Going the Distance for Our Patients
A Canadian alumna of Student Programs shares how she got active to help our patients live happier, healthier lives.
By Dena Salehipour, Student Programs Media Intern
Even though she graduated from university, Georgia felt something was unfinished.
The Canadian had been a dedicated student volunteer for Operation Smile and didn’t want to let it go. Georgia initially became involved with Operation Smile during her second year as a medical science undergraduate student at Western University in London, Ontario, and she quickly fell in love with the mission and the community of like-minded, passionate people involved with Student Programs. She became involved with the marketing branch of the student organization, rising to the position of vice president of communications in her final year.
Looking for a way to stay involved when she finished her degree from Western University, she joined the Cycle for Smiles campaign, committing to running 80 miles in two months. She used the platform Charity Footprints, which tracked her miles, donations, and her progress relative to other participants across the world.
She successfully raised $480 through her fitness campaign, and as it can cost as little as $240 to provide a life-changing surgery, Georgia is proud of the impact she made (as she should be!). We caught up with Georgia to learn from her campaign and share her tips.
Expert Fundraising Tips
- Talk about it: Let your friends and family know that this is a cause you are committing to and how you plan to go about it. Keep in mind that although you may get some donations from loose connections, the majority of your donations will come from people who know you well.
- Inform others about Operation Smile’s mission: Many people are unaware of what Operation Smile does, what cleft lip and palate is, and how their donations can help. Educate them about the cause and its importance. Georgia told her friend about her fundraiser who then told her mother who donated a hefty amount since she had a friend in high school that had a cleft lip. Georgia’s friend’s mother did not know about Operation Smile or what they did before the fundraiser.
- Show them you care: Actions speak louder than words; Georgia found that her commitment to such a challenging goal demonstrated to others her passion for the cause and inspired them to donate. Georgia’s brother was confused what her running did to generate donations but she explained it as, “When you commit to something so big, it shows you care, and it gets others to realize how important it is to you, and inspire them to help.”
- Keep reminding them: Post about your progress on social media, any challenges you have encountered, and what drives you to keep pushing forward. Georgia posted her metrics post runs and photos of her running on Instagram stories captioned with reminders to contribute to her fundraiser.
Easy Ways to Stay Involved as an Alumni
- Make sure you stay in touch with your regional associate! Operation Smile hosts campaigns throughout the year, and this associate can keep you in the loop.
- Volunteer to speak at Operation Smile student events.
- Investigate whether your company is open to hosting a fundraiser or has a preexisting connection with Operation Smile.