When our event went from in-person to virtual, I had many thoughts, such as:
- How do I raise money for something that is not happening?
- Who in the world will sponsor a non-event?
- How do I motivate people without having personal contact?
- We will ever meet our goal?
- Why did I agree to be the walk manager THIS year?
And many more!
We had this magical thing happen in Charleston, SC!
Amid Covid 19, the election and racial tensions and everything that 2020 was bringing, our community wanted something positive to hold on to. NAMIWalks Your Way: A National Day of Hope was the answer. It started slowly, but by walk week, NAMIWalks Your Way Charleston was all the buzz!
- I was interviewed by two local stations.
- Our NAMI Charleston Board President, Toni Smallwood, negotiated a digital billboard ad to run in all five zones of Charleston (we paid $1,000 for something worth $17,000 dollars).
- Board Member, Colleen Vaughn, reached out to The Charleston Radio Group and they ran commercials for the walk on all 10 radio stations (our cost was $0, worth $14,000-$16,000 of radio time).
- The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office did a professional video about how important NAMI CIT is, and how our partnership saves lives in our community (free & priceless). They printed out Signs of Hope and sent me 45 pictures from all over Charleston.
- Charleston County Government and Board Vice President, Malinda Terry did a Video Challenge that many other NAMIs used to promote walks all over the country.
- We had a videographer who donated time and taught me how to schedule our Walk Day Events (free and also priceless).
Fundraising success stories
Maritza and Mel Foster, both NAMI Charleston Area Board Members, raised $1,850 in their neighborhood and went live on Instagram on Walk Day. As they walked through their neighborhood, people were yelling out to them: “What are you doing?” “Why are you walking?” They had a team around 20 that stirred up their whole neighborhood! We have two new advisory members for our board from their NAMIWalks Your Way team.
Our Board Treasurer, Robert Taylor, was very resistant to signing up for the walk. He said, “I’m working from home and the chief IT person for their two school-aged kids remote learning.” Well, after several nudges, he signed up and has raised $1,900 in the last two weeks just posting on Facebook.
My summary of our success
In total, we had four meetings, many phone calls, less overall participants and teams than last year… and we met our goal a day before the walk. Our goal was raised from $25,000 to $35,000. We will be accepting donations all the way to December 9th.
Our in-kind services are at $38,000-$40,000 and so many more people know about NAMI than before this “non-event” happened.
I was at Lowe’s a couple of days ago, and a stranger came up to me (She recognized my Mental Health for All T-shirt) and she asked, “What do you do for NAMI?” She was one of our virtual walkers and had raised $350 for our event!
I made a lot of mistakes, had a few meltdowns, did ALL the online training from the 3 DAY BOOTCAMP, and even learned how to use DonorDrive (a little).
I concluded that NAMI people do not give up or in easily. We are used to having plan A, B, C, D etc. I mean, most of us live with a mental health condition or have a loved one that does. A virtual walk? I can do this. How? I printed out the timeline and followed the model. From sponsorship, to building teams; coaching, and picking up the darn phone (a lot!)
Some final takeaways
- Mental Health Is for All; and is needed NOW more than ever.
- We are stronger together.
- NAMIWalks National Staff has our back!
- My community needed NAMI, and we need them.
- 2020 has not been all bad.
- There is hope, and you are not alone!
From a tired Walk Manager,