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.
CREATIVE TEAM FUNDRAISING IDEAS
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.
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.
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.
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.
Charity Flea Market
Neighborhood Garage Sale
Block Party Benefit
Have a NAMIWalks Auction
Never forget the FUN in Fundraising. Use your creativity!