Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

Archive for 2014|Yearly archive page

YOU, Recognizing the “Special” in Special Events

In Uncategorized on September 23, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Race Day Thank You Photo with text

I’m writing today’s blog post with mixed emotions. I’m breathing a little easier this week as my big event, the Alzheimer Duck Derby is over. Yes, I’m a little relieved but it’s also bittersweet. There is so much build up to the day of the event and then all of a sudden the months of planning, organizing, and promoting is done.

I’m happy to say we had a great day on the Halifax waterfront with sunny skies and 24 degree weather. Thank YOU, Mother Nature!

I have been coordinating the Duck Derby for six years, and I learn something new every year. If you’re an event planner, YOU know having a successful fundraising event takes time, hard work and a great team. Anyone can put on a special event but not everyone can make it special.

It’s easy to measure your success by the financial goals that YOU or your board set. It’s so important that YOU reach these goals, especially in not for profits. However, there are important parts of events that can’t be measured in numbers.

I’d like to challenge YOU, when you’re evaluating your next event to look for other ways to measure success. What was the overall feeling of the event? Did YOU create an atmosphere for attendees and donors that will make them want to come back next year?

At the Alzheimer Duck Derby we did!

I talked to one person after the duck race and she said the best part of the event was the good feeling she had when she stood on the boardwalk with hundreds of others watching the ducks make their way down the Harbour. She said as she looked around, she felt a real sense of community and happy to be making a difference for families living with dementia. If YOU are successful in making people feel good, YOU know you’re doing something right.

The Alzheimer Duck Derby sponsors each had their own role to play the day of the event.  Be sure to keep them engaged and if they’re talking about plans for next year, give yourself a pat on the back because YOU know they’re happy about coming back. Keep maintaining those meaningful relationships with your sponsors because they’re so important!

Keep and eye and ear out for new opportunities. A local company was so impressed by what they saw at our Duck Derby that they asked if they could become a sponsor next year! That’s awesome! A word of advice, YOU never know who is watching, so always be looking for these opportunities.

Our rubber racer ducks are packed and we’re wrapping up the Duck Derby for another year, but we still have a lot of people to thank. So, a BIG thank YOU to our sponsors, community partners, sales teams, volunteers, spouses and partners, families, Alzheimer Society staff and everyone who adopted a duck for the Alzheimer Duck Derby and helped us create something special. Together we raised funds for Nova Scotians living with dementia in our communities!

I’m going to be stepping away from the blog for a few months as I change my role at the Society, but don’t worry, I’ll be back! I’m moving, and thankfully I have the opportunity to continue my Fund Development work from my hometown in Antigonish County.  I’m also excited to be on the ground promoting the programs and services we offer and helping others learn more about dementia and the ways that the Society can help.


You, fundraising through music

In Donors, Fundraising, Public Relations, Special Events, Third Party on September 16, 2014 at 2:22 pm


A few weeks ago I was contacted by an enthusiastic woman on an event planning mission. She did not beat around the bush, she was efficient and calculated, knowing exactly what she wanted. Would we (the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia) mind if her band raised money in support of Nova Scotians living with dementia? Well, of course we didn’t mind. We are always enthusiastic when someone wants to help us. The best part of my job is when someone becomes inspired, on their own, and feels so passionate about our cause that they take it upon themselves to raise money on our behalf. I find this to be extremely inspirational and it never ceases to impress me that people are this generous.

Claire Comeau is part of a collection of musicians from Meteghan who come together once or twice a year to put on a show for the community. Each year they pick a charity or two that resonates with them. This year, we were lucky enough to make the cut. When asked why they chose to support us, Comeau answered, “We chose you because some of our parents have had the disease. We are aware that you are there and provide precious help to persons and families afflicted with the disease.”

The band has been performing since approximately 2007. Gerald Theriault is the “mastermind” behind the concerts. Theriault contemplates what the public would like to hear, then makes a decision on what music the band will focus on, and then he recruits the musicians. It is important that the group perform something that is appealing to the public to make them want to buy a ticket and help the fundraiser. This year, the band did and homage to the Bee Gees but in past years they have done: The Beatles, a 60’s Tribute, a 70’s Tribute, The British Invasion I, and The British Invasion II. It will be very interesting to see what they choose to do next.

I want to take a moment to send a special thank you to the talented and generous musicians from the Acadian shore who planned a tremendously successful fundraising event. The following are the musicians who participated in the show:  Gerald Theriault, Brian Amirault, Lloyd Doucet, Don Saulnier, Avery d’Entremont, Simon LeBlanc, Rose Madden, Jennifer McIntosh, Justine Boulianne, Patrice Boulianne, and Claire Comeau.

If YOU are interested in hosting an event in support of the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia please contact Dawn Boudrot at: or call 902-422-7961 ext. 258.


YOU, Working with the Media

In Communications on September 9, 2014 at 3:42 pm

iStock_000012540093_ExtraSmall                                                                                                                                                                            Source

Although the prospect of working with the media can be a little daunting, it doesn’t have to be. It’s a great way to get exposure for your cause and have YOUR message out there.

Having a few things in place ahead of time helps make sure you are ready to take full advantage of the media coverage your organization gets. Here are a few things I have learned during my time at the Society.

1) Have procedures in place for responding to and tracking media inquiries:
We have set up procedures to follow when we receive a call from the media. I am the initial contact for reporters, and then work with my colleagues to determine who the best fit for the interview is. You want to make sure the person who will be interviewed is extremely knowledgeable about the topic, engaging and represents your organization well.

After the interview is complete, the media request is logged. This includes recording the topic of the interview, who the media outlet was, the date of the interview and who represented the Society. Through the Alzheimer Society of Canada, we also subscribe to a media monitoring service, which sends a report each morning about any coverage we have received. These are both great ways to see how much media interest you’ve had over the course of a month, and to take note of times where there was a higher frequency of calls (and what the cause of that was).

2) Make sure your spokespeople ready to go:
The more you can prepare your spokesperson for an interview, the smoother it will go. The first thing I do every morning when I arrive at work is scan the news (including newspapers, television, radio and social media) to see if there is anything that we might get a call about. If there is something that stands out, I send it along to the staff so they will be familiar with the topic.

If I am pitching a story (about an event, or new initiative we are working on), I work with the potential spokesperson ahead of time. That way, they are fully aware of what we will be sending to media, are comfortable with key messages and can plan ahead for possible interviews.

When we do get a media request, I sit down with the staff member who will be doing the interview, and do a “mock interview” with any possible questions they might get. I try to make the questions fairly difficult, and that way the person doing the interview is ready for anything. We have found that mock interviews are a great way to brainstorm about the messages we want to get out there, and are a good way to calm those pre-interview jitters.


3) Respond in a timely manner
When you get a media request, make sure you respond in a timely manner. I subscribe to the 15 minute rule. If I say I will call a journalist back in 15 minutes, I make sure I call back in 15 minutes or less with a confirmation of who they will be speaking to, and when they are available. Journalists are busy people with tight deadlines, and really appreciate having things confirmed early on, so they can come do the interview, and have time to work on their story.

4) Be proactive
If you think you’ve got a great story idea, don’t be afraid to be the one who makes the initial contact. Find out who the reporters are who cover your area of interest, or speak with the producer or news director. I would suggest doing the pitch initially by e-mail, but remember – journalists have limited time, so make sure your pitch is newsworthy, to the point and includes a suggestion of who should be interviewed.

If you haven’t heard anything in a day or two, follow up by phone. Just like your initial pitch, this should be quick and to the point. Pretend you are in an elevator with someone, and only have 30 seconds to a minute to get out all the important points. The reporter or producer you are speaking to will really appreciate this.

These are just a few tips, but we’d love to hear from you. Do YOU have some tips YOU can share about working with the media? Leave a comment below.

YOU the fundraiser supporting philanthropy

In Donors, Fundraising, Uncategorized on September 2, 2014 at 4:26 pm

There has been much written about the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS.

I’ve read tweets of support, Facebook posts with negative reactions and have heard rumours of charities trying to “hijack” the fad and/or dismiss it totally.

So as a non-fundraiser for ALS, where do YOU stand?

At the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia, we stand with all the participants who are dunking ice water over themselves and/or donating to support ALS. Why? Because we need to support each other in this industry.

As Dan Pallotta recently tweeted, “…non-profit organizations aren’t competing with each other, they are competing with large companies.”

And it’s true. We all have our missions to help those in need; whether that is feeding the hungry, medical supplies for the ill, or shelter for animals – all are worthy causes.

There is no need for us to compete. There is a need for us to cheer each other on when something good happens to the others. Such is the case with the #IceBucketChallenge. A passionate person, with the disease inspired the challenge. It wasn’t an event ALS put on, or a campaign. It truly was grassroots.

And guess what? It is no different than the peer-to-peer fundraising campaign YOU or I put on. So why are fundraisers upset about it? Because it wasn’t done for YOU? That’s a big mistake.

Here at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia we have started to notice that online donations are coming in with a donor message included: “I was challenged to do the ice bucket challenge and I am donating to ALS and to the Alzheimer Society.” What a lovely thing for a donor to do! The spirit of philanthropy alive and well.

My, yours, our job is not to condemn others, but to help them. Donors, or clients. Some may want to do the challenge for YOU and your organization! So tip of the day: don’t be jealous, check your donor’s messages and make sure YOU thank them for doing the #IceBucketChallenge!

(Want to see our #IceBucketChallenge? View it on our YouTube Channel!)

YOU, Saying Thank You

In Communications, Donors, Fundraising, national philanthropy day, Public Relations, Relationship Building, thank you, Third Party on August 27, 2014 at 12:46 pm

thank you


We have blogged about this before. This is not a new concept. Saying thank you is one of the most basic concepts of fundraising. It should be innate to all of us. And while sending thank you cards and letters and including a thank you in every email response is a great habit, what about going further than that.

We have mastered the standard thank you. I worry that it gets lost sometimes. Are the standard thank yous in my emails getting noticed? Are people getting immune to them?

Our Philanthropy Department has been promoting the idea of an “outside the box” thank you for a long time, especially since we started participating in National Philanthropy Day. This is an amazing opportunity to explore if YOU are looking for a cool, new way to say thank you to your supporters. So now that the trend is set in our office and the bar is high. How do you thank someone in a memorable way?

I had an opportunity last night to do one of my most favourite thank yous of all. This thank you isn’t new for us, we have been doing it this way for a few years, but it is so well received and appreciated, that we just can’t mess with it now.

Every January we run a campaign called Forget Me Not Week. This campaign goes out to all universities and colleges in the province as a way to engage the younger generation. The schools compete against each other to raise money and whoever raises the most gets a prize. The prize is our way of saying thank you. For the past decade or so, the winner of the campaign has been the Acadia Axemen football team. They are extremely dedicated to our cause and have carved out a niche for themselves in their community. The team and coaches work extremely hard to win this challenge and it is important to us to do something meaningful for them, after all, we want them to stay engaged.

Working with the coaching staff we help develop a team bonding experience during their preseason training. This is an important time for them to gel as a team, and so giving them an experience that allows them to spend time together off the field is important. This is also a time where they are working extremely hard and don’t have a lot of extra energy to give. As a result we set something up that is relaxing; a private screening of a movie of their choosing.

It is amazing to see how appreciative and thankful the team is to have to this luxury. As students, they appreciate the free entertainment, and as a team they appreciate the opportunity to get to know each other and the coaches.

This also becomes an opportunity for us to say thank you directly to them while they are all together, and explain why what they do is so important to the people of the province.

We could send a hand written card to say thank you that gets tacked up on some bulletin board in the locker room (which we do). But this opportunity gives me face time with the team, gives the coaches a chance to accept a plaque in front of the team and helps me strengthen my relationship with the team. There is nothing like talking to someone in person to fortify a relationship.

It might not be the most outside the box thank you we could ever dream up, but here are some important things to remember: we did something that fit their schedule, we did something that fit their agenda, we did something they enjoy and we got that all-important face time. A true “thank you” success.

YOU, building meaningful professional relationships

In Fundraising, Relationship Building on August 20, 2014 at 3:36 pm


Photo source

How many people do YOU connect with in the run of a day? I think that depends on what your profession is. If you’re a fundraiser, there’s a good chance that YOU will be connecting with staff, donors, sponsors and board members all in the same week.

It takes time to develop meaningful working relationships whether it’s inside the office or out.  YOU need to learn about the other person’s work ethic, how they react to situations, how much YOU can trust them and they need to learn all of these things about YOU.

Today’s topic seems like an easy thing and maybe YOU think that your professional relationships are just fine. However, there is always something  YOU can do to improve your professional relationships.

Here are a few things I have learned so far during my career as a professional fundraiser.

1. Be positive. If YOU go in with a positive attitude, YOU can’t lose. Even in difficult situations, having a positive attitude will help YOU identify opportunities and those around YOU will recognize that.

2. Stay true to your word. If YOU promise a donor that you’ll follow-up with them, YOU have to do just that. How else will they learn to trust YOU and your brand?

4. Connect.  It doesn’t always have to be about work! Get to know more about the people you work closely with. Take an interest in a hobby of theirs, ask about their family, send a sympathy card if it’s known they’re going through a difficult time. Tune in!

5. Do something special. In many of our blog posts, we have covered the importance of saying thank you, and saying it in a creative way. If you’re out and about, make a point to go and see some of your sponsors and bring them a coffee to brighten their day.

6. Show that you’re a team player. Take every opportunity YOU have to show that you’re a team player. Volunteer to take on an extra project in your department, or do a favor for a colleague. If those YOU work with know they can count on YOU, this will strengthen your relationship.

These are just a few suggestions but I’d love to hear from YOU! Leave a comment and tell us how YOU build meaningful professional relationships.

YOU, working with volunteers

In Volunteers on August 12, 2014 at 2:55 pm

You, the Fundraiser_volunteerpicPhoto Source

Like most not-for-profit organizations, the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia relies heavily on our many dedicated volunteers. Because they so generously donate their time to our cause, we are able to provide support to Nova Scotians living with dementia.

Since they are so critical to our success, we want to make sure our volunteers are having a great experience working with us. A couple months ago we decided to take the opportunity to review our existing volunteer program and see where we could make improvements.

The review was definitely eye opening, and we saw many areas where changes could be made to make our program better. The next step was to create a volunteer engagement plan, and pilot a few key areas.

1. Working with volunteers.
In the past, the main contact for our volunteers was the Coordinator of Volunteer Resources (me). Volunteers would come directly to me when they arrived in the office, and I would show them what they would be working on. As a result, there was not much contact between the rest of the staff members and our volunteers.

When we reviewed this, it made more sense to give all of the staff the opportunity to work with our volunteers. Now, when volunteers are needed they are still booked through me, but on the day they arrive, the staff member they are working with will greet them, show them their task for the day and check in on them regularly. This provides a great way for staff and volunteers to connect on a more regular basis.

2. Getting to know one another.
It is not unusual to have staff members, volunteers, co-op students and visitors in the office all at the same time, which can lead to some confusion about who is who. Our solution was to make staff and volunteers easy to locate and identify. We created name tags for our volunteers to wear, and staff have their name and title posted outside their office door.

3. Celebrating all the work volunteers do.
When volunteers arrive for their shift, we ask them to sign in, and write down what they’ll be working on. We do this so we can share with board members, stakeholders and potential funders just how much time volunteers donate to the Society. This number speaks volumes about how dedicated our volunteers are to our cause.

We are still in the early stages of piloting these key areas, but so far it seems to be going well. Our staff members and volunteers seem to enjoy getting to know each other better, and it has led to a more efficient and effective volunteer program with happier volunteers. Our next step will be to roll out additional areas from our volunteer engagement plan.

YOU, and social media relations

In Uncategorized on August 5, 2014 at 4:22 pm


Social media serves a different purpose for all individuals. Some may use the medium to articulate the meticulous details of their lunch while some use these forums for professional purposes. Whatever your motive may be, there is no denying the usefulness of social media. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, WordPress – the list is endless. One thing that all users of any social media site can benefit from is the communication between the user and the public.

Non-profits should be using their social media forums to communicate with the public on a broad spectrum. Do not limit your posts to event dates and constant reminders of upcoming promotions, rather work on an inter-communicative dialogue. Converse your followers, reach out to those YOU follow and allow those relationships to grow. Non-profit organizations work to nurture and maintain strong relationships with donors, but who’s to say that YOU can’t do the same with your online following? Social mediums generate an overall integrated experience for the organization and its public.

Communicate frequently but wisely.

Become a consistent presence on your social medium. Interact with the public and stakeholders on issues that matter to YOU both. The more people YOU follow with similar interests increases the likelihood of a long-lasting relationship and overall garners positive interaction.

Take a closer look at those who consistently interact with YOU online. What is it that stems this interaction? Paying attention to your followers’ preferences allows for an open dialogue. When YOU and your followers share similar interests, it allows for a relationship to blossom.

The benefits of establishing online relations surpasses the benefit of garnering relationships. These people that YOU are now linked to online are able to utilize the medium of communication to their followers, increasing your viewership.

Overall, social media should not solely act as a means of promotion for non-profits but as a means of creating long lasting connections with people sharing similar interests. Keep your public informed, interact frequently, and pay close attention to trends.

YOU, the donor wall producer

In Communications, Donors, Fundraising on July 31, 2014 at 3:25 pm
Our donor wall is a TV!

Our donor wall is a TV!


A little over two years ago, two big things happened at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia:
1. We moved into new office.
2. We received our first, multi-year, major gift for programming for people with early stage dementia.

The reason I mention the two together is because for the first time we thought, “We need a donor wall!” and then, “We can’t put one up yet, we’re moving!”

Over the past two years as we have settled into our new office space, we have played around with furniture, wall hangings, and the placement of all the things that a growing organization deals with.

At the same time, at staff meetings we have discussed what donor recognition is, why it is important, how we all can do it everyday. We also canvassed the staff asking what they would want as our donor recognition. Some answers back included a wall with brass name plaques, a quilt that travelled across the province embroidered with donor names to stained glass fish on the wall for each donor (since we are on the Atlantic Coast!)

In the end we decided to trial a donor recognition AND information scrolling presentation. This means that we can do more than just list a donors name, we can profile donors, we can offer information on dementia and we can inform those waiting in our lobby, who in the organization they might want to meet with. For example, “Want to learn more about fundraising? Ask to speak to Sarah!”

Here is how we did it, in case YOU are looking for a new idea!

We (the Department of Philanthropy) set the ground rules that this presentation couldn’t have audio (it’s in the lobby next to three desks with staff at them) and submissions had to come from all staff. The Department of Philanthropy would handle the set up of the tv and the creation of the presentation. Submissions were encouraged to be short on text and with pictures. They also only should include information that was relevant for the next three months. After that, a new presentation would be created.

In the end we have a looped slide slow of 150 slides. Each morning the tv is turned on and the presentation rolls. I have watched staff stop to read just as much as clients!

Here are some of the slides: a donor profile, an introduction to our President, information on an upcoming fundraising event, an introduction of a staff member (each department will be profiled at some point in the year), a listing of our Platinum supporters.

pic college

There are several companies out there that provide this type of service, we just wanted to see if we could pilot this first. We bought the tv and mounting system when it went on sale months ago, and created the presentation ourselves.

It has only been a week, but the feedback has been great! Next step will be putting a frame around it to make it stand out a little more. What donor wall do YOU do?

YOU, what it takes to be BOLD

In Communications, Fundraising, Public Relations on July 22, 2014 at 2:13 pm


At the beginning of the year my Director assembled our department and announced that this year our guiding theme would be “Be Bold”. At first I assumed I knew what this meant, I can do that, piece of cake. I mean it was obvious, wasn’t it? Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to think big, create waves and stir things up.

I soon came to realize that being BOLD was easier said than done. It seems that being BOLD in your personal/social life is achievable with little effort or fore-thought, but being BOLD at work requires a type of inhibition that seems unnatural.

We are conditioned to watch ourselves at work. To be politic. To be reserved and calculated. To make decisions based on fact and research, not feeling and emotion. For me, being BOLD would require me to switch gears and inject more vulnerability into my work. This makes me slightly uncomfortable.

Yesterday, I was called into a brainstorming session. This was my opportunity to step out of my shell; my opportunity to finally be BOLD. Here is what I learned:

  1. Dare to be criticized. It isn’t the end of the world for someone to challenge your idea or opinion. Criticism might have a bit more weight when that idea comes from an emotional place, but YOU have to learn how to detach.
  2. Dare to say that first thing that pops into your mind. It is the thought that immediately and instinctually comes to mind. It is also the thought we often don’t share because we have not had time to think it through and refine it. Share it anyway. Even if it isn’t the answer, it could lead to something productive.
  3. Dare to be cliché. YOU might not use the cliché, but then again, it could be the jumping off point for a bigger and better idea.
  4. Dare to be dramatic. Voice that crazy idea, then bring it down to something manageable. The idea might be way over budget; it might be totally unrealistic logistically, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t something useable.
  5. Dare to challenge. It is ok to take the opposing view from your colleague. If you do not like the idea, express that opinion (professionally) but also offer an opposing suggestion. The answer could be somewhere in the middle.

The bottom line is that being BOLD isn’t impossible, in fact it is easier for some people more than others. It might take YOU out of your comfort zone, but the rewards will be worth it. Challenge yourself.

If YOU want to start small, try this: next time YOU are in a meeting make the resolution to express one idea that YOU would normally filter.