The Mitzvah Squad is the brainchild of Laura Cohen. Over the last ten years it has been one of the most successful fundraising teams for Walk MS in NJ. Laura was encouraged to create a team by then NMSS staffer Doug Rouse. At first she was reluctant, happy with her ability as a single fund raiser, but once she accepted the challenge, she has adopted new innovative ideas and team strategies each year.
Many benefits accrue to NMSS because of the team model. Some of those benefits include:
· Increased visibility of the total fundraising effort
· Increased enthusiasm among team members and captains
· Focus of teams on helping individuals rather than just the amorphous mass of MS sufferers
· Team camaraderie on the walk spreads to the larger group of walkers
· Team (friendly) competition
Each of these ultimately leads to measurable increases in fund raising, both in the quality of individual donations, and the total number of donations.
Laura has found, however, that the most compelling benefit of the team as it grows from year to year is that each donation continues to multiply. When someone decides to make an initial contribution to NMSS through The Mitzvah Squad, whether it be for $18, $100 or $500, that donation becomes an annuity that we can expect to multiply over the years. Once an initial donation has been obtained, that person understands that they will be asked to donate each year. Sometimes the amounts go down or a person opts out, but that is rare. A $25 donation in 2001 has become a total of $400 over the last $10 years. Now that’s an annuity!
Laura continues to nurture her team to keep the donors looking forward to the day in February when the will receive that year’s appeal. Appeals go out by e-mail, letter and telephone. The team is kept engaged by personally written thank-you postcards with the team picture, weekly updates to the Facebook Team Page, and personal contacts. The goal is from year to year to make sure she leaves no money sitting on the table.