Known for their successful annual fundraising events like Festival of Giving, the Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent is changing things up this year. But their goal of doing everything ‘for the kids’ remains the same.
“The three events we’re doing this year are a gala, a run, and our annual golf tournament,” says Mike Genge, president of the Children’s Treatment Centre Foundation of Chatham-Kent.
The Gala for the Kids and the Run for the Kids events are new events for the Foundation, and are part of a larger rebranding of their events and fundraising efforts.
“We want the community to know that what we’re doing is always for the kids. Instead of Festival of Giving or Festival of Golf, we wanted people to know that when they go to our events that it’s for the kids,” Mike explains.
Gala for the Kids
Festival of Giving and Festival of Golf are signature events in Chatham-Kent, but the Foundation is working on bringing the focus back on the kids at the Children’s Treatment Centre.
“I think a lot of people know who the Children’s Treatment Centre is but some may not know what we do and why we do it,” Mike says.
The gala, which is slated for April of this year, will replace Festival of Giving and will be smaller, with just 250 tickets available.
“It’s going to be more intimate, more formal, but it’ll still have some touches that Festival of Giving had like great food, great drinks, and fabulous decorations. We’re bringing in bands from all over North America. It’ll be an over-the-top event like we always do,” he says.
The Festival of Giving event has raised nearly $150,000 each year at past events.
Run for the Kids
Just two months after the gala, everyone is invited to participate in the Run for the Kids.
“It will be the first run we’ve ever done. We really wanted to focus on our kids and doing something with them at an event. Our kids will be participating in the event, but some will be in a wheelchair, some will be using a walker, some will be walking, some will be running—it all depends on their abilities,” Mike says.
The event will take place in Rondeau Park, a provincial park on Lake Erie.
“There will also be a five-kilometer run for those looking for a traditional run. We’re already getting sponsors for this event and we haven’t even launched it yet,” he says.
Their goal is to raise $50,000 at the event.
Golf for the Kids
“This will be our sixth year. It’ll be all-inclusive and we’ll have a theme. There will be bands and it’ll last the whole day,” Mike explains.
Golf for the Kids will also feature some auction items for participants to bid on and prizes as well. Past participants have won cash prizes and most recently a trip to Scotland.
Last year alone, the event raised over $100,000.
There are many things that make their fundraising events successful, and Mike says it all starts with having a goal in mind and being okay with not reaching that goal.
Setting a Goal
“You’ve gotta have a goal. How much do you want to raise?”
That’s the one question that Mike says is important for fundraisers to ask themselves as it helps set the direction for where you’re going.
“With any event, there are sponsors, people buying tickets, people participating—but what does it matter if you come under the goal? If you set a goal for $50,000 but only raise $30,000, you’re $30,000 ahead. I think what it comes down to is that sometimes we’re afraid to take chances, but I’m a firm believer that you have to take chances,” Mike explains.
The Children’s Treatment Centre Foundation has taken chances and participated in other events in the past, like Over the Edge, RM’s 40th Anniversary Celebration in 2019, and most recently the Smile Cookie Campaign.
“Don’t be afraid to set goals, and don’t be afraid if you don’t get to that goal because next year, you may get to that goal, or you may exceed it,” Mike says.
Support and Storytelling
“It’s important to have a supportive board and team. I’m fortunate that the board and staff here have supported the fundraising ideas we’ve had and that the ideas have been successful. But it takes a board who wants to take chances,” he explains.
When it comes to advise for other organizations who are fundraising, it all comes down to faith.
“The first thing you need to be a fundraiser is you need to have faith. You need to have faith that you’ll raise the money. The second thing is that you need to take chances. And the third is you need to be a good storyteller,” Mike says.
Storytelling drives how the Foundation markets and advertises its events, and it starts with an elevator pitch.
“You need to convey to someone why you’re doing what you’re doing. You need to be able to tell a story about why what you’re doing is important. Ours is that we raise money for our kids to help make our community better and for them to be involved in everything that any other kid can be involved in,” he says.
After figuring out what your story is, the next step is building that into your marketing plan.
“Marketing is really important in fundraising. You constantly have to keep learning about marketing and how it can help you with fundraising. Learning about marketing will help you to tell your story to sponsors which will help with getting donations,” Mike explains.
While raising funds is a core activity in the non-profit sector, another big effort is raising time. Volunteers are significant contributors to non-profits and to the Children’s Treatment Centre and they’re the reason why so many events and initiatives are able to happen.
“We make it fun to volunteer. But it’s a real balancing act. You need to find out where each volunteer will fit and figure out what it is that they want to do, but you also need to make it fun and enjoyable. We make sure our volunteers get lunch and dinner if it’s a long day, we bring them water and pop and check in on them to see if they need anything,” he says.
It’s also important to remind them of why their work and time is important.
“I tell them to come with a happy heart and to know that what we’re doing is for the kids. This is why we’re here. It’s not for the Children’s Treatment Centre Foundation—it’s for the kids,” Mike says.
Attracting volunteers in the first place can be difficult sometimes, but Mike says there’s a simple way to change that.
“Just ask. Some people just need to be asked. And sometimes, we’re afraid to ask because we think they may say no. But I’ve learned to never assume that someone doesn’t want to volunteer. It might just be that they may not want to volunteer at an event but that they’d rather join the board. Or they just want to come once and that’s it. But if you don’t ask someone to volunteer, you’ll never know,” he says.
As the Foundation gears up for a busy 2023, work continues on getting everything ready for their new building which will help give more kids in the community an opportunity to utilize their services.
To learn more about the Children’s Treatment Centre Foundation of Chatham-Kent, visit their website HERE.