Supporting your community is not as hard as you might think

Community pride: Hugh Bateman (left) said the Pink Up committee received a huge sense of self-satisfaction and feeling of achievement.

Community pride: Hugh Bateman (left) said the Pink Up committee received a huge sense of self-satisfaction and feeling of achievement.

Volunteering Australia's 2016 national survey found that more than 90 per cent of volunteers said they saw positive change as a result of their involvement, and enjoyed being able to improve the well-being of others and being appreciated by the community.

But while it may seem like a big step between knowing how you could help your community, and actually taking action, experienced fundraisers said you shouldn't hesitate to put your hand up.

Hugh Bateman heads the Pink Up Your Town committee in Mudgee and said that running a committee is not a hugely time consuming effort if you have good people around you.

Pink Up Your Town is the McGrath Foundation's annual event to raise funds for McGrath breast care nurses in Australian communities. The nurses not only provide physical and emotional support to those living through a breast cancer diagnosis, but also educate their communities.

"There's a lot of empathy for people with breast cancer in our community. I approached the local chamber of commerce, local tourist office and local council to get them involved. I also reached out to breast cancer support groups in the area to see if anyone would be interested in helping out. From this, we formed a small but vibrant committee," Hugh said.

Gai Hawthorne's top tip: Be passionate, have fun and believe in the cause. Most importantly: ask! The worst that can happen is people say no.

Gai Hawthorne's top tip: Be passionate, have fun and believe in the cause. Most importantly: ask! The worst that can happen is people say no.

"We found that everyone did a little something and that once asked, it was so easy to get the local community to support the idea. We have the involvement of the local VIEW Club, but you could reach out to Rotary or Lions Club or the RSL. Everyone seems to want to be involved and it's really fun."

Gai Hawthorne, Pink Up Your Town committee leader in Penrith, near Sydney, said that fundraising is a great way to meet people, network and gain enjoyment. "Knowing you are doing something good for people with breast cancer is a fantastic feeling."

But Gai understands why some are hesitant to take the lead. "Time is precious and there's always a high level of enthusiasm at the start but it's important for people to be realistic about how much they can commit. I've found having a discussion with each team member is important, thanking them and giving them a boost partway through."

Gai said that the reward of being on the committee outweighs the effort tenfold.

"Life is crazy, anyone, any day could have a life changing discussion with someone they love and find life has changed in a second. Don't hesitate and get involved. Depending on time restraints some committee members will be able to commit more time than others but every little bit helps."

Morgan Houston, campaign manager for the McGrath Foundation said Pink Up Your Town becomes engrained in the fabric of the local community.

"Volunteer committees should aim to recruit about six people to help pink up the town through a couple of events such as a community gala, a pink market, and a walk/community sporting event. We provide a lot of support to committees."

Morgan said there were lots of people you could approach to start the committee including:

  • member of your local chamber of commerce
  • members of your local council
  • employees of your regional tourism office
  • people who are already active in other community groups
  • real estate agents
  • your family and friends

"A personalised approach works best, so a phone call, email or even better, a face-to-face meeting is a great way to ask people to participate.

"No two towns have 'Pinked Up' in quite the same way! From small regional communities to large metro suburbs - we continue to hear stories from those on the ground and their motivations to Pink UP their entire town. It's been so inspiring," she said.

Pink Up Your Town relies on a volunteer committee to form and 'pink up' their entire town - which means planning a calendar of fundraising events throughout the month of October (breast cancer awareness month).

The money raised goes towards funding a McGrath breast care nurse for at least three years in an Australian community. There is always a need for more nurses.

To learn more visit pinkupyourtown.com.au

  • ACM is a partner with the McGrath Foundation for Pink Up Your Town.