Thursday, December 20, 2012

Make your New Year's Resolution Count!

Get a fresh start this year by resolving to take care of your mental health! NAMI provides resources to help educate society in recognizing mental illness and reducing the associated stigma. NAMI can help you reach your goal of obtaining a balanced mind by offering motivation in a variety of ways. One great way to stay inspired is to join NAMIWalks. Did you know that NAMIWalks is the largest and most successful mental illness event in the United States? By registering and fundraising for a walk, you can help the 27 million people living with mental illness as well as their families. Help erase stigma and encourage others to seek help by signing up for a local NAMI walk!

Get Started

  • Log on to and follow these easy registration tips!
  • Set a goal and fund raise through social media: Use Twitter , Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media outlets to help spread the word about your walk!
  • Email the link to your Walker Webpage to friends, co-workers, and family to encourage others to join.
  • Utilize the Fundraising Kit here to get more ideas on local sponsors, sample fundraising letters and more.
  • Start walking!

Which local NAMI walk will you join in the New Year? Join the conversation on Twitter & Facebook!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012


We came across the following piece the other day in a newsletter from Benevon, an organization committed to sustainable funding for non-profits. Let us know what you think. 

Ten Tips for Staying Sane While Fundraising this Holiday Season

Dreading the holidays? You are not alone. Rather than falling prey to the slippery slope of holiday overwhelm and busy-work, follow these top ten tips for mastering the season while developing long-term relationships with your supporters.

1)     Remember that people are especially generous around the holidays. Take the time now—before the holidays—to make a list of donors you have been cultivating all year. Plan to see each of them over the holidays, either individually or in small groups, to thank them for their past giving, tell them what their gifts have allowed you to do, and—if appropriate—ask them to give again this year. Think of every one of these meetings as a cultivation contact.

2)     Keep a list of all the cultivation contacts you are having. You will quickly see that you can give yourself credit for many phone calls, e-mails, and events you were going to be having anyway. Knowing you will be adding names to your list will remind you to slow down and listen to people, rather than just pushing through your agenda. You might even hear how they'd like to help you more!

3)     Play a game this holiday season to see how many new friends you can make for your organization. Keep a list of the new people who come your way and get excited about your work. Tell them you would like to follow up with them in January to have them come in for a tour.

4)     Missionize everything! Figure out how you can insert your mission into each occasion. Have the annual holiday card include a story or letter from a client or family member, have an alumni speaker at the open house, and have a volunteer at every event tell why they are personally involved with you. Wherever possible, capture people's names (with their permission) and invite them to upcoming Point of Entry Events.

5)     Remember that people are more sentimental at the holidays. You can be a little sappier, and they will respond to the emotion. Let yourself get caught up in the spirit of the season. Ask your program staff to provide you with some new client stories you can be telling over the holidays. Odds are, just hearing the stories will reconnect you to the mission. While you're at it, remember to use this as an occasion to thank your program staff for all they have done to support you all year.

6)     Saying thank you "counts" as a cultivation contact, so long as you do it personally and genuinely. Make a list of all the people you want to thank—donors, volunteers, staff—and figure out the most personal way to do that. For some, it will be a handwritten note on the holiday card, for others it will be homemade cookies with a note from a client dropped off at their door, and for others it will be a nice holiday lunch with the person on your team who would mean the most to them.

7)     Capture everything in your database. Things can get moving pretty fast, and before you know it, a week has gone by and you haven't tracked that great conversation you had with a donor last Monday. Allow an hour at the end of each day just to regroup, enter your notes into your tracking system, and plan for tomorrow.

8)     Take care of yourself. Make a list of the five people in your work who make you feel great when you're around them—donors, staff, volunteers—and be sure to schedule in time with each of them over the holidays.

9)    During the last week of the year, if you're lucky enough to have it off, enjoy! Take a well-deserved break and recharge your battery for next year. If you will be in the office, use the time to catch up on the stacks of work that may have landed in the corner or on the floor, to be tackled "later." Clear the decks so you are set to start the year refreshed. Treat yourself to a special lunch or coffee meeting with one of your favorite colleagues or donors each day that week.

On December 21st, stop and take stock. Close your door and put on the "do not disturb" sign.  Make lists of your proudest accomplishments and greatest regrets of the year. Share that list at a year-end celebration with your team.   
Toast to their commitment and dedication—and yours!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Reinvigorating Our NAMIWalks Spirit

We at NAMIWalks are excited that we are feeling the crisp chill of fall weather and it is helping to reinvigorate our NAMIWalks spirit!

Remember that feeling you got the morning of your walk? That feeling that you are a part of something larger than yourself… that you are helping to stomp out the stigma of mental illness and that you are raising much needed funds for your local community? The feeling that you are not alone, but instead you are a part of a larger nation-wide movement helping to “change minds… one step at a time”? Think on that feeling and remember that you are still a part of this NAMI movement whether or not your walk day has passed. Even if your walk day has passed- WE STILL NEED YOU. 

Please send out one more email to your friends and family asking for a donation-walker pages are open to donations for 60 days after your walk. We want to raise awareness for mental illness not just the day of your walk, but have a presence in every community, around the country, year-round. The more awareness 
we raise, the more stigma we stomp.

Please help us keep the NAMIWalks Spirit going! 

Congratulations to all our AMAZING Fall Walks who definitely have the NAMIWalk Spirit!

NAMI Valley Walk- Arizona
NAMI Kern County- California
NAMI Los Angeles County- California
NAMI Orange County- California
NAMI Riverside- California
NAMI Georgia
NAMI Waycross- Georgia
NAMI Rome- Georgia
NAMI Hawaii
NAMI Greater Mississippi Valley- Iowa
NAMI Boise- Idaho
NAMI Greater Chicago- Illinois
NAMI North Suburban Cook County- Illinois
NAMI Lexington- Kentucky
NAMI Acadiana- Louisiana
NAMI New Orleans- Louisiana
NAMI Michigan
NAMI Minnesota
NAMI St. Cloud- Minnesota
NAMI Montana
NAMI New Hampshire
NAMI Butler County- Ohio
NAMI Greater Cleveland- Ohio
NAMI Mahoning Valley- Ohio
NAMI Summit County- Ohio
NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania
NAMI Rhode Island
NAMI Beaufort County- South Carolina
NAMI Austin- Texas
NAMI Tarrant County- Texas
NAMI San Antonio- Texas
NAMI Virginia
NAMI Northern Virginia
NAMI Vermont
NAMI Waukesha- Wisconsin
NAMI Dane County- Wisconsin
NAMI Fox Valley- Wisconsin
NAMI Brown County- Wisconsin

To see a list of all of our Walks, go to 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Going Mobile!

Did you know that the number of smartphones is predicted to outnumber the world’s population in 2012? Chances are you or your donors (or both) have a smartphone!

Our NAMIWalks website offers several exciting new options for fundraising on your smartphone and online that can help you make a difference this season! 

NAMIWalks Mobile App
How long are you on your smartphone every week? says that the average smartphone user has 65 apps installed and is on their phone for a whopping 15 hours each week!  It's time to add 1 more app to your smartphone: Our FREE NAMIWalks App!

According to Crowd Compass, users of mobile apps raise on average 2.5 times more and collected 3 times as many donations as participants who didn't use the app. Imagine the difference that could make in your community!

Our FREE NAMIWalks Mobile App:
  • Check your fundraising progress. It's updated instantly.
  • Send emails to friends and family using your phone's address book or connect with them about your fundraising through Facebook or Twitter.
  • Take a picture and instantly update your webpage.
  • Look for donations and immediately thank your donors.
  • Instantly process secure credit card or PayPal donations
  • View and post messages
Get the App today!

NAMIWalks Facebook App!

Be one of the first people to use our Facebook App - the only fundraising app in the world that runs entirely within Facebook!  This app will work on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Great new features:
  • See who else is fundraising and which of your friends have donated to mutual friends
  • Publish your actions to your Facebook timeline
  • Like, Comment, and Share to help raise awareness
  • Donors can donate securely inside Facebook and leave messages
  • Syncs to your fundraising page!
To get the Facebook App, login to the Participant Portal with your username and password. Click on the Fundraising Tab and select Reach Out to Donors.  At the bottom, click on the Get Started Facebook link and follow the prompts. You'll get your own NAMIWalks Facebook fundraising page!

To use both of these exciting features and more, you need to be a registered walker in a NAMIWalk near you. Get started today by visiting!

Are you Going Mobile in your fundraising efforts? Tell us how by commenting below!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2012

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) and it is the perfect time for YOU to start a conversation with the people in your life about mental illness!

Let NAMIWalks and MIAW be the icebreaker for your conversation. Mention to a friend that you are participating in a walk- and when they ask you “for what?” that gives you the opportunity to talk about mental illness and why you are walking. Send an email to your contacts letting them know it is National Mental Illness Awareness Week and explain why it means something to you (don’t forget to put your personal fundraising link in the body of the email!). Chances are that the people you are reaching out to have had experience with mental illness at some point in their lifetime, whether personally or through knowing somebody who has experienced a mental illness.

"Talk" by posting the image above on your facebook!
How do we know that people you are going to start your conversation with will be able to relate to mental illness? Let’s look at some statistics:

  • 1 in 4 adults—approximately 57.7 million Americans—experience a mental health disorder in a given year.
  • 1 in 17 adults live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. [1]
  • About 1 in 10 children live with a serious mental or emotional disorder.[2]

With numbers like these, most people in your life have likely been touched by mental illness in some way or another.

Make it a goal to talk to one person this week on the topic of mental illness and, even if your walk day has passed, ask them to donate to your walker page. Walk pages are open to donations for 60 days after your walk, so you can still make or exceed your goal and you will definitely achieve the goal of raising awareness for mental illness.

In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week in recognition of NAMI’s efforts to raise mental illness awareness.

1“NIMH: The numbers count—Mental disorders in America.” National Institute of Health. Available at
2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, Md., U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services,1999, pp. 408409, 411.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What Have You Done Lately?

 We hope your answer is participating in NAMIWalks! We can tell you that over 21,000 walkers on 2500 teams are making a huge difference in their communities this Fall.  Through NAMIWalks’ public, active display of support for people affected by mental illness, we are changing our American communities and ensuring that help and hope are available for those in need.  Registration is easy through our local NAMIWalks pages.  Find a Walk near you by visiting

As walkers, we are going out into the community and sharing our story, building awareness, raising much needed funds, and most importantly having fun doing it! In last week’s post, we talked about fundraising in fun and easy ways.  

This week, we are going to issue a challenge: Raise 1 additional dollar more than what you planned this week.  Can you imagine if 21,000 walkers raised just $1 additional dollar?

Try out this strategy by adding 1 to something you do this week
Pick 1 idea or try your own.

Add 1 more person to your contact list. Think of who you haven't contacted yet about your Walk.  Check out this chart and pick one person you haven't contacted about your Walk.

Follow up 1 more time this week On average, it takes about 6 contacts for someone to take an action. Follow up this week by sharing a story about your fundraising or team.  Don't forget to  share your fundraising page link in the communication.

Add $1 to your suggested dollar amount. Using an odd number (instead of increments of 5), makes your ask interesting! Try $12 for your 2012 walk, $6 for the amount of people on your team, or $3.10 for the amount of miles in a 5K.

Find 1 hour this week to work on your NAMIWalk. Communicate with your team, take a Walk, share your story, or your link. Spend the full hour or break it out into 8 minutes a day!

Recruit 1 more member of your team. It's never too late to register for NAMIWalks. In 3 days, we had over 1,000 new walkers register this week!

Offer to do 1 thing different! One of our walkers told their donors they would walk the walk backwards if their goal was met. She exceeded her goal and walked the walk backwards on Walk Day! 

All it takes is 1 to make a difference. All it takes is you!

Monday, September 24, 2012

We're Gonna Fundraise Like It's 1999!.....NOT.

NAMIWalks is in its 11th year and things certainly are a-changing. While we have maintained our grassroots processes, our message has transformed right along with the message of our organization. In years past, when mental illness was more of a taboo subject, our organization fought hard against stigma and had a dreary outlook for a society that considered the disease mainstream. The reality was institutionalization, discrimination, lives forever altered, and an unaccommodating healthcare system. This propelled our advocacy, our fight, and our need for funds.
Today, we’ve made great strides in the fight for equality; the fight to have mental illness viewed as any other illness. While we have a long way to go, the progress made has helped to eliminate some of the stigma that has for so long stopped people from getting the help, treatment, and support that they need. While every ending isn’t happy, we do know that when treatment and services are available, in some cases, recovery is possible.
Additionally, our cause and the NAMI organization has taken the lead in creating a community focus on mental health. No longer is this viewed an issue that affects just the few family members that organized decades ago to form the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental Illness is a broader, dare I say, almost mainstream societal issue…and beginning to be recognized as such.

The same way that the face of NAMI has evolved, so has the NAMIWalks. What, even five years ago, was a fundraiser to support NAMI programing that involved just a basic “ask” and a day of solidarity at its culmination has transformed into an event that raises both money and awareness and provides a non-confrontational way for people and demographics that traditionally haven’t been involved in NAMI to become connected and walk through our open arms. All over America, the WALK events are held in collaboration with family friendly, outreach –targeted, FUN activities that are inviting, that support our goal to make NAMI younger and more diverse, and that are increasingly gaining attention in our communities.

It's almost 2013! As you go about fundraising, for your NAMIWalks, consider some infusion of FUN that just may bring someone to the cause, who otherwise wouldn’t take notice.


 Online donations
The easiest and quickest way to raise donations is through email notifications. Set up a Team Fundraising Page online and send the link to your page via email to gather donations. 

 Day Off Opportunity Drawing
Ask the owner of your company or boss to donate a paid day off to the winner of a drawing. Sell tickets for $5-$25 to your co-workers (this is an easy way for most companies/businesses to contribute without donating cash). 

 Ask your local community groups
(Houses of worship, Professional organizations, and Volunteer organizations) if you can make a 5 minute announcement at their next meeting and pass out personalized pledge form cards with a link to your online Team page.

 Collection Jar 
Place collection jar with a personalized label on your desk and in common break areas for "impulse" donations.

Wine and Cheese Party 
Gather an assortment of wine and cheese and invite your friends and family over for a special wine and cheese party for $20 per person (try to get the wine and cheese donated)

50 / 50 Opportunity Drawing 
Hold a 50 / 50 opportunity drawing for a certain time period: a week, two weeks or a month. Half the money goes to the NAMIWalks and the other half goes to the winner of the drawing. 

Be a Guest Bartender
Send out an "Evite", inviting everyone you know to join you for a drink and ask them to invite everyone they know. Create a sign to place on the bar or a slip to put with checks that reads, "All tips collected tonight will go directly to Joe Walker, who is walking to raise money for NAMIWalks.

Dress Down Days at Work 
Ask management if you can have Dress Down Day to benefit your team at work. Charge people $5 to wear jeans to work on Fridays or any other specified day. This is a quick and easy way to raise big bucks.
 Karaoke Night
Sell tickets for an evening of not-quite "professional" singing at a local bar or at home. Get people to donate money to stop their friends from singing or have a singing contest. Charge an entry fee and have proceeds from the ticket sales go to your team fundraising goal.

Fall Fest
Hold a Fall-themed party with your NAMIWalks team in mind. Serve cider, apple pie, and have a pumpkin decorating contest. Ask each of your guests for a donation.

Night Outs!
Bowling Night
Casino Night
Charity Flea Market
Neighborhood Garage Sale
Comedy Night
Fashion Show
Block Party Benefit
Benefit Dinner
Sports Tournament
Have a NAMIWalks Auction
Never forget the FUN in Fundraising. Use your creativity!


Friday, September 7, 2012

Nationwide Team Captain Opportunity: Team Captains From Coast to Coast

Coast to Coast

You are invited to a Nationwide Team

 Captain Webinar, "Team Captains: From Coast to Coast"! 

This webinar is sure to motivate, energize, and help you make a difference at your NAMIWalk in just a few weeks! 

New to NAMIWalks? 

Find out how easy it is to be a Team Captain!

Returning Team Captain? 

You have the opportunity to share your Team Captain Tips. Your idea could be highlighted to Team Captains across the country!

Here are the details:

Webinar: NAMIWalks Team Captains: From Coast to Coast 

DATE: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 8PM Eastern

Advanced registration is required and space is limited!

Click here to save your spot!

We hope you join us! Ready, Set, Walk! 

 Your National NAMIWalks Team

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

BE the billboard

NAMIWalks Program Team

So often throughout the NAMIWalks process, we are asked about the scarcity of mass media marketing. Why aren’t there NAMIWalks commercials? Where are the TV interviews? Where are the radio spots? Where are the billboards?

While over the past few years we’ve had increasing exposure through aired and broadcasted PSA’s and promotional videos, local news and media coverage, and even celebrity endorsement; our message has remained consistent. It is our grassroots awareness campaign that makes NAMIWalks an effective means of educating the community, creating needed conversations and awareness, and taking steps to eradicate stigma.
It is our belief that WE are the commercials, broadcasts, and billboards! Every time we (in a one on one way) reach into our networks of family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others to ask them to walk with us at the upcoming NAMIWalks event, and/or to become a donor, we create the opportunity to tell our personal stories, and to educate each individual (one at a time) about NAMI services, and community mental health as a whole.
Kyle Potvin of Splash Communications, LLC states, Grassroots marketing is about permeating a community and building relationships locally on many levels so the buzz grows. A voluntary sales force carrying a message forward has more velocity than a single marketing department.”
We ARE the billboards. When we leverage the power of our shared experiences with mental illness and talk openly about the resources available, opportunities for recovery, and the need for increased advocacy and support for individuals living with persistent mental illness we make an incomparable impact.
Know that your endorsement is as powerful as that of Glenn Close, Joe Pantoliano, Ty Pennington, Senator Michael Dukakis, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, and the many other noteworthy individuals who have lent their celebrity to our cause. Never underestimate the importance of your own voice.

Passionate NAMIWalkers in Virginia

The power of grassroots marketing is striking. To have our NAMIWalks participants care so much about what we are doing they become vocal supporters and cheerleaders for our cause will always be what propels our movement.
Where are the commercials, radio spots, broadcasts, interviews, and billboards? They are on the upswing. As stigma is addressed, more and more opportunities for awareness building through media become available to us. While we wait, NAMIWalks depends on your willingness to continue to be the billboard.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lights, Camera....ACTIVISM!

Video fundraising is the wave of the future. Adding videos that explain our cause, demonstrate your passion, illustrate a need, or simply make the “ask” can be a phenomenal way to connect with donors.  A video gives you the opportunity to speak directly to your potential supporters, puts a face (yours) to your initiative and expresses why the NAMIWalks fundraiser is important to you.

Hesistant? Let’s take a look at the prevelance of videos online. In July 2012, more than 85 percent of US internet users viewed online videos and most reported that they spent (on average) more than 14 hours doing so throughout the month. Cisco reports that more than 90 percent of the world’s data will be in video form within the next four years. We have to activate a video strategy now in conjunction with our tried and true fundraising methods just to keep up!
Before you create your video, take some time to create an outline of what you would like to say. It is not suggested that you read from a script. If you are known for your witty banter or great sense of humor, a funny or satirical video can be very effective for you. A compelling and inspirational video will work just as well. With cameras being built into smartphones and on laptops, it is very simple to take a few minutes to record a short message to add to your personal NAMIWalks fundraising page and your communications that ask people in your network to donate. The best place to start with your message is by explaining why you think visitors to your fundraising page should give. Remember, you don’t have to be Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese to get this done. Simply position yourself in front of the camera and speak from the heart; and do what you can to keep it to the point and between 1 and 3 minutes in length.

Check out this NAMIWalks fundraising “video ask” that was used to help this walker raise more than $1400 within a few days on the social networking site, Facebook.

Here are some quick and easy steps for you to do the same (courtesy of FirstGiving):
Experiment with your computer’s webcam
Most computers these days come with their own built-in webcams. This is a powerful tool that you may already have experience with. Shoot a quick video of yourself explaining the story behind your fundraising campaign. Why are you fundraising? How do you plan to do it? Adding an interesting, human story behind your efforts can create a strong personal connection with your network of supporters. The tools are there, why not use them?

Upload your video online
Once you are happy with your video message, it’s time to post it online. Use any of the video hosting sites (YouTube, Vimeo, Vume etc.) available to upload the video. Then you can upload your YouTube videos to your fundraising page. Either way, make sure your video message can be shared easily.

Speak from the heart
Webcam video is nothing too fancy. For your fundraising purposes, this may not be important. Ultimately this is just another digital tool to drive traffic to your online fundraising page. Make it personal and be sure to speak from the heart. Individuals are more likely to share something that is relatable than a generic, uninspired body of text.

Strategically share the video
There’s a smart way to share your video online. Share your video on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, in emails, and of course on your fundraising page!

Fundraisers with photos and videos are 41 percent more likely to reach their fundraising goals than pages without media.

Still need convincing? Check out this video from the Director of Marketing from the popular fundraising site, GiveForward, on two reasons why you should use video in your fundraising.

Once you've made your fundraising video, upload it to our NAMIWalks Facebook page so we can shine the light on your efforts to take the next steps toward fundraising success!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Does SIZE really matter?

Does a donation have to be large and impressive to be important?

In our quest to raise 10 million dollars in this, our 10 year Anniversary of NAMIWalks, we are encouraging our walkers to be more vigilant than ever in their fundraising efforts. Fundraising can be a scary and uncomfortable undertaking.  When many people consider it, they can feel inadequate, uncomfortable asking, or less than connected to people with money.
After all, don’t we all wish we had generous wealthy benefactors in our networks to turn to for support with our causes?
The truth is that wealth has never been a prerequisite for giving. Even during the roughest of economic times, everyday people have a desire to be philanthropic and to give to make a difference. In fact, the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans only account for 25 percent of all charitable giving. While large donations are coveted and most appreciated; you may ask, what about smaller donations? Can a $5 donation repeated, affect as much change as a $1000 donation from one person? Does donation size really matter?
NAMIWalks has grown consistently over the past nine years due to our grassroots approach and nature. Just like we don’t look to have a few people raise the bulk of the money, we also have never expected to have an arsenal of walkers who are directly connected with major donors or wealthy philanthropists. Instead, we rely on our grassroots process and our walkers’ willingness to leverage the power of their personal stories, concern for community mental health, and appreciation for NAMI. By reaching into your everyday networks and engaging people to support YOU by walking and/or donating to your NAMIWalks efforts, we can (even $1 at a time) spread awareness and raise the necessary funds to continue making a difference.
The reason the WALK process works is because it is extremely effective for one person to give a gift and then to ask a peer to make a similar commitment. The personal contact between fundraiser and donor is very effective. Be sure to set the stage by giving your own first donation and establishing a reasonable “gift range”.  From there, encourage your potential supporters that every dollar makes a difference. If people don’t feel that they are capable of making an impact, they may not give at all. A small donation repeated, in a campaign where awareness-building is a significant component, will go a long long way.   
Remember that small donations add up. Regardless of the size of the donation, most giving requires some level of sacrifice for the donor.  Even a small donation means that our community mental health effort has yet another member of the brigade.
So, in summary, does a donation have to be large and impressive to be important? I can hear the over 800,000 NAMIWalks participants (since 2003) combine their voices with a resounding, “No!
                              HOW TO RAISE $100

         $10 – your personal donation              $10
         $15 from spouse/parent                      $15
         $10 from a work colleague                  $10
         $10 from 2 friends at church               $20
         $5 from 4 neighbors                           $20
         $10 from 2 family members                $20
         $5 from teacher/school friends            $ 5

Check out our online NAMIWalks Fundraising Manual for more tips and tools to help with your individual and team fundraising efforts.