march for babies blog
March for Babies season is in full swing and it’s the perfect time to “Kick Off” your school’s fundraising with a Kick Off! Hosting a March for Babies Kick Off is a great way to motivate your team, recruit new teams and gear up together for March for Babies!
Check out our tips and guides to help you plan a successful event. Feel free to customize your Kick Off to better fit your location and team – and for even more resources, be sure to check out the 2014 March for Babies Team Captains Guide (available now!).
Meet with a March of Dimes staff person before, during and after the kick‐off. They may be able to help you with additional advice and resources. You can find your local March of Dimes chapter here or by visiting marchofdimes.com/youth and selecting “contact us” at the bottom of the page.
Secure a location, such as a school gym, park, or recreation center. Remember to keep in mind the amount of people you are planning to invite and ensure the space is the right size to accommodate everyone. Interested in reaching your entire class, organization or even school? With administration approval, host the Kick Off during school hours (either in class or part of a school-wide assembly), or at your organization’s next meeting.
Find an emcee/host — this could be a local celebrity or leader in your school/organization. Even if they aren’t the emcee, invite your class president, your school mascot, or another influential person in your community to attend.
Invite past March for Babies participants and teams (youth and adult), March of Dimes staff members, and local organizations, schools & press to attend.
TO INSPIRE WALKERS
Remember the mission. Let people know that they are supporting a great cause: stronger, healthier babies. Invite a family connected to our mission to speak at your event, or show our National Ambassador’s story. Are you walking for a specific family or child and/or is someone in your organization connected to our mission? Encourage them to share their story.
Include entertainment. Invite talented individuals and groups in your community to donate their time for our mission. Ask the high school or college cheerleading squad or dance team to perform.
Secure food donations from local restaurants or other sources. Ask local stores for goody bags with donations. Provide free publicity to those who donated by putting their name/logo in the program, invitations and/or displayed at the event.
TO SUPPORT WALKERS
Build in time for interaction providing opportunity for teams, old and new, to meet, network and share ideas.
Provide resources and materials to all team captains and make sure all participants know how to raise money.
Setup a laptop station to give attendees, who haven’t had the opportunity, to register or join a team.
Hosting a March for Babies Kick Off is a great way to recruit teams and walkers in your local area and gear up together for March for Babies! Here are a few ways to make your Kick Off event a success.
Contact Your Local Chapter Staff – Meet with a March of Dimes staff person before, during and after the kick‐off. Go to marchofdimes.com and click “contact us” at the bottom of the page to find your local March of Dimes chapter.
Secure a Location – Such as a school gym, park, or recreation center.
Find an Emcee/Host – This could be a local celebrity or leader in your organization. Does college or high school football have a large following in your community? Invite the school mascot or school leader.
Invite Everyone – Invite past March for Babies teams (youth and adult), March of Dimes staff members, and local organizations, schools & press to attend.
To Inspire Walkers
Let people know that they are supporting a great cause: stronger, healthier babies. Invite a family connected to our mission to speak at your event, or show our National Ambassador mission story (found at youtube.com/marchofdimes.com). Are you walking for a specific family or child and/or is someone in your organization connected to our mission? Encourage them to share their story.
Include entertainment by showcasing local talent. Invite talented individuals and groups in your community to donate their time for our mission. Ask the high school or college cheerleading squad or dance team to perform. Finally, secure for food donations from local restaurants or other catering places. Ask local stores for goody bags with donations. Provide free publicity to those who donated by putting their name/logo in the program, invitations and/or displayed at the event.
To Support Walkers
Build in time for teams, old and new, to meet, network and share ideas. Provide all team captains with support materials and make sure all participants know how to raise money. Setup a laptop station to give attendees, who haven’t had the opportunity, to register or join a team.
For more resources on engaging your team and fundraising ideas, visit marchforbabies.org.
Now let’s hear from you:
What was the most memorable March for Babies Kickoff you attended and why?
How do you get your team excited for March for Babies?
March of Dimes Mom, actress Melissa Joan Hart, helped kick off March for Babies with her ABC Family Melissa & Joey co-star, Joey Lawrence!
As celebrity chairs for the Los Angeles March for Babies, the two hosted the annual Los Angeles March for Babies kickoff breakfast that was held at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center this week. Thomas M. Priselac, President and CEO, Cedars-Sinai Health System, is the 2011 Los Angeles March for Babies Chair.
Melissa has been a celebrity volunteer for the March of Dimes since the delivery of her two healthy sons, Mason and Braydon. She invited Joey, father of two girls, when his youngest, baby Liberty Grace, was born 6 ½ weeks early with Rh disease and spent critical time in the NICU. Both are committed to helping raise awareness and funds for March for Babies and they encouraged everyone to join together for stronger, healthier babies!
“As the mother of a premature child, I know first-hand the toll an early birth can have on a family. That’s why I’m here today to open the New York Stock Exchange and kick off March for Babies,” said Sherri Shepherd, Emmy Winning co-host of ABC’s The View and March of Dimes celebrity spokesperson. “March for Babies helped fund research that saved my son, Jeffrey, who was born three months too soon, and helped millions of other premature babies nationwide. I support the March of Dimes and hope my fans do, too, so that one day all babies will be born healthy.”
Each year, about 20,000 companies get involved in March for Babies. These company teams raise $70 million dollars. The goal for this year’s event is more than $100 million dollars. March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter Kmart, Farmers Insurance Group, CIGNA, Continental Airlines, Famous Footwear, FedEx, Sanofi Pasteur, First Response and Mission Pharmacal.
Fundraising is important business, not only for charitable organizations, but also for the corporations that sponsor them. Donations are a bell-weather for the larger economy, and the March of Dimes presence at the world’s financial capital is an example of the economic importance of nonprofits.
“We’re here at the center of the world’s financial markets to engage the corporate community,” said Carol Evans, president, Working Mother Media and a vice chair of the March of Dimes national Board of Trustees. Her now college-aged son also was born prematurely. “Corporate philanthropy is critical to improving the health of babies. It helps fund the research and can help reduce everyone’s health care costs. Bottom line, it’s good business.”
Premature birth is a serious and costly problem. More than 540,000 babies are born too soon in the United States each year, costing the nation more than $26 billion annually. Babies who survive an early birth often face lifelong health challenges.
Today’s post comes from Astrid, a student at the University of Arizona and a member of our National Youth Council. Astrid has been an avid March of Dimes volunteer for years!
How do you plan to kickoff your March for Babies campaign this year? Here are some ideas to help get you started.
Start your personal online fundraising campaign. Hopefully you have already signed up at marchforbabies.org! Personalize your profile and add a March for Babies banner to your email template or Facebook page so that others can see your progress. Set a realistic yet optimistic personal fundraising goal. It is the start of a new decade, but saving babies never gets old. Send emails to your friends, family, teachers, and acquaintances. Every dollar, and even every dime helps, and many people are incredibly generous.
Involve others. If you are part of a March of Dimes club or organization, encourage group fundraising and goal-setting. When I was in high school, we held a very popular ‘Mile of Dimes’ coin drive each year before March for Babies. We not only held the coin drives in our high school, but also in the local elementary and middle schools. Classes became competitive, and we were able to raise thousands of dollars each year. Change can go a long way!
Personalize. Although we live in the era of technology, sometimes it is better to be old-fashioned. Close family friends may appreciate the personal touch of a letter and be more inclined to take action- all through the help of paper, envelopes, and stamps! Be sure to mention that donations can be made online or through the mail, whichever is most convenient for them.
Go farther. Take your fundraising beyond your family, connections and school. Visit local businesses and ask for donations. Even if companies aren’t willing to donate, sometimes they will allow you to place a coin jar on the counter in their lobby or reception area. Dentists’ offices, nail salons, local eateries and other such businesses are great places to approach for this type of fundraising. Be sure to bring a letter along with you explaining your purpose. Also, set a pickup schedule for each location every week.
Don’t be discouraged. Fundraising can be difficult. However, if people see that you are passionate about something, they will be moved. Remember: even if someone doesn’t donate, you have still educated him or her about the March of Dimes and its mission: healthy and happy babies. That is extremely important.
Be creative. Try a new fundraiser. Reach out to others in an original way, and don’t forget to share your success stories with us! Visit marchofdimesyouth.com to not only learn new ideas, but also share your great campaigning tips with others. Good luck!