fears I had about taking this on,” he said.

“One of the big reasons I’m doing this walk is because I can. I feel blessed by the fact that, since my diagnosis, I have been relatively symptom-free. There are days I can tell I’m not my old self, but I feel this is something I should be doing for myself and for the many others impacted by this mystery disease.”

Jay was 32 when he was diagnosed. The Omaha native thought maybe it was carpal tunnel he was experiencing, but when the tingling sensation spread from his wrist up his arm and then down the side of his right leg, he knew it was time to have it checked out. He and his wife were expecting their first child at the time.

Now that baby is a “wonderful, healthy and rambunctious four-year-old girl” who will be cheering her daddy across the Challenge Walk MS finish line come September.

Asked what he’s most anxious about  … whether it’s the 50 miles of walking, the minimum $1,500 commitment, or something else … Jay said “no question, it’s the 50 miles in three days,” but that he’s doing his best to get himself in shape for it. He’s also willing to forego the big Husker game taking place that weekend – something of a major sacrifice given that he’s the founder of a University of Nebraska football/alumni group in Milwaukee.

Visit Jay’s Challenge Walk MS participant page to learn more about Challenge Walk MS, Jay’s motivation or to make a donation.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Thanks, Gus!

Did you know Alpine Resort, home to Challenge Walk MS again in 2015, is featuring Challenge Walk MS in its spring newsletter? Comments from a few of last year's participants are included! Read it here

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sister's Struggle Inspires Fundraiser to Fight MS

Challenge Walk MS veterans know the team name "K.O.'s Trio" well, and now so do readers of the Coulee News! Click here to read more about the trio, "K.O.", and the fundraiser the team is holding this month.

(Want to raise similar awareness of an event you're hosting? Check out the Challenge Walk MS publicity kit here.)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Train in Style

The design for the 2015 Training T-shirt has been revealed! This year’s look is all about what participants have said they love best about Wisconsin’s annual three-day, 50-mile, destination fundraiser for MS. 

Want yours? It’s easy. Sign up today. The shirt is free to everyone who registers for Challenge Walk MS as a walker or Super Crew member, 

Already registered? Your shirt will be delivered this month, just in time for all your outdoor spring training activities.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Timing is Everything

by Patty Thorpe
Did you know that many businesses make their sponsorship decisions for the year during the first quarter? Now is the time to hit the ground running, not with your feet, but by getting your sponsorship request out in front of potential sponsors.
I know it's hard to ask for money, but corporate sponsorship is completely different from asking your Aunt Hazel for a donation. Corporate sponsorship is a business arrangement where you offer benefits that a potential sponsor will see as valuable. It is a tool that companies use to build their brand. You can help them do that by inviting them to support one or more of your fundraising events.
Here are a few simple steps to help you get started:
  1. Understand what you have to offer. What is the target audience of your event? A golf tournament audience will be different than an ‘80s themed fundraising dance. It is important to know who your audience is and how that audience will overlap with your sponsor's target audience. Businesses like statistical information, so when reaching out to potential sponsors, include as much demographic information about your planned event as possible: projected number of attendees, age, gender, etc.
  2. Understand what sponsors are looking for and offer benefits and value that meet their needs. Benefits for sponsors include:
      • Raising a company's profile by association with Challenge Walk MS
      • Improve corporate image
      • Meet corporate responsibility by supporting a good cause
      • Hospitality opportunities by inviting clients to events
      • Improve employee morale and engagement by inviting employees to events
      • Increased exposure to desired target audience
      • Alternative marketing channels
      • Social media mentions and potential press coverage
      • Event site signage
      • Category exclusivity
      • Presence at the event
      • Logo on all collateral material
You get the idea. There are a number of benefits associated with supporting an event that helps the National MS Society. The key is pitching the sponsorship opportunity appropriately.
  1. Research potential sponsors. It's not enough to get a list from the local Chamber of Commerce website. You should research the companies you are going to approach and solicit them individually. While a broad request letter can have some success, it is much more likely you will hook a major sponsor by tailoring your request to the company's needs. It has been helpful for my team members to approach businesses in three different ways:

    a. Companies that have an association with you, personally. Think about the people you do business with: your dentist, dry cleaner, the restaurant you go to every Friday night. They already know you and are more likely to support someone they see doing business at their establishments.
    b. Local businesses that could benefit from an association with your event. These are companies you may not do business with, but who could benefit from the exposure they'll receive by being affiliated with your event.
    c. National companies who sponsor similar events.
  2. Craft a proposal letter. The letter should include details about you. Why are you doing Challenge Walk MS? What is Challenge Walk MS? Include the purpose of the fundraising event and the benefits to the sponsor.

    Be specific about what you're looking for: sponsorship to cover event costs? Discounted goods or services? Straight cash donations? In your proposal letter, it is vital to include the cost per sponsorship. As the former VP of marketing for a community bank, I used to receive numerous sponsorship requests without a specific financial request. When I received a letter without a dollar amount, I'd usually approve a $100 donation. While a $100 donation is a nice gift, the charity seeking funding may have been looking for $1,000. Bottom line: if you don't tell the company how much you want, you won't get what you need.

    For a larger event, such as a golf tournament or a dinner cruise, it may be helpful to "tier" the sponsorship levels. For example, as the "Gold Sponsor" the company would receive X; for a "Silver Sponsor," the company would receive Y in benefits.
  3. Identify the person who can say yes. Send your request directly to the person who will approve it. It is absolutely worth it to take the time to call a company and ask who handles corporate donations. That task can fall to the marketing department, community relations, or even the company president.
  4. And finally, the business relationship with a sponsor doesn't end when you receive the check. You have to ensure that the sponsor receives the benefits you offered. Follow up with a thank you letter, detailing specifically how the event reached the goals you set.

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 Cape Cod in 2004. Patty is now on the Challenge Walk Steering Committee and chairs the PR Subcommittee for the National MS Society’s Greater New England Chapter. In November 2008, she became a member of that Chapter's Board of Trustees.

Want to know more about asking for paid or in-kind sponsorships? Contact Pat Rudolph, National MS Society-Wisconsin Chapter corporate development manager, at patricia.rudolph@nmss.org or 262-369-7168.