By Juliet Davenport, Nonprofit Ambassador at DonationMatch
This week we are excited to spotlight the Scleroderma Foundation, Greater San Diego Chapter!
Scleroderma is a group of rare, progressive diseases that involve the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues — the fibers that provide the framework and support for your body. The purpose of the Foundation's San Diego Chapter is to "support the National Foundation's mission of Support, Education and Research." They hold a variety of events, from support and education meetings to walks and social events.
Here's a peek at their planning process from Kelly Davidson, Executive Director, and Cyndy Martin, Treasurer and Walk Co-Chair:
What kinds of events does your organization hold each year?
Cyndy: Walk-a-thon fundraiser, free Patient Education Day, Ice Cream Social, Holiday Party with raffle, monthly support group meetings, bi-monthly chapter meetings. This year we plan to add a Padres Day fundraiser and a golf tournament.
What are your biggest fundraising event planning challenges?
Cyndy: Publicity! Getting more people to attend.
What are your most highly attended events?
Kelly: The Walk is by far the most highly attended event. The 2nd most highly attended is an annual patient education day where we typically schedule 3 to 4 expert physicians who speak specifically about scleroderma related symptoms and treatments.
How do you make your Walk-a-thon unique?
Kelly: We try to make it a Family Fun Day, and not just a 5K Walk. The location is somewhat unique in that it's right by the water on beautiful Shelter Island. We try to have something for everyone - massage chairs, music, classic car displays, and a kid zone with face painting, bounce house, obstacle course and craft booth. We try to make it educational, so we invite other autoimmune disease organizations. And, we entice folks to stay around for our raffle fundraiser by providing a food truck with healthy options.
Which events raise the most money, and which help you raise awareness the best?
Kelly: The Walk definitely helps raise the most money and also gives us the most awareness. Our core members reach out to their extended friends and family to request donations and attendance at the walk. In addition, posts about the walk get more attention than any others on Facebook. It generates excitement and is something folks like to share.
What ideas and support has the national organization given you?
Kelly: Our National organization provides our fundraising site which enables everyone to have one common focus for fundraising, yet allows for personal fundraising pages. They set up the basic structure and auto-responders which are then customized by us at the chapter level. They also conduct an Annual Patient Conference each year and hold a leadership day where chapter leaders can share and learn from each other.
Do you have a favorite story of how your organization helped someone?
Cyndy: My favorite story is my own! I was diagnosed with scleroderma in 2010. I quickly experienced the 'Sclero-What?' syndrome of no one, not even many doctors, kn[owing] what it was. It was through the Scleroderma Foundation that I learned all about my disease, treatment options my doctors were not offering me, and met others coping and living well with the disease. In 2012 my disease became very aggressive and life threatening. Again, it was through the Foundation's education day, patient conference, and my new friends that I learned about clinical trials for stem cell transplants for scleroderma. In November 2012 I underwent a stem cell transplant that I believe saved me from becoming terminal. I now enjoy helping others on this path.
What is your favorite dessert?
Cyndy: Lemon Meringue Pie!
Kelly: Chocolate creme brulee!
Thank you both for all the good work you do, and good luck at your Walkathon on June 23rd!