guest post by Terry McCarthy, host of Light Lemons (the lemonade stand held by Lightfoot, Franklin & White)
A couple years ago, I was asked to give the commencement address to the graduating class at Cumberland School of Law. It was both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. As I thought about what to say in the speech, dozens of ideas popped into my mind, but none of them seemed right. I am an adjunct faculty member at the school and knew the graduates well; I wanted to inspire them.
I remembered the story that inspires me the most—the story of Alex Scott. Like many others, I learned of Alex for the first time by watching the 2005 Kentucky Derby and hearing about her connection to Afleet Alex, the champion racehorse.
I knew in my heart that this story would be the perfect centerpiece of the commencement address. After my speech and the graduation, many people asked if I had ever hosted a lemonade stand and sadly, the answer was no.
I realized it was time to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”
Last year, with the encouragement and assistance of some great co-workers at my law firm, Lightfoot, Franklin & White, I decided to get off the sidelines and host my own stand.
Our first lemonade stand was great fun and a big success. We raised about $12,500, crushing our goal of $2,000. We were featured on two local news stations and received much support from the community. For this year’s stand, we hope to raise $20,000 – an ambitious goal, but one we know we can reach.
To anyone out there who is considering hosting a lemonade stand, my advice is to just do it. And while I am by no means an expert, here a few tips for first-timers:
- The story of Alex sells itself. Most people want to donate when they hear the story, especially if they also hear the story of Afleet Alex (if you don’t know the story of the horse, grab a tissue and watch the first video). Distribute flyers with the story, so no one can forget when and where to show up for your stand.
- Think of your stand as a campaign, as opposed to a one-time event. The actual lemonade stand should be the cherry on top and almost a celebration. Do the bulk of the fundraising ahead of time.
- Get others to buy in. For example, a local business, Milo’s Tea Company, donated our lemonade, and we put them on our ads. Find a business in your community and cut the same deal.
- Don’t just rely on mass advertising. Use the personal touch. People will often ignore blast emails or social media posts, but they are less likely to ignore a personal email, call, or a visit asking for a donation. And if they hear the story, they will want to donate.
- Use social media, but don’t rely solely on social media posts (see #4).
- Remember, it is not about you. This is for a cause greater than ourselves.
The best part of the day is spreading the word about a great cause. We will host our 2nd Annual Lightfoot Lemons Stand on June 7.
Terry McCarthy is a lawyer at the law firm of Lightfoot, Franklin & White. Read more about his All Star Stand here. Ready to get involved? You, too, can be a Lemonade Days stand host! Get the details here.