The Board Corner
The Board Corner
May Edition by Amber Backhaus
My Giving Tree
In 1997 at the age of 23, my brother was diagnosed with Crohn’s - a disease I had never heard of and knew nothing about. I was surprised to found out how common an ailment it was, and how little was known about its causes and any potential cures. My brother and parents turned to CCFA to educate us about the disease and learn how we could support my brother. We received a wealth of information that helped all of us. And when the time came for us to support CCFA – I jumped at the chance.
In 2000, I participated in my first fundraising event for CCFA – the Bowl-a-Thon. As a recent college grad myself, getting some friends together at the bowling alley for a good cause sounded like fun. Plus, the expectations for fundraising were minimal, easing the concerns for a young adult living on a shoestring budget. I cobbled together a list of relatives, college friends, and co-workers to solicit – and shared my brother’s story with them. I was overwhelmed by the outcome. I easily surpassed the $300 fundraising minimum and raised $1,500 – well beyond any number I had ever envisioned.
My success was not due to having any special connections or access to well-heeled individuals. It was all because I took the time to reach out to friends and family and ask for their support. And through those solicitations, people saw my passion – not only for helping my brother, but also for raising awareness of Crohn’s and my commitment to finding a cure. People appreciated the opportunity to learn about this disease – and were honored to be asked for their support. And I discovered that many of my friends had connections to the disease, but were not aware of CCFA and the good work the foundation does. They were delighted to have a way they could contribute on behalf of their loved ones.
This initial experience gave me the confidence to take on more ambitious fundraising endeavors, such as Team Challenge. This summer, I am participating in my third race with the Team – and I am sticking with the same fundraising strategy: reaching out to friends and family, sharing my brother’s story, and asking for their support. Granted, my network of friends and colleagues has grown over the past thirteen years – and everyone is a little better off – making fundraising less daunting, but it’s the same basic formula that has contributed to my fundraising success year after year. In fact, some of my friends are so used to me fundraising for CCFA, that they now ask when my next event will be and let me know they will help out.
Talking about money is often taboo – and it’s human nature to avoid difficult conversations. But I have learned not to approach fundraising through this lens. Rather, it’s about telling your family and friends about something that’s important to you – and asking for their support of your efforts. And it’s human nature to help a friend in need.
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