Thursday, May 13, 2010

Let's Have Altruism Day For ALS Awareness Once Every Year

Dear ALS 501c3 Organizations,

Lest you dismiss me as an idealist who doesn't know what it's like to have to raise funds and make payroll, please don't. I'm not.

Earlier this week I witnessed a refreshing and grand act of altruism from an ALS 501c3. I suggest that all such organizations join in a day of altruism once a year simply to raise awareness of ALS.

Main Entry: al·tru·ism
Pronunciation: \ˈal-trü-ˌi-zəm\
French altruisme, from autrui other people, from Old French, oblique case
form of autre other, from Latin alter
Date: 1853
1 : unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others
2 : behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species

A caravan of ALS Association Florida Chapter staff and volunteers (including a man with ALS who accomplished more in a week than many of us healthy people will do in a lifetime) packed up the trailer and gassed up the vans and drove to Washington, DC. They had spent countless hours working out the advance details with the National Park Service, with the Navy Memorial, and with the press to make a first-class ALS advocacy display in our nation's capital. The logistics of this display are not simple. An extra carload of volunteers drove to DC simply to assist with the setup and teardown. Had I known how technically precise and how physically demanding the setup is, I would have suggested press coverage of that alone.

What does this have to do with altruism, you ask? When was the last time you attended a public ALS event when fundraising or organizational positioning weren't key components?

The Floridians had nothing to gain by this expensive field trip... except a huge amount of ALS awareness. Only a small fraction of the many hundreds of people who stopped and looked and learned about ALS were from Florida. There were people from Wyoming and Michigan and Alaska and Australia and Canada and Russia and DC and Germany and France and Illinois and Japan, but it's not likely that they'll run home and write big checks to the ALS Association Florida Chapter, nor will they be asked for anything. They were simply thanked for stopping to see the display and learn about ALS. Oh, and nobody forgets Lou Gehrig's Disease after having witnessed that display.

This ALS 501c3 invested in global ALS awareness. They never asked "what's in it for me" when they decided to chase this ambitious goal. The focus was on ALS and not "me."

I thank them. I ask all ALS not-for-profits to have a project every May that is for the sheer benefit of raising ALS awareness. Save the lists of organizational accomplishments. Let your development person work on other things. A day of altruism is good for your organizational soul.

To quote a great man who happens to have ALS and who makes this display work,
"Without awareness we won't have funding. Without funding we won't have research. Without research, we won't have a cure."

1 comment:

Kathy said...

All of these people are members of the FL ALS chapter as were my husband and I. He passed away 2/1/10 and his shirt/manny went to Washington with Steve and all. We were also very proud that Steve was pulling the Pieces trailer with our handicap van he bought when Gene died. This is a wonderful our shirts that have been all over Florida spreading the word for the last year and a half.