Since joining our £1,000 Challenge, supporter Jo Grace has become something of a fundraising expert. She tells us about her latest event, a country and western night, and gives us her top fundraising tips.

Thursday 25 February 2016      Guest blog
Dolly Parton themed night for Breast Cancer Now

Jo is a seasoned pro at fundraising and like so many of our supporters, has had too many loved ones taken by breast cancer.

“Since 2010 I have lost my mum, my friends Tina, Jackie and Chrissie, and have three other friends thankfully alive and well post-diagnosis. My sister and I attend the Royal Marsden family history clinic annually and have been fortunate to have this lifeline since we were in our late 20s, we are now 51 and 53.”

Fundraising's not just 9 to 5

Over the years Jo has organised many fundraising events, from small events of 60 people to elegant parties with over 180 guests. Jo is a dab hand at organising balls, and has thrown events with the themes from fairy tale to Bollywood. She even confessed that, “Once you get started it becomes an addiction.”

Most recently, Jo looked to famed country singer Dolly Parton for inspiration and organised a country and western themed night at The Lounge Bistro and Wine Bar in Biggleswade. The guests dressed up and West End actress and singer, Jennifer Harding, provided the entertainment.

And Jo's not stopping there, she is already making plans for her next fundraising event next autumn - a ball themed around The Great Gatsby.

The £1,000 Challenge

Jo is one of our £1,000 challengers and estimates she has raised over £20,000. The £1,000 Challenge began back in 1990 by Breast Cancer Campaign and challenged 15,000 people to raise £1,000 each in order to fund the Toby Robins Breast Cancer Research Centre. Once you reach your £1,000 target you can nominate someone special whose name will join our challenge wall at the Institute of Cancer Research.

“As a £1,000 challenger I don’t feel pressurised as £1,000 seems to come easily with profit from ticket sales, auctions and a raffle. Even the smallest events are appreciated by the charity, I am never made to feel I need to do more and more – that would put me off.”

As Jo proves, any time you can spare to help fundraise for breast cancer research is greatly appreciated, even if you feel it is only a small event it means a great deal to us.

“I work full time and Sundays in the hospice, so time is limited, but I will continue to fundraise for Breast Cancer Now for as long as I am able. I love it. I have so much support from family and friends it’s amazing especially, year after year.”

Think about fundraising

Jo’s top tips for organising your own fundraising event:

  • If you want to start something in your area start small like a dinner party for friends, charge for tickets, have a raffle, do a cake sale, afternoon tea
  • Try and stick to a small group of helpers and reach out to other Breast Cancer Now fundraisers and the fantastic fundraising team who are so approachable and helpful
  • Organising an event, however big or small, can be daunting at times. You have to realise not everyone you meet will be as passionate as you about this cause, but don’t be disheartened!

When asked why Jo thinks Now is the time to start fundraising she replied, “Because the sooner you get started, the sooner Breast Cancer Now can make a difference.”

Whether you decided to sign up to the £1,000 challenge, organise your own fundraising or get sponsored for an event, you’ll be helping fund vital breast cancer research. If we all act now, we believe that by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live.

Get involved

If you’ve been inspired by Jo’s story, you can sign up to the £1,000 Challenge here. You can also sign up for a free fundraising pack, all you need to do is complete our online form and we'll provide you with all you need to organise your own event.

Plus we have lots of lovely new pink promotional materials we can send you for your event. Get in touch with us on 0333 20 70 300 or email community@breastcancernow.org and let us know what you’ve got planned.