Webinar Recap: Colby Marple at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

on July 02, 2018

Couldn’t make it to our webinar, Understanding DIY Fundraising? Not to worry. We’ve got everything you need to catch up.

In June, we teamed up with Colby Marple, former Director of Lifestyle at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, to dig into how they approach DIY (do-it-yourself) fundraising and why they think it’s a must-have for their organization.

As Colby said, "When you’re passionate about our mission, you can make a difference for us." That’s one of the reasons why their successful DIY program, Lifestyle, offers supporters the freedom to create a fundraiser when they want, how they want.

Watch the video, or scroll below, for our interview with Colby.

What was your title and daily responsibilities at Leukemia & Lymphoma Society?

As Director of Lifestyle at LLS, my job was to support, promote, and build our Lifestyle fundraising program which is rooted in do-it-yourself fundraising. The basic premise is, any activity, any passion, anything that brings people together can start a movement to help us find a cure.

So at LLS, how did you decide that you first wanted to get into DIY? What made you explore this area of fundraising?

I think for us, we're so fortunate to have thousands upon thousands of volunteers all over the country that are very passionate of our mission, whether they've lost someone to the disease, if they have someone in treatment, or in the case of those who are in treatment, they just want to give back and support the organization that's helping them get through really tough times with blood cancer.

I think what we've known through the years is that, all over the country, these great ideas are popping up all the time. People want to make a difference. Instead of keeping those ideas regional, what we wanted to do is create a national platform that allows all these great stories, all these great ideas to come together in a single place, and that's what CrowdRise 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.

You’re running a DIY campaign right now. Could you tell us a little bit about it?

We launched Lifestyle in October of last year, so we're officially in our first full year of the new program. There really isn't a timetable for it, and that's by design. This is intended to be an always-on fundraising option. I would say the theme across the board is any activity, any passion, any hobby, anything that brings people together can be a tremendous and a successful movement to help us cure cancer.

How are you guys going about recruiting fundraisers for these DIY events? Have you found any tactics to be more successful than others?

I think what we've done to date is just empower everybody who's connected to us to think differently about how they can give back. It's easier than ever with CrowdRise to get a page going in five minutes or less. I think our staff across the country are aware of the fact that they've got a great new tool at their disposal that allows them to think differently about getting people involved with fundraising. So more than anything else, it's just a testament to how passionate our people are and the creativity that they have with supporting our mission.

Once a fundraiser starts their own campaign, what kind of support or outreach do you offer to help them be successful with their campaign?

We developed specific messaging for our audience. We want people to feel like they're connected to LLS. Beyond that, we do have some general tips, tricks, and resources to get started that every fundraiser has access to. Beyond just being able to say yes and get someone turned on with a page very quickly, our mission speaks for itself. I think that more than anything else fires people up to act.

What kind of specific messaging do you encourage fundraisers to use?

Just making the mission as relevant to the fundraiser as possible is the best way to go. For us, because of the work that we do, there are so many different ways in which you can communicate your passion. If you've been touched by the disease on a personal level, that in and of itself is probably the most powerful way to convey what the campaign means to you and why folks should act to get involved.

"There are so many different ways in which you can communicate your passion."

Are there any high-level best practices you would give to other nonprofits who are thinking of starting DIY fundraising?

Keep an open mind to what's possible. At the end of the day, we can all sit in a room and try to come up with the best organic or bootstrapped fundraising ideas. But honestly, the best ideas come from out in the real world, not an enclosed four-wall room. So just listening to your people and seeing what's happening in action, that's ultimately what's going to get it off the ground and inspire more people to get involved.

What are some advantages and disadvantages you’ve seen of doing DIY?

For the disadvantages, I really don't think there are any, to be honest. You never know what that next big idea is gonna be. Instead of trying to crack the code on which trend may or may not lead to the next breakthrough in fundraising, better to say yes and just encourage people to get involved as best they can.

I think the biggest advantage is that we've got 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 our organization advance our mission to where it needs to be.

"Putting the fundraiser in the driver's seat is a massive advantage and it only helps our organization advance our mission to where it needs to be."

Do you have a set strategy behind your Lifestyle campaigns, or are you just really keeping an ear to the ground to see what's resonating with people?

It's really just a function of listening and seeing what emerges. I can't say there's a formula by any stretch, but that's kinda the beauty of it, right? Any activity can be the next big thing that gets people involved. We're just doing our best to keep our ear to the ground, and at a minimum, just help people get that initial movement off the ground, but then allow others to get involved, and inspire support of the great mission that we have.

You obviously use us to help with your DIY fundraising efforts. Is there anything in particular in using CrowdRise that's made it really easy to run your DIY fundraising?

I think most of all, it's allowing the LLS brand to really shine, and to allow our mission to do the talking. It is the single greatest driver to get people involved in supporting our organization.

What we've tried to do with our platform on CrowdRise is share the facts about what we do on a daily basis that not only validate what we do, but ultimately make it that much more compelling for folks to sign up and get involved. It's a really great partnership in that CrowdRise does everything they can to make sure we’re properly represented, so the ability to customize the experience, make sure our message comes through loud and clear, and get people inspired to act has made the partnership really successful for us.

Thanks so much Colby. You are awesome and hearing you speak about the LLS DIY program is truly inspirational. We know that nonprofits who are reading this will be more confident and see the real value in adding DIY to their fundraising strategy.Get Started DIY Fundraising

Gary Wohlfeill

Gary Wohlfeill is the Director of Marketing at CrowdRise. He works with partners to develop highly engaging fundraising campaigns, and leads the marketing team in developing the CrowdRise brand. Gary has been named as having the “3rd best haircut of people under 6 feet tall at CrowdRise" and hopes one day to slip to 4th.