This post is authored by Raquel Romero, Giving Assistant’s People & Business Operations Manager, and mother of our Chief Belly Rub Officer, Ziggy.

Every 3 minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with blood cancer.

This sobering statistic is what drives the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. I got involved with LLS this spring, when my best friend, Lucy Loveless, was nominated for their New York City Woman of the Year.

The Man & Woman of the Year campaign is an intense 10-week fundraising competition conducted by LLS across its chapters nationwide. The man and woman who bring in the highest amount in donations are awarded the prestigious titles. The competition is fierce, so each dedicated candidate assembles a team of friends and family in order to expand their network and earning ability.

Lucy and I met as freshmen at New York University and have been close ever since, but the highlight of our friendship (so far) came in the fall of 2012 when we quit our jobs and moved to Paris. Traveling all over Europe, we cracked ourselves up constantly and took about a million photos for our hashtag #rockelandlucyinparis. But most importantly, we supported each other, kept each other safe, and somehow managed to remain friends while spending almost every waking moment together for nearly four straight months!

Paris

LLS’ Man & Woman of the Year campaign harnesses the power of friendships like ours for the benefit of their very worthy cause. Their mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. They’ve invested over $1.2 billion toward this goal since they started in 1949, and the returns have been priceless:

  • In the past 18 months, five new therapies for acute myeloid leukemia received approval from the Food & Drug Administration, after 40 years of no change in the standard of care for patients suffering from the disease.
  • There is now an oral-based, chemotherapy-free therapy available for the most common form of leukemia in adults, chronic lymphocytic lymphoma, along with small lymphocytic lymphoma.
  • Since LLS’ inception, survival rates for many types of blood cancer have as much as quadrupled, and certain blood cancers have been cured altogether.
  • Many therapies first approved for blood cancers are now helping patients with other cancers and serious diseases.

It was an easy cause to get behind, and Lucy found 18 additional friends who agreed with me. Together we comprised Team Carpe Diem, a diverse group from all over the country with varying skills and connections that made for an inspiring campaign:

  • We hit the ground running—all 20 members of Team Carpe Diem reached out to their networks and pulled in $20,000 in the first 3 weeks!
  • We had an amazing workout event at CITYROW in New York, raising $2,200 for the cause.
  • We competed in an intense “50 States Challenge,” garnering donations from each of the 50 states (yes, even Hawaii and Alaska) over the course of 3 days!
  • We hosted a fabulous Paint-Your-Own-Pottery event in Los Angeles, raising $2,750 in one night.
  • We gathered dozens of in-kind donations for auction and raffle items including:
    • Goodies from Goop, Sole Society, and CamelBak, to name a few
    • VIP tickets to the Late Show with Stephen Colbert
    • 5th row seats for a Red Sox/Yankees game at Fenway Park
    • Overnight accommodations in Park City, Nashville, Northern Michigan, and the Hamptons

It was a busy 10 weeks, to say the least. Lucy sent so many emails that Gmail flagged her as spam and our team text message thread probably broke a few records.

But in the end, it was all worth it. At the Grand Finale Gala in NYC on June 15th, totals were tallied and Lucy had raised an astounding $151,952 for research and the fight against blood cancer.

Oh, and she WON the title of Woman of the Year!

I am beyond proud of Lucy, but I’m proud of myself too! In partnership with my friend, Christine, I was able to raise $6,427 in just 10 weeks, with more than 10% coming from online shopping through Giving Assistant.

To put Giving Assistant’s contribution into perspective: the NYC Man & Woman of the Year Campaign raised over $1.1 million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Imagine a 10% increase with online shoppers’ cash back donations. That’s an extra $117,000 to fund the fight against blood cancer.

As peer-to-peer fundraising (like Lucy’s campaign) grows in popularity, Giving Assistant recognizes the important role it will play in furthering our mission to transform everyday shopping into charitable giving. It’s never easy to ask your friends for money, but asking them to donate some of their cash back earnings from online purchases? That’s actually not so hard!

Giving Assistant

Since 2014, Giving Assistant shoppers have been supporting nonprofits by donating their cash back, with many donations amounting to no more than a few cents. Yet together, they’ve raised more than $4 million for good causes, visibly impacting thousands upon thousands of real lives all over the world.

Taking part in this campaign, and working at Giving Assistant, has taught me that everyone has something of value to offer, no matter how big or small. Our team’s donations ranged from thousands of dollars, to dinners for two, to backpacks, to water bottles, to just 8 cents of cash back.

But it all added up! Not only did Lucy win the Woman of the Year title, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society received over $150,000 in critical funds towards research. And, as we were reminded throughout the 10-week campaign: everyone wins when cancer loses.

To learn more about peer-to-peer fundraising, please contact hello@givingassistant.org. To start earning cash back in your everyday online shopping and giving a portion of it to your favorite nonprofit, sign up for Giving Assistant. To help those battling blood cancer, choose Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as your nonprofit of choice through your account settings.