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A Dollar to Donate, a Difference to Make, Companies Fuel Change

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Let me begin this blog by posing a question to you -- can you recall the last time you went into a store and were asked to make a donation to a worthy cause?

If my instincts are right, I bet you can not only recall this moment, but also how recent it was. Perhaps it was just moments ago when you were buying your morning coffee or picking up lunch at the grocery store, or perhaps your mind flashes to the month of October when you can find products in support of the battle against breast cancer at every turn. Do you ever find yourself tiring of being asked to support yet another cause or thinking when will enough be enough? Well, the answer to that question is never, and here's why -- these very companies, who continuously ask you to support causes, are making a real difference. Their support is important and no matter the reasons behind it, they are needed to save lives.

Ok, so maybe that was a blanket statement and while I certainly can't speak for every single cause, what I can tell you is that when it comes to fighting childhood cancer, a cause that is very personal to me, these point of sale campaigns are making a big difference.

In fact, it's pretty clear that we, as customers, recognize that companies are essential to major change as they have the resources to do so. Case in point -- a study recently completed by Cone Communications and Echo Research looking at Corporate Responsibility noted that consumers most definitely recognize the importance of companies' philanthropic efforts. Their research indicated that an overwhelming 93 percent of the people surveyed believe that companies should raise awareness and educate their consumers on important issues such as health and disease. So, if we expect them to do so, why do we sometimes bristle when we are asked to give as little as a dollar in support of important causes?

Let me give you an example of how these programs can impact a cause...in 2011, we had the pleasure of starting a relationship with a Toys"R"Us. Throughout the months of June and July 2011, Toys"R"Us stores across the United States asked customers to help Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) on the way to finding cures for all kids with cancer. What followed was an amazing outpouring of support nationwide as Toys"R"Us patrons donated over $1.5 million. The timing of this support could not have been more critical. With federal funding of pediatric cancer at an all time low, progress toward a cure was in jeopardy of slowing down; and for some projects, halting altogether. With the help of the funds that Toys"R"Us raised, the Foundation created a brand new grant category (Bridge Grants) designed as a lifeline for projects that received excellent scores but did not receive funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In an effort to keep the projects of these researchers on track while they reapply for funding, ALSF's Bridge Grants provided recipients with $100,000 over a 12 month period. Hopefully these researchers will receive crucial funding from the NIH ultimately leading to the new treatments and cures that we are so desperately seeking, but only time will tell. Would you have imagined that your donation of $1 at the cash register could have that impact?

In 2012, with the help of companies like this, asking for a donation during checkout, ALSF will raise approximately $3 million to allow us to fund an additional 15 childhood cancer research projects. These projects will look for new and less toxic treatments for kids with cancer and ultimately lead to new cures- all from that extra dollar you give at checkout.

So, in closing, I just ask that next time you are invited to give to a charity when you are out running errands, pause for a moment and say "yes!" Your support is sustaining many important causes one dollar at a time.