At Neuroscience 2016, Charles River Laboratories placed a wall space at its booth for attendees to write their reasons for researching central nervous system diseases and pledged to donate $5 to the Friends of SfN Fund for every person who wrote on the board. More than 400 people did.
Charles River, a corporation specializing in a variety of pre-clinical and clinical laboratory services, first became involved with SfN more than 20 years ago as an annual meeting exhibitor and has continued to support SfN because of the positive shared history between the two.
“We’d like to think our involvement has evolved into more of a partnership — partners with a similar mission,” said Susan Desmond, associate director for events management at the Massachusetts-based company.
Charles River Laboratories donated $5 to the Friends of SfN Fund for every person who wrote their reasons for researching the central nervous system on a wall at the company’s booth at Neuroscience 2016.
Charles River is just one the many organizations that donate to the Friends of SfN Fund, the Society’s annual fundraising campaign that accepts charitable contributions from organizations and individuals. Every year, corporations, foundations, and other institutions partner with SfN to showcase their support for neuroscience. Their philanthropy helps to fund the Society’s mission-critical activities that strengthen the field around the world.
Donors can choose to target their support to specific programs like Trainee Professional Development Awards or public education and outreach initiatives such as BrainFacts.org, which provides accurate, engaging information about the brain and nervous system to the public.
Charles River chose to earmark its gift to support public education and outreach efforts. “We respect the outreach that SfN does to support all aspects of CNS-related diseases,” Desmond said. “We know our contribution will increase public outreach efforts to keep the research fresh and innovative.”
Membership dues cover only a portion of the actual costs of SfN programs for professional development, scientific training, public education, and advocacy. The Friends of SfN Fund provides additional support for the Society to confront new issues that challenge and energize neuroscientists. It also gives members of the scientific community a way to express their dedication to SfN’s mission to advance the understanding of the brain and nervous system worldwide. Donations to the fund have grown every year since it was established in 2010.
While Charles River made a direct contribution, other institutions and companies contribute to the Friends of SfN Fund through matching gifts and volunteer grant programs on behalf of their employees.
Many companies match employees’ donations as a way of supporting employee charitable giving and to extend corporate philanthropy. Without having to add another dollar of their own, individual donors can double or triple the value of their gift to SfN by participating in their employer’s matching gift program. Last year, the Friends of SfN Fund received hundreds of dollars thanks to matching gift partners including Takeda, Regeneron, and the Merck Foundation.
Volunteer grant programs, also known as “Dollars for Doers” programs, are a growing trend among employers as a way to recognize employees that volunteer. For those employees who volunteer their time on a regular basis, a company will provide a monetary donation to eligible nonprofits such as SfN.
The cause to advance brain science is often a personal one for employees such as Desmond. “I think we all have a loved one touched by a CNS disease,” she said. “My grandmother suffers from dementia.”
Desmond explained that seeing her grandmother’s struggle motivates her to find ways to support research that leads to better treatments and improved health for the nearly 1 billion people worldwide affected by neurological and psychiatric disorders. Her advice to others who want to make a difference: “Support SfN! With tens of thousands of SfN members around the world, there is a large community out there that can get us closer to cures."
To learn how your institution can become a partner with SfN by supporting the Friends of SfN Fund, please visit SfN.org/Support or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-962-4057.