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Strides in Solidarity

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Across the country, PIH Engage teams have been lacing up their running shoes and taking to track fields and parks for "Strides in Solidarity," a 5K race or walk-a-thon to show solidarity with PIH community health workers around the world. In this blog post, we have highlighted two Strides events that happened this month in Madison, WI and Boston, MA. We asked the main organizers what made their event so successful, and this is what they had to say: 

Strides in Solidarity in Madison, WI - April 3rd, 2016

Katie Gelinas, Team Coordinator of UW Madison PIH Engage Team

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Can you describe your Strides event?

"This is our third year as a chapter. We have done Strides every year, but this year we really tried to do a 5K and turn the event into more of a fundraiser than we have been able to do in the past. Our campus is located in between these two big beautiful lakes in Madison, Wisconsin, so our race was along the Lakeshore path. It was a spectacular place to have a race!

The race started at noon, and we had just over 100 people attend, mostly students and family members of people in our group. In total, subtracting our costs, we made just over $2000, which we were really happy with!"

How did you go about advertising for your event?

"We posted our event on every single 5K website in the area and had a Facebook page, which we had everyone in our club share with their friends and people they know. We also had a registration page and put posters all over campus. We had little slips of paper that we gave people to hand out between classes, and one day we stood in the middle of Campus Mall to hand out flyers. Our pre-registration goal was 100 people, so we got pretty dang close. We had an early event, but I think next year we should start advertising even earlier. We also asked for sponsorships from businesses, like some of the running stores in the area, and these were really helpful. One even put us in their newsletter! I think that starting advertising earlier would be the best thing to do."


"I think everyone felt like it was a super successful event, which showed us that we could do a 5K, be meaningful in our message, and still be a great fundraising effort."


 

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What do you think made your event a success?

"Looking back on it, what went really well was getting people to sign up in advance. It was amazing because it doubled the amount of people registered compared to previous years of Strides. Even if they didn't show up, we still got fundraising money if they pre-registered. Also, our getting sponsorships this year was huge. We typed up a letter and had people walk in to stores and ask to speak to a manager. If people had personal connections, like one of our members knows the owner of a Cross Fit studio, it was easier to get them to donate. My leasing company who rents out to college students wanted to be able to advertise to the students running our race. Overall, we got $500 in sponsorships, which basically covered the costs of our T-shirts so all registration money could go to what we were fundraising."

uw_strides3.jpgHow would you reflect on this culminating event of your campaign year?

"I was so happy with how everything turned out. I was blown away by our team's recruitment efforts to get people signed up. I think everyone felt like it was a super successful event, which showed us that we could do a 5K, be meaningful in our message, and still be a great fundraising effort. We wanted to leave the message of walking in solidarity with community health workers, so we had Mark Rosenthal, who is a nurse that went to Sierra Leone and worked on ebola with PIH, speak about community health workers at the end of the race. Reflecting on the year as a whole, we set an ambitious fundraising goal based on our past goal of $10,000, and we blew that out of the way with Strides and other fundraising throughout the year. We felt really good about that."

 

Strides in Solidarity in Boston, MA - April 10th, 2016

Deepti Venkatraman, Fundraising Lead of Boston Young Professionals PIH Engage Team

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Could you describe your Strides event?
"Our event was the combined effort of the PIH Engage Boston Young Professionals chapter, PIH Engage Boston University, PIH Engage Northeastern University, and PIH Engage Harvard. This was our third annual Strides event, held at the Boston University Track and Tennis Center, and it was an effort to walk in solidarity with community health workers who walk great distances to to deliver quality health care in resource poor settings."
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How did you go about advertising for the event? How early did you start?
"Many of those in attendance at the event were friends, family and coworkers of those involved. We were also fortunate to have the connections of our university partners and their circles, as well as the support and presence of the PIH Engage national team. The Boston-YP team started the planning process in mid-January 2016 and advertising in mid-February as soon as we had a confirmed venue."

Would you go back and change anything about your planning or advertising process?

"One of the most crucial things in the planning process is to nail down the venue early. The Boston University Track and Tennis Center proved to be the most ideal location for the event and the most successful one we've had in the past three years (a huge shoutout to BU PIH Engage for helping us secure this!). After attending the 1st Annual PIH Engage Strides in Solidarity, and planning the subsequent two Strides events, one thing I strongly suggest is the utilization of a 'social media calendar' to ensure the continued enthusiasm and excitement surrounding the event. This will also encourage last minute sign-ups and ensure continued engagement of members leading up to the event." 

"There is a great deal of value in using others' experiences and collaborating with those who may be able to share resources."


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What are some things you think your planning team did really well?
"A huge part of the success of our event came from our weekly team meetings at the PIH Boston office or weekly phone calls when in-person meetings were not feasible. This helped us stay on task as well as address challenges that came up in real time. The highlight of our event was definitely the diverse backgrounds and strength of our speakers. First, we had Ashley Damewood, program officer at Partners in Health with the COPE Project in the Navajo Nation, remind us that the reach of community health workers is crucial right here in our United States as she described the at times, desolate situation in the Navajo Nation. Next, we had Stephanie Benoit, an oncology nurse at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who shared her experiences volunteering as a nurse educator at the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda. Finally, we had Dr. Christopher Gill of the Boston University School of Public health remind us that we all have a role in public health and need no formal invitation to play our part. In fact, coming together last Sunday morning officially made everyone there part of the public health world."

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What is your biggest advice for planning successful fundraising events?
"There is a great deal of value in using others' experiences and collaborating with those who may be able to share resources. Our greatest strength in planning this event came from working with the other Boston-based PIH Engage chapters and their dedicated leads and members. We also greatly utilized resources and information passed on from previous years, and were thus able to build upon the foundation that was already in place to make this event a success."
 

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