Emily Dickinson, the executive vice president for Wet Willie’s Management Corp., says the best way for your business to host successful fundraising campaigns is to make sure your entire staff is educated and invested in the cause you are supporting.
Dickinson’s rule has paid off for the community and breast cancer awareness over the past six years.
“The biggest thing is to really get your staff involved,” she says. “They can be the biggest champions for the cause. The staff has so much to offer. It’s not just the people at the top dictating to the ones below — you have to get them to understand the purpose of it. And you never know who in your staff may have been touched by the cause you are supporting.
“In all of the causes we support, we always have at least one staff member who has been affected personally. So, it’s important to be a champion for your staff and let them know the reason you are involved and the value of giving back to your community.”
And her belief in getting everyone on the staff onboard is likely the reason Wet Willie’s has raised more than $170,000 for Susan G. Komen Coastal Georgia through the past six years of their Koozies for Boobies breast cancer awareness campaign.
The seventh annual event started Sunday and will run through October at all Wet Willie’s locations. The campaign has two components for fundraising, Dickinson said.
“For the entire month of October, we do donations based on pink items. We sell pink koozies, pink coolies (Velcro drink wraps for cups) and pink T-shirts. A portion of sales for all those items goes directly to Komen.”
The second portion is the Koozies for Boobies Breast Cancer Awareness Party Friday and Saturday evenings.
“We’ll give a percentage of total sales for Friday and Saturday from 7 p.m.to close. We’ll have pink drinks—daiquiris and non-alcoholic daiquiris—so that everyone can enjoy the pink vibe we have going on. We’ll also have pink ribbons and we’ll have educational materials for Komen.
“There’s a lot of presence from Komen there so if we have people who come in who have been affected by breast cancer or know someone affected, they can pick up some information as well. All locations participate.”
And Dickinson says the one-on-one interaction they get from the Komen Coastal Georgia staff is invaluable for their mission.
“Komen is great about sending representatives to come by and meet our staff and mangers. They help our staff and managers to really get behind this — it’s something they really believe in as well.”
She said during their third anniversary of the event, they invited doctors who specialize in breast cancer treatment to come in and speak about the importance of Komen in our community.
“Several people attending were survivors … and we got to hear from them and it was incredible to hear their stories and hear how Komen helped them through those tough times. It really re-energized us and made us see why this is so important.”
And while the fundraising is important to the cause, Dickinson says the campaign is also a valuable educational tool for her staff.
“We really like to share the mission of the nonprofit with the staff. So many of our staff members are young, so this may be the first community involvement campaign they’ve ever done. … It’s a nice way to introduce them to the community. … Our staff loves this event. They love the pink shirts — even the guys love the pink.
“… Breast cancer is something that just touches so many people. We really follow what Komen does — not only in our community but nationwide — and it’s just incredible what they do. They are really moving forward to finding a cure and support for the patients. Especially here in Savannah; the dollars they raise stay here. And that is really important to us and to the community.”