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P2P Pros: Young Survival Coalition’s Kay Pruett

This is part of a series of posts that highlight some of the amazing RallyBound organizations (and their fundraising directors) who will be attending the Peer to Peer Forum on February 24th.

Young Survival Coalition was founded in 1998 by three women under the age of 35 who were diagnosed with breast cancer. They were discouraged by the lack of resources available and the underrepresentation of young women in breast cancer research. Today, YSC is the go-to organization for young women facing a breast cancer diagnosis. With the support of a small but mighty team of three, in an organization of only 30 employees, Kay Pruett is focusing on growing YSC’s P2P fundraising programs, including its signature bike ride – Tour de Pink – the YSC Champions Program, and its Summit Fundraising Program. We sat down with Kay to learn more about her work with the organization.

How did you get into the nonprofit world?

I grew up in a family that was very committed to volunteering and giving back and I was always very involved with different organizations including Girl Scouts and Ronald McDonald House.  When I was in college, I decided to pursue a career in event planning and then moved on to run corporate events. I joined a company where I got my first experience working directly with nonprofits and matching them with our various corporate events as charity partners. I then moved on to work at an event production company, which gave me the experience needed to be able to run events of any size and nature. I then worked for a data analytics driven marketing group where I learned the power of data in making fundraising decisions. These combined experiences provided me with the training and experience needed to bring value to any organization I was looking to join.

In May 2014, I joined YSC. I was brought on to focus on the growth of the Tour de Pink rides as well as the YSC Champions Program for third party fundraising. I now oversee all the P2P fundraising programs for YSC.

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What do you enjoy most about working at Young Survival Coalition?

What I enjoy most is the people I work with and the women I work for. I work with an amazing team that works really hard for an amazing cause and are truly driven by the women we serve. In my experience, it is rare to work with an entire group that is driven by the mission. I’m inspired to be working with smart and innovative people that challenge me everyday.

And of course the women we serve are a daily inspiration. Cancer is a terrible disease and serves as a driving force everyday to keep us all mission-focused. We hear so many different stories that are both inspiring and heartbreaking. It gives me a bigger sense of purpose to work hard everyday to create more happy than sad stories.

What social media channel do you think nonprofits should leverage more in their fundraising strategy?

Since our demographic trends a lot younger, we have a lot of potential in social media, specifically on Instagram. Since Facebook is beginning to skew to the older generations, we’re losing the younger demographic, who are driven by visual stories. They want to see a snapshot of people’s lives and stories. We use Instagram to show our “mission in motion.” This includes pictures of training for the Tour de Pink or fundraising at a lemonade stand.  Sharing pictures that show the action behind the fundraising makes people feel connected, which inspires more generous giving. We are also focusing on showing the return of fundraising efforts by sharing pictures of women at our annual conference, our face to face peer support programs, et al.   

Showing what YSC is doing and where the money is going is so important to fundraising with social media. You can really convey your stories and with the right hashtags and branding strategy, you have the opportunity to showcase who is being impacted by the organization’s work. I don’t think Instagram has reached its full potential when it comes to fundraising. YSC Tour de Pink just started its account in the last six months, and we didn’t have many followers until the events took place but once they did we saw huge growth and now have more people using Instagram on a regular basis to share with us their training and fundraising efforts. We are looking forward to seeing how we grow our presence even more in 2016.

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How do you inspire people to fundraise for your organization?

It is about sharing our organization’s mission and sharing our survivor’s stories. It’s just that simple. We tell and share these stories because we have a responsibility to show where the money is going and who it’s impacting. Stories of the breast cancer survivors whose lives were impacted by our programs and services are shared when asking people for donations. We share our stories in several formats – on our website anyone can come and share their story of when they were diagnosed, how YSC helped them, what her fears or challenges were. We also collect these stories at our Tour de Pink rides – if someone has registered but we don’t have their story, we ask them. We’ll even go back to women who have told their stories in the past and get a progress update. Donors love to see how far these women have come with the help of YSC. We share these stories through our website, email, and social media.

I always tell our fundraisers that raising money is easy, they just need to ask. We tell people who want to participate in Tour de Pink but have never fundraised before to be authentic and simply tell their story and most people will be compelled to give.

What is your new year’s resolution?

I am not a resolution person. I’m a goal oriented person. So if you asked me what my goals are for 2016, they would be to make our inaugural Tour de Pink South ride profitable in the first year, to see growth in our social channels, specifically Instagram, and leverage more fundraising for our Summit Fundraising Program so more women can travel to our conference.

About Kay: Kay Butts-Pruett has worked with nonprofits for much of her life. First as a volunteer and community leader, and for the past several years as a development fundraiser. Kay serves as the Events Manager for Young Survival Coalition, an organization dedicated to supporting and empowering young women diagnosed with breast cancer. She is responsible for managing all of the peer-to-peer fundraising programs and events such as: Tour de Pink, the country’s only three day ride to support breast cancer; YSC Champions, a program for all third-party fundraisers; and Summit Fundraising, a program for young women to raise funds for travel reimbursement to the YSC annual summit. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Montevallo, with degrees in both Musical Theatre and Communications Studies.

Come meet us at the Peer to Peer Forum!

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