By Jenna Benn Shersher, Twist Out Cancer

Twist Out Cancer is an international non-profit that provides emotional support to individuals touched by cancer through creative arts programming. Since 2011 we have touched over 100,000 people through our online platform and community wide programs. Last year, during our first #GivingTuesday campaign, we raised $51,000 from 221 individual donors- a state record in Illinois! Because of our success, I was able to transition from a full time volunteer to a paid Executive Director. We also were able to grow our program Brushes with Cancer -which creates unexpected intersections between artists and individuals touched by cancer to three new international cities! In 2018 Brushes with Cancer will launch in Montreal, Tel Aviv and Philadelphia!

Our #GivingTuesday success did not happen overnight. It took planning, board engagements, and committed gifts in advance of the big day. We partnered with PiperWai natural deodorant, Kitchfix, and Lifeway Fitness which all ran three seperate initiatives to help support our efforts. In addition we were able to secure matching grants from the Coleman Foundation and Schusterman Foundation which helped incentivize our donors to give generously. The multi-faceted campaign yielded tremendous results. We hope we will be able to be reach similar heights this year.

Currently, we are deeply involved in our #GivingTuesday preparation. Our 23 board members all have setup online fundraising campaigns, and are in the process of recording videos that highlight their "Twist Out Cancer story." We have secured a few corporate sponsorships in advance and we have started to leverage social media to get on donors radars early. This year we will be highlighting a number of impact stories so that our audience has a greater understanding of how we are making a difference. In addition we have secured a spot on Fox News to help spread our message and encourage the community to give generously on the 28th.

For those of you in the Chicagoland area- you can join us for a morning sweat session at Fit Body Boot Camp. Tickets are $60.00 which include an hour boot camp, boozy brunch, and free t-shirt. In New Jersey, TD Bank will be launching a series of Pizza and bake sales to help raise funds in advance of Giving Tuesday. And in Tel Aviv on November 28th we will have 50 individuals touched by cancer and artists participating in a social media campaign.

We are excited and grateful for the opportunity to participate in #GivingTuesday this year, and share our story with a global network. There are so many organizations out there doing critical work in the community. #GivingTuesday is a wonderful initiative during a period of time that is often met with excessive consumption and materialism. There are so many people doing extraordinary work in the community. Let's all take a moment to learn about the organizations out there, and do what we can to support their efforts on the ground.