The end of the year is an ideal time to harness public generosity. The season is conducive to reflection on what makes life meaningful, and financial charity is a tangible way to address the needs of others out of gratitude for what we have. As a former leader in the socially conscious efforts of pharmaceutical and commercial businesses, I’ve witnessed how end-of-year campaigns that “tug at the heartstrings” can be successful, even in profit-driven contexts. Now leading DKMS, I’d like to consider how our specific mission as a non-profit can inform the connection with our growing audience—this year reaching 10 million lifesavers. What makes this year’s campaign, #Roadto10million, unique is that we realize the potential and responsibility to engage the heart, the mind, and perhaps even the body in the act of giving.
Non-profits with worthy causes rightfully benefit from the cultural holiday gift narrative: showing love for friends and family with thoughtful purchases and providing for the less materially fortunate. This form of generosity is something to celebrate, but I’d like to challenge the DKMS community to understand giving more broadly—as a willingness to spread an important message or sacrifice bodily comfort for the sake of someone’s chance to live. Our work relies on enthusiasm of students or organizations to host drives, commitment to update personal information on the registry, and bravery to undergo transplant procedures. In this season, DKMS strives to increase awareness of patients’ needs and educate on the scope of what we do, so that every person can feel empowered to assess how they can uniquely lend their voice or body to our efforts. These forms of involvement provide a deeply personal and richly rewarding experience for both givers and receivers.
Education and awareness are also critical links between giving and our long-term organizational strategy. Blood cancer is genetically complex and constantly affecting new people—and it will continue to be for the foreseeable future. This is daunting, but the potential to challenge this reality is equally striking. DKMS provides a platform for people to stay scientifically up to date with stem cell research, to host public drives, to give financially, and to be on the registry of potential donors (which entails donating, if matched). Once people know what we do, they are equipped with multiple ways to support our continual efforts. Given this knowledge, I hope that people will view the season as much more than a chance to give a one-time financial contribution to a cause--as an opportunity to join a community of generous people who contribute what they can to this dynamic, life-saving process.
If you’ve known someone with leukemia or blood cancer, there is an undeniable understanding of the urgency of DKMS’ work. My vision for our end-of-year campaign is to invite many to join our community in the optimism that our diverse forms of generosity will make an increasingly expansive impact. Our mission and, most importantly, the lives of our patients depend on it.