Gesture is excited to announce our new Gesture – the Gesture TV Show! Each week we interview charity founders and directors who share their best advice on what it takes to run successful nonprofits.
This week we are featuring Rory Domenick the founder of The CameronCan Foundation.
The mission of the Cameron Can Foundation is to provide a continuing legacy of care for families of children who need long term medical care. In the interview Rory shares how her local charity raised $125,000+ with simple strategies you can use right away.
Want to be our next inspiring guest?
Submit your name, organization, mission and contact information to Monika.Rydz@Gesture.com
How the Cameron Can Foundation Raised $125,000+ In One Night
Monika: Hi everyone Monika rydzewski with Gesture TV, and I have a very special guest today, Rory Dominick with The Cameron Can Foundation.
Rory: Hi Monika.
Monika: Hi, thanks for being here.
Rory: Thanks for having us.
Monika: So tell us about your foundation.
Rory: The Cameron Can Foundation came to be out of a desire to pay it forward. Our 7 year old son was born with a laundry list of medical conditions including hydro syphilis. And a few years ago we had a great group of friends that got together saw a need and answered it and put a benefit on to help our son have a bright future. So after that, it was a really humbling experience as you might imagine and we just knew we had to pay it forward. And I knew there must be other families like us, so that’s what came to be. We created the Cameron can foundation to ensure a lifetime of care for children that have long term medical conditions with no cure.
Monika: What would you say is the biggest challenge of running your organization?
Rory: I would say it’s making sure you’re surrounding yourself with a team of experts from attorneys to accountants. Determining whether you want to go full nonprofit, assembling a team of volunteers that are motivated and passionate about your cause. And just you know, people that share that mission.
Monika: Sometimes it’s really hard to get volunteers. What are some ways that you get volunteers, people to help you guys?
Rory: Often what we do is we reach out to our network and look at our board and ask everybody to pull people in. look at subsets, or I know somebody that used to work in marketing and now they’re staying at home with their kids and they’d love to still use those skills so this is a great opportunity for them to do it and they’re giving back to the community. Really it’s about networking, and finding for the event itself you want young motivated people, so we just kind of work our network and even put a call for volunteers every now and again in social media.
Monika: How do you guys raise money for your organization?
Rory: We have an annual benefit, every year, the Thursday before St. Patrick’s day and we’re coming up on our 4th event, and that’s our sole fundraiser, where we raise, last we raised over 125,000 dollars at one event. It’s largely donations, ticket sales, and then we do a silent auction, a raffle, it’s just a really big event where we ask people to come have a great time and bid on silent auction items and it’s really, I guess the program we put in place over the last 4 years we’ve seen it work. So we follow that model.
Monika: What advice would you give someone who’s looking at this event, what advice would you give them, what are some tips?
Rory: I would definitely say that you want to make sure you have people in place that can run your day of event. Because you know, while I’m one of the founding members of the foundation, I’ve gotta be talking to people and making sure everybody’s happy, so you gotta get a really good team in place to run the day of event, run the silent auction, you know, you gotta have a good committee. An event is a successful as the committee that you have. And the other piece of advice I would say is you know, be able to tell your story well so that people are compelled to get involved. We all know there’s tons of charities out there, and they’re all worthy causes. So have your 30 second elevator pitch that somebody’s gonna say wow, that’s something I want to support, I want to get involved in. and those would be the great ways to really get people going, and the other thing I would say is making sure that you’re not afraid to ask for donations and sponsorships. We’ve created a really strong set of marketing materials that gives us credibility so that when you’re walking into talk to somebody, hey would you like to donate 5000 dollars, you’re professionally presenting yourself with a good presentation, that makes all the difference. and it’s hard to ask for money, but if you have the right support and you sell it, I think we’ve found we’ve been pretty successful with it.
Monika: What are some ways that you guys market your events?
Rory: We use Facebook, social media for sure. Facebook, Twitter, we have an Instagram account, Pinterest account. So we have someone fully running that stream, and we still do old school printed invitations. We have fabulous graphic designers, and people love to get. I know we’re all in the digital age, but sometimes a printed invitation, something you can hold on to, goes a long way. The other thing I’d recommend people do is put together a video like this that summarizes your foundation and what you’re about in 90 seconds or less because everybody is so digitally inclined that if you can send them a link that says this is what we’re about in 90 seconds, that might be far more compelling than a 5 page sponsorship proposal. I’ll be honest with you, that’s on our to do list, is putting that video together. So that’s on our list, but I think it’s an important one.
Monika: You also started using mobile bidding.
Rory: Yeah, and last year was the first year we used Gesture, and it was a huge success. It was a great way to engage people and many people commented, oh this is so cool, you know, we saw our auction did great as a result, and I like the, as I have said to some of the owners, what I liked about it is if somebody can’t attend the event, maybe they’re out of town, they can still get involved and support the event and that’s great, like you just never know where your donations are going to come from. It’s another avenue.
Monika: Tell us more about your event coming up.
Rory: It’s march 13th and its downtown Chicago at the Montgomery club. The theme of it is camp rocks, so it’s got a really great camping theme, we’ll have smores and we have a special drink called the run amok, specialty drinks and it’s really our theme has always been from day 1 four years ago is party, give, love. So we really want people to come and have a good time, we’ll tell you why you’re there, we’ll make you, we want to tell uplifting stories, because what this foundation is all about is letting kids be kids. And allowing us to show the families and these children what they can do. And that’s why we need Cameron Can. The inspiration is my son, but it’s really about all the kids out there, and the kids that we help so that we can say these kids despite the obstacles they have before them, can do other things. And be successful in life. And we want that for them.
Monika: That’s wonderful. So tell us more how we can find you.
Rory: We’d love to have you at the march 13th event downtown, you can go to Cameron-Can.com buy your tickets there, donate there, that would be the best way, and we’re of course ongoing year round, we accept donations, because we do give out grants to families throughout the year. We have 2 grant recipients this year at the event. An 11 year old boy who has spina bifida, and we’re also supporting YMCA’s Camp Independence. We pick primary grant recipients, but we give out rolling grants throughout the year from an adaptive bike, to paying off some therapy bills that sort of thing. So go online, learn more about us, and if you want to get involved in the event, we’re always looking for volunteers. Absolutely.
Monika: Well thank you so much for being here and sharing your story and thanks for watching.