Lauren

Living in Washington, DC, one of the most expensive cities for young professionals in the United States, makes it difficult to set aside money for weekend activities, let alone charitable contributions. I often hear this from friends across the country: “I want to donate, but I don’t have much to give.” In my job as a Development Associate at the Prevent Cancer Foundation, I see donations of all amounts, from $5 to $550,000, and each gift goes towards our mission to advocate and support the prevention and early detection of cancer. In just the short time I’ve been with the Foundation, I’ve seen that donations don’t have to be thousands of dollars to make a difference.

Just last week, the Speed Demos Archive “Awesome Games Done Quick” event proved that smaller donations can really add up. Online gamers participated in an ambitious 24/7 (around the clock) gaming marathon during which they raced to beat 100 games in four days.  Hoping to raise at least $25,000, the event attracted 52 participants and over 3,700 online viewers donated to the event. Speed Demos Archive more than doubled its initial goal, generating over $53,300. But the marathon donors didn’t break the bank; in fact, the average donation was about $16. In 2010, individual gifts of $25 and under generated enough funds for the Prevent Cancer Foundation to provide cervical cancer screening for more than 600 Hispanic women through our ¡Celebremos la vida! program and prostate screening for  more than 650 men at State Fair Health Screening booths in Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska.

Beneficiary events such as the Speed Demos Archive marathon are fantastic ways to raise funds for a charitable organization, but not all beneficiary events have to involve elaborate planning, an opulent venue, or high-level donations in order to be a success. All it takes is an idea, a little imagination, and a few friends to participate. This has proved true with hundreds of beneficiary events held by various individuals and organizations across the country that have chosen to join in the effort of cancer prevention and early detection.

This past October, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) held activity fundraisers in their Washington, DC headquarters, including “Minute to Win It” challenges and a 9-hole miniature golf course set up inside the NAB building. The office-inspired golf course featured a putting station on each floor and “homemade” terrain such as shredded paper sand traps, a tricky elevator shot, and office chair obstacles. The putting clubs were borrowed and the golf balls were donated, making for a resourceful, fun, and successful event that raised nearly $1,100. In Texas, employees of the Cardon Healthcare Network held a “Strike Out for Cancer” fundraiser, raising over $2,800 during an evening of bowling.

A beneficiary event can be as simple as meeting with friends to dedicate a few hours to a great cause. A high school group can organize a weekend car wash or lunchtime bake sale. Someone with an upcoming birthday can enclose donation envelopes with the invitations, encouraging guests to make donations to the Foundation in lieu of gifts. If your poker skills aren’t quite up to par to participate in the Bad Beat on Cancer Tournament on Capitol Hill, host a poker night with coworkers and friends and donate the proceeds. As I have witnessed through the inventive endeavors of generous donors and participants, no contribution is too small. These donations truly add up, proving that anyone can save a life with a good idea and a modest gift. I’d love to hear some of your ideas for raising money for your favorite charity. Send your ideas for hosting your own beneficiary events.