Updated Swim Across America Fundraising Messages for 2020

There have been many requests for sample messages to use in your fundraising efforts during the uncertainty of the current pandemic. Here are some messages created by Swim Across America staff and leading participants that you can share via email, text message, social media, the SAA fundraising app and other formats. 

Message #1

Every 15 min, 50 Americans are diagnosed with cancer. Even during a pandemic, people continue to hear the terrible words ‘you have cancer’. I have joined the Swim Across America family so that I can continue to give cancer patients hope by raising funds to support cutting edge cancer research. If you are able, please support me and my swim by making a donation to my personal fundraising page. Every bit helps and will make an impact in the fight to find a cure. 

Message #2

Most of us know someone who is dealing with cancer, and how devastating it can be both for the person who is ill and for the family.  Cancer touches everyone, and unfortunately during these crazy times, cancer isn’t going into quarantine. That is why I’m STILL making waves to fight cancer with Swim Across America. Since we can’t be together right now, would you instead ‘buy me a drink’ or ‘take me out to dinner’ by making a donation to my Swim Across America swim. The money you give will go toward cutting edge cancer research and make an impact in the fight to find a cure. 

Message #3

The past few weeks have definitely been a challenge for us all, which is why I wanted to send you a quick note to see how you were doing and to share with you on something I am looking forward to. This summer, when we are all hopefully able to come together again, I will be swimming 1 mile in open water with Swim Across America to raise funds to support cancer research. When you have a moment, check out my personal fundraising page to learn more about the event and what the funds will support. I’d love to catch up and hear what you are up to as well. Hopefully you have some fun plans to look forward to later this year too. 

Message #4

I hope you are doing ok in this crazy time. I wanted to reach out to thank you again for supporting my participation in Swim Across America. It really made me smile and feel just a little bit closer during all this isolation. Did you know that you might be able to double your donation by getting a matching gift from your employer? Check with your HR department to see what forms need to be completed or search here to see if your company is eligible for matching gifts. Every bit helps, so thank you for checking with your employer for a match! 

Message #5

I’ve been thinking about you and your family during this difficult time and wanted to reach out to see how you were doing. I’ve signed up to participate and fundraise to support cancer research with Swim Across America this year and they’ve been sharing these inspiring stories about dealing with uncertainty right now that I thought you might enjoy.  I hope this brings a little hope to your world right now. I can’t wait until we can get together again soon.

If you have any great messages you think other SAA participants can benefit from using, you can share with us at info@swimacrossamerica.org

2015 Swim Across America event, Day 2 - Nantasket Beach.

 

How Does the CARES Act Affect My 2020 Donation?

CARES Act for Nonprofits – On Friday, March 27, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion economic stimulus package legislated to provide immediate relief for nonprofits. You can help give families affected by cancer hope when you make a donation to Swim Across America.

Details About CARES Act

The inclusion of an expanded charitable giving incentive is a critical acknowledgement by Congress that the work of nonprofits like Swim Across America are essential services. Indeed, cancer isn’t taking a break and our mission continues to be critical as we raise funds and provide grants to our world-class beneficiaries. It is the first time Congress has passed this type of giving incentive in response to disaster or national emergency. 

Here Are The Highlights

IMPORTANT: New Deduction Available: Up to $300 per tax filing in annual charitable contributions. It is an “above the line” adjustment to income that will reduce a donor’s adjusted gross income (AGI), and thereby reduce taxable income. This is particularly beneficial to people who take the standard deduction when filing their taxes (in other words for taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions). A donation to a donor advised fund (DAF) does not qualify for this new deduction. 

New Charitable Deduction Limits: As part of the bill, individuals and corporations that itemize can deduct much greater amounts of their contributions. Individuals can elect to deduct donations up to 100% of their 2020 AGI (up from 60% previously). Corporations may deduct up to 25% of taxable income, up from the previous limit of 10%. The new deduction is for gifts that go to a public charity, such as Swim Across America. The old deduction rules apply to gifts to private foundations. The higher deduction does not apply to donations directly to a DAF. 

If your assets are substantial enough that you can give more than your income this year, you won’t lose the deduction for the excess amount. You can use it next year, as has always been the case.

Required Min. Distributions Waived in 2020 for Most Donors: RMD for individuals over age 70 ½ are suspended until 2021. This includes distributions from defined benefit pension plans and 457 plans. The RMD is an attractive way for donors to make a significant charitable gift directly from their IRA to a charity through a qualified charitable contribution (QCD) while avoiding taxable income. The suspension of the RMD may dampen somewhat the incentive for a donor who makes a gift from their IRA to count toward that minimum. However, the tax benefit of the QCD remains. 

The takeaway – donors directing a QCD to charity this year (up to $100,000 per individual) will still reduce their taxable IRA balance. This allows all taxpayers, itemizers and non-itemizers alike, to direct gifts from their IRA to charities in a tax efficient manner. 

DONATE TO SWIM ACROSS AMERICA TODAY

If you have questions or would like assistance making a donation, you can contact us at info@swimacrossamerica.org

This information is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in any examples are for illustrative purposes only. References to tax rates include federal taxes only and are subject to change. State law may further impact your individual results.

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New Swim Across America Fundraising Mobile App Launched

The Swim Across America mobile app is now available for download on your iOS or Android device! With this new app, you can:

  • Monitor your fundraising progress, and thank your donors for their support
  • Update your page with a personalized story and photo
  • Share your page using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or SMS
  • Send emails easily by importing your contacts list with just one click
  • And more!

Downloading the app on your phone or tablet takes less than a minute. Visit the App Store or Google Play Store to get started!

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Fundraising Made Easy: Facebook Integration Now Live for SAA

Swim Across America is making fundraising easier through social media!

You can now link your Swim Across America fundraising page directly with Facebook. Once you register for your SAA charity swim, you can directly link your personal Swim Across America fundraising page to Facebook. You’ll be able to easily spread the word, collect donations and track your progress on Facebook. All donations through Facebook will be received by SAA and reflected in your fundraising thermometer!

Here’s How To Connect Your Fundraiser to Facebook:

1. Log in to your participant center.

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2. Scroll down and click on ‘Connect Fundraiser to Facebook.’

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3. It will redirect you to Facebook and a pop-up where you will click ‘OK’ or ‘Continue.’

4. You will then be prompted to go to your Fundraiser on Facebook if it doesn’t take you there immediately.

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5. Now you can edit all of your fundraising information and details you wish to include.

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6.  Promote your fundraiser by sharing a post on your timeline or inviting friends and family to your fundraising page.

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This new Facebook integration allows you to spread the word of your fundraising efforts and reach more people quicker and easier then ever before. For questions about using fundraisers on Facebook scroll down to the bottom part of our FAQ page.

Log in and get started now!

Saving Lives at the Johns Hopkins Swim Across America Lab

Stefanie Joho joined SAA – Baltimore this year to share her uplifting story. Four years ago at 22-years old she was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer. Stefanie went through repeated chemo with no positive response, and the cancer spread to stage 4. Her doctors gave her weeks to live. Desperate and not willing to give up, her sister googles and finds Dr. Luis Diaz at our beneficiary Johns Hopkins Medicine.

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Dr. Diaz told Joho to come immediately to JHU where she participates in an immunotherapy clinical trial of Keytruda funded–yes funded–by your donations to Swim Across America. The trial saved her life (she has “no evidence of disease NED”), she has a bright future and Keytruda is now FDA approved. Read Stefanie’s story in the New York Times and if you are inspired by the work being done through Swim Across America labs, please consider donating to SAA: http://bit.ly/SAAdonation.

Genetic tests for mismatch repair deficiency are commercially available. But insurers might not pay for the drugs — Keytruda and Opdivo cost $150,000 a year — based on such a small study. The study was paid for by Swim Across America and other charities, and the National Institutes of Health.  – New York Times

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WOW! What a Year!

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Happy Halloween! While we at SAA were coming up with costume ideas this week, we also ran the numbers on our open water events for 2013. What we found were some frighteningly exciting statistics! Here’s a recap of our open water events for the season- they’re no trick, and certainly a treat!

Two NEW Swim Across America Labs!

Both our Dallas and Seattle swims hit the $1 million mark for fundraising this year, which is amazing! The Innovative Clinical Trials Center at Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center was renamed the Swim Across America Innovative Clinical Trials Center after hitting $1 million in giving. In only its third year, SAA Dallas continues to break records and make waves.

Over on the west coast, SAA Seattle also hit the $1 million fundraising mark and was recognized by beneficiary Seattle Cancer Care Alliance by naming their lab for us. This is the fifth Swim Across America lab in the country, demonstrating our growth as an organization and the tirelessness of our participants and donors.

Our Babes are Getting Bigger! 

A couple of our very new swims completely blew us out of the water this year. Atlanta is the youngest of the open water siblings, and this May, it hit $250,000 in fundraising! Set on beautiful Lake Spivey, all donations from this inaugural swim went directly to the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

The second youngest in the SAA family, SAA Nantucket, was not to be outdone by its baby sib, though. In only it’s second year, Nantucket flew past its fundraising goal like Phelps by the competition and raised $180,000. The 55% jump in fundraising can be attributed to the dedication of all the swimmers that make this late summer event a blast!

The New Kids in Town

SAA Chicago debuted a new event at their swim this year in addition to their ½, 1, 1½ or 3 mile distance choices. The new Relay Swim across Lake Michigan was a hit, and helped the already firmly established swim raise almost $400,000 for the Rush University Cancer Center this past July.

The Michael Phelps Swim School also partnered with Swim Across America this year to offer the new Breakowt clinics to swimmers in Baltimore and Seattle. The innovative and comprehensive training session brings confidence and skill to new open water swimmers, and was run the day before each SAA swim.

Makin’ Waves, Breakin’ Records

Three of our open water swims made us proud as they reached new heights this summer. In tiny Rhode Island, the annual swim at Narragansett hosted a whopping 500 swimmers! A record number for this swim, all proceeds from participants went to Women and Infants Hospital.

Some say the Golden Gate Bridge that gleams over the Bay is the main attraction of the SAA San Francisco swim, and apparently a lot of potential participants thought so! The swim sold out all of its spots a week and a half in advance, and raised over half a million dollars.

SAA Greenwich followed suit, with over half a million dollars raised for their beneficiary, but they saw one of their tribute teams make history. Team College, a group swimming in honor of college friend Colin Campbell, raised $135,000 alone, which is one of the most amounts ever raised in SAA history.

A year of firsts for Swim Across America, we’re proud to say that all of our open water events made waves this summer!

Top Questions For… Top San Francisco Fundraiser Steve Barbour

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This weekend, the SAA family will take to the waters in the San Francisco Bay for our final swim. The annual swim is set to raise over $450,000 to benefit the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute!

Steve Barbour joined the SAA – SF family in 2011, and took no time to get his feet wet (pun intended). He has been one of the top fundraisers for the swim in each of his three years participating, and those who know him can attest to the warmth he exudes, even if the Bay is chilly! We caught up with him to chat about his tribute team, the secret to successful fundraising and the taking a dip under the Golden Gate.

  1. Tell us a little about who or why you’ve gotten involved with SAA.

I started swimming 3 years ago to get back in shape and help manage stress. I happen to swim at the same facility as Susan Helmrich, who is a co-chair of the SF swim, and she invited me to join her team. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

  1. Are you a natural swimmer? Why choose a distance swim instead of a run or bike?

I’m not a natural swimmer although my younger brother Dave was competitive and a Laguna Beach lifeguard for many years. At first I thought I could train my way up to be competitive with him although he is 10 years my junior… big mistake! But now we can distance swim together, although he has to hold back and swim at maybe 65%. He did the event last year and it was great. Then we swam Alcatraz the next morning!

  1. Tell us about your team and the people swimming with you.

I swim on Team Susan Survives. It’s a fairly large group, as Susan knows everyone. You can’t help but be inspired by how she has managed her challenges (3 time survivor).

  1. You’re a top fundraiser for the San Francisco swim! What’s your secret?

I’ve been very fortunate in my career. I’ve worked at a large company for many years (Nestlé), and my wife and I have moved with the Company a number of times so we have a fairly large number of friends, both in and outside the company, that are happy to help out. The real secret is starting early, say early June, and following up occasionally, as often times the first or second email is just lost as people are so busy. It does take time… but it is obviously worth it! I also think I have an easier time because this is the only event that I ask for support from my family, friends and contacts.

  1. Would you rather: swim 3 miles on a sunny day or 1 mile with a shark tailing you?

I’ll take the 3 miles every time!!!

  1. How have you been touched by cancer?

We lost my Uncle Les way too early from brain cancer… he was only 55. And a friend and co-worker for over 25 years lost his son, David Stroud, to cancer. That was very tragic.

  1. What do you remember from your first SAA swim that keeps you coming back?

That was the year David Stroud passed away… just before the event…the kid was unbelievably tough, and I still get emotional when I think about it.

  1. What makes the SAA – San Francisco swim so unique?

With all due respect to Chicago, New York, and the other locations, you can’t beat swimming from under the Golden Gate into Crissy Field! The views and the location cannot be beat. It is iconic!!!

  1. What makes Swim Across America special?

I have really enjoyed all the people I have come into contact with in the SAA organization as well as the local event leaders. It is also important that SAA does a good job managing their cost structure so that the bulk of the funds raised go to the intended purpose.  And obviously, I enjoy swimming in the Bay.

  1. What is your favorite time of day to swim? Why?

I like to swim early… I used to hit the water at 6:30 AM, but now that I am retired, I start an hour later, and spend more time in the whirlpool! It’s a great way to start the day!

Back to School: Lessons for Swim Across America

You can almost hear the cheers echoing from parents across the country- it’s back to school time! It’s the season for molding minds, but the beginning of the school year marks the end of SAA’s event season, and students aren’t the only ones headed back to the classroom.

After a summer of swims, we like to look back and evaluate ourselves. We’re always looking to improve! Here are the top three lessons we’ve learned from 2013’s events, and what they’re teaching us as we move forward.

1- We Can Take Our Events to the Next Level

We want to give people more to do at our swims without distracting from the main event. Our participants deserve the chance to celebrate their hard work and enjoy a well-run event! We’ve got plans for goodie bags from our sponsors, activities outside the water, and happenings to include the whole family all in the works for next season.

2- Selling Yourself Pays Off

When a participant registers for a swim, we give them a personal page on SAA’s website.  That page is used to track your fundraising and to advertise yourself to potential donors, and it can be made unique to you and your tribute team. This year, we noticed a huge correlation between the money participants raised and whether they edited their personal page or not. A little blurb on yourself serves to distinguish you and also to attract and excite potential donors, so why not do it?

3- Swag Makes Us Shine

In our effort to make a bigger impact, we’ve realized that we need to pay attention to growing our brand. With greater recognition of SAA comes higher participation rates, and ultimately bigger fundraising for our beneficiaries. We revamped our logo this year, streamlined the brand, and kicked it up a couple notches on our swag. Our t-shirts are softer, banners and arches are flashier, and we’ve got SUITS now!! Feelin’ great and lookin’ good is helping us grow, encouraging love for SAA and recruiting more team members in our fight for a cure.

We may not be stuck in those uncomfortable desk-chair combos from 10th grade, but we’re always working to learn from our experiences at SAA.

Got a suggestion to help us learn more? Leave us a comment!