By Donna Cleary, Director of Annual Giving

Donna (center) with Fern Kaufman and her wife Cheryl at the Hot Chocolate event

I’ve been involved in non-profit fundraising for over twenty years and have worked with The ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter for nearly six years. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about how people give of themselves to help a worthy cause. I also have learned why they give. People do not just give from the heart or the mind. It’s a combination of both.

Our goal at The ALS Association is to not just explain why fighting ALS is a good thing. We work tirelessly all year round to be good stewards of our donors’ money and time. Here is how we are focused on this mission and how you can give. You may be surprised at the many ways that you can be an effective fundraiser and how every drop adds up as we work to take on this challenging disease.

  • Workplace giving — this is an easy way to help. You set up an amount you’d like to give with your company and they do all the processing, including sending your money to the Chapter so it can begin helping right away. Last year, the Chapter raised over $170,000 by employees who gave through their employer, which is almost 3% of our annual budget. When I visit workplaces to share information about how people can help, I almost always meet someone who had a friend or loved one with ALS and they are looking for ways to help and find this an easy solution. I am always happy to visit workplaces and share how The ALS Association’s programs assist people living with ALS and how they can help simply by participating in workplace giving. Many people are surprised to learn that employers often match donations, doubling their impact.
  • Monthly giving directly to the Chapter — The Chapter has an online option that allows us to withdrawal an amount you determine each month from your credit card or bank. You never have to worry about writing a check. Every gift makes a difference and adds up over time. Meeting families and seeing firsthand how The ALS Association programs assist them through their journey, I wanted to give to help, too. So I personally chose monthly giving. The Chapter does all the work and I know my gift is helping every day.
  • Charity Miles — NEW this year, The ALS Association has had the great opportunity to partner with Charity Miles. This is a non-profit organization that has garnered support from corporations who are willing to fund charities of choice. Currently, only a select group of charities have been chosen and the ALS is fortunate to be one. It is so easy and the money comes from the corporations, not you! All you need is to walk, run or exercise! Simply download Charity Miles on your smart phone when you walk, run or exercise (indoors or outdoors). You choose the ALS Association and start working out — that’s it! This is another way I have personally chosen to help the Chapter — every time I exercise, whether on the elliptical or a walk/run outside — my mileage is recorded and I earn dollars for The ALS Association. Please consider this easy option to help people living with ALS.
  • Walks to Defeat ALS® — the Chapter holds 7 Walks throughout our service area to raise awareness as well as critical dollars. It’s a fun way to meet others and help. Go to to find a walk in your area. Last year, thousands of walkers helped to spread ALS awareness, raising over $1.2 million!
  • Special events — During the year the Chapter coordinates several events, such as the Roger Kirk Golf outing hosted by Greg Gross, Hot Chocolate and the Annual Luncheon. You can be a part of any of these events as a contributor or volunteer. Our most special event of course is with the Philadelphia Phillies, who have supported the Greater Philadelphia Chapter for over 32 years.
  • Community Partner Events — A Community Partner Event is a fundraising activity that is organized and managed by a family, group, or individual who is acting independently of The ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter. Examples of Community Partner Events include; golf outings, bike rides, auctions, raffles, etc. This past August, you may have read about or seen Larry Kaplan, a Chapter volunteer, as he travelled across the country doing his own version of an Ice Bucket Challenge. What an inspiration Larry was to those patient families he met and the many people who donated to his effort. So far he has raised nearly $75,000! Every day, creative, motivated people like Larry find ways to raise money to fight ALS through their own events. For more information about doing your own Community Partner Events, email: Between Community Partner and Special events outside of the signature Walk to Defeat ALS, the Chapter raised over $900,000 in Fiscal Year 2016 for our ALS mission.

Charitable giving has changed tremendously since I first got involved in the business, and those changes are almost all positive. There are more ways to give and get involved than at any time before. Organizations no longer have to live by large donations alone and then scramble to find new revenue if those very big gifts do not come in as promised. Now smaller events, workplace giving, walks, and new efforts like Charity Miles give people of all backgrounds and abilities a chance to participate and take ownership of charity programs. It also allows organizations like The ALS Association to grow and stay stronger as things change among the donor base.

One thing that hasn’t changed though is the sincerity and drive of our ALS community. Each day that I come to work, I see how terrible this disease is as it affects people that I know. However, I also see the determination of Chapter staff, board members, healthcare professionals, volunteers, advocates, and donors to make a difference. Our local Greater Philadelphia Chapter is about to mark a 40 year anniversary and, as a result of our strong partnership with the Philadelphia Phillies and our diverse donation streams, we are stronger and more capable than ever to support those living with ALS as we continue to work towards a cure.

I’m always happy to see my friend Rhoda at ALS Advocacy

In the nearly six years that I have been with the Chapter, I have met so many families and made friendships that I will forever cherish. Unfortunately, I have lost ALS friends, too. That is why I am honored to not only be part of a dedicated team that works with the ALS community of supporters to raise important funds to provide the services that families need, but I am also happy to donate personally to the organization. I hope you will consider one of the many ways listed above to help too.

Covering all the bases in the fight to defeat Lou Gehrig's Disease. Serving eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and all of Delaware.

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