Get ready to up your fundraising game

| Steve Bieler

Trying to raise money for a good cause? Don’t reinvent the wheel. Follow the trail blazed by three of NPF’s fundraising stars.

Steven Larky, Team NPF Cycle

Steven Larky is a self-described competitive person. This competitiveness extends to raising money for NPF to battle psoriatic disease, even though neither he nor anyone in his family has the disease.

Larky has ridden with Team NPF Cycle in Coronado, California, the past three years. Each year, he raised enough money to become a Cure Champion (someone who is committed to helping NPF fund its research programs), topping $3,800 this year with donations still coming in.

“I like to win,” he says, “but I also wanted the Cure Champion merch. I wanted the T-shirts, the jersey, the hat, the socks.”

Steven Larky, above and top, riding with Team NPF in Coronado.

Larky’s simple but effective fundraising strategy:

Write. Send. Repeat.

Everyone has email. Use it. Send emails to friends, family and current and former co-workers asking for donations. Larky has a list of approximately 100 people that typically yields 25 to 30 donors. “You never know who’s going to donate,” he says. “It’s not always the people you know best. Sometimes it’s co-workers you don’t see much, so cast a wide net.”

His emails include his photo and something about psoriatic disease, along with links to positive accolades NPF has received from organizations like Consumer Reports. As the months go on, he reports on where he is in his fundraising. He tries to create a feeling of something his readers want to be part of.

Team NPF Cycle rode in Coronado on May 6, 2018. Larky began his email campaign in January and stopped in early April. “I send an email every month or so with the countdown to the ride,” he explains. “Repeated emails may seem annoying, but they’re not. People thank me for the reminder. And you’d be surprised how many people know someone with psoriasis.”

Set the giving pace

When people look at your Team NPF donation page, they’ll look at how much you gave. Your donation sets the tone.

Get that employer match This part of his strategy is what Larky calls “the fine print.” Larky’s average gift after matching is more than $150.

Thank donors – immediately

Larky thanks his donors via email. For his co-workers, he provides step-by-step instructions on how to submit for the company match.

Tami Seretti, Team NPF DIY

Tami Seretti has spent much of her life in and around Pittsburgh. She’s also spent much of her life with psoriasis (22 years) and psoriatic arthritis (10 years).

“I was a member of NPF — I got their emails — but I didn’t know that NPF did things,” Seretti says. “When I got an email about volunteers needed to attend the [2016] patient meeting with the FDA, I decided to do it. I went and I was blown away. It changed my life. I found my passion.”

Volunteers Mike Kammer and Tami Seretti at NPF's 14th annual Capitol Hill Day, March 2018.

Seretti became an NPF Community Ambassador and a Psoriasis One to One volunteer. Then she decided try her hand at fundraising. “My cycling days are over, and I’m not good at walking anymore,” she says. “But I have a husband in a band. I knew nothing about fundraising, but I knew bands.”

The result was Tipping the Scales on Psoriasis. The 2017 event was such a success that she put it on again in February of this year. She raised $6,500 and 130 people attended. Tipping the Scales 2018 featured two bands, a combination raffle-auction, bingo and dinner.

Seretti’s surefire tips for a successful DIY event:

Try the obvious

After deciding on an event centered around live music, Seretti Googled “fundraising in Pittsburgh.” She discovered that sports teams and cultural organizations, such as the zoo and symphony, field requests for donations to charity events. About 75 percent of these groups responded to Seretti’s appeals for auction items. They donated experiences: free nights, free games, free shows. “I had no luck getting ‘things,’ like gift cards from retailers,” she says.

Know your audience

Tipping the Scales included bingo and other games of chance because, she says, “Pittsburgh likes to gamble.”

Pittsburgh also likes to hang out. The first Tipping the Scales featured four bands. People complained there wasn’t enough time between bands to socialize, so this year’s event had only two.

“Some people came for one band and stayed for the bingo. Or they came for the bingo and stayed for the next band,” Seretti says. “Everyone wanted to play more bingo!” 

Ask for help

The 2017 Tipping the Scales was a one-woman show. “I felt like I’d been in a wedding,” Seretti says. “I was there and then it was over. My husband and I got home and I didn’t remember anything.” For 2018, Seretti enlisted plenty of volunteers.

Never underestimate old-fashioned promos Seretti relied on word of mouth and posters in the windows of local businesses. She also approached the local newspaper. The paper’s calendar reporter wrote a story about the event.

Seretti didn’t do anything more high-tech than setting up Facebook and Team NPF pages. On the Team NPF page, she could sell tickets in advance and visitors could see their progress toward their fundraising goal.

Jeffrey S. Jacob, Team NPF Walk

Jeffrey S. Jacob, who lives in New York City, is no stranger to psoriatic disease. He doesn’t have it, but his daughter does, as do other members of his family. “As I began to learn more about psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis,” he says, “I realized there were promising solutions in development. I felt I could lend some assistance through fundraising and awareness.”

Jacob has walked with Team NPF in the New York Botanical Gardens for the past several years. Each year, he has steadily increased the amount he’s raised. Today, he’s one of the New York Walk’s leading individual fundraisers, having raked in more than $7,100 to date.

Jeffrey S. Jacob

Jacob’s tried-and-true fundraising tips:

Work your connections

Jacob contributes to other causes he believes in. So when it’s time for his annual Team NPF Walk, he isn’t shy about asking others. “I approach all of those whom I have supported over the past year to let them know what my cause is,” he says.

He doesn’t ask for the amount he gave or for any set amount. “What I give may not be within the means of what others can or want to give,” he says. In fact, he doesn’t even remind them that he was one of their donors. His ask, as he puts it, “is not specific but more implicit.”

Offer a match (if you can)

“I match personally the gifts of any donors,” Jacob says. There’s no ceiling on his match. He knows generally what he’s going to collect and so he can plan accordingly. “If someone were to come and blow that plan out of the water,” he says, “that would be a good problem to have to deal with.”

Jacob has committed to making NPF one of his largest personal contributions each year, so after he’s matched all his donations, he tops it off with a gift of his own.

Let social media do the work

Facebook, email and his Team NPF page are all Jacob uses to get the word out. He estimates that Facebook accounts for one-fourth to one-third of what he collects each year (excluding his match).

“While some question the use of Facebook or other social media for soliciting funds,” he says, “it’s an easy way to tell people about your effort and to encourage them to join that effort.”

When he sets up his page for the Team NPF Walk each year, the first thing he does is paste a link to his Facebook page, letting people know it’s “walk time” and reminding them of his match plan.

Itching to end psoriatic disease?

Register at to walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own event. You can also download two helpful documents, “50 contacts in 5 minutes” and “20 ways to fundraise” after you sign up.

Driving discovery, creating community

For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

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