In this video, I’m joined by Pam from Cannonball Kids’ cancer (CKc). Funding pediatric cancer research is critical to save the hundreds of children who are diagnosed every year. One mile at a time, team fundraisers raised the necessary funds to support parents who are tired of hearing the words, “No more options.” In this fundraiser, CKc surpassed their $25k goal to fund innovative, accessible research for children fighting cancer, to provide better treatments and quality of life, and to educate for change. Pam shares all of this and more:

  • Why they raced to Givebutter for their fundraising
  • What made this campaign so successful (Hint: Personalized team fundraising!)
  • Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for building momentum for your virtual fundraiser
“The ease of use to create your page, to get it out there, and to share—you do not have to be very tech savvy and can really make [the Givebutter platform] work for you…I'm not what you would call an “IT specialist,” or anything, but I found it very easy to set it up, invite everybody, have the stories, add your photos…You could make it as detailed as you wanted or you could make it as minimal as you wanted.”

This Success Story will be running through your mind all day!

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Full video script

Rachel: Hey everybody! Rachel here with Givebutter. Thanks for joining for another Success Story from the Givebutter community. Today, we are featuring Cannonball Kids’ cancer or CKc. Through an online fundraiser, they raised over $27,000 to fund a clinical trial for pediatric cancer. Pam joins us today to share why they turned to Givebutter to reach their fundraising goals, as well as tips, tricks, and lessons learned along the way, so that all of you who are watching right now can fundraise better. Pam, thank you so much for joining us today.

Pamela: Thank you for having me.

Rachel: To start, why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself and your organization—what it’s all about.

Pamela: My name is Pamela Ponce. I am actually a pediatrician here in Orlando, and I work with Cannonball Kids’ cancer more as what they would call an ambassador. I got drawn into the organization a few years ago after one of my patients got diagnosed with cancer. The organization helps parents of children who are diagnosed in the community navigate that road but also they're really big on finding and funding clinical trials when parents hear the words, “No more options.” I slowly went to the fundraising gala—it was a “dress up, look pretty for a night, and be fancy.” Then slowly, as I found more out about the organization and really believed in their message and what they do, became more and more involved. I have now been working closely with Melissa Wiggins, who's one of the founders. Her son is Cannon, who is the namesake of the organization. Her and her husband, Michael, started the organization shortly after Cannon was diagnosed with cancer almost nine—he's going to be nine and he was diagnosed when he was 21 months old.

Rachel: Wow. Really impactful, critical mission. It’s amazing to hear your journey as an advocate and an ally of that. How did you get involved with Givebutter in this really successful fundraiser that you just had?

Pamela: About this time last year, Melissa was like, “I want to run the Disney Marathon.” And I said, “Okay, good for you.” I had no desire. I had run the marathon three years ago as part of the Dopey Challenge. I had no desire to ever run 26 miles again. She was like, “No, you should do it with me and we'll do a fundraiser.” So I was like, “Okay.” If you ever get the pleasure of meeting her, she is a just small, petite, but persistent Scottish ball of fire and will convince you to do things that you said you would never do. So we started brainstorming about how can we turn this training, this running that we're doing over the next year, into something that can benefit CKc? So we came up with the idea of creating a team of friends who want to run the race as well and then setting a fundraising goal. Then, what's the best way to get that message out there? Megan Hendricks, who's the Data Coordinator for CKc, she's familiar with your platform. Having individual team members, it's great because you can have one general page and then each person can have their own. My story about why I'm doing it maybe was different from somebody else. You can see everybody's “why,” I guess, as to what the reason we were fundraising was. The ease of use, honestly, to create your page, to get it out there, and to share—you do not have to be very tech savvy and can really make it work for you. That's part of why we chose it.

Rachel: Happy to hear that! Just for context, had you done anything like this? Or had you used a platform like Givebutter to fundraise for a race?

Pamela: I had done—probably years ago, there was a baseball player in Pittsburgh. He had done a fundraiser with Cutch’s Crew and he had used I think CrowdRise which was one of those platforms. I think it's a similar type fundraising platform, so that was where I had my page. I tried to get money that was part of his main crew page. So something similar, but that was the only other time that I've had experience with one of those platforms.

Rachel: Gotcha. So you're somewhat experienced with peer-to-peer fundraising, then? This wasn’t your first go around.

Pamela: Yes.

Rachel: I'm just curious—since this wasn't your first time but it was a new platform—how was that experience for you? Was there anything that was notable or different doing it the second time around for you?

Pamela: For me, I just joined the last time as a team member. This was from the beginning. I was the one that set up the page, invited the teams, put the picture—so I was doing it from start to finish which was different from that standpoint. To be honest, I'm good with computers. I can do some things, but I'm not what you would call an “IT specialist,” or anything. But, I found it very easy to set it up, invite everybody, have the stories, add your photos… You could make it as detailed as you wanted or you could make it as minimal as you wanted. We kind of went in between in our campaign.

Rachel: Yeah! I'm just pulling up your fundraiser here, so people can get an idea of how beautiful your campaign was. Of course, we're a little biased at Givebutter here. We love your color story! It’s the same as ours.

Pamela: Yes!

Rachel: One thing that really stood out to me was definitely your team member pages. I saw a lot more people making those really, really personal compared to other campaigns that I have seen. I’d be curious to know how you coach people on that. Then, the other thing that stood out to me was your story. A lot of times we see stories that are super long or broken up between a lot of pictures and videos. Your’s stood out because it's just one paragraph, a really cohesive, coherent story that's easy to understand what your mission is, what you're doing with these funds, what the outcomes are going to be. I read it and thought, “Well, how could you say no?” It was just such an easy “Yes!” reading that copy. For everyone who's following along: if you're wondering “How can I craft my story section,” this is an awesome example. Going back to the team members—how did you coach them or walk them through creating their pages? Because they all look so great.

Pamela: Initially, I sent the emails and then I would get a notification when they signed up. If you didn't, I was bugging you like “Hey, let's get our page situated.” I think, in general, a lot of it just stems from the cause that we were doing this for. Everybody who was on the team had been affected by pediatric cancer in some way, shape, or form. It was very easy to create their page and to make it personal to them from the standpoint of just relating to their own story of how it affected them. I think, in general, that's what makes this—that picture was from the Gold Gala this year that some of us went to. Then, everybody was sharing their page—if they didn't want to do a page, they just shared my page or Melissa's page to get the fundraising and get people to donate.

Rachel: And you're still getting donations—just want to point that out on the right-hand side. Super recently with lots of loving comments and support on your supporter feed. Tell us how you have been so successful in promoting this event. What are the marketing channels that you used?

Pamela: Melissa, who is the founder of CKc, has a huge social media following. She has an Instagram page, and she has her Facebook page. She's constantly raising awareness for pediatric cancer. She had done other, smaller fundraisers for CKc. About a week or two before the actual race was when she went full tilt. If you look at when the donations were—we were probably 14 days out and then they really started rolling in. That’s when we were—every single day—either sending out a text message to somebody or putting a story on Facebook or Instagram. We made it where each mile that we were running was dedicated to a child who is either an angel or is a fighter. We made those stories. These are the kids we’re running for, here's our why, here's our link. Because with pediatric cancer, only 4% of the NIH budget goes to pediatric cancer research. The rest of it comes from organizations like CKc, from the private sector. Knowing that you believe in your cause—and an organization that really does a good job without a lot of overhead—and the money you're giving goes to the organization and to those clinical trials...I think people see that and know that. That helped a lot as well.

Rachel: Wow. Okay, so I’m hearing that you used email, text, social media, and then you got really specific about naming miles to honor different children. I’m sure that was super inspirational and touching. I've looked at your Instagram and definitely shed a tear as I was looking through. It's just beautiful and well done. Again, everybody who's following along, I would definitely recommend checking out their social channels because CKc’s social game is strong. Just wondering, any tips, tricks, lessons learned, or words of advice that you would give to other Givebutter fundraisers that are using the platform?

Pamela: I definitely think, first and foremost, you have to believe in the cause that you're fundraising for. Because if you do and that shows, I think that makes a huge huge difference in having people that will donate for you. In the time of a pandemic, we understood that everybody is struggling and you may not have that money. We didn't badger people in any way, shape, or form, but we weren't afraid to ask. We were like, “We understand. Even if you could give $1 a mile or skip your latte that day—five bucks. Every little bit adds up.” We had donations from as small as $5—which a donation is never small—up to $2,500. Every little bit counts so being persistent and believing in the cause. Our platform went for a little over eight months, from when we started slowly-but-surely building and then really hitting the momentum closer to the actual event and our end game.

Rachel: Super helpful words of advice and wisdom for other fundraisers here. Thank you so much for joining us today, for being part of the Givebutter family. Congratulations on all your success for this fundraiser. We can't wait to see all the incredible outcomes that are going to come as a result from this. Thank you so much for sharing your story today.

Pamela: Thank you! Raising $25,000 funds one pediatric clinical cancer trial, so we're happy about that.

Rachel: That's amazing. Where can people find you if they want to follow along after watching this?

Pamela: Cannonball Kids’ cancer has their own Facebook page. That's where you can find a lot of their information about galas, if you want to be an ambassador—you don't have to live in the area to do that and to spread the word. They also have their website as well.

Rachel: For everybody else who's following along, please make sure to follow all those places. Also, remember to like, share, and subscribe to Givebutter’s YouTube channel, so you never miss a Success Story again. Until next week, we will see you then. Happy fundraising! Bye everybody.

View campaign: Run to Defeat Pediatric Cancer

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Rachel Mills

Rachel Mills

Givebutter Marketing & Contributing Writer

Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.

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