by Janine Vanderburg, President/CEO, Joining Vision and Action

four important fundraising lessons, ice cream for Cooper

Cooper’s friends show how fundraising is done!

What can Brown and Skinner students teach us about important fundraising lessons?

Brown Elementary and Skinner Middle School students out by Mile High Stadium selling ice cream for Cooper, a friend with brain cancer, teach us the most important fundraising lessons.

A friend was involved in setting up the booth “Ice Cream for Cooper” a few blocks from us, and so we strolled over, thinking we would buy some ice cream sandwiches before the game and help a friend out as well. What we saw instead blew me away.

At least a block from the booth, children approached us.  Their pitch? “Our friend Cooper has a brain tumor. Can you donate to help? And you can buy ice cream too at that booth.”

We walked down to the booth—and yes, we bought ice cream—then watched as the kids kept running to the booth with fistfuls of donations they had secured. I wondered how they were accomplishing that, since their “prospects” were people intending to get to the Broncos game as quickly as possible.

And so I asked them:

What are the important fundraising lessons here?

  • Lead with your heart. Cooper’s friends were clear about how they started their pitch: “Will you donate to help our friend Cooper who has a brain tumor?” And only then did they add–“and you can buy ice cream.” The latest research is clear that personalized appeals that help a donor visualize the beneficiary result in more and higher donations.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Seems simple, but many fundraisers forget it. We spend too much time planning and not enough time asking. I loved how Cooper’s friends approached every single person walking to the stadium and made an ask.
  • Be okay with NO. When I asked one of Cooper’s friends, Lola, what she did when someone said no, she said, “When they say no, we just go up to the next person and ask them.” The most important fundraising lesson ever!
  • Fundraising is a team sport. Parents at Brown International Academy and Skinner Middle School used their networks to get flyers made, publicize the event and obtain a permit to sell outside the stadium. The ever-generous Little Man Ice Cream donated the ice cream at cost. Parents organized and supervised the kids. And the kids, of course, asked.

Missed the game today and ice cream for Cooper event? You can help Cooper and his family by contributing to this Go Fund Me campaign, and by sharing this blog on your social networks.