Challenges Generate Excitement, Support

From the CEO’s Desk
January 2012

The Solve ME/CFS Initiative has set a new course and is determined to transform the way that research is done. We’ve established The Catalyst Fund to fuel the next phase of our research program and are actively recruiting the support of Catalysts who recognize the need for a new approach and innovative leadership.

Through a series of small group events in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Boulder and Washington, D.C., held this past fall, we’ve had the opportunity to share our plans and hear feedback. These events, and phone conversations with supporters in other parts of the country, have been catalysts for deepened understanding of the Association and its goals, and for increased financial commitment from many of our supporters. We will be hosting more events around the country and via the web throughout 2012.

There is momentum in our research program and in our fundraising efforts. In the fourth quarter of 2011 and first nine days of 2012, our year-end requests for support were energized by these five pledges to inspire charitable giving:

Two families pledged to match up to $75,000 in donations to The Catalyst Fund when we announced the fund in our print publication, SolveCFS, mailed to donors in September. We raised the $75,000 required to secure their combined pledge by early November.

The McGrath Family Foundation pledged to match $2 for every $1 donated online during the two-week period beginning Nov. 23 through Dec. 7, up to a total of $40,000. We exceeded the $20,000 needed to secure their pledge, with gifts totaling $31,525 for a total of $71,525 added to The Catalyst Fund.

Dr. Lee Meisel issued a $10,000 challenge to attract 100 first-time gifts in 10 days, beginning Dec. 9. We met that target late on the eighth day and by the end of the tenth day, new donors responded with 124 first-time gifts totaling $10,533, for a combined addition to The Catalyst Fund of $20,533.

On Dec. 10, at a gathering in Washington, D.C., board member Diane Bean made a matching pledge in the name of her mother, Dorothy Reimer, who had passed away in August. Dorothy was a big inspiration to their whole family, but particularly to Diane’s daughter, Lauren, who has had CFS since her mid-teens. Diane pledged to match gifts made by other attendees up to $5,000. That challenge too was exceeded, with donations from the group totaling $10,490. This mini-matching campaign added $15,490 to The Catalyst Fund.

One of our long-time supporters, a gentleman who supports the Association on behalf of a family member with CFS, was inspired by this stage of the Association’s growth and issued a “Year-End Stretch Challenge.” He pledged to match every dollar an individual or family donated above the level at which they contributed to the Association in 2010, as well as first-time gifts. Gifts received between December 9, 2011 and January 9, 2012 were eligible, up to a total of $100,000 in matching funds pledged by this generous man, who prefers to remain anonymous.

By Dec. 27, we had met the $100,000 pledge and another pair of loyal donors, a woman with CFS and her mother,  extended the Year-End Stretch Challenge. They pledged a combined total of $61,000, for a grand total of $161,000 to match eligible donations. They too wish to remain anonymous.

We are thrilled to report that we far exceeded the extended match. As of Jan. 9, 2012, eligible gifts totaling $318,251 were made in response to this challenge, adding $479,251 to The Catalyst Fund.

We were fortunate to receive one more boost to our year-end fundaising, an offer by author Laura Hillenbrand to sign 20 copies of her best-selling book Unbroken. For every $100 donated to the Association between Dec. 21 and Jan. 9, the donor’s name was entered into a drawing for the signed copies of Unbroken, a rare collector’s item in light of Laura’s very limited ability to make public appearances.

There were 2,736 entries and we have drawn the 20 winners. They are being notified and we are seeking permission to share their names in the announcement of the results. Watch for more details soon!

In all, during 2011 and the first 9 days of 2012 our supporters have donated $1,217,177 in support of the Association’s research-focused mission. We are grateful to individuals, families, foundations and corporations that responded to our requests and generated momentum in our year-end campaign. These funds will support the next phase of our research program, described in the article, “Looking to the Future.” We look forward to sharing news of our progress with you over the coming months.

Our work is off to a brisk start in 2012 and we need your support year-round to continue the momentum. Why not make the Solve ME/CFS Initiative your first charitable donation of 2012? Our secure online donation site is ready 24/7. Thank you!

January 11, 2012