Advocates at United States Senator Tom Carper's office during Washington Days and the NHF Red Tie Campaign

Red-Letter Campaign

Impassioned and effective advocacy, and a spirit of togetherness, highlighted a record-setting Red Tie Campaign
Author: Lisa Fields

In March, bleeding disorders advocates nationwide donned their red ties and raised a record-setting amount of money during the National Hemophilia Foundation’s (NHF) third annual Red Tie Campaign. All told, the campaign raised more than $49,000 throughout Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month to help fund research into better treatments and cures for bleeding disorders, and to protect people’s access to healthcare.

The Red Tie Campaign has been a galvanizing force within the bleeding disorders community since the campaign kicked off in 2016. To boost participation even higher this year, NHF matched up to $500 in funds raised by each chapter and offered cash prizes to the chapter that raised the most money and to the one that attracted the most individual donors. The fundraising effort was intertwined with a social media campaign that urged people to post photos of themselves wearing red ties to increase the public’s awareness of bleeding disorders and to highlight advocacy initiatives. Additionally, this year people unable to attend an advocacy event were encouraged to sign an online statement of support urging lawmakers to protect access to quality healthcare for those with bleeding disorders. Thousands signed the letter, from both inside and outside the bleeding disorders community.

Chapters take to social media

“I don’t think fundraising is possible without a social media presence these days,” says Kara Knaus, development coordinator for the Bleeding Disorders Alliance Illinois (BDAI), the chapter that had the most individual donors: 88 individuals. “We encouraged everyone to take Red Tie Pride photos. It was really fun and so encouraging to see how excited everyone was to participate.”

The social media aspect of the Red Tie Campaign appealed to many, including members of the Virginia Hemophilia Foundation (VHF), the chapter that raised the most money, accumulating a total that was just a few cents shy of $5,200.

“Although our population might be smaller than some, we are mighty!” says VHF’s development director, Megan Schowengerdt.

Neither VHF nor BDAI members realized initially that their fundraising efforts stood out, but once they heard, they rallied to keep the momentum going.

“We told everyone we had a chance to win additional cash bonuses that would go toward our chapter, and people were excited to participate,” BDAI’s Knaus says. “We also had Red Tie pins that we handed out to everyone who donated during our events. I think that added an additional layer of pride people had upon donating.”

Effort earns rewards

For VHF, the campaign became a true team effort. “We had outstanding support at our Bowling for Bleeding Disorders fundraiser on March 3 and at our March community event, as well as 100% attendee participation at our adult retreat and World Hemophilia Day event,” Schowengerdt says. “Those who made donations at the events were entered to win small prizes to encourage everyone to participate.”

BDAI sought donations by offering a fun incentive. “If we reached that goal, our executive director, Bob Robinson, would sit in a dunk tank during our statewide family education event on April 21,” Knaus says. “Bob was a very good sport! It ended up being quite cold the day he got dunked. He went in five times.”

For their extraordinary efforts, VHF and BDAI each earned $1,300 total. VHF put the money toward its annual giving fund, which supports programs and services throughout the year. BDAI used some money for an extra day of swimming at their summer camp, Camp Warren Jyrch, and put the remainder toward support and services.

Other chapters enjoyed the Red Tie Campaign just as much, finding that it renewed energy among donors and chapter personnel alike. “We were definitely more active this year,” says Lynne Kinst, executive director of the Central California Hemophilia Foundation. “We made a more concerted effort to get pictures and videos from community members and friends, which we could post, and that definitely increased our social media activity.”

This year’s campaign inspired members for the 2019 Red Tie Campaign. “For next year, we plan to utilize this campaign as a true annual giving platform, sending letters to our constituents and making sure to integrate the Red Tie theme into all our events,” Schowengerdt says. “The 2018 campaign was a great preview of what’s to come.”