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13 Years of Tips for Fundraising Success

13 Years of Tips for Fundraising Success

Susan Bilotta, founder of Tips for Parkinson's, a fundraiser centered around a friendly bartending competition, shares advice from over a decade of hosting her Team Fox event. Since the first event in 2006 in New York City, Tips for Parkinson's has raised over $2.5 million for The Michael J. Fox Foundation and expanded to Washington, D.C.

How do you inspire others to join and support your efforts?

  • Tell your story from your heart. When I decided to host, my mother let me share her story. My friends and colleagues know how important the cause is to me. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask. People want to make a difference; they just need a good reason to help. You can be the reason.

How do you keep committee members, donors and sponsors motivated year after year?

  • Make a slight change. Give your event new energy: add a silent auction or raffle, move venues, or try a DJ or band. Ask committee members for their thoughts to let them be the change that makes a difference.
  • People like a competition. At Tips for Parkinson's people compete (fundraise) to earn their name on a trophy, a team dinner and the "orange" jacket. 
  • Share your results. No matter the outcome, donors, sponsors and committee members want to know. After you share, you will likely see additional donations. 
  • Partner with your sponsors. Follow them on social media to learn what they are doing. Maybe host a joint event with a sponsor to attract potentially bigger sponsors.
  • Survey attendees. A five-minute survey asking attendees about the event may provide insight to changes for the next event.

How do you continue to steward donors and sponsors throughout the year?

  • Thank "you": Use the word "you." Personal notes makes people feel appreciated and recognized. I send holiday cards to all donors and I host a dinner for committee members. 
  • Legacy: Let people know about the research they are funding that will lead to better treatments and ultimately, a cure for Parkinson's.
  • Gratitude: Show it on social media, too. Tell your story and thank your sponsors face-to-face -- they will likely become repeat sponsors. 

How can you recruit new attendees or participants?

  • Ask your sponsors to include your event on their website and social media pages.
  • Ask attendees to invite a friend that hasn't been to your event and offer an incentive like free entry into a raffle if they do. 

Finally, with the holiday season approaching, how can Team Fox members boost fundraising?
You can ask in a subtle way. When hosting a holiday party, if guests insist on bringing gifts, ask them to make a donation to The Michael J. Fox Foundation instead.


Stay tuned to our blog to see more from featured fundraisers and get the latest from the Team Fox community. 

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