As the Life Raft Group celebrates its tenth anniversary and the achievements within the GIST community over the last 10 years, we are busy planning for the future. Our focus remains the same – to cure GIST and support those people affected by this disease until we do. In addition to the services we currently provide, the LRG is working to develop new programs to support our members while also improving our advocacy initiatives to increase GIST awareness and treatment access. The LRG will also continue to fund our research team who recently completed a two year strategic plan to move forward based on its most recent findings.

Here are 10 fundraising suggestions that have been used by LRG members to support GIST programs and research.

1. Organize a 5K run/walk in your local area. One of our members is organizing a Dam to Dam race in Holland to raise money for GIST research. So far, more than 200 participants have registered!

2. Participation in LRG’s annual holiday giving campaign is easy and makes gift buying easy for your friends and family. Once again, we’ll send you holiday greeting cards in November for you to send to your loved ones. The message asks them for a contribution in honor of you.

3. It’s summertime and everyone loves a barbecue! One of LRG’s members just hosted his second annual BBQ for friends, family and colleagues where he set up a table with LRG pamphlets, bracelets and donation envelopes. He’s raised almost $2,000 so far. You can read about it here.

4. If you work for a corporation, a bank or even a smaller company, chances are that your employer has set up a foundation for giving to charities. Take a moment and look on your company website or ask someone in human resources about this. Please forward information to me and I’ll be more successful in applying for a grant if the company knows it has an employee that is an LRG member.

5. Planned giving is a small part of our legacy with great impact on helping sustain a cause that is important to us. If you want outside advice on this difficult subject, I can put you in contact with an experienced financial planner for a free consultation.

6. Dinner parties are social events that we look forward to and are increasingly being held to support social causes. Several of our members have hosted dinners in their homes that featured a brief presentation on GIST and the LRG’s research initiative. Careful planning and an invitation that explains the reason for the gathering are key. You will be overwhelmed by the support of your friends and colleagues who have been wanting to help all along!

7. You may have read in a previous newsletter that one of your fellow GISTers ran a marathon last year. As if that wasn’t enough, he sought pledges to support LRG research for a cure!

8. Planning a poker tournament or casino night sounds like a lot of work, but after helping LRG’s Board President, Jerry Cudzil, host eight successful tournaments, we’ve become quite efficient at it! Last year, the NYC tournament raised over $100,000 for GIST programs and research!

9. Dave Safford is one of LRG’s Board members from Washington. In 2011, Dave planned a piano concert on Valentine’s Day that raised over $12,000! Community events such as concerts or comedy shows are terrific fundraisers that also raise awareness.

10. Don’t forget to also ask your employer if they participate in a matching gift program. If so, please take advantage of doubling your contribution. It’s as easy as sending me your company’s matching pledge form when you want to make a donation. See a great idea? Call or email me at or (973) 837-9092, ext. 116. I can help you plan and market an event, provide awareness giveaways and write invitations. I’m here to help you run any fundraiser, large or small!