Last updated on July 7th, 2019 at 02:33 pm
As the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – Wisconsin Chapter zeroes in on a $60,000 goal with its 2016 Milwaukee’s Finest fundraiser, the nonprofit is actively recruiting young professional participants who stand as leaders in their communities and organizations.
Milwaukee’s Finest, now celebrating its fifth year, targets up-and-coming millennials in southeastern Wisconsin as it challenges them to collect as many dollars as possible toward its mission.
CFF aims to find a cure for cystic fibrosis, a chronic disease that causes mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive tract, among other areas in the body. In addition to supporting research and drug development, the foundation works to ensure individuals affected by the disease can access high-quality care.
The foundation’s signature Milwaukee’s Finest fundraiser brings together top-performing young professionals who are motivated to give back to their community, according to Julie Nilsen, development director at CFF.
The foundation looks for honorees who want to excel in their career, become leaders in the future and make a difference, Nilsen said.
Each Milwaukee’s Finest participant, selected through a nomination process, is charged with raising at least $2,500 over a nearly three-month stretch from March through May. Honorees are able to assemble donations however they want – from organizing email and letter campaigns to hosting happy hour events to running workplace donation initiatives.
The honoree who collects the most funds for CFF is awarded the Breath of Life award and given a grand prize. In past years, top fundraisers have won vacation getaways.
To rally interest and support for the 2016 fundraiser, CFF recently held a networking mixer and has continued to spread the word through its committee members.
Stew Brase, health care market segment business development leader at Ernst & Young, has been involved with Milwaukee’s Finest since its start. Brase, who serves on CFF’s corporate advisory board and is an advisor to Milwaukee’s Finest, said the fundraiser is often a “life changing” experience for young professional participants. Throughout the duration of fundraising efforts, each Milwaukee’s Finest honoree is paired with a family who knows the firsthand struggles of living with cystic fibrosis.
In an interview with BizTimes in October, Brase said he has seen how “emotionally attached” honorees become to families when they learn their story.
That emotional attachment is also fueled by a collective trip honorees take to the Cystic Fibrosis Center at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, Nilson said.
Beyond the emotional value, Milwaukee’s Finest also helps give rising young professionals an edge as it opens up peer-to-peer networking opportunities and provides them development workshops led by ActionCOACH, according to Nilsen.
A new element to this year’s fundraiser will link each honoree with a Milwaukee’s Finest committee member who can mentor the honoree and help strategize viable fundraising approaches.
That kind of mentoring and leadership development helps CFF stack up a base of support from future leaders, Nilsen said.
“I think these young leaders are going to become our future leaders, and I think that that is going to push our mission forward,” she said.
Nominations for Milwaukee’s Finest honorees, which are open to the general public, are due Thursday, Feb. 11. Nominees must then complete a separate application by Thursday, Feb. 18.
CFF will also accept self-nominations from young professionals. Those individuals must simply complete the application.
Milwaukee’s Finest fundraiser last year generated $55,000, $5,000 under the fundraising goal. Organizers were still impressed by the fundraising result as participant figures were down from previous years.