RFL Training Plan: Finding $0 Participants

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Each year on your campus before Relay season, a group of heroes gets together and talks about the plan for the coming year. What do we change this year? How do we fundraise more for the American Cancer Society?

Every year, a group of zeroes shows up sometime around the event, pays the registration fee and enjoys the awesome event experience you’ve spent so much time creating. I call them zeroes, because that is exactly what their impact on your event is - $0. With many campuses having over half of their participants (and some above 80%) not fundraising, the impact on our Relay For Life movement is huge. 

Sure, they might pay their registration fee and contribute in that way. But when you compare them to the Hope Club members raising $100, and then multiply that across hundreds of campuses and hundreds of thousands of individuals, there’s a lot of potential missing. Those fundraising dollars is money that could be used to provide places to stay while people are going through treatment, provide information on a cancer diagnosis, or provide the money that funds the cure for cancer.

What can you do to turn these $0s into Heroes? 

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It starts by connecting them with our mission – that we are a global movement of millions of people all fighting as hard as they can to make sure that this is cancer’s last century. It starts by sharing with them the programs and services that the American Cancer Society funds with money raised at Relay For Life. And it starts by giving them some easy steps on how to get to the Hope Club ($100) and beyond. 

Who these participants are looks different on every campus – maybe it’s all the members of a community service organization who don’t quite understand what the American Cancer Society does, maybe it’s a group of friends who joined late and aren’t sure if Relay For Life is a running event or a fundraiser, or maybe it’s some of the Greek teams that aren’t familiar with the expectation to fundraise and aren’t sure for what organization Relay For Life fundraises. 

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What all of these “$0s” have in common is that they don’t get it. They don’t know the American Cancer Society saves or the way Relay For Life funds that mission. One great way to do that is by using your numbers from your event report (check out this blog on how to get those numbers) to find the $0 participants. Next, you can send e-mails to your $0 participants to share with them that they’re supposed to fundraise and how their fundraising makes a difference. When one campus event did an e-mail campaign like this last year, they decreased their $0 participant numbers by over 60%. 

Whether you use an e-mail campaign or share it some other way, it all starts by sharing the mission of the American Cancer Society and the way that the American Cancer Society is saving lives from every cancer, in every community, every day. It starts by setting the expectation to fundraise unapologetically. We can’t apologize for savings lives or curing cancer. 

If we turn all these zeroes into heroes – the amount your campus raises for the American Cancer Society will grow by over 50%. Have these conversations and be honest with the participants about how they can have an impact on our movement to end cancer.  Zero to Hero, just like that.