Written by Coe London
The Challenge is ON!!!
After two years of boxing regularly with the Parkinson’s group at the Corner Boxing Club in Boulder, Colorado, and regular private sessions with various trainers, my husband, Bill, was ready to step up to yet another challenge: Founder Fights. In this event, each participant is matched with an opponent of equal age and weight. They then box three, one minute rounds.
In order to meet this challenge, Bill faced a rigorous training program. And fundraising program as the coaches wanted him and each participant to raise $ 5,000 for their designated charity. Choosing our charity was easy—The Davis Phinney Foundation. They are the Foundation that originally hooked us up with the Corner Boxing Club and linked us up with so many valuable resources in order to live well with Parkinson’s!! Exactly how we were going to raise the money was the big question.
There’s a certain fear about raising money. I’ve always felt the fear was a result of the unknown. And, asking friends to support you and your cause perhaps presents even more of a risk. But like anything worth doing, you have to dive in, evaluate how best to do it and just go for it.
Several people had suggested that we raise our money through a website. Or social media. I understand how convenient this is; however, I knew many of our donors (at 60 years plus) were not tech savvy. Secondly, I felt that in using social media we wouldn’t really be able to tell our story. And, third, as easy as it is to send an email or post on FB, it’s equally as easy for the recipient to not give right away and then totally forget about the request.
So, we took a different route. I wrote the letter telling Bill’s story of his diagnosis and how as a long time fan of boxing, he was intrigued with the possibility of starting to box to slow or possibly reverse his symptoms. It didn’t take long for him to see the results—the boxing actually alleviated his tremors and he emerged from class feeling normal and motivated to do more. He was having fun and enjoying so many new friends and support.
In the letter, I also included a concise paragraph about Davis Phinney and the Foundation and all of their good work, and I enclosed a bookmark with their contact information on it. Another paragraph was dedicated to Corner Boxing—the credentials of the coaches and the tremendous success of their Parkinson’s boxing classes.
The letter was a page and a half. I did not ask for a specific amount. The letter was signed by Bill and I hand wrote a short note asking people to join me in supporting Bill and Davis Phinney. In order to make it as easy as possible to send in that check, I enclosed a self-addressed, stamped envelope. (This is a little thing that goes a very long way.)
Bill and I then developed our mailing list by discussing why we would send a letter to each person and the possibilities they might give. The time and energy we put into this were not wasted and it was critical to our success. We sent out 70 letters and by the time the fight rolled around, 90% of the people (63) made a donation!!
The positive response and outpouring of support was and continues to be, truly amazing. We far exceeded our goal of $5000 by raising $18,255, with some more promised gifts coming in. Bill also had the great distinction of being the top fundraiser for Founder Fights.
Watch when they introduce Bill at the fights.
The most fabulous part is that we not only received checks but letters along with them. Letters of support and well wishes. Letters we’ll save and reread many times.
I’ve chosen to include some of the comments we received in letters and verbally once we made our ask. I think this reveals a lot about why people gave.
- Some commented that they didn’t even know that Bill had Parkinson’s. They were appreciative of hearing about how well he is managing the disease.
- Many were moved by his willingness to undertake a new skill sport and the fact he was actually challenging himself to compete was over the top. They seemed to love the pro-active approach he was taking to the diagnosis.
- Many just loved the story—hearing how everything had evolved for Bill.
- Many commented about Davis Phinney and connected with the good work the Foundation is doing.
- Several people commented how refreshing it was to receive a letter in the mail (snail mail) instead of finding out about it in a passing blurb on social media.
- Several people who gave—some with very generous donations—were familiar with Parkinson’s. They had a family member who has or had it.
The Follow Up
I believe you can’t thank people enough so a follow-up plan was at the top of our list. Here’s what we did…
- Bill hand wrote thank you notes to everyone who gave money
- We gave about 10 books about Davis Phinney to the supporters who we thought would love to read the book
- I emailed everyone after the match to thank them and share the videos that Chris took
The Belt Presentation
What is important here is this. We are all unique. We all have our unique stories. And, it is my belief that every single one of you with Parkinson’s has not only a unique story but also a compelling one.
I encourage you to tell your story. Tell your story to the people who have mattered in your life, people with whom you have connected. Don’t be afraid to ask those people to support you and a cause that is making your life better. Find a challenge for yourself. Do it and write about it. Share it—your friends would love to hear about it. And, I guarantee you will love hearing from them. Finally, the very best fundraising scenario is to find someone who will match everything you can raise!!
The recipient of your efforts—the Davis Phinney Foundation—will help you. They have helped thousands of people with Parkinson’s lead an immensely higher quality of life. They have helped people help themselves. And they have truly connected this community. Who could not lend their support to an organization like this!!!
Fight the fight. For yourself. And, for Davis Phinney.
Want Tools and Templates to Help Ensure Your Fundraising Success?
After hosting hundreds of events over the years and coaching a wide variety of fundraisers, we’ve come up with a kit to help you achieve your fundraising goal in less time and with less stress. With sample letters, timelines and a long list of fundraising ideas, you’ll have everything you need to raise money and help people with Parkinson’s live better today.