Luminaria how to...

Luminaria are probably the most notable item of all when it comes to Relay. So much focus is put them as a tool for both celebration and fundraising. This is for good reason too... the luminaria ceremony is a key event in all Relay's. I can remember that when they first spoke to me about the luminarias, my first thoughts were "I'm going to draw as many as I can!." That year I did the majority of my fundraising through luminaria and I did end up drawing up a storm the day of relay. It was a great experience. 

In later relays I feel like luminarias weren't playing as big of a role as they could, at least in southeast cities. Here are a couple of quick and easy ways you can use luminarias to spike up your fundraising meter.



Importance of Participation

Dan Pinks was a journalist and an author of many books, and he said that people who volunteer their time to create something innovative are actually improving our world. What we are doing is innovating and inspirational, but we do not get any credit because we do not want to get recognized for our work. However, we could uplift another volunteer spirits by admiring their efforts and volunteerism towards this great cause.Acknowledging someone else volunteer work well definitely motivate people to progress and move forward to find “The Cure” for cancer.

If we attempt to participate in events held on the day of “Relay For Life”, we could certify other participants to create activities for the public to enjoy. The more we enjoy a certain thing, the more we want to do it because we get satisfaction out of doing it. Satisfaction is very sacred to us, but we need to achieve satisfaction by putting our efforts towards other peoples activities to encourage motivation for teams . An a way we are creating an incentive for activity creation, who wouldn't want to get a sense of satisfaction? Hell, satisfaction is so important that the Rolling Stones wrote a song describing the lack of satisfaction. We have the drive to improve the atmosphere in “Relay for Life”, create a carnival like feeling for people to enjoy.  

From the three years in “Relay For Life”, I have noticed that teams that do not engage in activities seem to dim out of the event and forget to walk around the track. To me participation and involvement in the day of the event is extremely crucial to get teams and their members to stand up and mingle amongst their mates. By participating we create a sense of confidence, we are availed to engage in small talk and explain to each other reasons for volunteering for American Cancer Society (ACS). Confidence leads way for communication, which allows the committee to relay information much faster to teams.

By Pinks logic, if we get more people to get innovative and apply those innovations to increase motivation, we are improving our world in a community effort.  

How to organize a fundraising event

Relay for Life is a life changing experience.   There are powerful connections made when you meet cancer survivors or when you identify with fellow caregivers.  Heartfelt emotions surface when you remember all those we have lost to such a deadly disease.  But, there is also a deep sense of empowerment that comes when, as a relayer, we take a stand and educate the community.  We do whatever is in our hands to fight back against this disease.  One of the most important ways to fight back is to raise funds for the fight against cancer.

Things to Consider

Organizing a fundraising event can seem a little intimidating but it doesn’t have to be.  The key is in preparation.  Whether your event is big or small, there are a few things to consider:  how much investment will it require?  How much return can you realistically expect?  How many people are available to help you?  Can any items/costs be offset with donations?  How much time do you have to plan?  What is your budget?   Once you answer all these questions, you can begin setting goals and planning your event.  

Preparing for your event

One of my favorite fundraising events is a Yard Sale or Garage Sale.   This event does not require a large investment so it results in a greater percentage of profit.   With this event, however, you will need to put in the required prep work to make sure that you have enough items to sell.   The first step is to set a date—this way you give your team and donors a deadline for turning in items. Then have everyone on your team look through their closets, garage, attic, etc for any items that are in a good enough condition to sell.   You should also ask your family members, co-workers, neighbors, etc, for donations. Remember, one person’s old junk could be another persons found treasure.  Emphasize the deadline. As a team captain, you must be proactive. Sometimes, people are more than willing to make a donation….but, well it slips their mind, they cant find the time, etc.  So, what are you to do?  Offer to pick up their donation, meet them halfway, send reminder emails.  Most importantly, explain the cause that you are working towards, share your passion!     Once you have gathered all the items, at some point before the event date, have a group of people help you sift through everything.  Make sure nothing is too dirty or too damaged to sell.   Discuss possible prices of large “big ticket” items.  Separate items into categories to make set-up easier on the day of the event.  

With any event, there should be a big focus on marketing and publicizing your event.  With a yard sale, for example, make sure you have chosen a location where you are allowed to have a yard sale—you don’t want to get fined or even warned.  Is that area you selected a visible area with a lot of foot/auto traffic?  Will passerbys see your yard sale?    Once you have settled on a good location, move on to signage.  With Yard Sales and Garage Sales, clear and visually attractive signage is a MUST.  Be sure to post signs in the areas that surround your yard sale location. All signs should include: Date, Address, Arrows (pointing in the correct location).    In the days leading up to your event, consider making a few flyers and ask local storeowners if you can put them up in their stores.  Use social media: advertise on facebook (status, tags, etc) , send emails, ask your friends to help you spread the word.  And finally, don’t forgo the good old fashioned word of mouth.  Tell people about your event.  Let them see and feel how committed you are to the cause.  You may even inspire them to join relay!   Don’t forget to notify the relay for life committee of your event so that they can put it on the Relay website and help you send an email blast to all the other relay teams.  We like to support each other’s events.

Immediately before the event

Be sure to tie up all loose ends.  Do you have bags available to bag stuff?   Are your signs made and ready to go?  Be sure to delegate tasks ahead of time so that everyone knows what they should be doing.  If you will be handling money, do you have change available?  Go to the bank, ask for $1 bills and quarters, dimes, etc. Buy any last minute materials, etc. 

Day of Event

When the day of your event arrives…be happy and be energetic.  Don’t Stress!  If you planned well, things will go smoothly.   Make sure the event looks clean, neat and presentable.  This is important not only because you want to attract people but also because you are representing Relay for Life.   Start your set up early and with enough time to beat the crowds.  If you have relay gear, wear it.  Have information and brochures about ACS and your relay event available to hand out.  Don’t be afraid to talk to people.  Every relay event is always an opportunity to recruit.  Make sure as many team members as possible attend the event.  You will need help.  Have one or two people in charge of the money.  The rest should be out there, being friendly.   If it is a warm day, you may even consider selling water, juices, soda, etc.  At our event, we even had our youngest team member (10 years old) set up her candy booth.  Big Seller! 

Post Event

Hopefully your event went well.  As long as you have more funds than when you started, consider it a success!   Be sure to clean up any area that you used—again, you are representin Relay for Life.   Thank all of the people who helped you—including your team members.   Take inventory and decide what to do with it.  If you have a lot of items left over you may consider having another yard sale in the near future or you may consider donating to an organization like the Salvation Army.   Tally up your profit and congratulate your team on a job well done!


Getting Organized

As a team member, being part of relay is great. You get to raise money as you need to up till relay and then the day of relay you have fun and walk and hopefully raise more money with an activity. It's all about being part of something good and helping other people. This type of atmosphere definetly drew me closer to the event.

As a team captain things can get a bit more tricky. Now you are in charge of making sure everyone raises their money. The day of relay you have to make sure you have all your supplys and that everyone gets their time to walk. Not to mention fight back activities or any kind of fundraising the day of the event. This can be exhausting and take a toll, so make sure you get organized before the event.

First thing is to always have a complete list of all your team members and their contact information. I like to keep mine in a white binder. This way I can remove it and replace it with a new information easily. A plain notebook will do just fine for this as well. Infact, a plain notebook is all you really need to keep your information together. I call mine, my Relay Notebook. I keep one for every year. This will have all my relay information for that year. Including, how many team members, contact information, any sponsership information, walking schedules, activity information, fundraising ideas and the people who donated to me and my team (if possible). You can put just about anything in this notebook. Having it all in one place is a great thing also!

This thing is also a life saver the day of relay. If you are doing any kind of activity, you can write down all your thoughts on what to do and let people who are going to help you read it so they're up to speed. Make sure you keep an up to date list of supplies you'll need. There is always that funny feeling in your stomach when you realize you forgot something important the day of.

I hope these tips have helped you out. If you have more please feel free to post a comment.




Getting back in the swing of it...

I find that sometimes it can be a challenge to get back into the swing of relay at the beginning of the year. On the other hand, I have learned that if you don't you will find yourself playing catch up down the road. Make sure that you use this valuable time to plan you're event, gather leads on who can contribute to the cause, and ask questions about what is happening this year with the relay committee. There are already tons of people out there working on they're relay events so make sure you catch that head start. Here are some tips to help you get things together...

  1. Start you're Relay Notebook NOW! Include all you're goals for last year and what you want for this year.
  2. Contact all the people who you worked with on Relay from last year and start to see who is available. 
  3. Check all the Relay online sources, there is always new information available that could help you.
  4. Start fundraising right away! Plan events like bake sales, garage sales, car washes sooner than later!
  5. Make sure you remember why we're all doing this... we need more birthday! 



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