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My Marie Curie Cancer Care Charity Adventure

Updated on June 16, 2013

What I Learned Organizing And Participating In A Marie Curie Cancer Care 50/50 Challenge

I have written this page to share my experience of turning £50 into over £800 for charity in 50 days, so that others might expand on and learn from it.

I believe that if I had a clue what I was doing at the time we could have easily doubled our profits, however it was a first for me and a learning experience.

This was not a one man effort. It was a team effort that I initiated because I wanted to challenge myself doing something I'd never tried before. I was also a bit under stimulated in my work so when the monthly charity office newsletter arrived in my email I took a few minutes to click through it and I stumbled on an area where I could sign my team up for a challenge. There were several different ones for different charities but this one seemed like something I could sink my teeth into the most!

About The Charity & The Importance Of Hospice Care

The charity is named for Marie Curie, a fascinating scientist most famed for her discovery of radium.

Marie Curie Cancer Care began in 1948 as the Marie Curie Memorial Foundation which was a charitable effort dedicated to alleviating the suffering of cancer patients and in the four years since it began it had raised £30,000, becoming an official charity in 1952.

Marie Curie Cancer Care believes in putting patients and families first. Through charitable donations they provide hospice care to terminally ill cancer patients in the comfort of their own homes as well as in specialist homes.

In addition to providing hospice care Marie Curie Cancer Care is involved in research to improve the quality and methods of hospice care and educate the public to the value of hospice care as well as the symptoms and treatment of cancer.

Anyone who has watched someone they love succumb to cancer knows the true value of hospice care and it is a subject that is close to my heart. In 2005 my stepfather passed away after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. We were fortunate as a family because my mother is a nurse and she was able to care for him until the day he died. He passed with dignity, in his own bed, surrounded by family, on his terms. But not everyone is as fortunate in their final days and hospice care is expensive.

Marie Curie Cancer Care provides an amazing human service rooted in compassion and understanding and that is one of the many reasons why this charity, in particular is one of my favorites.

The 50/50 Challenge

Turning £50 into as large a sum as possible in 50 days for Charity!

1. The Raffle

Summery:

For our raffle I managed to come up with 5 prizes to start. They weren't the most exciting prizes ever, but they were fairly unique. There was an activity day on offer as well as a custom a4 portrait, a painting of a cupcake and some fresh baked brownies.

In the end the raffle was such an overwhelming success as far as participation and profit was concerned that we purchased 5 additional prizes so there were a total of 10 in the end.

The extra prizes that we picked up were consumables. (bottles of wine and chocolates, nice things to take home on a Friday night!)

What I learned:

1. Raffles are extremely lucrative if you have the gonads to go around the office selling tickets to complete strangers.

2. No one actually cares what the prizes are.

3. Selling raffle tickets is a fantastic way to put names to faces in a big office and overcome shyness.

4. Posters do not sell tickets.

What I would do differently:

1. I would allow myself zero stress about prizes and include more prizes from the start.

2. I would skip the posters.

2. The Car Boot Sale

Summery:

For my fellow Americans, if a yard sale and a flea market had a love child, it would be the car boot sale.

This seemed like a good idea at the time and it turned out to be a lot of work and the complete sacrifice of most of a Saturday resulting in not as much money as other activities we organized so in the end it wasn't really worth it.

What I learned:

1. Too much work, not enough reward.

What I would do differently:

1. I would not bother with a car boot sale.

2. I would instead see if anyone had any used books and DVD's to donate which we would then put out with the BAKE sale.

3. The Bake Sale

Summery:

I had provided many cakes for bake sales in the office for charity on numerous occasions so I knew that we would make some money if we could organize a good bake sale.

There was someone in our team who was also an extremely talented baker and this part of the challenge was her baby.

Due to her rounding up so many baking volunteers we had an overwhelming number of delicious home made cakes as well as some store bought, we made a lot of money for minimum effort.

What I learned:

1. It is extremely easy to organize a bake sale and people love parting with their money for cake.

2. Bake sales don't have to be complicated.

3. Put out a jar for money and create a sign that makes it clear which charity you're supporting.

4. Don't bother pricing the individual cakes. It's pointless.

5. As long as you aren't dealing with a bunch of scumbags who would rip off a charity there is no need to monitor the cake table so it doesn't have to interfere with your work day.

6. At the end of the day try to pawn off the remaining cakes for free so that nothing goes to waste (if there are any left!)

7. Put out napkins.

What I would do differently:

Well this activity wasn't my baby but I have organized bake sales myself since then and I'm pretty confident in people's willingness to part with their money for home made baked goods. The most important thing I would suggest to anyone organizing a bake sale is DO NOT STRESS... seriously, it's the easiest thing in the world to organize and clean up is a breeze.

Cake Transporter

Good Cook 24 Count Cupcake Pan and Carrying Case
Good Cook 24 Count Cupcake Pan and Carrying Case

I don't have one of these myself but I would love to get one because I've seen them in action. Beats the pants off of trying to get into the office balancing a huge tray of delicate cakes!

 

4. The Lottery

Summery:

I did not personally oversee this part of the cumulative effort either. Our team was divided between Edinburgh and London and our London colleagues came up with this idea and executed it.

I don't remember specifically what they based it around because there are a lot of ways to be creative with this approach to fundraising but the idea is you sell a limited number of tickets for a fixed price and then you have a draw at the end. The winner splits the ticket sale pot with the charity.

They managed to do this twice in the course of the 50 days and sold out the tickets both times.

What I learned:

1. A lottery is a heck of a lot easier than a raffle.

2. People are willing to part with their money pretty easily for something this straight forward.

What I would do differently:

Well the only thing I would do differently is that I would have organized a couple of these in the Edinburgh office as well!

5. The Cookbook

Summery:

Now this was MY baby using the self publishing website Blurb.com

The idea was to assemble a printed soft cover cookbook made entirely of donated recipes from people in the wider department. I made a word document form and sent it out to everyone in the department with a disclaimer stating that by filling out the form and returning it the person understood that we could not accept plagiarized recipes and that the recipe was their own. (I kept all of the digital files)

In the end the cookbook WAS a success and it DOUBLED our cumulative profit however,it was one of the most stressful things I've ever brought onto myself in my whole life. I spent well over 24 hours just working on this confounded cookbook (in my free time as opposed to work time) to bring my vision to life. (I also did the cover art)

What I learned:

1. The timescale was too short... In one month I needed to make the cookbook as well as get all of the money from the other activities so that we could afford to publish it and then the final draft copies would be ready to sell by the end of the challenge.

2. A lot of people really don't understand what the word plagiarism means. I needed to consult Google with excerpts of the submitted recipes just to make sure I wasn't doing anything illegal in publishing them and found that many were duplicated word for word from official websites like the food network and BBC so I ended up losing a lot of material by the end cut.

3. Formatting something in Microsoft Word can go horribly wrong when you then dump it into the manufacturers template program even if the dimensions are all correct.

What I would do differently:

1. I would never attempt to do this in such a short time span again so, this might be a good idea for another charity project but not one that you're trying to accomplish in 50 days. I could have made something mediocre into something amazing if I had more time.

2. I would make the plagiarism point a great deal clearer.

3. I would not bother driving myself crazy with formatting before the document hits the manufacturer's templates.

4. I would not have made such an effort to do something clever with the title of the book. It was meant to mirror our department's name GS&VM... then JUST before the printed copies of the book arrived... the whole department changed name!

The cover art was scanned from an acrylic painting on canvas I did to use specifically for the cookbook. The text was added digitally and the physical painting was given away as one of the raffle prizes.

Stress Releif

Accoutrements Stress Cupcake
Accoutrements Stress Cupcake

How adorably appropriate :)

 

End Total: Over £800

And another 750 was matched by my employer

Image Credits

I made all of the images on this page using photo editing software.

The Daffodil is the official logo for the charity and every year in spring when the daffodils bloom there are bunches for sale at the check out counters of shops for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

I took several photographs of a bunch that I bought in support of the charity and made the graphics for this page with them.

Do you have any suggestions to add for future participants of similar challenges?

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    • profile image

      hmommers 4 years ago

      What a bunch of usefull tips you have given here. Thanks!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      What an exemplary display of your creative talents to grow money through commitment.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      The more that you can get the word out about your charity drive the better. I commend you for giving of your time for this worthy charity.