Awareness and Fundraising Go Hand-in-Hand!

November, which was the Lung Cancer Awareness Month worldwide, has passed. I always thought that I have to do something special for November. Fundraising is not my favorite. I used to be dreadful about asking money from people, but I am always curious about the challenges involved in the endeavor and could not let it go. So this is the second time I raised funds for lung cancer organizations in November.

My perspective on fundraising has changed

This November, I raised $4,330 (USD) for The ROS1ders (GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer) and $2,720 (CND) for Goeffrey Ogram Memorial Research Fund (Lung Cancer Canada). I used to think fundraising is about raising money. The essence of fundraising is to convince people to "open their wallets". I was wrong. I learned that donation is about a connection with people, not aim at their wallets.

Ready for this awareness month

So like last year, I prepared a list of potential donors with personal letters and decided when and how to send them to the donors. This year, I decided to recruit a new list of donors to prevent “donation fatigue” from last year. I did not ask the collogues, graduate students and aquatints, instead of a group of “strangers”.1

This year I mainly contacted five groups: 1) Chinese ROS1+LC Group (ROS1交流群), 2) Association of Chinese Professors in Manitoba, 3) Beijing University (北大) WeChat Group, 4) Fei Hua Voice Magazine (枫华之声, a Chinese Magazine), 5) some friends that I contacted last year, but did not respond. I also contacted my relatives and some special friends, whom I called “innovators”. They set up the number of donations and “bring up the movement”.1 So for each group, I prepared a “costumed” letter talking about my advocacy and attached several pictures in Chines and English. I sent out the note at the beginning of November.

I anticipated that I would have some challenges this year because the first three groups were not familiar or not costumed to donation.2 The other reason was that none of these groups was aware of my lung cancer experience, even not knowing that I have lung cancer except the Chinese ROS1+ Lung Cancer Group. So I kept my finger crossed.

Awareness and fundraising go hand-in-hand

I was anxiously waiting, and 20 days had passed. I only collected 1/3 of donations. I was thinking about what I should do to make people donate. It came to my mind that it was always a mystery to healthy people how lung cancer patients lived. For example, after I got cancer, what was I doing and thinking? Did I stay in bed suffering, coughing and crying? Or I constantly thought about why me?

For lung cancer patients, we kept a low key to avoid any exposure either because of embarrassment or stigma. For me, I have way passed this period of self-blaming. So why did not I send my blogs with my fundraising letters to them? My blogs have my journey from suffering devastated to advocating tirelessly. So I rewrote the notes adding my blog's address and sent them again.

I was nervously waiting. Wow, it was happening. I noticed that on the same day that I sent my letters with my blogs, the traffic of my blogs had increased from an annual average six times to 70 times for the five days. Then the donations were steadily coming in. In the last one week, I got $1,700 (CND) to Goeffrey Ogram Memorial Research Fund and $2,500 (USD) to ROS1ders. I am thrilled.

Fundraising is about connecting with people

I was excited for the last ten days of fundraising. I knew awareness was vital for lung cancer patients, but I never connected the two, THE AWARENESS AND THE FUNDRAISING. Through awareness activities, we made a personal connection with people. In turn, such a relationship would bring more funds because fundamentally, people felt good to help the needy. It does not matter that it is to stop world hunger, conquer breast cancer and cure lung cancer.

I have to confess that I love fundraising. Every time I learned something new. It is about humanity and human behavior that I never paid much attention to before.

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