RFL Training Plan: Diversify & Include

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Have you noticed a lack of diversity within your campus Relay? 

While unintentional, if you look through your lists of past and present participants, you might notice that certain populations are very well represented while others are not at all. Notice who comes to Relay and more importantly, who does not. For example, many Relays host predominantly white female participants. If your Relay is lacking multiculturalism or gender diversity, think about who you're reaching out to and who may not feel included.

Well.. Let’s look at how cancer affects the minority population around you! Minority cancer cases are so common that there is a National Minority Cancer Awareness week every year! 

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Cancer.org even states that “...minority groups in the United States continue to bear a greater cancer burden than whites.” Could you guess why? It all leads back to poverty and less access to good healthcare for treatments. 

So.. If it affects the minority population  clearly, then why is the minority population not involved with Relay For Life on your campus??? Instead of pondering that question, let’s act on it! What ways can you diversify your campus Relay?

  • Emerge yourself into any minority-based organization on your campus!

  • Seek out and register more minority survivors!

  • Participate in National Minority Cancer Awareness week! Spread awareness about minority cancer on your campus to Include the minority population!

  • Post minority cancer statistics on your campus Relay’s social media!

  • Include more minority leadership and engagement in your campus Relay’s ELTs, Committees, and Teams!

  • Make sure that your ELT/committee is representative of all parts of your campus. If your committee is not diverse, it is likely your event won’t be either.

  • Make your Relay events more appealing to the minority population. Have different genres of music and minority survivors come to the event! For example, consider having the Latin club teach a dance class, etc.

You have to INCLUDE the minority population in order to DIVERSIFY your campus Relay! 

WHY Diversify?

Cancer does not affect one race, one gender, or one ethnicity. Cancer is a world-wide disease that is taking lives from the human population. Include minority participation and awareness within your campus Relay to ensure that we are all fighting as one.

Cancer is not exclusive, so why should we be? Include and Diversify your campus Relay, because we are in a world-wide fight against cancer!

Relayer of the Month: October 2017

Congratulations to Stephanie Claar of Relay For Life at Frostburg on being nominated and chosen for October's Relayer of the Month! 

Why Stephanie Relay's: 

I Relay for my mom, who I lost this past April to her almost seven-year battle with cancer. I Relay so that holidays don't begin to signify another year past, one fewer with your loved one. I Relay so no one has to graduate college without their biggest cheerleader being in the audience. I Relay so that one day no one has to lose their best friend, daily phone call, role model, and hero. 

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Relay means support. Relay For life is magic on Frostburg's campus, which is what made me fall in love with it. Relay is where every single student on our campus can come together for one cause and be one university. No matter who we are or what organizations we are in, we all put aside our differences and come together as a University to make our mark in eliminating cancer from our world. Relay is hope.

Why Stephanie was nominated: 

Stephanie has been a part of Colleges Against Cancer and RFL of FSU since I took over the event 4 years ago. This past April right before Relay, Steph lost her Mom Melisa who had a 7 year battle with breast cancer. My heart was breaking for her and I fully expected not to see her until the fall semester started. However, Stephanie not only returned and completed her spring classes, she got on stage at Relay in front hundreds of people and shared her story. A story that moved everyone to tears and put a face to this awful disease. She is one of the strongest, most resilient and genuine people I know. A few weeks ago Stephanie was working on ideas to get the campus more involved with the lifesaving mission of ACS and has decided to use the FSU homecoming festivities as another platform to reach people. Stephanie is our Homecoming Queen candidate representing Colleges Against Cancer. Each candidate has to pick a charity to promote and raise money for and of course, her choice was The American Cancer Society. CAC has never participated in homecoming and we are sure she will be as successful with this as she is in everything she does. Thank you Steph for being the light and inspiring everyone around you.
 

Do you know an amazing volunteer like Stephanie Claar? Nominate them now for November's Relayer of the Month here.

RFL Training Plan: No More "Cookie Cutter Relays"

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It’s time to color outside the lines, folks.

Every year, your ELT plans a Relay For Life event that moves students and community members. But what if you’re losing some of those returning participants, survivors, caregivers and sponsors because you’ve done the same thing year after year?

Chances are, you’ve probably lost some of those past years’ participants. And while there may be a lot of different reasons explaining why that may be, continuing to do the same thing — the same activities, same schedule, same location, etc. —every year may be the main factor that people don’t come back.

Repetition can be boring, especially if your ELT continues to plan events that may not work anymore. But if something truly works for your event, like a specific fundraiser or event that you hold, don’t get rid of it just because you’ve always done it. Instead, make small changes every year to keep participants guessing and wanting to experience your event and organization in new ways. 

And, most importantly, are you using the same scripts for opening, fight back and luminaria ceremonies? 

If so, you should definitely consider making some changes, because that’s when you move your participants the most. If your participants are used to the same scripting, they’re going to get bored, and they may choose to not come to your event anymore. Even by making small changes in your scripts, you can make your whole event feel new to returning relayers. Ceremonies and day-of-event planning might seem far off, but keeping reinvention in mind as your begin to plan will keep you from stepping right back into your last year’s event.

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Here are just some easy ways to revamp your ceremonies:

  • Don’t use the same speakers every year.

  • Incorporate mission into your ceremonies. This can be done in many ways, like getting your participants up and moving to promote healthy lifestyles.

  • Utilize social media in a way you’ve never done before to engage participants during your ceremonies. You can have them use a hashtag and tweet during your ceremony. You can even create competitions between teams!

  • If you aren’t already recognizing top participants and teams, think about incorporating recognition into your ceremonies.

  • ...but don’t be glued to just these ideas! There are TONS of ways to change the way you Relay.

Most importantly, make sure you’re listening to customer feedback and taking that into consideration while making decisions for your event as well. It’s crucial that you’re keeping in mind customer satisfaction especially when deciding whether to change your event or take away certain aspects of it. 

There are many ways to obtain customer feedback, but having one-on-one conversations with participants at your event, tabling events, or other fundraisers about what they like and don’t like is incredibly essential. It establishes a personal relationship with your participants while making their input feel valued and important. You can also send out surveys to participants’ email accounts and ask questions on Facebook and Twitter eliciting responses from participants; continue to do whatever works for your event. And don’t forget: this can be done all year so as to always receive new information and feedback about your event. 

So once again, when you and your ELT are looking at ways to change your event this year, make sure to focus on making things feel new to your participants. You don’t have to create a completely new event every single year to keep participants coming back, but you should continue to make small tweaks here and there to make it feel less redundant and more entertaining for your relayers. 
 

RFL Training Plan: "Thank you, and"

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Treating donors like customers has proven to be a successful way to ensure that donors and volunteers come back for another great experience. By ensuring that we say “thank you,” we make sure our customers feel appreciated. Recognition is a hugely important aspect in leadership, and feeling appreciated for your work is invaluable. Special ways of saying “thank you” can include social media spotlights, handwritten notes, or even just individual emails or text messages. Taking the time out of your day to thank someone else, whether it be long enough to shoot a text, to create a unique social media graphic, or to say “thank you” in person, can mean a lot to our customers. 

Saying “thank you” is also a great way to get your foot in the door to make another request or ask. By saying “thank you,” you are reminding your customer of what they’ve done in the past to help in the fight against cancer, and by adding another request, you show that you are interested in keeping them around as a valuable member to help you and your team continue fighting. By opening the lines of communication with a simple “thank you,” it’s easy to ask for something else to be done. 

Saying thank you to outgoing team members is especially important so that their fight against cancer doesn’t end in their college years but can continue into their young professional stage. Alumni teams are growing in popularity and are a great way to maintain relationships between college campus events and young professionals, and to avoid losing their fundraising power!

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Finally, recognizing top fundraisers is a great way to spread their fundraising techniques and to publicly thank them for their hard work and passion. Giving top fundraisers a platform to explain how they raise money successfully and how they spread mission effectively is a recognition technique that serves both your team and the person being recognized. Propagating their reasons to fight against cancer (and how they do it) will boost fundraising all around. 

That being said, thank YOU for reading AND please share any interesting ways that you and your event are able to effectively recognize in the comments! 
 

RFL Training Plan: Use Your Numbers

One of the most important tools in your toolbox as an ELT member is your knowledge and expertise from past events. What’s even more important, though, is your accessibility to previous events’ numbers and totals.

Why is it important? 
Having numbers — including fundraising totals, participant numbers, team captain numbers, and event ELT member numbers — is a crucial tool when beginning to plan your event. This gives you the ability to track growth and see where your event is lagging. Ultimately, your numbers from previous events can serve as a guide: they can show you what to focus on, what you’re doing well and what needs to be improved upon. 

It’s also important to have a team captain and participant contact information handy so your ELT can readily reach out and give your relayers important information. This can be email addresses, phone numbers, or even addresses: it’s equally as important to continually have conversations with your relayers so they feel comfortable coming back year after year. 

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How do you get them?
Ask your staff partner for numbers from previous events. It’s pretty simple! But be persistent, because numbers are a very important and useful way to begin the planning process early!

What’s my first step?
Once your staff partner gives you your stats from previous events, sit down with your ELT and look at how your event has changed over time. Look at where your event has grown and where you’ve fallen behind. From there, each chair can tailor their specific committee goals to grow their particular aspect of Relay.  

Some numbers to ask for include: number of teams, number of teams raising money, average amount raised per team, survivors, survivors on teams, and number of participants raising money. Aside from end of year event totals, you could also take a look at how many coaching emails your event sent through the website and how many participants sent emails from their dashboard.

Why does it matter? 
Setting goals and looking at year-over-year numbers, growth, and decline can be stressful. It can also make planning your event seem like this unpredictable and difficult task. However, I urge you to think about the bigger picture: each of those numbers that you look at represents patient services that you’re funding, survivors you’re supporting, caregivers you’re standing by, and the fight you’re finishing.

Stay strong, set your goals high, and work hard; but don’t forget the tools you have readily available to help you reach those goals.

RFL Training Plan: Best Meeting Ever

Have you ever walked into a Relay For Life meeting knowing you would spend the next hour bored out of your mind or playing around on your phone? Or have you ever walked out of that same meeting not understanding the point of the meeting and wondering why you couldn’t have just read an email? Putting together a great Relay For Life event takes time, energy, and manpower - don’t waste any of those by having crappy meetings! Read on to learn more about hosting good meetings and delegating effectively!

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To facilitate an effective meeting use the following tips:

  • Beginning

    • Share a known agenda

      • Create and share an agenda before the meeting so everyone knows what will be discussed and what is expected of them

    • Start with some warm ups or ice-breakers

      • This will help create a more open climate that will encourage everyone to be engaged and comfortable

  • During

    • Lead with Mission

      • Take a moment during every meeting to remind everyone why they’re there - have an ELT member share their story, present information about a patient service, or do a small project like writing letters or making care packages for patients at a local cancer care center

    • Manage disruptive behaviors

      • Don’t ignore poor behavior like the group of Chatty Kathy's in the back or the kid on his phone in the corner - do your best to draw them into the full group conversation

    • Don't ignore differences

      • During group conversations, be sure to oversee and regulate differences in opinion. Don’t ignore the issue and hope it will go away, but actively try to find a solution that addresses both perspectives

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  • After

    • Summarize important decisions

      • Ensure that everyone knows what was discussed and decided upon by reviewing progress and tieing up loose ends

    • Create action items

      • This will give everyone a specific task they must complete, which will both highlight the importance of their work and commitment, as well as help you complete more tasks to plan your Relay!

A quick note about Action Items - these are a great way to delegate tasks! Although delegation may seem like losing your power or control over a project- or cause you to worry over the quality of task completion- delegation is crucial to the overall success of both your volunteers and your event. Communicate the task clearly to the right people and have confidence that you’ve trained your volunteers well enough that they can do the job! Check in to ensure they’re on the right track, but don’t be a micromanager. Be patient and understanding as your volunteers learn to make things happen, and celebrate their successes just as much as you celebrate your own! Together, you can create a better event experience and raise more money for the life saving mission of the American Cancer Society.  

Why I Relay: Alexis' Story

As a seventeen-year-old, the way you look, what you wear, how you are presenting yourself and who your friends are, is an essential part of your teenager years. For me, having a cosmetic surgery done to remove a wart from behind my left ear on my head was essential to me. The way classmates looked at me and teased me for having such an ugly mark on the back of my head, resulted in getting it removed in August 2008. Two weeks later, I went back to get a larger part removed.

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After each of the incisions, I went back to school the next day with a smile on my face, a bandage on my head, pretending nothing serious happened, and not wanting to miss any more school of my Freshman year of college in Germany. And while the results came back negative, I didn’t get a call from the doctor until December. That time, the doctor called my mom and I into his office. I remember sitting down and being told that they had looked at my case again, did another biopsy, and found something cancerous.

Sent from one doctor to another, and from one test to another, soon, I had my first Oncology appointment, and this was when I first heard the words “You have cancer.” And so began my journey….. There was instant regret - for things left undone, Fear - that I would never get to do those things, The instant itemizing of 'life's most important treasures.' When I went home, I went into my room. I closed the door and crawled under my blankets, not knowing what to do. I stared at the walls, for hours, and was wondering how my friends and the rest of the family would take it. Was I really gonna die at 17? I hadn’t even started my life. 

Weeks passed - filled with tests, checkups, and appointments. My life was starting to have a routine between home, school, and hospital. I learned I was 'stage 4' cancer and ‘a malignant melanoma’- the good news was, the cancer had not spread to other parts of my body. I didn’t exactly understand the situation I was in, but all I knew was that I had cancer. 

Surprisingly, the moment I heard my doctor utter the words “cancer” I had this immense amount of energy come over me. Like I was immediately ready to beat the absolute crap out of this. Sure I was terrified, actually horrified, but not about losing to it, more so at knowing how much work I was about to have to do, and the fears that everyone around me was about to undergo.

And believe me…I tried everything to hide cancer’s marks on my body, from wearing big hoodies to cover up my full head bandages, to beanies and new hairstyles to cover up my bald spots. I was embarrassed and scared to be asked any questions if anybody would notice what was wrong with me. All in all, I was embarrassed to share my story. When I got my diagnosed, I spent the first few weeks trying to envision how my life would change. I think that my biggest concerns at 17 were, how I am going to fit in at school, how the chemo would change me, and how I would be accepted. 

The word cancer has been in my life for 9 years now. After multiple scans, surgeries of removing affected skin areas and enlarged lymph nodes, too many biopsies, and without chemo therapy, I can now say I AM CANCER FREE. May 4, 2009, marks the day when the doctor told me everything was clear. My plans to spend that summer in California were on thin ice as my doctors were scared of all the sun exposure. With lots fighting and stubbornness, I made it happen. One year later, I even got the approval to make my long dream come true and moved to California to finish my education.  

It wasn’t until 2011 when I was first introduced to the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life. That’s when my new life really got started. Just 9 month after I had moved to the US, I jumped into an unknown adventure. At first, I didn’t join as a survivor; I joined as a supporter who wanted to help. I founded the Colleges Against Cancer chapter at the Riverside Community College, CA, preceded my first year as the survivor chair, and moved up to hold the event lead position for the next two years. I then transferred to Chapman Universeity, where I led the Relay For Life of Chapman University and the Colleges Against Cancer Chapter with all my heart. I met other passionate college students who were ready to put an end to this disease. Survivors, caregivers, and friends...all of them my age...all of them understanding, kind, and driven to make an impact.

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During my time with Relay and the American Cancer Society, I got more comfortable sharing my story with cancer and became a California Hero of Hope, traveling around the state to share my story and spread hope to keep fighting. Never in my life had I felt so passionate to work with an organization that gives so much. My dedication is shown through the local & divisional volunteer positions. I joined the CA Campus Leadership Team and the Western Campus Leadership Team as the Relay For Life Co-Chair while still being in college. I am currently serving as the lead of the Desert Coastal area, helping the Western Region and National Voice of Hope teams with social media, and mentoring our students at Chapman University & representing the United States as a Global Hero of Hope! With my passion and dedication to the cause, I am always on the lookout to get more people involved to help her celebrate more birthdays.

I graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design, have been working in the Creative field since, and most importantly, I still support the students at Chapman, raise money and awareness for Relay. Life taught me how important it is to give hope, encourage others and fight back!

Because of Relay, I now celebrate my cancer journey, knowing that I’m not alone, and have so much hope for the future. I am 26 years old and I am a skin cancer survivor. But more than that, I am a passionate Relay For Life volunteer, who will be forever grateful for the opportunity to become a Relay For Life leader as a college student. But my passion for the fight against cancer has made me want to Relay For LIFE and I’m excited to continue volunteering as a young professional, so I can continue to paint my world purple.
 

RFL Training Plan: ELT "Event Loving Team"

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Creating connections, bonds and friendships within your campus’ Event Leadership Team is a vital step in establishing accountability and open lines of communication between team members. Intentional bonding is one fun way to accomplish this goal. Whether that bonding is decorating cupcakes, going to a ropes course, or just meeting for a day to set goals and to get to know each other, bonding is a great way to establish friendships and trust that may not otherwise occur on their own. Ice breakers may seem overrated, but new, innovative games can prove to be fun and eye opening! Easy games, like writing a little-known fact about yourself on a piece of paper and then having the group guess who the fact belongs to can be a way to start a conversation between team members.

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Many Event Leads find that their committee starts off dedicated, but becomes less accountable as the school year gets busier. Being proactive about keeping committee members accountable and passionate can make the Relay season more successful! Setting up expectations, whether that be through written mutual-partner agreements, a verbal establishment of goals, or even just making a list of activities, numbers, and messages to reach and communicate. Mutual-partner agreements are a way to set these expectations in writing and to have firm goals to reach over the course of the year. By filling out agreements, all parties know what to accomplish and plans of action can be formed to fulfill these goals. 

Recognizing ELTs after the event, and after multiple years of participation and service is key to retaining committed teams.Graduation honor cords are a way to ensure that senior team members are constantly working towards a tangible reward, a way to show their purple pride at graduation! Staff members can order cords at http://www.tasseldepot.com/rflhc.html to give to ELT members that meet or exceed expectations set for them over the course of the year!

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By having your ELT feel connected and comfortable around each other, team members will be more likely to collaborate with each other, bringing creative and innovative solutions and ideas to the table to make your event special! Some teams use post-it notes during meetings to write down notes of encouragement during meetings. When one of your team members says something they like, or has a great idea, another can write down that they liked the idea and throw the post-it into the middle of the table. At the end of the meeting, reading the notes is a way to end on a high note and to leave the meeting in good spirits feeling great about the work you’re doing! Bringing together a group of people from different backgrounds around a common goal  is an important step towards becoming the generation to end cancer!
 

RFL Training Plan: Mission Integration

In the end, all we do for the American Cancer Society revolves around…... MISSION. 

As Relayers, everything we do, everything we fight for, everything we believe in, stems from the heart and soul of the American Cancer Society’s mission statement. “Save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer” is the common goal that we’re all working towards.

Every American Cancer Society (ACS) volunteer is directly supporting the mission of the organization, and we should be proud and eager to speak freely about the ways ACS carries out its mission. When your participants understand how their donations are being used, they’re much more likely to fundraise. Familiarize yourself with the graphic below that explains exactly how ACS uses donor dollars:

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Our role as ACS volunteers is to be able to integrate mission into everything we do, so that we bring the heart of the organization to the forefront of our participants’ mind. Mission can range from several different concepts that we may not recognize as mission at first. Because mission is so versatile, there are many ways we can think of mission and incorporate it into our Relay endeavors throughout the year. Here, I'll give ideas on ways you can integrate mission more  on your campuses so that you can educate your campus about the heart of ACS.

  • Mission Moments: at your committee meetings, kick things off by reminding your board/committee what ACS is all about. This can be done in several different ways. One easy way is to share cancer statistics pertaining to the cancer of the month, or sharing anything relevant happening in the cancer world such as breakthroughs in research or new facts. This information can be found on www.cancer.org or on the ACS YouTube channel as well! Another great and extremely personal version of Mission Moments is sharing our own stories with cancer in our lives. Have a committee member start a meeting off by explaining why they Relay and what this organization means to them. Not only is this a tangible and relatable way to understand what Relay means to someone else, but it also induces team bonding and brings Mission to the forefront of the meeting to start with!

  • Mission in Canning: A great way to integrate mission into canning is by using facts and statistics in a unique and clever way. One way is to wear neck signs that you make yourself to promote statistics. One could read “⅓ women and ½ men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Ask me how we can make that 0/3 women and 0/2 men” or another could read “I can't take off this sign until I raise $500, ask me why!” These are attention grabbing signs that'll bring people in to talk to you, which will give you the opportunity to share the mission of ACS and talk about why you Relay! Be sure to go canning wherever you can, be that in front of local businesses, in your dorm building, or anywhere on campus!

    • A clever way I've seen a friend fundraise is to can with a guitar! For every $10 raised for ACS, a Road to Recovery ride can be funded! So for every $10 he raised, he'd perform a song! This is a cool way to draw in attention while adding in an aspect of mission, which in this case is Road To Recovery rides! If you aren't as musically talented, see if you can bring a talented friend with you to tag team this approach, having one person perform while the other talks about Relay and ACS’ mission!

  • “Why I Relay Wednesday”: While social media can often be seen as distracting for the plethora of memes to be seen online (guilty), it can also be a pretty amazing plug for Relay promotions as well!

    • One phenomenal way to promote Relay is to join the “Why I Relay Wednesday” movement! Every Wednesday, you post a picture or status or tweet explaining why you Relay! It can be for a loved one, for more cancer research grants, for a certain statistic (I Relay so that testicular cancer survival rates go from 95% to 100%), for a cancer free future, or literally anything at all! At the end of the post, you use the hashtag #WhyIRelayWednesday, so that nationwide we see a collection of pictures and posts all connected by this hashtag, bringing together the Relay world while promoting mission on social media. This is a great way to share the mission of ACS and your personal story to your social media followers who may not be as familiar with Relay as you are, while having the opportunity to create an international network of Relayers who share their love for this organization!

  • Use the Cancer Ed Toolkit to your advantage: The Cancer Ed Toolkit is filled with tons of creative and fun ideas to bring to your campus in order to raise awareness of specific types of cancers! Be sure to check out this month by month guide for a detailed list of mission related ideas to bring to your campus!

  • An important distinction between Relay and other cancer fighting events is how the money raised is used in two important ways. Relay dollars invest in a future without cancer by funding research, but they also help cancer patients who are battling right now. Highlight the various programs offered by ACS to support patients and their families: Many participants aren’t aware of the various programs that are offered by the American Cancer Society to support patients and their families. On social media, through committee meetings, and through events and programming, be sure to highlight these important programs so that people learn the mission goes beyond saving lives through research, but also through supporting lives through these programs!

    • Road To Recovery:

    • 24/7 Cancer Hotline:

    • Hope Lodges:

    • Look Good Feel Better:

Remember that isn't an end-all-be-all list of things you can do on your campus! This is just to get the gears turning and to provide kickstarting ideas of how to smoothly integrate mission into everything you do on your campuses to really bring the heart and soul of Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society to the forefront of your campaign!

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RFL Training Plan: Calendar Tool

It’s the last week of August. You’re moving, you’re starting classes, you’re buying books, and as CAC President or Relay Event Lead, you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to plan the year of meetings and events around your schedule, your committee’s schedule, and the campus schedule. Ughhhhh. 

Sound familiar? Then we’ve got a tool for you! Download it here.

The Relay calendaring tool walks you through the steps of planning out all the dates you might need to include to be prepared for Relay season. The tool has a document that lists out some of the ways that you can collect the information you need, so that you can be sure your meeting dates or events don’t conflict with your school’s academic calendar. This should be a working document, so don’t worry about every event or social media push needing to be set in stone in September. It’s made to be edited as the year goes along and the needs of your Relay change. And they should! Learn from what works and what doesn’t. Be flexible, but know where you’re going.

Here’s an example. The document is super easy to navigate, with tabs that allow you to organize by month and include any important campus events, like breaks or finals.

Each date expands out to be a full calendar so that you can see each month in detail and what you planned out with your staff partner and the rest of the ELT. 

This tool can also serve as a way to organize your communication for your ELT and staff partner. For those of you who wing it and plan as you go: this tool will be helpful to you! Planning ahead often leads to more success. Flying by the seat of your pants for a fundraiser is not always a bad thing, but when you plan things ahead of time, you tend to have more buy-in and success. Even consider planning a post event fundraiser if it’s appropriate on your campus. And for all of you organization freaks: color-code, add pages, insert columns! The calendaring tool is your oyster! Download the document with instructions here.

Planning ahead = transparency = a more informed ELT = more help = less stress = a happier you = a better event = more patient services and cancer survivors

Now go forth with confidence, knowing what’s heading your way, and crushing this year like the brilliant leader you are! Happy speadsheeting!
 

RFL Training Plan: Website Launches

Get excited Relayers, it’s the official beginning of the 2017-18 Relay season! So what marks the official start? School has begun again, committees are forming and teams are meeting, but the moment when your event website launches is when your season officially gets moving!

The day your 2018 Relay For Life event website goes live is a great opportunity to launch your fundraising season in a big way. Many events will host a Relay For Life kickoff sometime in the Fall or even Spring semester (a topic we’ll cover in a later blog!), but have you considered capitalizing on the fundraising potential of the first few weeks of September- right after your new site goes up? 

Think about how you can create hype around your event website launch. Consider using one of these ideas:

  • Create a series of social media graphics that count down the days until your site goes live.

  • Host a launch party for your website. Get pizzas, sandwiches, or ice cream donated, set up some laptops, pump some music, and invite participants to come register. Maybe even give your party a theme!

  • Give out prizes for the first 5 teams and the first 5 participants who register.

  • Set a goal of raising a certain amount of money in the first 24 hours that your site is live and then publicize the heck out of it.

  • Email each team captain from your event last year, thanking them for their past leadership and inviting them to re-register for the 2018 event on the day it goes live. (It’s also a good idea to encourage them in this email to pass on their captain role to a younger team member if they have graduated!)

Think about your website launch as the official start to your fundraising season. You’ll need to work with your staff partner to find out when exactly your website will go live and make sure that you have as much correct information for your event as possible all ready to go (date, time, location, etc.).

While you’re growing momentum and excitement about your website launch, don’t forget to communicate to your participants how exactly to register and get started on their fundraising. The clearer and easier the registration process is, the more participants will be willing to go through it. 

Make sure they have the information to do all of the following:
1.       Create a new team
2.       Register as new or returning participants under their team
3.       Personalize their Relay page
4.       and… START FUNDRAISING!

Here are a couple resources that can help you get going:

  • Video that explains how to personalize a participant page (eva’s video)

  • Graphic you can share to encourage your participants to get started with online fundraising

The week of your website launch is the perfect time to set the tone for how you want your Relay season to go. So use the time you have in August to make a plan and get ready!
 

RFL Training Plan: Social Media Branding

In this day and age, social media can make or break a person, attraction, or, in this case, an event. Starting out with the right foot forward is critical to your event’s success. These major keys below will help you out in the future!

Key #1 Consistency 

Consistency across platforms is another key to success. Instead of a potential participant having to search 4 different usernames to follow you - make it one! One username streamlines the entire process! Take for instance the accounts run by the National Campus Leadership Team. Previously each had a different username and title, which was confusing. Now, every platform is @CampusRelay (shameless plug to go follow our Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). This consistency makes a marketing chair’s job easier and helps students find you on different platforms!

Key #2 Cross Promotion

Cross promotion can be interpreted in many different ways. The way I see it being most beneficial to creating your brand on social media is constantly promoting yourself. Every single poster, print out, meeting agenda, flyer, tabling event, and more should have your social media handle on it. The more times people see your name and info the more likely they will want to check it out. Print promotional materials and flyers are much more work and cost more than social media. So make print materials count - have people add you on your platforms, so the information can be shared more easily. One idea for Snapchat can be to randomly put your snapcode around campus with no identifiers on it and see how many people are curious and with snap it! Cross promotion doesn't just have to be on print media, but can also by word of mouth. A few ideas can be having ELT members ask their professors if they can speak about Relay before class and gain attention there. You can also write your handle or website on whiteboards around campus. A unique way to get your website or handle out there is to write it on clothespins and clip them to people’s backpacks as you walk around campus! To promote your social media platforms, have your ELT share from your page whenever possible and post on their accounts about following and getting involved! Don’t underestimate the power of tagging people in posts or pictures on your page; it expands your audience and ups your engagement!

Key #3 #Hashtag

Hashtags are an awesome way to incorporate your theme on social media or to promote your event in general. For some events use the abbreviations for their campus and relay at the end (#MRelay, #VTRelay, #D300Relay). Other campuses use specific hashtags for events certain campaigns (#MoreThanARibbon, #WhyIRelayWednesday, #AskMeWhyIRelay). A hashtag can serve as a rally cry or call to action for your participants. Not only does it boost your social media engagement, but it can create a sense of community and excitement when your participants start to use it. It helps to use at least one consistent hashtag for the entire year. You also get the added bonus of being able to track the hashtag to easily see pictures from your events and what people are saying about them! This serves as another way for prospective participants to engage on social media.

Relayer of the Month: July 2017

Congratulations to Jessica Meek of Relay For Life at Westlake on being nominated and chosen for July's Relayer of the Month! 

Why Jessica Meek Relay's: 

I have always had a desire to help and bring joy to others. Relay For Life was the perfect outlet for this passion. In just one event, we simultaneously are able to give hundreds of people one of the most fun experiences of their lives while raising money and awareness for a disease that has plagued so many of our lives. Cancer has touched the lives of so many, including several of my immediate family members. I have lost one aunt to lung cancer and a grandmother to stomach cancer. That said, I have also seen my other grandmother survive a battle with breast cancer. 

Whether we like it or not, cancer touches all of our lives, and without early diagnosis and proper treatment, it can rob us of those we love, as it did with me. This is why I knew the fight against cancer was where my passion would be best used, and with that, I found my place at Relay for Life. I am very grateful to receive this honor. I would like to use this opportunity to thank all who help with this amazing event and who aid in the fight against cancer year round. One day, we will be in a world without cancer. 

Why Jessica was nominated: 

Jessie Meek took on the role as the Lead student ambassador for Westlake High School this year. Jessie lead the students at Westlake High School by first recruiting several new ambassadors and motivating them to spread the word and get everyone excited about the 2017 Relay For Life of Westlake. Through her leadership the Relay For Life of Westlake raised over $62,000, which was over $25,000 increase from the year before, and out of that $62,000, $37,000 was raised from the students across the school district. With her leadership of the student ambassadors, participation increased from 250 people to nearly 600 registered participants this year! Jessie is graduating from Westlake High School this year bet has set the ground work to ensure that Relay For Life of Westlake continues to be an important event for the students at WHS for years to come.  

Do you know an amazing volunteer like Jessica Meek? Nominate them now for August's Relayer of the Month here.

Campus FAQ's: How to Start Fundraising

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1.       Registering for Relay is easy! First find your event and then click the purple “join this Relay” button in the top right of your screen. You can pay registration fee by credit card, check or cash.

2.       Share your story! You can customeize your personal Relay landing page by clicking “my dashboard” and then clicking the purple crayons to edit pictures and the “why I Relay” section.

3.       Also in your dashboard you can click the button “share my page”, which will link directly to your social media pages for easy sharing, or you can copy your personal page’s url and post on social media. 

4.       Within the dashboard you can send pre-written emails by clicking the button “ask for donations” all you have to do is select the template you want to send and input the emails. It’s important to add your own story in the email as well. Make it personal!

5.       Download the Relay Fundraising app on your mobile phone and sign into your Relay account. You’re able to send a template text linking directly to a donation page to anyone in your contacts! You can also invite survivors or others to your event.

Need a tutorial on your Relay dashboard? Watch this video!

Campus FAQ's: Saying "Thank You"

YOU DID IT!! This Relay season rocked – all the hours spent planning, writing, meeting, drawing, e-mailing, building, hanging posters, talking, and fundraising paid off one night this spring at your Relay For Life event. Maybe this one was the biggest one in the history of your event or maybe it was a great year to try something new and innovative! Either way, the work you did this year made a huge difference in the American Cancer Society’s work to defeat cancer.  But what now?

Post-event fundraising is a big topic of conversation in April and May, working just a little bit longer to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Maybe you’re hosting an outdoor athletic event like a volleyball tournament or a car wash to finish out the Relay season (for more ideas check out this A-Z Fundraising Guide here or watch the Campus on Air on post-event fundraising here). But as you probably guessed by the title of this blog – this isn’t about post-event fundraising. It’s about saying “thank you.”

Relay For Life counts on thousands of students on over 400 different campuses around the United States to keep our movement going strong. But each student on every campus has someone who believed in them: a family member, a friend, a professor, a coworker – it could be anyone! The individuals who give to your fundraising goal believe in you and the American Cancer Society enough to donate.

Caring about you, as a Relayer, are passionate about and are working on is likely a big reason why your family and friends donate towards your goal – which means they love to hear about your success. In addition to the “thank you” right after they donate during the Relay season, a post-event “thank you” is a great way to thank your donors one more time. A post-event “thank you” tells all your donors about your event’s success and your personal achievement. Sending handwritten thank-you cards, sending e-mails, or even calling each donor on the phone are all great ways to make sure they know how much they are appreciated. 

The small amount of time that saying thank you takes goes a long way towards letting the donors know that they matter and their donation is important to you and the American Cancer Society. This also goes a long way towards making a successful ask for next year’s Relay and ensuring a repeat donation! As a campus Relayer, the dollars you raise are saving lives. Being a part of a Relay For Life event is incredible work, but this movement is so important and it needs everyone to be involved. With you and your supporters alongside all of the other Relayers all around the world, we will be the generation that defeats cancer.

Blog by Tristen Caudle, National Campus Leadership Team
 

Relayer of the Month: June 2017

Congratulations to James Gessner of Relay For Life at Del Val on being nominated and chosen for June's Relayer of the Month! 

Why James Relay's  I am an advisor for the National Honor Society at Del Val. Last year I asked my NHS members what kind of activity they would like to do for a fundraiser at Del Val. We had 3 students come forward that really wanted Relay for Life to come to Del Val: Amalia Crevani, Jessica King, and Savanna Granger. It was their enthusiasm that convinced us to contact Kris and Tracy.

I am also the president of the Delaware Valley Regional Education Association. The DVREA is the union that represents the professionals and professional support staff. In my role as president, I often am the first point of contact for members with medical conditions. I work with our administration to help our members explore their benefit options. Before I held my union position, I had never realized how many people, that I saw every day, were battling with cancer.

Relay For Life will help our students, our staff, our administration, and the community to walk together against cancer. Suffering from cancer can be a very lonely experience without a sense of community support. It is my hope that Relay for life can help us all connect better and also to raise money for this very important cause.

Why James was nominated: "Mr. James Gessner is the advisor for this growing high school Relay For Life event. This season, 2017, is the second year Delaware Valley Regional H.S. is hosting a Relay For Life since their inaugural event in May 2016. Mr. Gessner has been an individual that kept this Relay event on the track, showing growth, organized, motivated, and mist importantly educational to all of the students, staff & community involved. As their ACS Staff Partner, I am actually finding it hard to find the necessary words to be able to fully and accurately explain how much Mr. Gessner deserves the Relayer of the Month honor. What I can share is this truthful statement from both my professional personal feelings: Mr. Gessner went above and beyond the normal duties we expect from a Relay Advisor. Not only does he advise other clubs/organizations at their school, but he teaches full time, he serves as the school districts Union President, he works with athletics, administration , and parents.

He is involved in his community and surrounding communities. Since this Relay started, Mr. Gessner has proudly brought Relay For Life with him wherever he went; his classroom, to board meetings, to administration and parental meetings - everywhere. He kept his all of this under control, found success everywhere he went and showed the true characteristics we all look and hope for in a Relay Leader, which directly brought success to their event this year. I could go on and on about what this individual has done for our Relay For Life movement in the community and on this high school campus, but it was his actions that spoke so loudly this year and inspired so many new individuals, youth & adults, to join our fight against cancer. I couldn't think of anyone who deserves this honor more than Mr. James Gessner."

Do you know an amazing volunteer like James? Nominate them now for July's Relayer of the Month here.

Fundraising Ideas: Basketball Challenge

KSU Knock Out Cancer

Relay For Life of Kansas State University started off the year with a major setback, but with amazing leadership and great ingenuity they still made a big impact. Relay For Life of K-State was combined with the Riley County Relay. Relay For Life of K-State wanted to host an event on campus to garnish support and help raise awareness for the event, so they created Knock Out Cancer, a knockout basketball tournament. To play, everyone had to register online through a website called crowdrise.com.

The event did an amazing job of incentivizing people to join the tournament with multiple give away contests and tabling events.

At the event there was a lot of food and a wide variety of prizes donated to the event from local vendors for participants to enjoy. In the end, the event raised close to $2,400 and brought a new way to fight against cancer to their campus. This event is a great idea for a fall fundraiser to engage your campus early in the year!

If this event sounds interesting to you, please contact Karen Rubenstein ACS Youth Ninja. for more information or resources. Also check out the ACS Play Basketball webpage.

ACS CAN: Lights of HOPE

Think back to your last luminaria ceremony. The emotion that you felt as you walked the track; surrounded by bags of your loved ones and the loved ones of the people around you. Now, imagine you are a lawmaker walking among tens of thousands of bags of the people in your district who are suffering and dying from cancer. That is Lights of Hope.

On September 12th, ACS CAN advocates from around the nation will come together in Washington D.C. to flood capitol hill with the resources, knowledge, and passion, to convince lawmakers that the fight against cancer needs to be a national priority.

That evening, advocates from nearly every state and territory bring bags decorated by friends and family and loved ones touched by cancer for a Lights of Hope ceremony around the capitol reflecting pool.  Last year, nearly 20,000 bags lit up the capitol to honor our loved ones who have been affected by cancer.

By ordering a Lights of Hope bag not only do you add your story to the thousands that surround the pool, but you also become a member of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in order to continue the fight against cancer in our legislators offices at the local and national level for the rest of the year.

The membership is credited to your university, college, or high school and your bag (customized by the staff in DC or by you if you contact your local grassroots manager) will be displayed among thousands of others in a statement that cannot be ignored.

Please, take a moment to dedicate a Light of Hope in honor or in memory of a loved one, and join the grassroots movement to end cancer in your state and national legislature. For more information contact your local ACS CAN Grassroots manager, visit https://www.acscan.org/lightsofhope, or reach out to the Advocacy Chair on the National Campus Leadership Team, Cara Lyons, at lyonsc0@students.rowan.edu.

Spring 2017 Awards Report

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Happy Spring Campus Relayers!

As your event and school years are wrapping up, we want to encourage you to take the time to enter yourselves in the running for Spring Awards! You all have accomplished so many incredible, impactful achievements this year, and you deserve to be recognized! Among specific awards that look for your dedication to Cancer Education, fundraising, marketing, and more, every single campus has the opportunity to be recognized as a Leader of Hope!

The Leader of Hope award is given to CAC chapters and Campus Relay For Life events that demonstrate engagement in the four pillars of Colleges Against Cancer: Cancer Education, Advocacy, Relay For Life and Survivor and Caregiver Engagement. Being a Leader of Hope demonstrates your chapter's well-rounded commitment to the fight against cancer! In order to be eligible to be a Leader of Hope or to win any of the other Campus Relay Awards, your chapter must fill out the Campus Relay Spring Awards Report.

The Campus Relay Spring Awards Report is aimed to gauge your campus's activities, involvement, engagement, and innovation for the past semester. Not only are we eager to recognize your leadership, but the National Campus Leadership Team also wants to share your best practices with schools across the country to help make Campus Relay a huge impact in the fight against cancer as possible! Again, only by filling out and submitting a Spring Awards Report form will your school be eligible for NCLT's Spring Awards. The report is due on June 1st, so get writing!

We can’t wait to hear about the creativity, fundraising, education, and passion that your schools demonstrated this year. Thank you for being a leading member of the generation that will find cures and end suffering due to cancer.

ACCESS THE SPRING AWARDS REPORT HERE!

Yours in the fight,

The National Campus Leadership Team

Relayer of the Month: May 2017

Congratulations to A.J. McCafferty of Relay For Life at Old Dominion University on being nominated and chosen for May's Relayer of the Month! 

Why A.J. Relay's:  This year, I Relay for Dr. Richard Schwartz, who lost his battle with Cancer in March after many long months of fighting. I also Relay for the ODU community in hopes of informing our campus and bringing us together as one to support the fight against cancer!  

Why A.J. was nominated: "A few weeks ago, just before the Relay For Life of Old Dominion University, a gentleman emailed A.J. explaining that he is a Survivor, had made a donation to Relay and was wondering if he could get a survivor shirt.  He had just been recently diagnosed.  A.J. drove to Virginia Oncology Associates in Chesapeake to deliver the t-shirt while the gentleman was receiving treatment.  It didn't stop there... A.J. sat and visited with this man during treatment.  They have been in regular communication since then and A.J. has agreed to visit with him during his treatments until A.J. moves this summer.  A.J. not only committed a tremendous amount of time to leading the RFL of Old Dominion University, he's in his last month of school, job searching and planning a move.  He could have simply dropped off the t-shirt but instead, he sat and comforted a stranger who is battling the disease that A.J. is so determined to help find a cure for.  If that isn't a true testament to our mission and leading the mission, I don't know what is."

Do you know an amazing volunteer like A.J.? Nominate them now for June's Relayer of the Month here.