How to Rally for Loved Ones

Spotlight on the Rally for Dana

The Rally for Dana has raised more than $17,000. It’s also one of the most visited campaigns on, in one of the most popular fundraising categories: personal health. We reached out to Steve de Brun, Rally leader for this campaign, to see what advice he has for other leaders looking to grow their campaigns:

Dana has spent more than four years battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Dana’s friends and family were saddened to learn that doctors recently found a new growth on her neck, so loved ones are coming together to donate funds to help Dana cover her rising medical costs. We asked Dana’s friend Steve de Brun, who is heading up the Rally, what advice he had for other cause leaders:

Q. What have you found to be the most effective way to spread the word about your cause?

A: 100% of the people who have helped Dana know her personally, or are friends of the fundraisers. So we collectively reached out to these friends and asked them to consider contributing, and to disseminate the message to people who would care. We did this via email, and we also set up a Facebook Group that many people joined, which helped us to not bombard people with too many emails!

Q. What are some strategies you suggest to encourage donations?

A: We carefully chose imagery that reminds people of their love and friendship Dana. We emailed people a few times, and posted more frequently to Facebook, always driving people back to our URL. And we created a video, which is essentially a slideshow of many images put to an emotional song, cut in iMovie on my Mac:

Steve reached out to supporters via email to regularly share personal updates, as well as ideas about how to extend the campaign’s reach. One of those ideas was a suggested message for folks to post through Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn. Here’s an example of an email message that Steve shared with supporters to encourage donations:

Hello Friends of Dana,

First off, thank you for giving to our online campaign to support Dana at Your in kind and monetary gifts are a HUGE relief to Dana, and we are more than 50% of the way towards our fundraising goal!

For the second phase of our campaign, we are asking you to share this to your networks & communities who also know Dana (or don’t!) but don’t know about the campaign — and might also be looking for a general update to how she’s doing.  There are a select few of us on this email list — but we each represent a much larger crew of people who know and love Dana.

Here’s a sample message that you can use as a starting point, which includes a link to a video that we made for Dana:

“My friend Dana needs your help – she’s in the middle of a 4-year fight with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and we, her friends, have organized and online fundraiser here: . Here’s a video that tells her story in images and song:

Thanks so much for reading this and loving Dana. And thanks for sharing this with your communities.  And don’t forget that we have an active Facebook group to support Dana and keep the conversations going at

Best wishes,

Holly Roberson & Steve de Brun

To learn more about this campaign, visit Rally for Dana. More advice for running a successful Rally campaign can be found here.


Church Community Rallies Around a Young Leader



The newest excerpt from our collaboration with Yahoo! Shine is here. This week’s featured Rally campaign is especially powerful: A young man at the beginning of his life as a husband and graduate school student has learned he has a Stage IV brain tumor, so his family is raising money to help take care of him and his wife.

This past summer was hardly a slow season for Andrew Westphal. In June the 26-year-old finished an 18-month preaching mentorship at the church his family has attended for years. He married his best friend from college at the end of July. Six weeks later he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, upending his expectations for his marriage, for graduate school, and for his development as a church leader.

You can learn more about Andrew Westphal’s story at “This Week’s Rally for Good: Seeking a Cure Through Medicine, Love, and Faith.”

The Power of Intention: Rallying for a Yoga Teacher and Her Son



Just about any yoga class begins with the instructor inviting everyone to “set an intention” for their practice: Essentially, contemplating what matters most to them and directing their behavior and attitudes in a way that matches these values.

In that spirit a student then takes these principles out of the studio and into the real world. For Linda Woodside, these values have involved rallying a community to support their respected teacher in a time of crisis.


Project Headlight Rallies for Boston Marathon Amputees


After two bombs ripped through the crowds at this year’s Boston Marathon, Michele Wisch knew she had to help the relief effort. She had sprung into action for other causes, such as raising $75,000 for Habitat for Humanity in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina and volunteering with Make-A-Wish. But she didn’t want to rush into just any Boston-related campaign.

“There are so many people willing to open their hearts and open their wallets,” she said. “I felt very strongly that we needed to find the right partner doing something specific, something long-term” to benefit the bombing survivors.


Escape from Alcatraz, to Help Support Cancer Research

cc image courtesy of aballant38 on flickr


The swimmers pictured above are dropping into the chilly bay surrounding Alcatraz Island, where the infamous federal penitentiary once operated. Next week John “JJ” Jenkins and Steve Richards will swim that same stretch in honor of loved ones who have fought cancer.


High Five for Boston


We all high-five each other to celebrate good news or a job well done. In 2002 National High Five Day started as a goofy riff on this—on the third Thursday in April, a group of friends at the University of Virginia started high-fiving people around campus and handing out lemonade.

Exuberant, generous high-fiving went viral. And then the high five got high-minded.


Team Courage Gazelles: Taking Life’s Risks Head On

Michele and Emme

Rally recently caught up with the energetic Emme Hall, a semi-professional race car driver for Team Courage Gazelles, who is using Rally to raise $5,000 towards a $15,000 goal. Her dream? To race 9 days across the Moroccan desert in the 2013 Rallye Aicha des Gazelles with her good friend and cancer previvor Michele Martineau.

All participants in the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles use only 1950s navigation methods. That means Emme and Michele will drive a 4-wheel drive truck over a sandy moonscape with an old school map and a compass — no GPS, no phones, no extra crew. There are also no roads on this course; the winner is determined by the shortest distance covered. Only 8 other women in the US have attempted the Rallye Aicha since it started 20 years ago.

Emme and Michele planned to race a year ago but Michele was told she had an abnormally high chance of developing breast cancer. Rather than live a life of endless MRI’s and “what ifs” she elected to have a preventative double mastectomy, becoming a cancer “previvor.” Michele experienced complications from the surgery and they postponed the race for a year. Over this time, their friendship deepened. Michele wrote and video blogged about her experience on Courage is My Strength. Emme became more determined; “as I’ve gotten to know Michele, it’s become more of a cause for me.”

A view of the race course from 2011 Rallye Aicha des Gazelles.

It is a year later and they are organizing early. Emme chose to fundraise with Rally because other platforms had too many rules and restrictions. She also liked the play on names since they were, in fact, going to be in a “Rallye.” Now Emme’s Rally Page tells the story of preparing for this adventure and the story of cancer survivors and previvors who are supporting them. After all race costs are met, Emme and Michele will donate the remainder to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Emme added, “the truck will have a wrap designed by one of the animators from Avatar. The theme will be butterflies and they will be tributes to breast cancer previvors, survivors, fighters, and angels!”

When asked why she likes racing, Emme at first mentioned the excitement and rush of mastering the vehicle during each race. Later, she reflected, “where there is fear the whole time, you take thoughtful risks, not foolish risks.”

Michelle and Emme

Michele and Emme

We invite you to help Emme and Michele realize their dream to race in Morocco next year and to honor all women who fight through fear and take risks.

What do you Rally for?