Before I receive a lot of heckling for posting please know that I think The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is an incredibly worthy charity that is doing amazing things to help find a cure for cancer. But this post doesn’t have anything to do with LLS. It’s strictly based on my personal experience with Team In Training (TNT).
For those that may not know, when you agree to train and run a race with TNT, you commit to raising x amount of money. I had to raise $4000. A month before the race you provide a credit card # stating that if you fail to raise the total figure, you agree to personally pay the balance. But you don’t have to recommit. You can opt to not participate in the race.
When I signed up in June, I was told that I would have a ton of support and one-on-one meetings with our captain and we would have group events to help raise funds. So I started by sending out almost 200 letters which included SASE’s to make it convenient for their return. I received about 5 of them back. Ouch! No fear, quite a few of my blog readers and practical strangers donated quite generously. I was shocked and awed by their generosity. And it all came close to about $1000.
I was feeling pretty good at the end of July, but oddly there were no meetings about fundraising or group events to participate in. Some folks were having things, but it was mainly friends who knew each other and signed up together to participate. But I was flying solo. So I would do it alone.
When I finally met with someone from TNT office, the story I got was “Yeah, it sucks to not have really big donations from your letter writing campaign. Well, you can send out more letters, postcards, emails and blog posts.” OK, but I’ve already done that. I mean I began to feel bad even discussing it with anyone. So I told her about my other ideas and she thought they sounded good. OK got a plan.
1) Hold a silent auction at POSH’s fashion show. That was a great idea. People joined in and donated very generous items to that event. But when I tried to call TNT to get some publicity, which is supposed to happen, I couldnt get anyone to return phone calls or emails for over 2 weeks. Nothing. I had to have my running coach call in and try to get me support. Apparently the girl who was dealing with our team quit and someone else was taking over, but she wasn’t responding to any one’s request (so I found out at the race) Now I’m not sure of the impact of that, but I did an ok amount of business. I raised almost $900. Not real great considering I had over $2200 in products & services. But it was almost a fourth of my required total.
2) I had a yardsale. Once again, no publicity from TNT. Really a poor turnout. Made $150. But I had to pay a sitter to keep the kids and watch over the sale while I went for my long run with the team so that cost me another $60. And yes, I could’ve skipped the long run, but it was stressed that it was the most important run of the training. So I went a little late to help get the sale started, only to find there was no trail map. They are supposed to be provided at the beginning of every run so people will know where to go. After 2 hours of driving and looking I finally ran in to some of them. Got set on the right direction and then ran in to the coach who huffed at me when I said there were no maps, “Well we’ve ran this course 5 times”. OK maybe some have, but I haven’t. And that’s not really the point. They’re supposed to be there as a resource and they were not. Just another little snafu.
3) I applied for the Walmart community grant of $1000. It was recommended by TNT. I figured if I raised about $3500 I could put in the rest of the money. I applied for the grant in early July but there were 2 administrative errors in processing it. So as re-commitment approached, I spoke with the manager in charge and explained to her the situation and why I needed a definite answer on whether or not I would be approved. She said it would go through, it was approved they just had the wrong address on it and it was corrected.
GREAT! I can recommit and I’ll eat about $1000. I’m ok with that it’s for a good cause. When I checked on the grant the following week, like I did every week all summer long, I was told that the manager I had dealt with was no longer there. The new manager told me I was not going to get approved. In fact, I was told that multiple people had applied for the grant and only one person was supposed to and they had been telling TNT not to send multiple people to the store for the same charity. Really? But every time I spoke with someone from TNT they told me that was not true. Then I was told by Walmart that in fact I had been approved for the grant, but unfortunately when the check came in they called the top application instead of the bottom one, which was the first one that had applied for it – me. But Walmart insisted there was nothing they could do and they told me is was a TNT issue. When I called TNT and explained the situation and asked for help. I was met with blank stares, different stories, etc. And when I began to get frustrated with the different stories I began to get shuffled around hearing, “Well, I really don’t deal with that issue. Just have fun at the race.” And that’s what the next person would tell me as well. Seriously have fun when I’m out $2000. I’m sorry but that’s going to be a real stretch.
But I did have fun at the race. As you can see by the picture, which I though was pretty darn good for having just ran 13.1 Miles!! Woo Hoo!! I enjoyed the race and the events. It was really an amazing experience going to the Expo and doing the dinners, etc. It was a good time. Which is why I feel horrible about how things ended up. I came back and made a few phone calls to the TNT office asking about the check and how to get the issue resolved and I couldn’t get a phone call returned.
That’s really the issue I have and why I’m posting on it. Yes, LLS is a great charity or I wouldn’t have committed to do it. Yes, TNT does a lot of great work. Yes, the folks working there are probably underpaid and they are understaffed. Yes, I recommitted of my own free will. But puhhlease! If you are a non-profit and you have people working to raise money for you, can you simply return a phone call! This is customer service. I am a customer. I am the person who is going to blog and tell all my friends about this experience. And you can’t return a phone call? Not then and certainly not now. That’s just not right – profit or non-profit.
PS – I finished in under my goal of 3 hrs even with a lot of walking the second half. I just couldn’t find a grove. I usually run alone and I was a bit overwhelmed. But in a good way. I’ll post on running & training a bit later.