The Ask: Fundraising Tips!

Idling outside a business in Charlotte, VT, I glance at my brother who is skimming his notes, “Owner’s first name is Phil. Started the company in 1984. My friend, Tina knows Phil’s wife, Patty because their kids ride horses. Got it. ” Then turning to me, with a smirk, he reminds me of my role, “Okay, Let’s go. Remember, you look around the store and buy something, and when you are ready to make your purchase, find me and I’ll introduce you to the person in charge.”  And off we go – Chris with his Cycle 4 CMT flyers and his iPad, and me with my credit card.


Chris with chef, Maura O’Sullivan, at Penny Cluse Cafe  – a proud sponsor of the VT Cycle 4 CMT event!

Entering the store, Chris will ask for “Phil” while I  start browsing. Chris does his thing, I do mine and he usually walks away with a sponsorship for the Cycle 4 CMT event. And me? I get in the car with a new shirt, a few gifts, and other amazing VT products, like Maple Syrup (If you don’t like maple, you might as well skip the trip to Vermont-and just give a donation. Everything, and I mean everything has maple in it.)

On a more serious note, asking for charitable contributions, even for a great cause like the CMTA, can feel scary and awkward, but if you are genuinely interested in people and truly believe in your cause, success is definitely attainable.   I’ve asked for a lot of donations over the past 15 years for the CMTA, but watching Chris in action raised has my fundraising IQ considerably. Here are a few takeaways:


The More You Know – Chris always does his research before walking into a store or business. He finds the owners’ names, reads about their backgrounds and tries to find a common link, interest, or point of contact. This commonality, once discovered, will definitely make the discussion and ensuing conversation flow more easily.

Description –  Keep it short, make it personal. After finding the key person, who might initially be a bit guarded (as would anyone when approached by 2 determined strangers on a mission), Chris makes and keeps eye contact when explaining the details of the upcoming event: 5th annual Cycle 4 CMT. Nephew has CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth, not Country Music Television. A disease that attacks the nerves. Loss of function of the hands, arms, feet, and legs. The event has raised a lot of money for CMT research, our sponsor list is growing every year. Then, he usually shows the person the event website, the list of donors and a few pictures of Yohan). Pictures are worth a thousand words.

Yohan and Uncle Chris

The Story –-As an avid cyclist, skier, hiker born and raised in VT, Chris professes, “I often wish I could spend a day skiing or cycling with Yohan. He used to snowboard, but that ended when he developed CMT-related back problems and his feet, so deformed, could no longer fit in a ski boot.” Remembering the disappointment, I too start to choke up. He continues, ” I wanted to help him, but how? And then it came to me – Why not put on a CMTA fundraiser in support of CMT research, connecting the passion and energy that Vermonters possess for outdoor activities? As a result, the Cycle 4 CMT was born in the summer of 2014.

Empowerment – Chris’ delivery is moving and heartfelt. He speaks with conviction and confidence, empowering others to be part of the movement to end CMT. And it works. Why? People feel a connection to Chris’s story, to Yohan’s journey and to our determination to raise the critical funds needed to get us to clinical trials.  Feeling our great sense of urgency, people want to take action and get involved in something bigger than themselves. Ultimately, giving back unleashes opportunity. potential and a powerful force of good in the world.


DSC_82183rd Annual Cycle 4 CMT 2016 Kevin
Kevin is more than a hero – he’s a superhero!


Thank You – You can never say it enough. We appreciate everyone involved with the Cycle (and Walk!) 4 CMT event, from sponsors to participants, and donors to volunteers. You are our heroes. It takes a lot of compassionate, kind, generous people to bring about change in the world and we are fortunate to have you by our side, fighting the CMT battle. Your involvement and consideration also provides promise and hope to the Yohans of the world who are deeply moved by the fact that you genuinely care.


So, when you approach someone for a donation, be confident and tell your story from the heart. What’s the worst that can happen? For diverse reasons, you may get a “no, thanks.” That’s okay. Don’t take it personally. Just know that you have succeeded in informing one more person about CMT.


Now, you have a few fundraising tools, so start a walk, a cycle, a sit-a-thon – whatever. Or, if you can’t do it this year, give to the Cycle 4 CMT.  If you cannot make it, we came up with a new feature: the VIRTUAL walk or Cycle.  Now anyone, anywhere can take part in the Cycle (and Walk!) 4 CMT. For more info:


PS: Just an FYI-This year, Chris joined in on the shopping spree. He ended up buying this top from one of our new sponsors – AJ’s Ski and Sports!! : I love visiting our sponsors!

3 thoughts on “The Ask: Fundraising Tips!

  1. George Ouellette July 10, 2018 / 6:56 PM

    Words of wisdom, “We had our work cut out for us” tells me he’s hooked!


  2. A.J July 13, 2018 / 6:33 PM

    My PCP who was incredible ,got an offer in her first love of geriatric’s at an out of state very prestigous hospital ,i took it badly ,when i was a kid a man shot me twice ,needless to say my idea of a good time is not with a male doctor ,and my PCP new this might be a concern , i was more or less “Doctors pet” in the beginning I loved her ,as weird health issues started popping up , she wanted to see me so I would call she would open her schedule so she could examine me sometimes that was 4 or 5 days, i always checked out ok ,seemed like random weirdness,until something major happened hat we couldn’t write off as a fluke,so needless to say “My medical mystery tour ” was with her she became use in my life.
    So to try and ease my fears she read this new guy in on all her patients ,i was a special case she spent over four hours on my case ,and extracted promises that he would treat me as well as she had ,he swore he understood who what and where of uniquness,he lied and immediately targeted me and screwed with me in every way possible and not happy to fire me in an unsigned letter ,he had me expelled from the Hospital,needless to say it got ugly with him quikly.that was in 2007 ,until last month I had to use a clinic for the homeless uninsured for primary care, all my specialist are a full 16 hour day away ,i have great relationships with all 18 of them ,some have been with me for a decade ,but i couldnt find a team captain. Last month i had all the substandard care that i was gonna ,and started my yearly search for PCP,this time was different a new doctor just moved here and opened a practice,she was not afraid of accepting a zebra with chronic pain ,so its taken me 11 years to get a competent PCP,not afraid of me .

    That in a nutshell is part of my experience with bad,sad,lazy & some what crazy experience with my local physicians,not fun I feel your pain


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