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How A Personal Invitation Led to Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Success

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My wife, our four kids and me all ran together recently for a 5k being held for ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation in Richmond, Virginia. Just to get this out of the way, I had a terrible time, but didn’t take any breaks from running. My wife finished 5th in her group, our daughter finished 3rd in her division, and everybody had fun.

Here’s the thing. We’re not the kind of family you’re thinking of.

We’re not a “running/outdoors family”. We had a great time hiking in Sedona and the Grand Canyon a couple of years ago, and we live in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, so we enjoy some light hiking from time to time. But our Saturdays involve playing board games, watching movies or going out to eat more often than exercising together.

We’re also not really connected to ASK either. None of our kids have had cancer, and while we are friends with someone living in that situation, they were at a different hospital from the one ASK is associated with. ASK does use Bloomerang, and I helped get them on board, so when my wife Emily asked if I wanted to run in their 5k, I thought that would be pretty cool; but we don’t have any personal, emotional connections.

But Emily knows someone who does. One of her former co-workers has been served by ASK and now enthusiastically runs in their 5k. And through peer-to-peer fundraising on Facebook and ASK’s website, Emily heard about the race and we all decided to participate.

Think about the power of peer-to-peer here for a second. I peruse nonprofit website constantly and see hundreds if not thousands of events advertised. As a family, we attend a handful of events near where we live that generally are held by organizations important to us. But we drove an hour and half (leaving the house at 7:45am on a Saturday. With a teenager.) to participate in a 5k because one of my wife’s friends asked us to.

I have no idea what our entry fees were, but with six tickets purchased, it wasn’t a tiny amount.

And ASK knocked it out of the park. Everyone had a great time. They passed out candy on the route for the kids, had a great rock cover band at the finish line for adults, and had people dressed up as Star Wars characters to take pictures with for everybody. Plus a fair amount of food at the end – bananas, granola bars, donuts, popcorn, etc. The kids have already declared we WILL be running again next year.

If ASK can do some reasonable thank you follow ups to stay in front of those new donors, they have a chance to turn a once a year event into a relationship-establishing bonanza that can help them year-round.

All that from peer-to-peer fundraising, excellent event planning and execution and a fun Saturday morning.

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