Meet Tammy A.
With more children being diagnosed each year, we need to help secure their futures by speaking out, creating programs and funding research.
I’m often asked why I’m so passionate about raising money for Autism Speaks and people with autism. I guess because I don’t have autism and I don’t have a child or family member on the spectrum, I’m an “outlier” of sorts in the autism community. It wasn’t until I began coaching gymnastics and working with the Special Olympics that I had the opportunity to meet so many amazing children and young adults with autism. Since that time, I’ve built countless bonds and close-knit relationships that will last a lifetime. These friendships are the reason I fundraise and encourage others to do the same.
I’ve been raising money for Autism Speaks since 2015 because I truly believe in inclusion for all. With more children being diagnosed each year, we need to help secure their futures by speaking out, creating programs and funding research. Especially now during the pandemic, routines have been drastically altered and lives turned upside down due to the lack of in-person services and individualized supports. People with autism need us in their corner more than ever and I believe that it’s important to fundraise for the organization that helps those people get through difficult times such as these.
Soon after my introduction to the Western Connecticut Autism Speaks committee, I started my own fundraising team and dubbed us “The Blue Crew.” The following year, I decided to co-chair the committee and even made the Grand Club level of fundraising. I make it my goal each year to raise more money than I did the previous year, always finding fun ways to reach new heights.
When I would speak with donors to personally thank them, I’d often hear stories about how autism has impacted their lives. This inspired me to do more and continue my fundraising efforts with even more ferocity. I would begin sending email updates informing donors how much money we raised and inspiring them to do even more if they were able. I started recruiting people to my team by inviting them to walk with me or start teams of their own. I’d even personally work with many of the teams and help them reach their goals with little tips I’ve picked up through the years.
When it comes to raising money for people with autism, I will do whatever it takes. Here are just a few of the ways I’ve powered for my Autism Speaks fundraising efforts through the years. Hopefully by seeing how I have done it, others will be inspired to follow suit and get involved!
Restaurant gift cards are king. Texas Roadhouse for one, is always willing to donate a dinner for two gift certificates. I have also asked for a prize of free steaks for a year and they have been very generous to donate both!
The big chains are charitable. If you ask your local Walmart, Home Depot, Target or grocery stores, they’ll usually give a gift card that you can raffle off to your supporters. Don’t be afraid to make the ask.
Throw an event! Since I am somewhat of a painter, I have found my niche in community paint nights. I decided to lead a painting class at a local furniture showroom, who hold in-store community events as part of their charitable giving. They were kind enough to host my paint night and donate $500 to my cause. Unfortunately, this year my paint night was canceled due to COVID-19, but I will hold another one as soon as we are able to safely gather.
Double your impact:
Matching gifts are a great way to surpass your goals! This year, I put out an ask on my Facebook page to see if anyone worked for a company that had a matching gift program. I received a response from a friend that did. This generous friend was able to take the cash I had raised to have it matched by her company! She also donated to my page, helping turn $600 into $1,200.
Tap into your social network:
Everyone loves a raffle! Each year, I sell raffle tickets for prizes that I’ve secured. I display the prizes on my Facebook page and promote it to the best of my ability. For 2020, I created a Facebook page called “The Blue Crew AS Raffle.” I linked members of my team and encouraged them to spread the word by using their fundraising platforms to give us strength by numbers. Fundraising is truly a team effort!
Don’t be shy about asking for donations and raffle prizes. Explain why you support Autism Speaks and why you believe in their mission. If you need help fundraising, reach out to your local committee as they are always happy to give you advice and help in any way they can.
The power of gratitude:
Thank-you messages (or even mini thank-you gifts) go a long way! Whether you donated money or time, I want to make sure you know just how thankful I am for your support. If you engage your donors, I find that many times they become just as passionate about the cause as you are.
In closing, I just want to remind everyone that there’s no “I” in TEAM. We all need to work together in support of all of the people on the spectrum and their families. With the numbers of children and adults being diagnosed continuously rising, it’s likely we all know someone touched by autism. Whether if it’s because of a close personal connection or you just want to do something nice for a stranger, just know that we are all in this together. If we do our part to spread messages of acceptance and awareness, the world will be a much kinder place.