- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
From the perspective of a professional planner, an ideal scenario for planning an event would be to live and work in the community in which you are holding the event. However, in the world of nonprofits, where an organization cannot afford to have boots on the ground full time in all of the cities they have supporters, it is up to the event planner to figure out new solutions to the problem of “you can’t be in two places at once”.
Unlike a more local need-based organization, Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure’s affected population is spread out all over the world. Brain cancer doesn’t discriminate and strikes without regard for state lines or community boundaries. As an organization that must follow the best research, while at the same time connecting with patients and families, we must be able to work in an environment that allows us to move around from city to city with the stroke of a key. We wouldn’t be able to fulfill our promise to fund the best brain cancer research possible if we were limited to where we could physically be at any given moment and that is true for our event efforts as well.
In Fall 2009 we knew there was a need in Florida for increased brain cancer research funding, as well as a local support community for current patients, survivors and even those dealing with a loss caused by this horrible disease. That was how we first came up with the idea for the Florida Brain Cancer 5K. The idea was for an event open to all levels of participants, not just based on physical abilities but also financial. We wanted to create a network of people that could support each other, while helping spread the word about the lack of research funding. While we knew it was the right thing to do we kept returning to the same obstacle, “How do you plan an event and build a community from 1,000 miles away?”
The answer quickly became clear… you do it online. Message boards, community websites, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social networking sites all played an important role in helping us reach the individuals who shared our passion for this cause. With the exception of a few trips down to Florida, all of our participant recruiting and fundraising took place online and the Inaugural Florida Brain Cancer 5K was a huge success. This year we committed even more of our energy to online efforts and we were able to leverage a grant provided by the Case Foundation into an amazing Race to the Finish Challenge. This challenge rewarded teams based exclusively on their online activity (fundraising, email communications, online registrations, etc). As a direct result we increased our participant number by more than 50% and our fundraising totals by 30%!
After many months of online planning, on Sunday, March 6, 2011 we got to see some major offline action! At the 2nd Annual Florida Brain Cancer 5K we were joined in John Prince Park by more than 800 runners, walkers and supporters. The momentum that we had started with last year’s event had really picked up and we could see the event was off and running.
It feels like just yesterday that I was sitting in my office wondering if we could make a difference in anyone’s life and plan a “community” event from so far away. Even throughout the event season I was concerned that our participants, donors, volunteers and supporters would never feel like more than an email address or a Facebook friend. But on the morning of the event, I was pleasantly surprised to see the tangible community that was formed as a result of online efforts.
I have been asked many times why we don’t limit our efforts to online fundraising and skip the 5K. If the future is online, then why continue the tradition of offline events? And while some nonprofits are making the decisions to host more online events, I am proud of Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure for finding the perfect balance. Because at the end of the day, once all of the donations and registrations have been processed, it comes down to the people. Looking out into the crowd from the stage on Sunday, I was able to witness firsthand the difference we had made. It was clear that the online community that helped us create this event had been waiting for us and needed this offline connection. And while this fight can sometimes feel never-ending, on Sunday, March 6, 2011, along with 800 of our closest friends, we walked to show that we will not give up. We walk for those we love, we walk for those we’ve lost and together we walk for a cure!
Donations for the Florida Brain Cancer 5K are being collected through March 31, 2011 at www.fbc5k.org.
Guest blogger Danielle Rozenweig is Director of Events for ABC2.