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Our Mission in Action: Why We Attend Conferences and Events

A graphic shows a map of the United States in teal with complex arrows connecting gold stars on locations across multiple different states. Bordering the graphic are photos of Sonny, Kate, and Kelly Green from Help Hope Live attending various events.

Where in the world have Kate and Sonny been?

If you’ve been following us on social media, you’ve probably noticed just how busy our Outreach department has been this year. As we’ve returned to in-person opportunities to connect with our community, we’ve gotten the chance to journey to events across the country ranging from patient advocacy summits to Abilities Expos and beyond.

To get a behind-the-scenes look at why our team participates in these meaningful opportunities to connect, we caught up with Sonny Mullen, our Director of Outreach.

Sonny wears a teal Help Hope Live t-shirt as she stands in front of a TV screen displaying a promotion for a Help Hope Live medical fundraising workshop at a conference. She has light skin and sandy brown shoulder-length hair.

What’s the biggest challenge of preparing for conferences?

Definitely managing the high volume of conferences all happening at the same time. We have so many exceptional events to attend during certain times of the year, and we want to give 100% of our energy to each conference. But that means a lot of preparation—we’re busy, that’s for sure!

A TO DO LIST graphic has various items checked or not yet checked: Pack, Flight, Hotel, Brochures, Register, Presentation, Contacts, Vendors, Ambassadors, Clients to meet. In script at the bottom as if it is handwritten, the graphic says Who is coming? How are we getting there?

What’s the best part of attending events and conferences?

It’s always incredible when we get to see the fruits of our labors.

Some connections result directly in new clients starting campaigns with Help Hope Live. We meet individuals and families in-person and get a chance to refer them to our Client Services Coordinators to start their fundraising efforts and receive that personalized support. Sometimes, our own clients and ambassadors will connect with other individuals in the community during events and start the referral process there.

In other cases, relationships we build at events and conferences become vendors or partners who can provide valuable support to our clients. Most of our exclusive partner discounts actually come directly from a conference or expo connection that we make.

Some of these connections also give us a chance to form new pathways for supporting Help Hope Live’s mission as a whole as our Development department receives support for annual events and other initiatives.

Kate Lacouture and Kelly Green from Help Hope Live wear Abilities Expo nametags and smile as they stand behind a Help Hope Live teal table.

I’m really proud of all the relationships we have that resulted in meaningful collaborations of some kind. Just recently, I watched someone I connected with at Project Walk New Jersey become a Help Hope Live client. It’s always just so rewarding. I also love hearing medical professionals say, “I can’t believe I didn’t know about Help Hope Live before today!”

Sometimes it’s a slow burn, but to see our Outreach process working is always satisfying.

Kate and Sonny from Help Hope Live wear teal t-shirts in two photos of their travels. In one photo they are at an Abilities Expo event on either side of a black service dog. In the second photo they are in downtown Philadelphia.

It’s that realization that you spoke to someone at an event, they really heard you, the message came through, and they got in touch with Help Hope Live as a result. In some cases, I’ve met individuals in-person and then months or even a year down the line, they become Help Hope Live clients. I get to see them work with all these other departments to build out their experience as a client, from receiving fundraising help from Client Services to social media and PR support from Communications to bill pay support from Finance—and beyond.

Why is event and conference attendance important to you?

While Help Hope Live is a national nonprofit, we’re based outside of Philadelphia. As a team, we don’t often get the chance to meet clients or medical professionals face-to-face. One special part of attending events and conferences on a national scale is making that in-person, face-to-face connection with these essential pieces of the Help Hope Live community.

Two photos. In the first, Kate from Help Hope Live wears a dress and has light skin, curly brown hair, and glasses as she stands behind a teal Help Hope Live booth table. The second photo is a close-up of a Help Hope Live brochure on a teal tablecloth amid other brochures and a single teal wristband.

Meeting our clients in person is truly amazing, and it’s very important to me. It never gets old, and we have so many stories. I’ve had cases where clients tell me about our nonprofit’s impact in-person—for instance, a girl came up to our table a few years ago and told me:

“Without the vision therapy we got through fundraising with Help Hope Live, I wouldn’t be able to look you in the eye today, Sonny.”

When we get back from these events, we get to share special moments, experiences meeting current and prospective clients, and more with the rest of the Help Hope Live team. We can celebrate the fact that what we do every day has a true impact on the larger Help Hope Live community.

Kate and Sonny from Help Hope Live wear teal Help Hope Live t-shirts and colorful face masks as they pose in front of a Abilities Expo step-and-repeat backdrop that reads

Why are these events and conferences critical to Help Hope Live’s mission?

It’s critical to us to be able to share Help Hope Live’s mission on the biggest scale possible.

In Outreach, our jobs come down to sharing our mission, what we do, and our fundraising success stories with the larger community. It’s vital for people to be able to hear that part of what we do.

To have a dedicated way to spread our mission and our story, and to amplify our clients’ stories of success, is what my department is all about. We also want to be that trusted contact for medical professionals, not just in one niche area but across all their specializations and patient communities.

Sonny smiles as she presents at the Reeve Summit. She wears a dark blue printed dress and has light skin, a microphone near her mouth, glasses, and sandy hair past her shoulders.

Where are some of the challenges you face and overcome in your position?

Outreach may be a simple concept on paper, but in reality, it’s two people putting in a ton of time, work, and creativity to bring meaningful connections to fruition.

Some relationships take years to cultivate. And above all, there is always more outreach to be done.

Every day, we face the reality of how much work we’d like to accomplish while staying realistic about where we have to set limits—and we get to see those efforts come to fruition in a way that makes us really proud to be a part of this organization and department.

Sonny from Help Hope Live wears a dark blue and light blue colorblocked dress as she stands behind a teal Help Hope Live table at an event.

You Help Make This Lifesaving Outreach Possible

We hope these insights from Sonny help you to understand just how critical our team’s daily work is. It’s not just medical fundraising but the whole ecosystem of our team and mission that makes Help Hope Live the critical, celebrated, and life-sustaining nonprofit it is today.

When you support our mission, you make these initiatives possible along with our trusted medical fundraising. Thank you!

Written by Emily Progin