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Partnership and Pins: Leveraging National Resources to Make an Impact Locally

Partnership and Pins: Leveraging National Resources to Make an Impact Locally

by: Meghan Forsyth

Representatives of Liberty Health, friends and supporters of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties celebrate the agency's first Bowl for Kids' Sake.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to plan a Bowl for Kids’ Sake event? If you’re involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters, you have most likely heard about, or participated in, our signature fundraiser. After more than 40 years, Bowl for Kids’ Sake has become Big Brothers Big Sisters’ largest national fundraiser, engaging more than a half million people across the country. Participants solicit pledges from friends and family to raise funds to support the mentoring network’s nearly 350 local affiliates, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties.

I spoke with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties, which recently hosted its first ever Bowl for Kids’ Sake event. As agency staff began planning, they realized that it was going to be a bit more difficult to plan such a successful first year event. However, in the 10 weeks they had to accomplish their task, they did so with remarkable success.

This is thanks in large part to Claire Thomas, a grad student at NYU, who joined the agency through an Education Pioneers fellowship. Claire was able to focus much of her time to the behind-the-scenes work that not many people get to see. “Claire was able to convert all of our resources into action in just 10 weeks,” said Carlos Lejnieks, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties. “She’s such a rockstar!”

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ National office provides a number of helpful tools to agencies in order to make their Bowl for Kids’ Sake events the best and most successful that they can be. These tools include event emails to send to participants, helpful webinars and self-paced trainings to show agencies how to personalize their individual events, as well as an event website to showcase up-to-the-minute results to the public and an online platform to house all of the event information.

“The online platform was incredible,” said Claire. “I was able to pull up an email in five minutes, which was so crucial for follow-up.” While she found the online platform very easy to understand and customize, there were instances when she had questions about certain topics. With the help of Jennifer Ashbaugh, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s Individual Giving Manager of Donor Development, Claire was able to voice her uncertainties and work through them with our resident Bowl for Kids’ Sake expert.

After all of their hard work and planning, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties hosted two successful Bowl for Kids’ Sake events for 700 participants. With help from individual donors and their partners at Pershing, the Jersey City Medical Center, Liberty Health, and the Newark Fire and Police departments, the agency raised $60,000!

Because of this success, they are already planning for the next event. They are taking the things they learned and are putting that knowledge to good use to make the next event even better. Bowl for Kids’ Sake is more than just a bowling party: it is how Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies raise the money that they need to recruit and screen volunteers; create life-changing matches between Bigs and Littles; and provide ongoing support to children, families, and mentors.

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