Decent Humans: Colby Marple at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)

on May 21, 2018

Decent Humans is what we call the incredible community we witness on CrowdRise each and every day doing amazing things for good. And each month, we’re going to highlight a Decent Human in the nonprofit world that’s devoting their time and passion to giving back and making a difference. We hope that by sharing their stories of aid, altruism, and passion, others will be inspired to make an even greater impact on the world we live in.

This month we sat down with Colby Marple, former Director of Lifestyle at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), to talk about how he gets a little grumpy about coffee, his love of multiple office rooms, and “how beating cancer is in their blood.”


For Colby, it’s all about the mission. The CEO of LLS, Dr. Louis DeGennaro says, “There is never a good time to get cancer, but it’s a phenomenal time to be fighting it” and with that in mind, Colby was on board. With 15 treatments approved by the FDA in 2017 that LLS helped fund, he wants to continue the trend of funding cutting-edge treatment breakthroughs for blood cancers, which are helping patients with other cancers and diseases, as well. In fact, revolutionary new treatments originally discovered through blood cancer research are now approved or being tested in clinical trials for other cancers.blgHero_DecentColbyV5_2018In-blog GraphicsOn his role and responsibilities at LLS

As the former Director of Lifestyle at LLS, my job was to support, promote, and build our Lifestyle program which is rooted in DIY fundraising. The basic premise is, any activity or any passion that brings people together can start a movement to help us find a cure. More than 65 years of fighting blood cancers has lead us to a game-changing belief. The cures for cancer are in our blood. The treatments developed for blood cancers are now helping people affected by many different types of cancer. So my daily responsibilities are focused on listening to what's happening on the ground, finding new opportunities to get people inspired, and ultimately, to say yes.

On what reactions he gets when people find out he works at a nonprofit

I think they wish that they could do more of the same that I get to do on a daily basis. I think that anytime you're fortunate enough to work at an organization like LLS, or anywhere that is committed to helping others, it's very easy to get up and get after it when you're working for such a worthy cause. I think, unfortunately, so many of us find ourselves in careers that are just about clocking in and clocking out — “Is it 5:00 yet?”blg_DecentHumanColby_2018_BurritoOn, what else, lunch

I had a burrito. Which for me is no surprise. My defaults are Mexican, Mexican, and then Mexican again normally. Burritos always hit the spot.

On something surprising that makes his work life easier

We have an open work space here with a variety of different meeting rooms and common areas, so I try to move around a bit. I think that there are certain types of projects that lend themselves to being on your feet versus seated. There are certain rooms that are better for putting your head down and working on a spreadsheet. There are some areas that allow you to write more creatively. So what I try to do is just move around as much as I can, and I think it keeps things flowing in the right direction.

On why LLS loves DIY fundraising

We are so fortunate to have thousands of volunteers all over the country who are very passionate of our mission, whether they've lost someone to the disease, if they have someone in treatment, or they want to give back and support the organization that's helping them get through really tough times with blood cancer. People want to make a difference, and I think what we've known through the years is that all over the country these great ideas are popping up all the time.

In the spirit of making sure that these activities are shared outside of their local communities, we wanted to create a national platform that allows all these great stories and ideas to come together in a single place — and that’s what CrowdRise has enabled us to do with our Lifestyle program. It's really about making it possible for anyone to start a movement to help us cure cancer — and we want to say “yes” to empowering people to get after it and make a difference.

On his advice for nonprofits wanting to try DIY

I think you need to keep an open mind about what's possible. At the end of the day, we can all sit in a room and come up with the next big fundraising idea, but honestly, the best ideas come from out in the real world, not an enclosed four-wall room. So it’s about listening to your people, and seeing what's happening in action to ultimately inspire more people to get involved.blg_DecentHumanColby_2018_CoffeeOn his favorite type of fuel

I'm a bit of a coffee snob. With that, I'm a big fan of the cold brew, which I learned how to make at home. You don't need one of the fancy cold brew machines. If you have a French press, you can fake it. But cold brew is what keeps the wheels turning for sure.

My favorite coffee shop is Café Grumpy in New York City. Grumpy has one of the greatest logos you'll ever see. It's basically a plain old smiley face but it's got a grumpy face instead of a smiley face. They have some phenomenal coffee there.

On the disadvantages and advantages of DIY fundraising (spoiler won’t find many disadvantages)

I really don't think there are any disadvantages, to be honest. You never know what that next big idea is going to be. Instead of trying to crack the code on which trend may or may not lead to the next breakthrough in getting to fund whatever it is your organization is focused on, it’s better to say yes and just encourage people to get involved as best they can. We have a great platform and a great partner in CrowdRise that allows people to get things off the ground very quickly. They can customize it, they can tailor it however is most personal to them, so really putting the fundraiser in the driver's seat is a massive advantage and it only helps advance our mission.


Thanks so much Colby. You definitely live and breathe the mission of LLS and the innovative way you are taking DIY fundraising to the next level is truly inspiring. We know you’re going to inspire many nonprofits reading this to get out there and try DIY too. Oh and we’ll meet up one day at Café Grumpy. Too good to pass up.

To learn more about The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and their Lifestyle program, please click here.

Allison Capaldi

Allison Capaldi is the Brand Manager at CrowdRise. She lives and breathes branding and marketing and in her past life was the brand manager for Moosejaw Mountaineering. Her goal is to never write a blog post without including at least one food analogy.