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Lola Olabode
Lola Olabode
Fun, Fantastic, Fundraising. Effective Ways to Fund AEDs

Have you ever wondered why defibrillators are locked in those glass cabinets? Other than to protect it from the elements, that cabinet is there to prevent theft. However, this is a practice that Avive doesn’t endorse as storing AEDs in cabinets gives the impression that this is a piece of equipment that shouldn’t be touched and thus can go unused. Ranging from $1,200 to $3,000 defibrillators seem like a luxury to have. AEDs are expensive, but its capabilities are beyond a price point. Don’t let cost stop you from owning one.

Avive interviewed four nonprofits on how they raise money so that individuals, organizations, and communities can be “heart-safe.” Each shared their successful methods on how they get funding.

Simon’s Heart

The Simon’s Heart foundation during a school “heart-safe” event.

Founded 13 years ago, this nonprofit is dedicated to putting AEDs “anywhere a kid can learn or play.” Samantha Krouse, manager of programs and initiatives, explained that “grants are limited and can’t help everyone, crowdfunding can, and it gives people a sense of leadership.” One 16-year-old girl was able to set up a campaign and fundraise an AED for her soccer team in just two days!

If a local school or youth facility doesn’t have the funds upfront to purchase an AED, an administrator, nurse, principal, etc. would work with Samantha to start a campaign through the GotAED program. It’s quite common that laws require schools to have AEDs, and it’s unfortunate that the government doesn’t give the necessary funding to purchase one. GotAED is a crowdfunding site that makes so that “funding is incredibly practical and affordable.” A schoolwide email, newspaper, or any mass communication method can be used to explain the importance of having an AED on campus. Social media is an effective method for sharing such an announcement. Simon’s Heart then gives up to three months to fundraise an AED.

To date, Simon’s Heart has launched 80 funding campaigns.

Via Heart Project

Liz Lazar-Johnson, executive director at Via, works to ensure sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is treatable with widespread AEDs in schools. She told Avive how AEDs are generally purchased by schools after a traumatic arrest episode. “Generally 20% of the population in a community is at that school. There are admin, teachers, parents, and grandparents. More often than you think, most AEDs save grandparents at games.”

Liz (left) with some of the Via Heart Project team.

Via helps to fund AEDs for schools and “beat them to the punch” when it comes to cardiac arrest treatment. She recommends applying for local grants and sponsors rather than national grants. Many healthcare districts have proposition taxes that they must use to give back to healthcare programs in the area, and they have an annual application process. The Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, and Lions Club are great school-oriented organizations, and some can adopt a school to help fund an AED.

By working with Via to write grants to these clubs, a school is then able to buy specially priced AED packages through Via. The school subscribes to Via’s maintenance program after which the school will receive free medical direction, supplies, and compliance help with state and local laws. Maintenance includes free shipping of free replacement pads and batteries, both when they expire and when the AED is used. If there is a manufacturer recall or upgrade, Via takes care of it.

Via has deployed over 800 AEDs in California schools and has 3,000 AEDs nationwide.

In A Heartbeat

In 2018, In A Heartbeat donated $10,000 to the Tufts Medical Center!

Mike Papale is the founder of In A Heartbeat where they achieve their goals of preventing death caused by SCA and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy by donating AEDs and by teaching recipients how to use them. Mike recommends applying for local grants as contributors tend to prefer to support communities (emotionally and/or physically) close to them. Grants from local membership charities are also where In A Heartbeat gets a lot of its funding.

“It’s best if you have a story. It really opens people’s eyes,” Mike advised. “Also be sure to have diverse funding—that way you’re not relying on one source.” In A Heartbeat loves to make fundraising fun. They host events like:

  • Fundraisers at a local Brewery (you can apply to partner with companies like Chipotle. They, like many businesses, donate a percentage of their profits to local organizations and communities for a good cause)

  • 5k fun runs

  • Golf tournaments

  • T-shirt campaigns at schools, sporting events, etc.

  • Mail campaigns: send a letter to your donor database along with a pledge card

Cody Stephens Foundation

Guests at The Big Event: an event that every Cody Stephen’s Foundation affiliate is thrilled to attend.

Ashlee Valavala, director of development at the Cody Stephen’s Foundation, shares that The Big Event is this nonprofit’s largest fundraiser of the year. The event features auctions, dinner, live music, corporate sponsors, and most importantly, heartfelt stories of their successes. Aside from The Big Event, Ashlee shared fun and effective school fundraising methods so students can get the electrocardiogram (EKG) screening they need!

  • Penny wars: classes can compete with each other to see who can bring in the most change. (Consider offering a prize like a pizza party to the class that secures the most donations)

  • Parent carpool coin drive: in the carpool drop off lane, teachers can collect change from car coin pouches from parents who drop their kids off at school

  • Reach out to parent organizations like PTAs or sports booster clubs to ask for their support

If schools aren’t your primary setting, Ashlee offered a few other ideas for fundraising:

  • At the office? Pay $5 each to have a jeans day

  • Paper icons: when someone makes a donation, have them write their name on a paper icon. You can then use these to spell a word/create an image on the wall

  • Retail fundraisers: see if local businesses will ask their customers for donations at checkout. In just a few months, a partnership with Specs Liquor stores across Texas helped this foundation raise $25,000

The Cody Stephens Foundation has screened 120,000 student-athletes with just under 2% found to have an abnormal EKG which requires follow-up with a cardiologist.

This foundation is incredibly proud of the passing of the HB76 bill. The first in the country, this bill allows for parents of student-athletes in high school to opt-in for their child to receive EKG screening as part of their sports physicals.

An AED is an essential piece of equipment that should always be available. With so many funding options, it’s simple to have life-saving equipment near you, friends, and family. Your funding options don’t end here. There are endless organizations and communities dedicated to ensuring that people in need are getting the necessary funding to be able to live comfortably, and most importantly, “heart-safe” lives.

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