Kenora BCC Walk Bursts Expectations

January 22, 2015
By Nicholas Sawarna and Jean-François Pierre

Hugging the shores of Lake of the Woods in Northwestern Ontario, the town of Kenora is known more for hiking, canoeing, and fishing than for fundraising. But last year, this small community, numbering  less than 16,000, raised more than $50,000 for Bladder Cancer Canada (BCC). But it was not a haphazard occurrence, but rather the result of a carefully planned campaign by Kenora summer resident and Chief Conservationalist at The Devins Network, Ferg Devins.

Diagnosed with bladder cancer in February 2014, Devins was determined to bring about awareness of a disease, that was certainly off the radar to a large extent in this small community. Devins began organizing the Kenora walk after discovering the nearest ‘Bladder Cancer Canada (BCC) Awareness Walk’ was held in Winnipeg, nearly three hours away from his summer home. So, through careful orchestration with BCC and the Kenora community, Devins launched the first ‘Kenora BCC Awareness Walk’ on Sunday, September 21, 2014.

Since Bladder Cancer Canada is one of our cherished clients, we were curious about Devins’ fundraising strategy and were eager to share it with our thousands of users as they plan their own 2015 campaigns. Here’s the tips he shared:

1)     Carefully construct an initial message to prospective donors

Devins said he owed the initial success of his fundraising campaign to a well-thought message he constructed to reach out to prospective donors. This message included: a brief synopsis of his fight with bladder cancer; information regarding bladder cancer; information regarding BCC; and why to donate to his Kenora campaign. Devins said this initial email should be as personalized and transparent as possible.

2)     Clean up your contact lists

When Devins sent his first round of messages, his contact list consisted of 3,000 people, of which approximately 10% responded. Devins said in the future he plans to conduct an initial trimming of his contact list before sending our first messages. This, said Devins, helps narrow your campaign, avoid cold leads and save time.

3)     Raise your target accordingly

Devins hit and exceeded his original $5,000 goal the first night of his campaign. Worried prospective donors would figure he didn’t need any further donations, with a thermometer reading 166%, Devins doubled his goal. Devins’ final goal for the 2014 campaign was set at $40,000, which he exceeded.
Devins said he plans to set his initial goal to $75,000 for this year’s walk.

4)     Get the word out

There is no such thing as too much exposure. Devins told us he contacted local media outlets, as well as Global News in Winnipeg, to gain exposure to the Kenora event. Devins also made sure the event was well-covered through social media lines. The more media traction the event gained, the more people followed it. He was also inspired by those who stepped forward locally that had been exposed to Bladder Cancer. It became a channel for them to speak up, get involved and donate to his Kenora campaign. Devins said this initial email should be as personalized and transparent as possible.


The 2014 BCC ‘Awareness Walks’ took place simultaneously across Canada over the weekend of September 20, 2014. The walks aim to achieve three goals: raise funds for bladder cancer research; raise awareness of bladder cancer; and to help those living with bladder cancer cope with the disease. Combined with the funds collected from Kenora, last year’s walks raised more than $450,000.
The 2014 BCC campaign was run using raisin’s ‘Pledge’ module, part of our leading online fundraising system. This module combines powerful event sites with personal and team pages to raise more money for peer-to-peer fundraising events. The suite of powerful fundraising tools available for participants, like Ferg Devins, makes running a full digital marketing campaign easy with email tools to track open and click rates, social auto-posts to update family and friends, donor history to plan a fundraising strategy, the ability to enter offline donations and more!  
Click here to learn more about our leading online fundraising system  
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