Do You Embody the 6 Traits of a Successful Relayer?

You hear stories of relay participants and teams raising thousands and thousands of dollars, but how do they do it?  They must be car salesmen or have supernatural people skills.  Maybe they know all the “right people” with loaded pocketbooks.  In the end, we all want to know how and use it reach the top fundraising spot at our relays.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret…..I know the tricks they use and I’m going to share them with you!  Every successful relayer posses six traits and once you learn them, you can harness their power for your relay.

To make it easy to understand and apply the traits to your relay skills and beyond, we’ll explore each one from the ground up.  The best place to start is with the foundation, which is the definition.   Next we’ll erect walls upon our foundation; examples of how to use each one during your relay season.  The roof will be your contribution to this process, applying the traits in your everyday life.  Let’s get out our tool belts and begin!

  1. Courageous: Merriam-Webster list the meaning of courageous as having courage or being brave.  Their definition of courage is, “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

There’s nothing easy about cancer and courage is a must at every turn.  From the little boy undergoing treatment or a single mom preparing for another surgery, to a parent feeling helpless to kiss their child’s “boo-boo” and make it feel better or a child kissing his mom before she’s wheeled into surgery.  Each and every one of those individuals demonstrate the definition of courageous, through the toughest life and death experiences.

It may be difficult and painful, but you can be brave for these individuals when the odds are insurmountable.  If you won’t do it, who will?  When you spend your free time raising money, attending meetings, forming a team, involving your community, holding fundraisers, walking the track for hours and hours in honor or memory, and praying for those touched by cancer, it takes courage.  Every time you ask someone to donate or join the Relay for Life, you risk rejection.  Every time you befriend a person or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it takes courage.  To stand on your soapbox and let the world know what you support, it takes courage.  The difference?  Successful relayers go the extra mile, in spite of it all.

2. Caring: The English Oxford Dictionary list the meaning of caring as, “the work or practice of looking after those unable to care for themselves, especially on account of age or illness” or “displaying kindness and concern for others”.

Even if you haven’t had or known anyone with cancer, you can still help care for someone with this ugly disease.  You could raise money to help find a cure and further research.  You can offer your services at the relay for survivors, such as a free manicure, free haircut, etc.  Leading up to the relay, you could use your small business to host a fundraiser or set out donation jars.  If you’re an employee, you could ask your employer to allow donation jars or host a fundraiser for the employees.  You could make meals for a family struggling or donate your time by mowing their lawn, raking leaves, babysitting, or dog walking.  One of the best things you can do, is spend time with them.  All of these are ways you can use caring to support a cancer patient and their family.

3. Innovative: Merriam-Webster list innovative as the use of or employing innovations.  The meaning of innovation is, “the introduction of something new  or a new idea, method, or device”.

One of the best ways you can use innovation as a relayer, is to find new and exciting ways to raise money.  If you find traditional or common fundraising ideas aren’t working, it’s time to flip the script and find something that’s a hit.  The term “thinking outside the box” applies here; you’re being innovative.  A doggie prom or combing golfing with bingo….who knows what you could dream up?  It could be the next big thing!  So get  your thinking cap on and see what your brain is really capable of creating.

4. Determined: The English Oxford Dictionary lists the meaning as, “having made a firm decision and being resolved not to change it”.

If you’re determined, you ride failure and rejection like a rocket straight to success.  If you’re first fundraiser was a bust, you find a new (possible innovative…see how I did that..wink..wink) idea and crush it.  If someone tells you no, you don’t quit asking; you just keep asking until you hear a yes.

5. Passionate: Merriam-Webster list the definition as, “capable of, affected by, or expressing intense feeling” or “easily moved to anger”.

Does the thought of cancer make you mad?  If so, you have the beginning stages of passion.  It takes true passion to fight against a disease whose defeat may not be tomorrow and many more lives may be claimed in the process.  It takes passion to fight on, after losing a loved one or seeing those close to you diagnosed.  It takes passion to change the world, one victory at a time; exactly what a successful relayer possesses and employs to make an impact in every single move during relay season.  It’s drives them to fundraise longer, participate on leadership team, help improve their event, and stand proud next to every survivor and patient as they walk past their campsite.  Do you have passion?

6. Empathetic: In the English Oxford Dictionary the meaning is, “showing an ability to understand and share the feelings of another”.

You may not be able to walk in a survivor’s shoes, you can hold their hand and walk with them.  You can feel their pain, struggles, triumphs, and victories.  Attending just one luminary ceremony, a most awe-inspiring event, will flood you with empathy; seeing all the bags light the darkness, the loving words and names painstakingly decorating the front panels, and one lined up after another……it will bring you to tears, even if you know not a single soul who adorns one.  You will forever be changed.  You can feel the loss, you can feel the pain, you can feel the fight, and you can feel the victory.

As you can see, being a Relay for Life participant is more than raising money for a cure.  It’s about being a team player and letting the cancer patient/survivor know they’re not alone.  Someone is in their corner, standing by their side, and fighting their battle with them.  Someone is there to lend a hand when the stumble and lift them up with each victory, no matter how small.  Will you be that someone?

You now posses the building blocks of a successful relayer.  Add each one to your arsenal to make yourself a force to be reckoned with, cancer doesn’t stand a chance!



Are You Missing Out on FREE Money?

Thousands and thousands of employees are missing out on free money each and every year!  Who doesn’t like free money?  Not this girl! I love free stuff, but I especially love money with the potential to end our fight against one of the deadliest diseases in our modern-day, cancer.

I know, I know, I know….you think I’m making this up or there’s a catch.  I’m definitely not making this up.  However, there is one catch, you must show your compassion and share your most valuable asset, time.

Your employer may be one of the growing list of companies who offer donation matching, volunteer grants, or both.  If you’re involved in your local American Cancer Society Relay for Life, as a participant or as a team, you could be using your employer to double or triple your fundraising and even get your volunteer hours rewarded in a grant toward your goal!  As a cancer survivor myself, this is absolutely amazing and appreciated more than a few words in a blog can express. If you’re not raising money for this organization or another of your choice, you can use this as the first chapter in  your support to inspire change.  If you won’t do it, who will?

Below is a list of companies willing to take a stand, build better communities, foster volunteering, and offer incentives to community stewards.  You’ll find information on their offerings, policies, and how the Relay for Life (or almost any nonprofit) can benefit. Click on any of the images to access their websites for more information.  Any bets on how much money you’ve been missing out on each year?

amazon logo Amazon Smile Program:

Through this program Amazon donates .5% of an individual’s total purchase to their selected charity.

Home Depot Donations   Home Depot’s Matching Gift Program:

The Home Depot Foundation will match donations between $25 and $1,000 from each full-time or part-time employee to a U.S. organization. While there’s a $1,000 limit per employee per nonprofit, each employee can request up to a total of $3,000 per year as long as matches go to multiple nonprofits.

Home Depot’s Community Impact Grants:

Through Home Depot’s Community Impact Grants, the company provides grants in the form of The Home Depot gift cards for the purchase of tools, materials, or services.  Community Impact Grants of up to $5,000 are available to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations and tax-exempt public service agencies in the United States that are using the power of volunteers to improve the physical health of their community.

State Farm Donations     State Farm’s Matching Gift Program:

State Farm employees and retirees are eligible to request matching gifts, as long as their donations are a minimum of $25 and a maximum of $3,000 per calendar year.

State Farm’s Volunteer Grant Program:

Once an employee, agent, or retiree volunteers for 40 hours in a calendar year, State Farm will donate $500 to the organization through their Good Neighbor Grant Program.  State Farm volunteers must submit their grant applications by March 31st of the following year.

Coca-Cola Donations  Coca-Cola’s Matching Gift Program:

Coca-Cola offers a matching gift program for employees through which the company triples donations to educational organizations, arts & cultural organizations and environmental groups.

Coca-Cola Donation Requests:

Coke’s donation requests can be divided into the following three categories: Grants or Contributions, Community Sponsorships, and Product Donations.

CVS is one of many companies that donate to nonprofits  CVS’s Volunteer Grant Program:

Individual volunteer grants – Based on individual employees volunteering between 15 and 100 hours in a year. Worth up to $1,500.

Team volunteer grants – Based on teams of employee volunteers who get together for either a charitable event (ex. run, walk, or ride), or ongoing volunteerism throughout the year. Worth up to $3,000.

CVS Donation Requests:

For nonprofits in cities where CVS operates, the company has a grant program. Qualifying community-based organizations can apply for a CVS pharmacy gift card of up to $100.

General Mills is one of the many companies that donates to nonprofits  General Mills’ Matching Gift Program:

Annual match maximums per employee, board member, and retiree range from $5,000-$15,000. The company offers an easy to use electronic matching gift submission process.

Kroger Donation Requests  Kroger Donation Requests:

Kroger and its subsidiaries make charitable efforts each year in order to support their local communities. Much of these charitable efforts come in the form of donations to nonprofits who have made donation requests to the company.

McDonald's Donation Requests  McDonald’s Matching Gift Program:

McDonald’s matching gift program allows corporate full-time employees and part-time employees to have their donations matched at a 1:1 ratio. The minimum amount required for a donation to be matched is $50 and the maximum amount matched is $5,000 per employee (and $10,000 per year per employee at or above the level of the Vice President.)

McDonald’s Donation Requests:

This charitable giving program provided through Courtesy Corporation is McDonald’s Scrip fundraising. McDonald’s scrip fundraising allows nonprofits to purchase Arch Cards at a discount and then sell them to supporters at face value. The nonprofits can keep the difference.

  Pepsi’s Matching Gift Program:

Pepsi allows part-time and full-time employees to double their donations with a 1:1 matching ratio.  Gifts are matched from $25 to $10,000, but if an employee volunteers for more than 50 hours in a year with an organization, Pepsi provides a 2:1 matching gift ratio.  Employees must submit their matching gift deadlines online and within six months of the donation date.

Starbucks Donations  Starbucks’ Matching Gift Program:

Through Starbucks’ Partner Match Program, the company will match up to $1,500 in donations annually per employee.

Starbucks’ Volunteer Grant Program:

Starbucks employees are eligible for a volunteer grant after volunteering for at least 25 hours with an organization.  Starbucks will donate up to $1,000 per employee after a request is submitted.

Walmart Donations  Walmart’s Volunteer Grant Program:

Through Walmart’s Volunteerism Always Pays (VAP) program, the company offers grants for Walmart and Sam’s Club employees who volunteer with nonprofit organizations.  Each Walmart associate can request two volunteer grants per organization per year. Associates can request grants for up to two organizations for a maximum of four total volunteer grants annually.

Additionally, groups of Walmart employees who volunteer together or participate in fundraising runs or walks are eligible to request VAP grants for $500-$5,000.

Walmart Donation Requests:

Walmart accepts applications for community grants ranging from $250-$2,500.

Best Buy Donations  Best Buy’s Volunteer Grant Program:

When groups of employees volunteer together, the team is eligible to request grants for the local organization.  Each grant ranges from between $250-$500, plus you get the benefit of a team of Best Buy employees volunteering with your organization.

  Google Donation Requests:

Google Ad Grants, the nonprofit edition of AdWords™, empowers nonprofits with $10,000 per month in in-kind AdWords™ advertising.  Through the Google Grants program, your nonprofit can request a donation of up to $10,000 dollars in free monthly advertising.

Verizon Donations  Verizon’s Matching Gift Program:

Verizon matches donations at a 1:1 ratio, with a minimum gift requirement of $25 and a maximum gift requirement of $1,000 per year, per donor.

Verizon’s Volunteer Grant Program:

After an employee volunteers for 50 hours with an organization in one year, Verizon provides a volunteer grant of $750 to that organization.

Cisco donation requests  Cisco’s Matching Gift Program:

Cisco matches donations to all kinds of nonprofit organizations at a 1:1 ratio.  Donations must be at least $50, and employees can only have $1,000 matched annually.

Cisco Donation Requests:

Cisco and its foundation provide grants, volunteer time, and in-kind donations to nonprofits.

American Eagle Donations  American Eagle’s Matching Gift Program:

Through American Eagle’s employee matching gift program the company will match up to $500 in donations from employees to eligible nonprofits each year.

American Eagle’s Volunteer Grant Program:

When at least 10 associates volunteer together with a nonprofit or fundraising project, the company provides a $500 donation to the organization.

Gap Donations  Gap’s Matching Gift Program:

Gifts between $25 and $10,000 will be matched at a 1:1 ratio for full and part-time employees as well as retirees.

Gap’s Team Volunteer Grant Program:

For every 25 hours that a team of Gap employees volunteers with a nonprofit that serves youth or women, Gap gives the nonprofit a $250 grant.  If a Gap employee is on a nonprofit board, then the nonprofits for which he or she volunteers can receive grants between $1,000 and $10,000.  Gap also offers grants for single volunteers. A $150 grant is awarded for every 15 volunteer hours.

Kohl's Donations  Kohl’s Volunteer Grant Program:

Through Associates in Action, Kohl’s provides $500 grants to nonprofits where its employees volunteer as a team.  Specifically, when a minimum of five Kohl’s Associates volunteer for a minimum of three consecutive hours in one day, the organization is eligible for a $500 Kohl’s grant.

Macy's Donations  Macy’s Matching Gift Program:

Each Macy’s employee is able to request up to $1,000 in matching donations per year.  Matches are made at a 1:1 ratio for full and part-time employees as well as retirees. Employees must be at the company for a year to be eligible.

Macy’s Donation Requests:

Macy’s District Grants program is designed to support local 501(c)(3) organizations in markets where a Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s operates.

Nordstrom is one of the many companies that donate to nonprofits  Nordstrom’s Matching Gift Program:

Part-time and full-time employees can double their donations ($25-$5,000) to their favorite nonprofits with Nordstrom’s matching gift program.

Neiman Marcus donation requests  Neiman Marcus’s Matching Gift Program:

Donations made by part-time and full-time Neiman Marcus employees are eligible to be matched at a 2:1 ratio, tripling the initial donation!  Donations ranging from $25 to $2,000 are eligible to be matched.


I’m sure there are many more companies out there with programs just like the ones I’ve listed, but this list was to make you aware of the money you may be missing out on and to take advantage of these amazing programs.  If you know of more, please feel free to share the information in the comment section.

Even if you don’t work for one of these companies, ask around….one of your family members, friends, or social media pals just may.  Have them join your team and use their employer’s program to help your Relay for Life (or other nonprofit) event raise more money this year!