A Funny Thing Happened ...
MJFF's fastest-growing revenue stream and the "heart and soul of the foundation," Kelly explains, is its community fundraising arm, Team Fox, which has brought in $13 million since 2006. It's made up of local fundraisers — most of whom are part of the Parkinson's community — who run marathons or host events to raise money on the foundation's behalf. For its part, MJFF provides Team Fox members with tools to facilitate their fundraising, including mentors, and information on how to ask for money, set up personal fundraising websites and organize public relations efforts — "anything we can do to assist in the planning without doing it ourselves," she says.
"Even when the economy took a hit, even though donors weren't writing big checks, they were still supporting family and friends in these smaller efforts," Kelly says. "[These events] foster a sense of community among Parkinson's patients. We have witnessed a growing community that's been just amazing."
MJFF hosts a few targeted events of its own, as well. It keeps ticket prices high ($2,500 each, for example, for its annual fall gala in New York, which draws about 900 attendees each year) and the feeling light. The "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson's" gala is a night of comedy and music, as per Fox's direction. He believes, Kelly says, "if we are doing our job all year long, the people who are coming out know about our work and don't need to be beat over the head with scientific information."
The organization's board underwrites the cost of the event, she adds, so all the money raised — typically around $5 million a year — goes to Parkinson's research.
MJFF also hosts a golf tournament each September and a poker tournament each March. Every other year it presents a smaller version of the New York gala on the West Coast called "A Sunny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson's."