When Idaho State Director Lisa Ikeda Bain first got involved with PAN, she was attracted to the mission to advocate on behalf of the Parkinson’s community on federal policy issues and happy that she didn’t have to fundraise. Just five years later, she is becoming one of PAN’s most committed grassroots fundraisers and has set a goal to raise $10,000 for PAN in 2014.
“This year at the [PAN Leadership] Forum, there was a session on fundraising and I said to myself, why wouldn’t I fundraise to an organization that I dedicate hours to?” Lisa said. “It’s critically important and it’s easy. I just asked.”
Lisa, whose background is in real estate, said she has fundraised within her industry and knew it was a lot of work, so she did not want to take fundraising on as a volunteer, as well. But last year she started small by becoming a gardener in PAN’s Tulip Tribute Garden and raised about $1,500 for the critical work PAN does. Her goal last year was to at least cover the cost of the scholarship that she received to attend the PAN Forum. She said that this year, she’s already almost doubled what she raised last year through the Tribute Garden and has plans to raise much more throughout 2014.
Lisa’s passion for supporting PAN’s work stems from her family’s experience with Parkinson’s disease. Her grandfather and his sister both died from Parkinson’s disease before she was born and now her father has the disease. She described a very difficult process getting her father diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It wasn’t until he had a serious fall at her home that it became apparent to his health providers that the reason for his fall was Parkinson’s. She said her father had all the classic Parkinson’s symptoms except for a tremor, the most apparent and commonly associated symptom of the disease, which may have been what eluded other doctors and clinicians he had seen up until that fall. After it was confirmed that her father had Parkinson’s and had probably had it for at least 10-15 years, she started doing research on the internet. She reached out to many organizations and the only one who personally called her back was PAN.
“I had a great conversation with Hayley [Carpenter, PAN’s deputy CEO] and she told me that there was no representation for PAN in Idaho,” Lisa said. “Three months later I attended my first Forum. It was life changing.”
As an advocate for PAN, Lisa has been a resource in her state, helped establish local support groups, shared information about PAN, and written, called, and visited her Members of Congress. Now she says she’s happy to also add “fundraiser” to her skillset. She said she’s taken an honest approach to fundraising and explains to people that PAN and its mission is important to her and that any amount would help support the important work we do. If someone cannot make a financial contribution, she asks that they at least sign up as e-advocates on PAN’s website.
In line with her commitment to take any donation no matter how small, she was happy when her nieces offered to raise money for PAN. It wasn’t much and included a jar of pennies they had collected, but it was something.
“I don’t want people to feel like what they do is not enough,” she said.
In addition to asking friends and family, Lisa has reached out to everyone she does business with – her chiropractor, eye doctor, dry cleaner – and hopes to organize other fundraising events later this year, such as a garage sale and a fundraising night at her local Chili’s restaurant.
Lisa advised other advocates to not get intimidated by fundraising for PAN and to start small and feel comfortable before setting a high goal.
“Don’t get frustrated when people say no,” she said. “When someone declines to give a donation, they aren’t saying no to you or the disease. They are just saying I can’t right now. But when we make the assumption that they don’t want to give, we take the opportunity away for them to give.”
To get 10 tips for fundraising from Lisa, click here.
To find the PAN advocate in your state, visit PAN in Your State.