When striving to have the biggest possible impact, change is often necessary. As of September 1, 2020, Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan is now officially The Blood Cancer Foundation of Michigan. Although we have a new name, we’re not abandoning our roots. The fact is, we’re being even truer to them – embracing what we’ve done for 70 years to make an even bigger impact.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Why did you change your name and logo?
While originally created to serve children with leukemia in Michigan, we quickly grew and expanded our mission to support all blood cancer patients and their family members. The Blood Cancer Foundation of Michigan is dedicated to empowering patients and families to cope and heal – from the time of diagnosis, through treatment, and beyond. We’ve been tailoring programs and services that meet their acute emotional, social and financial needs for decades. Now we have a name that better identifies our work and connects with those who need us.
- What was the business decision for the name change? How will the new name benefit the organization moving forward?
Our new name, The Blood Cancer Foundation of Michigan, helps us connect with patients and family members that need our assistance, and it will make it easier for adult patients and patients with all forms of blood cancer to find our organization and reach out for help. The new name will also help donors who wish to support other blood cancers identify the patient population we serve. And, it will help us attract and establish new partnerships and more easily apply for grants supporting adult populations and other blood cancers.
- Why announce the name change now, during a challenging year and in the middle of a pandemic?
We have been contemplating the need for a name change for some time and, in recent months, it has become increasingly evident, as the population we serve – the majority of whom are adult patients – faces new hardships and has new emotional and financial needs resulting from the pandemic. Our ultimate goal is to have the biggest impact possible with all people affected by blood cancer here in Michigan – to support them when and how they need us – empowering each person to cope with their disease. Our new name will make it easier for patients to find us and get the assistance they need.
- Who is your target audience? Has it changed [with the name change]?
Our mission remains the same – helping all patients and families who are dealing with a blood cancer diagnosis and treatment. Our ultimate goal is to have the biggest impact possible with all people affected by blood cancer here in Michigan – to meet the emotional, financial and social needs of patients and families year after year, for the length of time they need us as they cope and heal.
- How did you arrive upon your new name? What goals does your new name accomplish?
The Blood Cancer Foundation of Michigan arose from our desire to reflect our mission – to ensure the emotional, social and financial stability of Michigan patients and families as they navigate their blood cancer journey. What arose is a straightforward, descriptive, goal-oriented name, tagline and logo that does the heavy lifting for communicating who we are, what we do, and for whom we do it — The Blood Cancer Foundation of Michigan: Serving Patients & Families.
- There seems to be a huge amount of public support behind children’s health causes, as well as leukemia; do you feel like this name change will affect you negatively?
The Blood Cancer Foundation of Michigan has not changed our support for children, but now we are letting the world more easily see that we support adults and other blood cancers, too. Our new name helps us connect with patients and family members that need our assistance, and it makes it easier for adult patients and patients with all forms of blood cancer to find our organization and reach out for help. The new name will also help donors who wish to support other blood cancers identify the patient population we serve. And, it will help us attract and establish new partnerships and more easily apply for grants supporting adult populations and other blood cancers.
- Why did you choose “blood cancer”; do you feel it’s recognizable?
Twenty years ago, no one was really made aware of the fact that leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma or other blood related diseases, are types of blood cancer or precancerous blood conditions. However, today, patients and the general public are more educated on these diseases. “Blood cancer” is in the awareness and medical community’s vernacular.
- Why did you choose your tagline?
When we first started narrowing our logo down, the word support was not there, and it is pivotal to our mission. Support is everything we do for families – it’s the education and resources we provide and connect them to, the emotional care, the financial assistance, and the fun experiences and opportunities we facilitate to connect patients and families throughout the year. We also support the work of the medical and social work communities in many ways, too. They are providing resources, treatments and options for patients and families, and we’re supporting their efforts in a way that gives patients and families truly holistic care.
- Has anything else about your organization changed (mission, etc.)?
For more than 60 years, our mission has remained constant – providing and promoting compassionate, personalized support to any Michigan child, adult, or family member affected by leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and many other blood-related disorders. We empower patients and families to cope and heal by tailoring programs and services that anticipate and meet their emotional, financial and social needs – from the time of their diagnosis, through treatment and beyond. And, we’ve grown to serve more than 2,800 patients and 8,700 family members across the state every year. Now, we have a name that better identifies our work and connects with those who need our support.
- What does the new logo mean?
Our new logo was created with a sense of continuity in mind, to convey that while we evolve, the mission at the heart of our organization is a constant. The lines in the heart icon represent the varied services we offer, that compound and amplify each other to create an all-encompassing and wholistic approach in supporting our patients and families. Both the heart icon and the deep blue and gray colors remain. The lettering of the logo is more rounded to convey our approachable and reassuring tone when supporting the entire family. Our secondary color palette features colors that represent other blood cancer awareness colors, such as orange for leukemia.
- Does the name change mean you’re in trouble as an organization?
We are making the change to The Blood Cancer Foundation of Michigan to ensure that our organization is represented by a name that is authentic and descriptive. In these challenging times, patients and families need more support than ever, and our new name will help them connect with us.
- What’s new and exciting at your organization?
At current, we are most excited about sharing this new chapter with our patients, our families, referral sources and supporters. Every September we take advantage of the platform that The Blood Cancer Awareness Month provides to shed light on the daily struggles of living with these diseases, and the importance of enveloping those affected with myriad support. In August, we were the proud beneficiaries of the Gray’s Reef Golf Classic, an annual golf outing put on by a dedicated group of volunteers who are committed to helping the more than 2,800 patients and 8,700 family members across the state we serve each year. Beyond that, we continue to focus our efforts on ensuring the emotional, social and financial safety of our patients and families – through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond – and that includes modifying or finding new ways to deliver valuable programs and services. We’re also working closely with our Development Committee to find new, creative sources of revenue to guarantee immediate and sustained support.
- Why didn’t you change your name before?
For years, we’ve found ourselves questioning whether we should change our name, and have initiated the process several times, conducting marketing studies and soliciting community feedback. Feedback previously was to keep the name based on the power of the words and our organization’s history, having been founded by families that lost children to leukemia. We feel the time is right now, based on feedback from patients, donors, and other key stakeholders, that we will be able to attract and serve a larger group of blood cancer patients and their families with a name that makes it more clear that we will support them.
- What was your rebranding process?
We partnered with BERLINE to define and execute an extensive branding process over the course of a year. We conducted research with patients, donors, volunteers, our Board of Directors and community members, audited our existing brand, and we created a new strategy and identity to better reach and communicate to our target audiences. Through this process we leveraged the extensive knowledge of our Patient Support Team and worked closely with our Board of Directors.
- Did you do market research; what did the community say?
We conducted market research and engaged long-time and loyal constituents, current patient and family relationships, and referral sources, including our hospital partners, about rebranding. Many donors expressed our name was not representative of who we served, while others, who had initially started supporting us because of our connection to children, agreed that making a change would be more transparent. Patients emphasized the confusion they felt before coming on to our service. Many indicated they were hesitant to accept services because they “didn’t have leukemia” or didn’t want to “take money away from children”; others didn’t attend our events because they thought they were for kids. Insights were similar from hospital partners, which prevented them from referring adult patients or patients with blood cancers other than leukemia to us.
- What are your business goals as an organization?
Our business goals are to develop program resources that ensure any patient who is diagnosed with blood cancer in the state of Michigan – and all members of his or her family – get the level of support and help they need for the length of time they need it as they cope and heal.
- What is the current operating budget? How much revenue has been lost as a result of the pandemic?
We’ve just adopted our new fiscal year’s budget, which is approximately $1.2M. We have experienced significant challenges due to the pandemic, just like nearly every nonprofit organization and most of the population, but we have a solid financial footing and we are prepared to continue delivering services as the state continues to recover from the pandemic. Unfortunately, we’ve experienced a 35 percent reduction in funding due to cancellation of our spring 2020 fundraising season. We have plans to replace this reduction through other fundraising activities and have been working closely with our Development Committee to find new, creative sources of revenue.
- What is the strategy to regain lost revenue?
We are engaging in several different types of revenue building, and shifting our in-person opportunities to more distanced events. Our partners in the communities that we serve have been very flexible with the movement of events, and both annual fund and major donors have stepped up to help ensure that we are able to maintain services.
- Have you had to make any cuts to your organization?
We were fortunate to maintain our workforce during the pandemic response, with no reductions in staffing related to the pandemic. Likewise, we did not reduce any programs, with the exception of the in-person events that were on the schedule, for the safety of our patients. Careful management has allowed us to increase services in a few instances, specifically for patients who are in financial need due to the economic fallout of the pandemic.
- How are you funded?
The Blood Cancer Foundation of Michigan funds all of the programs and services we provide through philanthropy, therefore we rely heavily on our partners and supporters in the community to ensure we’re able to meet patients’ and families’ acute needs. In FY19, for example, 54 percent of our revenue ($1.4M) came from individual gifts, 20 percent came from special events, 7 percent came from community events, and 2 percent came from grants (the other 17 percent was from miscellaneous sources).
- Were you prepared for the current crisis?
We have been carefully investing funds to ensure that there are resources available for downswings in philanthropic giving. We are currently standing on solid ground financially, and our transition to remote service delivery was quick and seamless. We made decisions early on to ensure the safety of both our constituents and our staff.
- Will you be able to weather the current economic storm? Is a consolidation or partnership with another nonprofit an option for the future?
Our organization is proud of a long history of collaborating with partners in the delivery of services to the cancer community. We are always looking for better ways to ensure that our population receives service, and we seek out organizations that are like-minded to increase our impact and deepen our effect.
- Is there an increased demand for services? If so, what areas? How are you meeting this demand?
The Blood Cancer Foundation of Michigan is working hard to ensure that blood cancer patients and families in Michigan are supported through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. Those we serve are some of the most vulnerable populations in our community, facing stressors that extend well beyond the immediate health concerns. Beyond the daily difficulties in accessing care and managing their disease, COVID has taken an emotional toll on blood cancer patients, who need more time processing concerns. And, due to increased social isolation, many of the social and emotional support resources that patients had in place are no longer accessible. Our Patient Support Specialists (PSSs) have expanded options for personal connection, offering more frequent and deepened one-on-one support, including through live video, and they’re helping fill the support gap that was previously filled by friends, family and neighbors with whom patients are now unable to visit. BCFM is also regularly evaluating the need for virtual social events. In the coming months, we also anticipate more financial struggles because of the resulting economic fallout. Our PSSs are educating families on the potential of these, providing direct financial assistance to patients and identifying supplemental resources.
- What will 2021 look like for The Blood Cancer Foundation of Michigan?
That is the question of the year for many nonprofit organizations and businesses. No one can estimate how long this situation will last, and how severe it will become. What’s more, there is no understanding of what the landscape will look like in a post-COVID world. We have responded quickly and our working with our Board of Directors to develop and implement strategies that will enable our organization to continue to serve the needs of blood cancer patients and their families in Michigan.
- What challenges and opportunities lie ahead? How will the name change impact this?
We are excited to start this new chapter with our patients, our families, referral sources and supporters. Where challenges exist, we’ll find a way to meet them individually and move the organization forward for the benefit of the people we serve. We are nimble and able to respond quickly to challenges and make opportunities where possible.
- How will you support your Board and colleagues in becoming effective messengers of the new brand?
Our staff and Board members are very important in naming and message development. We want to ensure the entire staff and Board is up to speed in sharing our mission, discussing our new name plus able to deliver that 30-second elevator speech. We’ve asked for their help and sat together to discuss messaging. To smooth the way, we’ve updated a Style and Tone Guide for easy reference. And we’ve designated our Senior Associate Manager of Communications and Donor Engagement and partner agency, BERLINE, to edit most outgoing materials to align to guidelines, as we continue to work with staff to get them up to speed.
- Do you ever think about expanding support beyond Michigan?
Of course. We think that this name change will set the stage for that step, and we are positioning the services to grow outward, perhaps nationally. Let’s get through this name change and pandemic first.