Andrew Dalik is the man behind Lawn Summer Nights, a lawn bowling tournament meets cocktail party that has raised over $240,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Canada since its inception four summers ago. With degrees from UBC and Macquarie University, including a soon-to-be MBA from the Copenhagen Business School, find out how Andrew turned his professional skills and passion into a major force on the charity circuit...
Elevator Pitch: Describe your fundraiser in a nutshell.
A lawn bowling tournament meets dress up cocktail party. It’s a few hundred people in their 20s and 30s. Everyone gets decked out according to inventive team names, and it runs four Thursday nights in July. We started in Vancouver in 2009 and expanded to Toronto this year. We’ve raised over $240,000 in four summers for Cystic Fibrosis Canada. We always say it’s equal parts fun and fundraising.
Why did you start your fundraiser, what was the inspiration?
I started it with my brother Graham and our friend Duncan Gillespie. Another friend of ours, Philip Lyall, directed a documentary on cystic fibrosis called 65_RedRoses, featuring Eva Markvoort. We watched a rough cut of the film while it was still in production, were blown away by it, and decided we wanted to do something to support the cause.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part: Getting a chance to spread the word about a charity and disease that is lesser known than many others. Creating awareness and driving education about cystic fibrosis amongst our peer group is a big win, especially because cystic fibrosis is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting Canadian children and young adults. There is no cure.
The most challenging part: We challenge ourselves to always exceed the expectations of our sponsors, volunteers and participants. We’re constantly trying to over-deliver, looking for little ways to refine the event and get incrementally better. We organize Lawn Summer Nights on donated time, on top of our other careers, but we approach it like a full time dream job.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
We’re currently working with the national charity and some key sponsors to build a plan that enables Lawn Summer Nights to happen in multiple cities and towns across the country each summer. Our goal is to build a youth engagement platform for Cystic Fibrosis Canada that is truly sustainable in the long term.
What does success look like to you?
In the context of our event, it’s that people genuinely want to be there. Our participants are what make it successful. From dreaming up creative team names to organizing novel team-based fundraising initiatives, they go all in. There’s a level of engagement that just happens organically, completely beyond our control. That’s when the experience and cause gets shared in a powerful way. You can’t manufacture that; it has to be real.
What is the most memorable milestone in your fundraising career?
I will always love our first year of Lawn Summer Nights. We had no idea if people would want to come. Lawn bowling was a bit of a hard sell at first. People were like “What? Lawn bowling? Okaaaay…” But on opening night, seeing everyone all dressed up and having a blast, it was pretty cool. We were smiling ear to ear. Now the event sells out in a matter of minutes.
All that said, raising over $135,000 this summer is a pretty close second.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
If you feel like you’re outside your comfort zone, that’s probably a good thing. It means you’re pushing yourself or you’re doing something new. The best things happen when you don’t have a roadmap. Who knew that lawn bowling would become so popular? We sure didn’t.
Do you support any other charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I do. I support organizations and initiatives that I think are original and engaging. I’ve rocked the moustache with Movember for the past few years. Movember actually entered a team in Lawn Summer Nights Toronto this year; reciprocal inter-cause love! I am a member of Acumen Fund’s Vancouver chapter. I like their focus on moral leadership and way of investing in social entrepreneurs. I support F--- Cancer, as I think that focusing on early detection is a great strategy. I support the Shaun G Foundation, which is named in honour of a friend who passed away from cancer in 2010. I have participated in motionball’s Marathon of Sport, which raises money for Special Olympics through a sports day where a Special Olympian plays on your team. And I get behind Kayak For A Cure.
What is Notable to you?
Being true to yourself and what you’re all about. I don’t live by any particular words or mantras, but I think that’s a pretty good way to put a smile on your face each morning.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone – Gotta be checking out all those #LawnSummer photos!