January 23, 2019

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The Frozen Pea Fund Kicks it Up a Notch

The Frozen Pea Fund Kicks it Up a Notch

Susan Reynolds’s cancer blog, [Boobs on Ice](http://boobsonice.com), has a great tagline: I wasn’t supposed to be a candidate for breast cancer. And then I was diagnosed. When the story of the [Frozen Pea Fund](http://frozenpeafund.com) is written, the tagline will be similar: We never intended to start a nonprofit organization. And then Susan was diagnosed.
Readers unfamiliar with Susan or the Frozen Pea Fund should read Craig Colgan’s story for the Washington Post: [“How Frozen Peas Started a Movement.”](http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/08/AR2008010805442.html?wpisrc=newsletter&wpisrc=newsletterf)
After raising more than eight thousand dollars in individual contributions in just over five weeks — with no organization, no budget, no business plan — the “pea project” became too large for the regional fund where we had placed it with the American Cancer Society. So we scaled back fund-raising efforts, moved the project to a general breast cancer fund for the Society, and stepped back to consider our next steps.
Had this been a fluke — had we caught lightning in a bottle? Was this a one-time phenomenon, or had we built a sustainable community? Or had a previously undefined community found and adopted us? The answer, we decided, was a confluence of all three.
Certainly, the key individuals involved have played a big part in the Frozen Pea Fund’s success, as have our connections in various social networks, especially Twitter, Facebook and Second Life. For example, when Susan was diagnosed she already had a large following, approaching 1,000 on Twitter, and was building a co-working space in Second Life for writers, artists and entrepreneurs. A wacky sense of humor, coupled with her unofficial position as “nana” and her friendly, welcoming attitude, had always attracted people to her. As Susan began to share that she was battling cancer, she lost a few people in her online networks, but more people joined than left.
[Cathleen Rittereiser](http://cathleenritt.blogspot.com/), the often unnamed tweeter whose random post sparked the idea for the fundraising effort, works as a marketer in the financial services industry and is the co-author of Foundation and Endowment Investing: Philosophies and Strategies of Top Investors and Institutions, a 2008 release from Wiley. Cathleen is also a rising comedy star who often tries out one-liners for her stand-up routine on Twitter, to the delight of her followers.
For more than a decade I worked in marketing and direct mail fundraising for nonprofits. So it’s no stretch for any of us to use these skills to manage a nonprofit organization; it simply wasn’t what we started out to do.
With the rapid success of the Frozen Pea Fund, however, we were at a crossroads. We knew that we could, in good conscience, simply walk away and shut the effort down, taking satisfaction that we had done something noteworthy that had served as a great encouragement as well as raising a significant amount of money. Or, we could take the next step — kick it up a notch — get organized, and make it an ongoing effort.
We chose the latter course, and just eight weeks after launching our impromptu fund-raising campaign, the Frozen Pea Fund became a 501(c)3 corporation, with the mission of raising funds for breast cancer research, education and programs around the world. Cathleen and I, along with Susan and her husband, Bill, make up the Board of Directors. We’re recruiting volunteers to oversee different aspects of fundraising and marketing for the Fund. Projects on the drawing board include Second Life events and pea-themed products, an online art gallery and auction, and breast cancer walks with Frozen Pea Fund teams participating.
In February, video chat and conference provider ooVoo selected the Frozen Pea Fund as the beneficiary of a campaign coordinated by the marketing agency Crayon. On Saturday, April 5, Scott Monty of Crayon will present a check to all four directors of the Fund. It will be the first time we have all met in person.
*[Connie Reece](http://everydotconnects.com) is a conversational marketing specialist involved in the research and implementation of emerging media. She has more than three decades of experience in communications as a writer and speaker, and is executive director of Social Media International.*

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