This is How a Community Raises $5 Million
The first weekend in June, our community embraces unity when they see firefighters collecting donations on behalf of the WHAS Crusade for Children. For 55 years, the WHAS Crusade for Children has been awarding grants to schools and agencies who provide services for children with special needs. Dawn Lee, CEO of the WHAS Crusade for Children, says its mission is “to make life better for children with special needs.”
This year, the community raised over $5 million, but the money raised isn’t based upon meeting a goal. Instead of setting fundraising goals, the Crusade relies on the generosity of people. “The community steps up and does what it needs to do without the expectation or pressure of meeting a goal,” Dawn says.
Over 200 fire departments in Louisville and Southern Indiana participate and help raise more than half of the money the organization receives, but this event has turned into something much larger than an annual fundraiser: It has become a hallmark of Kentuckiana. “So many of these fire departments have activities and events throughout the year to build up for the Crusade weekend such as rib cookouts, fishing tournaments, and golf scrambles. Keeping that communication open throughout the year, helping them get the word out and being a support system for them, is important,” Dawn says.
The telethon, which airs on WHAS11 the first weekend in June, involves over 3,000 volunteers who are answering phones, counting money, preparing food, and managing the people who will make television appearances. Some of these volunteers include families who have made the Crusade a tradition. “It is very generational. Families have done it together, and their children begin to do it as they get old enough, so it is truly like a family reunion every year,” Dawn says.
The Crusade took its fundraising strategy a step further by encouraging kids to help kids. The organization provided lemonade stand kits for children interested in raising money. “We had over 100 lemonade stands across the state and Southern Indiana. We collected over $37,000 in just pennies, so that is always remarkable to me when we tell these kids that yes, pennies matter,” she says.
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