UCP Launches Innovative Fundraising Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Shelly DeButts: 202-973-7175, sdebutts@ucp.org

Mobile App, Creative Platform Lets Supporters Donate While They Shop

 

 Washington, D.C. (November 2, 2015) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) announced today the launch of a new fundraising partnership with the CauseNetwork™, rolling out a free, branded online Marketplace and customized Mobile App for UCP affiliates in the U.S.   This partnership capitalizes on consumers’ shift toward “shopping for a cause”. When coupled with the widespread use of mobile devices for online purchases, expected to reach $100 million in 2015, fundraising of this magnitude can help expand the mission of UCP to aid people with a broad range of disabilities and their families.

“In this day and age, an organization like UCP has to be very creative with fundraising,” said Michele Levy, UCP’s Director of Individual Giving. “We know many people support our cause, but we have to give them easy, convenient and smart ways to show that support.”

CauseNetwork will create a customized shopping website for every interested UCP affiliate to enable supporters to make online purchases from over 1,000 retailers, up to 10% of which is donated to UCP. The same ability to shop for their cause is enabled through the UCP customized Mobile App, which also includes messaging for affiliates to stay in touch with their donor-members. The entire platform is provided at no cost to the affiliates.

“We work to give UCP a way to do more for their affiliates, without having to ask donors to spend more. Through our platform, members simply redirect their online shopping through their UCP affiliate’s free, branded website and Mobile App. Now donors can contribute to the UCP mission while getting the same great prices from some of the biggest retail brands: Amazon, Target, WalMart, Best Buy and over 1,000 more,” said Clay Buckley, President of CauseNetwork, Inc.

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About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with a network of affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence. For more information, please visit http://www.ucp.org.

 

About the CauseNetwork, Inc.

CauseNetwork™ is a marketplace for giving. A revolutionary and unique fundraising platform built for the non-profit community that generates tax-free donations to a cause through every purchase from partner retailers. Supporters of the cause simply shop online and a portion of each purchase (at no additional expense to them) is automatically provided to their individual cause. For more information, please visit www.causenetwork.com or contact Mary O’Donnell, Mary@causenetwork.com.

Successful Steptember Challenge Raises $3.5 Million

Another September has come and gone and 2,236 people on 721 teams across the U.S. stepped up! Those of you who took the Steptember challenge joined ranks with a global community of people dedicated to taking 10,000 steps a day to help raise money and awareness for people with disabilities and their families.

That’s right – 10,000 steps a day! Every day for 28 days!

We made it!

Globally, we raised more than $3.5 million to help United Cerebral Palsy and its affiliates continue to provide vital services and supports for people like Matthew.

Matthew and his family

Matthew and his family

Three different teams stepped up for Matthew, raising nearly $3,000. Matthew attended United Cerebral Palsy’s Early Intervention Program when he was young and for the past few years he has attended the SPIRIT Saturday Recreation Program. Those programs might not exist without people like you who support UCP.

“We are so grateful to everyone who has donated to United Cerebral Palsy in Matthew’s name and are taking those steps and saving up their pocket change or writing out those checks,” said his mother, Maryann.

On behalf of Maryann, Matthew, the Steptember team and UCP’s affiliates, we thank you!

P.S. There’s still time to get your donations in. We’re not counting steps, but you can still contribute to your favorite team or to UCP’s national office until November 1 at www.steptember.us.

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Steptember Logo Medium (5in)

Replacing Pity with Power: A Former Poster Child Speaks Out

Lorraine C_ChildhoodLorraine Cannistra is an author and speaker who was once a “poster child” for United Cerebral Palsy in 1974. UCP was founded by by Leonard H. Goldenson, then-President of United Paramount Theaters and ABC Television. He used his television background to establish very successful fundraising telethons and advertising campaigns featuring “poster children” with obvious physical disabilities. As you will read in her brutally honest account, this part of UCP’s history was a very different time. UCP is proud of the work we did during that era to help people with disabilities and their families, much of which was supported by telethon donations. But it did have a negative impact of children such as Lorraine, so we are equally proud that she chose to share her experience with us to make a powerful point. You can read more from Lorraine at www.healthonwheels.wordpress.com or contact her at lorrainecannistra.com.  

 

When I look at the picture now, I can see it so clearly. I can see the braces. The braces were made of metal and leather and weighed more than I did. They were cumbersome and hideous and confined my movements almost as much as a straight jacket. My pigtails, new dress and big smile only magnified the orthopedic braces. And that was the point. I was not only crippled, but I was cute too, and that combination made for a perfect picture of pity. The image said, “Look at me. I can’t stand upright without braces and the aide of crutches. Isn’t that sad? Isn’t it tragic? I can’t run or play hide and go seek. My life is full of heartache and so much pain that you must want to look away. You want to create distance between you and I. That’s okay. It is only fate that made your kids strong and healthy. Does that make you feel guilty? I have an easy fix. You can donate money to United Cerebral Palsy so there won’t be as many kids like me. That way you have done your part and you can sleep peacefully tonight.” Donation cans were all over town, with that picture plastered on the front. People could throw in their spare change and not have to think about me anymore.

It was all lost on me at the time. As a six-year-old kid, when I was chosen to be poster child for United Cerebral Palsy in Bergen County New Jersey, I was excited. I thought it was cool. I thought it was important. I thought it was an honor.

My parents have told me a story repeatedly about the year I was poster child. Halfway through the year, my orthopedist told them I didn’t need my long leg braces anymore. They had served their purpose and were no longer necessary. Back in 1974, the powers that be at United Cerebral Palsy told my parents that I could not be photographed as poster child unless I was wearing the braces. They didn’t think I looked pitiful enough without them.

In the forty plus years since then I have thought often about their motivation. On the surface I can sort of see that at the time the idea was to raise as much money as possible, and back then the most effective way to accomplish that was to pull hard on the community’s heart strings.

What I don’t understand is why nobody at UCP considered the potential damage of what they were doing on me. Didn’t anybody realize how demeaning it is to be the object of somebody’s pity? Didn’t they know that by trying to make people feel sorry for me they were making sure the playing field was never going to be equal? They were making a division between the “us’s” and the “them’s” of society. It has taken me a while to erase that line. Some people will never let me do it completely.

The other thing I believe happened in the year when I was poster child was that I began to internalize that message. I began to see my physical weakness as a deficit that was going to limit what I was capable of in life. That was the goal of the picture. The sad part is, in the process, it rubbed off on me.

Do I think that being poster child has really stopped me from doing what I want to do? No. But I will admit I have struggled with confidence and having a positive self-perception. There have been many times when that struggle has gotten in my way. Honestly, I don’t lorraine_cannistra and Leahknow how much of that comes from the fact that I was poster child forty years ago. There are times even now when I go to a restaurant with friends or out to the grocery store and people look at me with pity. Some still avoid eye contact or watch me struggle and want to look away.

Ironically, these days I have a career as a writer and public speaker. The main topic I explore is disability awareness and empowerment. I figure if I can tell a group of people something they didn’t know about disability or maybe challenge some negative perceptions a bit, then there is potential for some kids with disabilities not to experience some of the things that I did. If that is the outcome, then I can live with all I went through.

When I look at the UCP website today, I am convinced that the organization and I have the same goals. We want people with disabilities to be seen in a context of power not pity, and we want the community to view those with disabilities with a “one of us” attitude.

When I get ready to speak, I feel this odd mixture of nerves and excitement, and get so worked up that sometimes I think I am going to be sick. But at that point, I take a deep breath, exhale slowly and examine the crowd. I make a point to make eye contact with as many people as possible.

My message is simple. “Look at me, I am just like you.”