Continuing our series on spotlighting unique nonprofit fundraising events, today we analyze the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Heroes program. The St. Jude Heroes program takes a unique approach to large-scale fundraising by providing individuals with all of the fundraising and training resources that they need to fundraise for any athletic event they want, rather than having St. Jude’s operate the events themselves.

The St. Jude Heroes program empowers participants to participate in any event they want and achieve their own fitness goals, Because each event leader has a sense of ownership over the event and its specifics, participation tends to increase along with personalization.

What makes St. Jude unique is that it is the only pediatric cancer research hospital in the country where families are not asked or required to pay for treatments or procedures not covered by insurance. In short, no child is ever turned away due to their inability to pay. What makes its Heroes fundraising model unique is that they put the power into the hands of each individual participant. Rather than having to wait for an event to take place, any person can host or create a St. Jude Heroes event at any time. Participants can sign up as a team or take the challenge as an individual Hero.

If an individual is interested in taking part in the St. Jude Heroes program, they simply have to log on to the website. From there they will have access to a wide variety of resources dedicated to making their event a success and to helping them achieve their own personal fitness goal. These resources include:

  • Personalized fundraising Web page
  • Online training provided by
  • E-newsletters with fundraising and training tips, and St. Jude patient stories
  • Motivational support from St. Jude representatives
  • Invitation to exclusive St. Jude Heroes pre-race pasta party at select events
  • Access to pre and post-race St. Jude Heroes hospitality area at select events
  • Incentive prizes, including hotel and airfare

To enable these individual events to be successful and effective for fundraising, St. Jude has had to develop a turnkey operation that easily communicates all components of the event fundraising process. And the organization has been quite successful at this, as more than 2,900 heroes raised upwards of $2.38 million for the children of St. Jude in the past year alone through these personalized events.

St. Jude has created a fundraising model that is effective due to its unique ability to stimulate fundraising at a grassroots level. Small donors join together with big donors, which translates into real dollars and real change. The St. Jude Heroes program combines a unique approach to creating value and a thoughtful model that encourages participation to create a very successful and meaningful event fundraising program. Each of these elements works in synergy to reinforce the foundation of hope that built the hospital of change.

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