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  1. Fundraising Trends to Watch for and Implement in 2017

    March 28, 2017 by Andrea

    mobile fundraising for sickle cell

    If there's one constant in this world, it's change -- and that includes your fundraising methods. Throughout each year, you and your team need to reevaluate your sickle cell awareness goals and how much money is needed to achieve them. Of course, you'll always have that group of loyal donors who are down for your cause, but solely relying on them and not appealing to new supporters is a fast way to stagnation.

    This year, expanding your group of givers will require you to embrace mobile technology. Implement the fundraising trends below and see your troupe of donors diversify and grow.

    1) Stay Social
    Most people access social media -- think Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook -- on their mobile devices, so the updates you share on these platforms should be mobile-friendly. Encouraging them to click through to your website? Make sure your site is optimized for mobile. Downloading those social media apps to your phone is also imperative. You want to be able to respond to potential fundraising supporters quickly and efficiently, and if you're out and about and not near your computer, doing that will be difficult. To really ensure your messages are seen even if you don't have a large following yet, purchase social media ads that show well on computers and mobile devices.

    2) Crowd Source
    Once you've begun to establish a solid social media presence, take that another step forward and do some fundraising through online channels. Not only does this help save money you would have spent on a venue, promotional materials, entertainment, catering, and other incidentals, it will also help you reach a new demographic of prospective supporters -- people who may not want to or have time to attend an event, but would still like to give toward sickle cell research and awareness. Our top three favorite mobile-friendly crowdsourcing platforms? Booster, Pear, and GoFundMe.

    3) Recurring Donations
    If gyms, magazines, and Netflix can do it, so can you -- it's called an automatic renewal. Much more efficient than chasing down past contributors for another round of giving, only to have more than half of them not respond, recurring donations are the best way to ensure money stays coming in on a regular basis. Begin by setting up a recurring donation program (that donors can opt out of at any time) on your website -- using PayPal is a quick, mobile-friendly, and easy way to get started. To keep things simple, make the fundraising recurrences monthly. That way, as soon as someone signs up to donate a certain amount, that same amount will automatically be deducted from their accounts and sent to you each month.

    Have you tried any of these fundraising trends? Tell us how it went in the comments below!

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  2. How to Keep Your Sickle Cell Awareness Team Motivated with a Retreat

    March 23, 2017 by Andrea
    retreat

    Photo: Stocksnap.io



    From fundraising to marketing to speaking engagements, and more, you and your team do a lot to raise awareness for sickle cell disease. And while you encourage other warriors and their friends and family to manage stress effectively, you don't always take that same advice. It's imperative, though, that you and your team rest up, too, so you can successfully maintain the momentum of spreading the word about SCD. A team retreat is one of the best ways to do this. Here's how:

    1) Ask your team for input.
    Where would they like to go? What kinds of activities are they interested in? How long should the retreat last? Are there any areas that should be avoided due to medical reasons? (For example, it would be a good idea to avoid places with extreme temperatures for any warriors on staff.) Giving your crew a chance to offer feedback on retreat plans will ensure that they feel a part of the preparation, giving them the sense that this is their event, too. When people feel included, they are more likely to attend and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

    2) Choose a theme.
    Remember, a retreat should be a relaxing respite from the typical daily grind. Think about a theme that embodies this idea, and create an agenda packed with activities that support this, as well. For inspiration on things to do, check out this post from JustWorks.

    3) Stick to a budget.
    Team getaways can be expensive, but they don't necessarily have to be -- and all of the expense doesn't have to fall on your company, either. Start by selecting venues that you can financially afford, such as those you find on Airbnb, rather than traditional hotel spaces. To help offset other costs for things such as travel, food, guest speakers, and spa services, find sponsors to provide funds.

    Have you ever hosted a team retreat? How did it go? Tell us in the comments below!

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  3. Essential Oils: 5 Picks Every Sickle Cell Warrior Should Add to Their Self-Care Routine

    March 13, 2017 by Andrea
    Photo: Honou via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Photo: Honou via Flickr/CC BY 2.0



    Self-care is important for everyone and especially important for sickle cell warriors, as stress can lead to painful episodes. For millenia, essential oils have been used to combat stress and infuse surroundings with peace and calm. Here are a few to include in your self-care routine:

    1) Mimosa
    This essential oil is known to improve overall well-being, as it has a relaxing effect on both the mind and the body. Place a few drops in your bath water, and indulge in the calming aroma of its sweet, floral scent.

    2) Lemon Verbena
    Not only can this essential oil calm stress and anxiety, it can also help ease pain in the muscles and joints. Add a bit to your favorite massage oil and benefit from less muscle tension and less stress in general.

    3) Rosewood
    Described as having a spicy and sweet floral aroma, this essential oil is known for its ability to help you center yourself, which can, in turn, help calm your overall emotions and stress.

    4) Cypress
    The perfect post-workday remedy, this essential oil helps lift moods and create feelings of positivity. Add a few drops to a warm or cold compress, and place it on your head or anywhere else you're feeling tension.

    5) Vanilla
    Vanilla doesn't have to be relegated to baking only. Its essential oil can also fight off negative feelings and ease stress and anxiety. Place a few drops into a decorative diffuser or oil burner, and enjoy the sweet aroma of relaxation.

    When choosing your essential oils, be sure to select ones that are pure, rather than synthetic -- synthetic oils smell just as good, but do not have any therapeutic benefits. Neal's Yard Remedies, the publishers of Essential Oils, recommends the following methods for choosing quality ones: Check the company's credentials and ensure the botanical name also appears on the label.

    Enjoy this new addition to your self-care regimen and let us know how it works for you in the comments below!

    *Source: Essential Oils: All-natural remedies and recipes for your mind, body, and home

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  4. Gene Therapy Reverses French Teen’s Sickle Cell

    March 7, 2017 by Andrea
    Photo: OpenStax College [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

    Photo: OpenStax College [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons



    No doubt your Twitter feed has been flooded with the news that recently broke about a French teenager whose sickle cell disease has been reversed due to gene therapy. Read on to find out how it all happened.

    Until about 15 months ago, the then-13-year-old French boy (whose name has not yet been released) had to return to the hospital monthly for blood transfusions to treat his sickle cell. And as the BBC reports, this boy's internal damage was so bad, he'd already had his hips replaced and his spleen removed.

    Then, doctors had the idea to try an experimental treatment on the boy, in which they would remove his bone marrow and genetically alter it, theoretically correcting the gene mistake that causes sickle cell. "By using a virus to insert genes for the correct form of [hemoglobin protein] into the bone marrow ... researchers have been able to restore the elasticity to the patient's blood," explains Science Alert. Afterwards, the bone marrow was returned to the patient's body to see if, in fact, the gene therapy would prompt the marrow to generate normal red blood cells.

    It worked, and so far, so good.

    Since the teen's operation, he's shown no signs of SCD whatsoever, and as a result, his hospital visits and medications have ceased. While far from a cure, though -- since this procedure has only been done, albeit successfully, on one person -- it does show how gene therapy can potentially be the key needed to unlock a true cure.

    Even if this is the case, the BBC notes another potential barrier -- the fact that the majority of sickle cell warriors live in African countries, and therefore do not have easy access to expensive gene therapy procedures, such as this. So, besides conducting more trials on many more patients, researchers will also need to discover a way to reduce costs, so that if a cure is indeed discovered, it can actually be used where it's needed most, to help as many millions of people as possible.

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