Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

Posts Tagged ‘fundraising’

YOU, the major gift fundraiser learning lessons everywhere

In Donors, Fundraising, Major Gifts, Relationship Building on October 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm
The writer with a golden the next round

The writer with a golden ticket…to the next round

A few years ago, well, I guess about a decade ago now, I auditioned for a reality show. I don’t say that out loud very often, but there YOU have it. In 2004, my friends “challenged” me to put myself out there doing something I loved: singing.

I wasn’t a recording artist, or a Broadway show stopper. I was someone who just liked to sing with the radio, or in the shower, when my friends started asking me to sing in their weddings. Being on TV and hoping millions of Canadians voted for me was never my dream.

Auditioning for Canadian Idol (the process was three auditions over the course of one day) – in retrospect – has made me a better fundraiser. It was a cultivation process for the creators of the show; trying to figure out who they would put on stage and support.

There are several lessons to be learned from the experience. Here are my top three:

Overcoming insecurities: Just by stepping into the audition room, I went from amateur to professional. Many who were auditioning with me, were seasoned professionals. And even though I had a few registry signing singing performances under my belt, I felt I wasn’t good enough to be heard from.

It’s how I sometimes feel as I prep for meetings with major gift donors or senior volunteers. “Why,” I ask myself, “Would they want to hear from me?” YOU don’t have to be an extrovert (which I mostly am) to have these insecurities. Fundraisers just need to have passion, knowledge and the opportunity to earn a stakeholders support.

Listening to criticism: One of the saddest moments of trying out for a talent reality show is stepping into the bathroom after the first round of auditions. Every stall, every sink, every inch of floor either a crying contestant or a supportive friend.

There were hundreds of people auditioning that day, just like there are several organizations that appeal to the same major donors. It’s hard in the moment, but hearing criticism (or asking for feedback) about your organization, or the ask, or your project is tough. But actually listening to it, will only help YOU in the future.

My second audition of the day at Idol was brutal. Everything about my first performance was broken down and discussed. But I listened, and I made it to round three.

Now, when I hold a meeting with a potential major gift donor, I always ask the senior volunteer or my Executive Director (whoever came with me) to give me feedback once the meeting is over. Did I speak too quickly (a definite trait of mine)? Did I answer the questions asked of me, how was my body language, how was my language in general (not that I swear like a sailor in meetings, but did I use internal language too much?)

Relationship building/Friend-raising: My final audition of the day came almost 10 hours after the first. I no longer was shy or nervous, I was invested in succeeding. This was evident the moment I stepped in front of the producers, production crew and cameras. I had to make these people my friends. They had to believe in me and my (new found) goal of becoming the next great Canadian talent out of Nova Scotia (Sorry Ms. Anne Murray, excuse me Rita MacNeil, outta my way Rankin Family!)

Fundraising author Penelope Burke has said that when a fundraiser speaks to donors, “…it doesn’t matter your age or experience, YOU should just be interesting.” I went in to that last Idol audition prepared to let them see who Sarah really was: someone who was smart, liked to smile and could sing.

At the end of my audition I had everyone laughing, but my voice wasn’t Idol ready. No problem I said and thanked them for their time. As I was leaving I could hear them talk, “She’s funny.” “Great personality.” “Awesome girl.”

I left not with a title, but with people who supported me.

When I meet potential major gift donors, I really have to work hard on letting them see my personality, my expertise, my passion. It’s easy to be the staff person who seems to tag along and nods their head in agreement with everything that’s said in the meeting.

If YOU have gotten over your insecurity and listened to feedback, YOU know that YOU are not only prepared to be in that meeting, but YOU are the expert there, on how to help that donor change the trajectory of the cause your organization fights for.

As a fundraiser YOU have passion; there’s an argument for the fact that it is in our DNA, our need to make the world a better place. YOU also have passion for many other things. Maybe it’s cooking, running, reading or singing. What lessons can YOU learn from those to help YOU be the best fundraiser YOU can be?

YOU, Keeping Your Sales Teams Engaged

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2014 at 3:18 pm

BMO Metro managers

YOU might be wondering why we’re focusing on sales teams in our blog post today. In fundraising, charities often rely on the support of volunteers and corporations to help them reach their fundraising goals.  I think it’s important that today I mention the many volunteer and sponsor sales teams that help make the Alzheimer Duck Derby a success.

We call them sales teams because they help adopt ducks all summer long leading up to the Alzheimer Duck Derby on Sunday, September 21. This year, we have 40 sales teams all over Nova Scotia. As the Coordinator of the Duck Derby, I have the privilege to talk with them, keep them engaged and thank them for everything they do.

Not only do our sales teams help us reach our fundraising goals, they help raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and educate Nova Scotians about the ways the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia helps  families living the dementia journey.

How do YOU keep sales teams engaged?

  • Set them up with the tools they need to succeed.
  • Make it fun! YOU can create a friendly sales competition between the teams and offer a prize to the top sales team.
  • Communicate with them regularly. Every two weeks send out fundraising tips, motivational messages, pictures, videos etc.
  • Do a half way check-in and call each sales team leader. Calling is much more personal than sending off an email.
  • Send them a fun video like this
  • Thank them! They are donating their time and raising important funds for your cause.

Do YOU have some tips YOU can share about keeping your sales volunteers engaged? Leave a comment below.

If YOU are interested in selling ducks this summer for the Alzheimer Duck Derby, please contact Beth Jackson at 902 422-7961 or email Or, YOU can adopt your duck and be entered to win great prizes here.

YOU, the bridge player and supporter

In Uncategorized on June 24, 2014 at 3:40 pm


Recently, Beth wrote a piece titled YOU, and the longest day of the year, detailing the Longest Day, a fundraising event organized by the Alzheimer’s Association. The event was held on Saturday, June 21st, the first day of summer, and a long and fun day it was.

With four bridge clubs participating in Nova Scotia, and YOU, the people that came out to support The Longest Day, over $3,000 was raised for families living with Dementia.

Kathie Macnab, a supporter of the Alzheimer Society and owner of the Bridge Studio in Halifax contributed as host of the event. Over the course of the day, the Bridge Studio sat over 83 tables, or approximately 330 bridge players. The day started briskly at 6:30 am with a turnout of 22 players, out of which 15 came in pyjamas. The biggest game of the day consisted of 15 tables, totalling 60 players. The day running from 6:30am-10:30pm was an overall success!

Not only did people participate in a game, but supporters like Nancy Fraser and Sheena Mackenzie, from the Bridge Studio, contributed to the long day with food to keep the players nourished and helping them keep a sharp mind during the game.

With the support of Kathie Macnab and YOU the players, over $2,000 was raised for the Alzheimer Society just at the Bridge Studio. The raised money will go through the Canada Bridge Federation Charitable Foundation to Alzheimer Society Canada which will then be distributed throughout the individual provinces.

Kathie hopes to make this event even bigger and better next year. Thanks to Kathie, all of the other organizations, and YOU for making The Longest Day a success.


YOU, finding growth in a new environment

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm


Photo Source

Two years and half a semester of school later, and here I am, at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia (ASNS) starting my first co-op term. As a first time “intern” and student in the field of public relations, it appears a little intimidating entering a field wholly immersed in the world of fundraising. Personally, I find the prospects of event planning and raising money vastly intimidating in comparison to any other field of PR.

Why? Because this involves CREATIVITY and grave pressure to reach budgeted goals.

From my very short time I’ve spent here at ASNS, I can already tell that the amount of work that goes into raising money for a cause is abundant. Jobs in general are demanding, however, organizations like ASNS rely solely on the support of individuals and the community as a whole. To raise the funds needed, the team needs to get creative and continuously come up with new ways to connect with donors.

As a co-op student, I bring with me a set of skills fresh from the classroom, yet there is so much to be learned from a hands-on environment. Despite the various mock press releases written, marketing plans made, or crisis communication plans dissected, nothing will ever compare to the set of skills acquired from a real on the job experience.

Being the temporary ‘newbie’, there are many things I hope to take from this experience:

1) Event planning – The organization and discipline it takes to plan an event, such as the Alzheimer Duck Derby
2) Design – How to create content tailored to attract a particular audience
3) Writing – Creating content to keep varied audiences involved

And last, but not least:

4) Collaboration – How to work collaboratively with others in order to reach a common goal

I’m fortunate enough to be presented with the opportunity to immerse myself into the minute details of numerous tasks. This not only allows me to put my skills to use but to find growth in my abilities and learn. When finding yourself in a new setting, the most important thing YOU can do, is be willing to learn. Ask questions but most importantly, listen.

It’s a new environment, occupied by individuals experienced in their field and if I only take one thing away, I’m sure it will be of value.

YOU, and the longest day of the year

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2014 at 3:10 pm

intheloopSPRINGCANADAPOST_final-5New friends are always made across the bridge table!
– Kathie Macnab, The Bridge Studio in Halifax

The longest day of the year is coming up! Yes, June 21 is the first day of summer, also known as the summer solstice.

What will YOU be doing on the longest day of the year? YOU may basking in the sun, but hopefully you’ll be raising awareness and funds for families living with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Longest Day is a major fundraiser organized by the Alzheimer’s Association. From sunrise to sunset, thousands of teams sign up to do an activity they love while raising money for persons living with dementia.

How can YOU get involved? This year, bridge clubs across Nova Scotia are participating in The Longest Day. Each club will hold games throughout the day, bringing the bridge community together to raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

This idea was inspired by the American Contract Bridge League who continue to sponsor The Longest Day in the United States because playing games like bridge is good for the brain.

I’m not an expert on bridge, but I know someone who is! Kathie Macnab is a major supporter of the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia and teaches classes at the  Bridge Studio in Halifax. Kathie is leading The Longest Day fundraiser at her club on June 21.

“Bridge is a game of logic and there are guidelines to remember, but each hand is a puzzle,” says Kathie.  “Any player can solve the puzzle, but the depth in which you look at the hands will vary from your expertise. Playing bridge simply keeps your mind sharp.”

Along with keeping your mind sharp, bridge players can also enjoy the social aspect of the game, which is another important way to maintain your brain health. So, if YOU are looking for a way to support families living with dementia in your community and challenge your brain, sign up to play bridge at one of these local clubs.

The Bridge Studio in Halifax. Call Kathie at 902 446-3910 for more information.

Truro Duplicate Bridge World. Call Bob at 902 639-1364 for more information.

Halifax Bridge World. Call Linda at 902 454-4098 for more information

Bridge Acadien in Tusket. Call Yves at 902 742-3306

Funds raised in Nova Scotia, stay in Nova Scotia to fund local services, education for families and research.

Thank YOU to all of the local bridge clubs for your dedication and support. YOU are helping those living the dementia journey.

YOU, days after your big event

In Uncategorized on May 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm



Photo: The Sydney Walk for Memories Planning Committee pose at the photo booth.

I want to start today’s blog post off with a big thank YOU!

This past Sunday, May 4 was our Walk for Memories event in Halifax and Sydney. Families, persons with dementia, partners in care, and community partners came together to raise awareness and funds for families living dementia.

There are so many people to thank! Thank YOU to our walk participants and donors who helped spread the word and raise funds the past few months. Thank you to our sponsors, Shannex and WestJet.  Thank YOU to the volunteer planning committees and  the many volunteers who helped make the event a success!

Your can check out some of our awesome Walk pictures here.

There are so many elements that go into organizing an event. As an event planner, YOU should know the more YOU get done in advance, the easier it will be on event day. We learn something new every year, and here are some of the things the Department of Philanthropy did to ensure the Walk for Memories was a great experience for all. YOU can use these too at your next big event!

Volunteer Engagement: Could YOU hold a well-organized event without your volunteers? Volunteers help with set up, taking pictures and everything in between. To ensure your volunteers feel appreciated and well-informed to do their job, YOU can offer an orientation session a couple of days before the event. There, YOU can go over the itinerary of the day, let them know what their roles and responsibilities are, and teach them more about your organization by providing an education session for them. This is an excellent way to limit the amount of questions asked the day of and helps them feel engaged.

Post to social media at your event: Do YOU have a hash tag for your event? How do YOU communicate to your followers throughout the day? Why not get a volunteer who knows their way around social media to post during the event. This is a big job but it’s an important one.  Your volunteer should know what to post about including: pictures of set up, activities happening at the event, and important announcements to build excitement throughout the day.

Maximize Opportunities: Finally, everyone is together in one place! Don’t miss your chance to have conversations with your supporters and thank them again and again for their support. Try to delegate the smaller tasks to volunteers and other staff, so YOU have lots of time to connect with your sponsors and event participants.  This is also a great time to get feedback from your participants! Depending on the event, YOU could have copies of evaluations on site, or YOU can send one out electronically, or do both! This will help YOU plan for next year.

YOU know how important the post event wrap up is.  We have written about it before on our blog,  but I want to include it again here.

How do YOU keep organized the day of your event? We’d love to hear your ideas!

Once again, thank YOU to everyone who helped make the 2014 Walk for Memories a success!

YOU, the visual event planner

In Uncategorized on April 23, 2014 at 9:19 am


(our actual walk through – take lots of pictures)

If YOU are like me, YOU need to see things drawn out before YOU in order to fully understand what YOU are doing. I have been struggling for a few weeks with the floor plan of the venue for my upcoming event, Walk for Memories. We had done a walk through a month ago. I had never used that space before, in fact this is my first year planning this event. So when I left the first walk through, I didn’t have enough information, I didn’t ask the right questions, and all I had to show for it was a paper copy of the floor plan. By the time I got back to the office, my spatial memory had vanished and I just couldn’t wrap my head around what 80 feet really looked like. I struggled with table placement and where to put displays as there just didn’t seem like enough room. Finally I had to bite the bullet and head back to the venue.

Armed with a list of issues, a tape measure, and some sample display items, my colleagues and I headed to the venue and spent over an hour planning the placement of all the elements of the event. We tested the displays, how to hang them, what sticking medium would work best on the various surfaces. We measured tables and laid them out on the floor where we pictured them. We sought out electrical plugs, looked at how the light came into the room for pictures, and tested the acoustics.

I left feeling accomplished, feeling that I finally understood the space and feeling good about what we had planned. If you are like me, 80 feet means nothing to YOU. My brain does not understand what 80 feet looks like. I need to be in the space. I need to play with different formulas for the layout, try to foresee where things could go wrong. The best way to do this is to ensure that the people YOU bring with YOU on your walk through also have event planning experience and can offer different perspective. Perhaps they will see a problem YOU didn’t anticipate. And as I have said before in my blog posts, a big part of event planning is predicting the things that could go wrong and planning for them.

Here are some tips for your next venue walk through:

  1. Bring a tape measure and know the dimensions of the tables, booths, displays, tents, that YOU are using.
  2. Bring someone with YOU who can offer a different and practical view of the event.
  3. Do not be afraid to ask your venue coordinator questions before and after the walk through. They are there to support YOU. The more information YOU have the better YOU can plan.
  4. Bring samples with YOU of anything that YOU will need to assemble, or hang, or mount the day of the event. Something YOU assumed would be easy, might be not work. It is better to know that ahead of time than day of the event.
  5. And finally, do not be in a rush. Take your time and explore the space, look for problems, allow different scenarios to play out. Prepare back up plans.

There will always be hiccups when using a venue for the first time. There will be things YOU will not be able to plan for until YOU are present at the event and see how your public interacts with the space. But the more YOU can prepare in advance, the less frazzled YOU will be on event day.

YOU, the Athletic Fundraiser

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2014 at 12:09 pm

The PRO Game

We all love a good game of hockey! We’re Canadian and we can’t help it, eh?  Today’s blog post is about a great group of men who turned their love for hockey into an event to benefit local charities.

This event is called the PRO Game. The PRO Game is a marathon hockey game taking place on May 9 and 10 at the Dartmouth Sportsplex. Over 40 hockey players will hit the ice for 24 hours to have some fun, get some exercise, and most importantly raise money for three local charities.

The Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia is honoured to be one of those chosen charities. The PRO Game chose the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia because one of their members lost a family member to Alzheimer’s disease, and they are always looking for new charities to support.

Ken McCormick is one of the players who organizes the PRO Game. He ensures the PRO Game is a success and motivates players to fundraise.

“I send out weekly leader boards listing the players pledge performance from highest to lowest and highlight anyone who made a significant increase in donations that week,” says Ken. “Some of the guys will reply to everyone on the email and set up a fundraising challenge.”

All of the players involved in the event are friends, which makes for a really fun and competitive game. The players train and work hard on their cardio and get on the ice as much as possible in preparation for the big game.

The players are in all different stages of their hockey career. This year,Ken is excited to have 2007 Stanley Cup winner, Joe DiPenta and the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice participating in the game. Also included in the star lineup are Roddy MacCormick, Toronto Maple Leafs NHL, Mike Kelly, Philadelphia Flyers NHL, and Steve Widmeyer, Moncton Hawks AHL.

When Ken was asked what he is most looking forward to at this year’s game, he said: “I’m excited to play hockey with my buddies, share some laughs, and help out our community.”

Thank YOU to all of the PRO Game players for your amazing support. To make a donation to the PRO Game players, click here.

You, and the Millennial Connection

In Uncategorized on January 28, 2014 at 2:46 pm


It is Forget Me Not Week, an Alzheimer Society fundraiser, and students across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are ramping up their fundraising campaigns. The competition is fierce. Who will win this year?? The Acadia Axemen remain undefeated. But this year we have the Saint Mary’s University football team as well as the St. Francis Xavier football team nipping at their heels. Will Acadia remain undefeated? To make the competition even fiercer, New Brunswick has joined in the fundraiser and both University of New Brunswick campuses will be competing. Not to mention all the dedicated students at the Community Colleges across Nova Scotia who are determined to raise awareness and money for something they truly believe in.

Students from universities and colleges across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are becoming part of the change. They will be participating in the second annual Forget Me Not Week in support of the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia from January 27- 31.

When asked about how the campaign has developed, Beth Jackson says, “It is so exciting to see so much enthusiasm from the millennial generation. There are so many students who care and are eager to help raise money to support people in this province living with dementia.”

Forget Me Not week is an attempt to get millennials engaged in our cause. They are always described as a very apathetic and self-involved generation. I don’t believe it. I have witnessed many students passionate about this fundraising opportunity. I have talked to them about why they want to be involved and most of them reply that they are concerned for their future. They are concerned about their parents and many are currently watching their grandparents deal with dementia. These students work hard to support us, and in my experience they are very driven about the things that concern them.

Currently, 17,000 Nova Scotians have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. This is expected to increase to over 28,000 by 2038. This number is staggering and the millennials see themselves reflected in these statistics. They are becoming aware of what the year 2038 will look like for them.

The Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia would like to thank all those students who are stepping up, becoming leaders in their schools, and helping to create a world without Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information on Forget Me Not week or the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia, visit us online at, or call 1-800-611-6345.

YOU, giving us something to write about and celebrate!

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2013 at 3:06 pm

100 posts

Photo source

I’m so excited! I feel like I’m an actress on a popular sitcom and we’re celebrating our 100th episode. But today, we’re not celebrating a TV episode, we’re celebrating our blog YOU, the fundraiser and our 100th post!

When the blog started, we weren’t really sure how well it would be received and where it would take us. I think I speak for all of us in the Fund Development department when I say the blog has become an important part of what we do. Every Tuesday, we have committed to each other and to YOU that there will be a new blog post by 3 p.m. (Sometimes it’s posted before and sometimes a little after 3, the important thing is we manage to get it done)

We had some goals in mind when we started the blog.

We wanted to:

  • Thank YOU, the fundraisers for your support
  • Develop another way to communicate and reach out to our community
  • Talk about current Fund Development best practices
  • Practice our creative writing skills

The blog has become something I’m proud of and I think it helps people learn more about who YOU, our donors are, and what we do at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia. Whenever we have orientation with a new staff member,  we tell them about the blog and how important it is to show YOU, our donors and fundraisers our appreciation.

To help celebrate our 100th blog post today, I want to take YOU back to some of the staff’s favourite topics.

Michele Charlton, the Manager of Communications and Media Relations at the Society who shares our posts on social media every week chose YOU and your Volunteer Commitment  and the Marketing versus PR  post as two that stand out in her mind.

Dawn chose this post that was shared a couple of weeks ago YOU, the fundraiser with a cute support team behind YOU.

My favourite are the posts that highlight YOU, the donors who hold fundraisers for us like this one,  YOU did it!

Thank YOU for continuing to support us and for reading and sharing our blog posts.

As we look forward to the next 100 posts, I’d like to know how we can improve the blog. Do YOU have any topics you’d like us to write about? Maybe you’re interested in being our first guest blogger! Please leave a comment and tell us more.