On a beautiful Sunday morning in May in Missoula, the Delta Chapter at the University of Montana debuted their inaugural (hope to be annual) “Breast Brunch in Town.” A breast cancer awareness brunch with continuing education. The smell of scrumptious broccoli quiche paired with caramelized onion Lyonnaise potatoes with steaming coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice greeted each guest as they checked in. Each table was adorned with white linen, twinkling candles, soft pink carnations and pink linen napkins. Pharmacists, students, and faculty filled the tables eager to learn about advancements in breast cancer treatment and care.

The three guest speakers wowed the audience with new and truly beneficial knowledge in the field of breast cancer. The personal struggle of a brave survivor and cutting edge pharmaceutical treatments were eloquently portrayed. Guests also generously bid on donated items in a silent auction, which provided a wonderful opportunity for mingling prior to the event as well as during intermission.

The goal of this inaugural event was to start a new and exciting opportunity for students and practicing pharmacists to learn and network with one another. A total of over $700 in profits from the forty-two attendees were donated for breast cancer research. This number was much more than expected, filling the Delta Chapter with pride at our success in aiding in the fight against breast cancer.

Delta Chapter Members on campus at the University of Montana

Delta Chapter Members on campus at the University of Montana

Overall, very hard work by many individuals ended in an astonishing success. The feedback from many pharmacists in attendance was very positive; several indicated interest in attending future events and would recommend the event to other pharmacists. This event was not only successful, but fun and meaningful to our chapter. Delta Chapter has members with family who have won and lost the battle with breast cancer, and this was our way to show our support as well as be positive members of Kappa Epsilon Fraternity.

Brunch and Continuing Education: A Stepwise Approach to Success

We would like to thank other chapters for sharing their breast cancer awareness brunch ideas at the 2013 National Convention that inspired Delta Chapter to try this amazing concept. Here was our stepwise approach to make this event a success.

Get the Chapter on Board

At chapter meetings, the brunch idea was introduced and re-introduced with members showing great enthusiasm. Since this was a large project, we needed full commitment from the chapter and we got it. The second step was to form the “Breast Brunch in Town Team”. We met every other week starting at the beginning of the school year. Tasks were then assigned: CE accreditation, advertising, ticket sales, catering, speakers, decorations, room rental, logo creation/shirt sales, silent auction and emcee. The idea was to create a brand that can be carried on year after year. A logo was created and used on shirts, tickets, advertising, and signage. The chapters’ Breast Cancer Awareness co-chairs lead each meeting and watched as amazing ideas flowed out of the eager team members.

Delta Chapter Logo: Breast Brunch in Town

Choose the Date and Location

We chose the date for the brunch, estimated attendance (reach out to a faculty member to find attendance numbers of live CE in the area) then found our location. Location and catering are very important factors to keep in tandem, because you can often get discounts when you “bundle” both together. The challenge here is not to overestimate the number of guests while also setting a limit for attendees. We used a campus ballroom with campus caterers who were able to provide flexibility in payment options. Know the hard and fast dates to cancel without losing any down payments and your date for final headcounts in order to best manage your catering charges. It is best to get this piece completed nine months prior to the event.

Organize Continuing Education

Once you have the date, time, and location begin researching national CE accreditation (we used ACPE) along with your state accreditation through your board of pharmacy to decide the best path. You will need to ask about cost, requirements for speakers, timeline for processing speaker information, materials from the CE provider (sign-in tracking, presentation handouts), payment options, and any other stipulations (logos, phrasing of provided materials).

Find Speakers

After the CE requirements have been outlined, you can reach out to speakers. Choose your speakers as a team. Insight from everyone is important, as unexpected connections will arise. We chose a breast cancer survivor who is a well-respected local celebrity, an oncology clinical pharmacist, and an oncology research coordinator. We reached out to each speaker initially through an email outlining the project, goals, date, and why we thought they would be a great fit. Once they agreed we sent out a detailed email including all CE requirements with a timeline. Some speakers require payment, which can add to your budget.

Manage Finances

Prices were set to accommodate pharmacists and students (decreased cost for students due to “starving student” status). We considered the cost per person for the food and room rental to set ticket prices. Create a proposed budget including all upfront costs, pricing breakdown for tickets and for shirt sales, food costs, and room rental with due dates to provide to your advisors and chapter. All proceeds from ticket sales, shirt sales, and the silent auction were donated to breast cancer research after costs were met. This aspect is challenging so start researching early and work with your advisors to best manage cost. Lastly, set a goal of the minimum sales you must reach and inspire the chapter to go out and spread the word.

Fundraising and Advertising

Decide as a chapter how you will raise money and how much your chapter can afford for upfront costs (room rental, logo creation, decorations, speakers, etc.). Keep in mind this takes time, so fundraising one year ahead is best practice. Silent auction items can be collected up to the date of the event. Lastly, advertise! We reached out to our state pharmacy association, pharmacists, family, students, and faculty through fliers and emails. Pharmacists were emailed through the University of Montana CE program and were approached by “door-to-door” outreach in local pharmacies to promote the event. When visiting pharmacies be a standout professional student pharmacist with a positive attitude and excitement for your event. This may sound obvious, but you are networking and pharmacists will remember the interaction. Attendees were able to purchase a ticket through the ACPE website, from student visits, or in the school lobby during lunch breaks. Setting up an online format for payment is a streamlined way of selling tickets.

The Little Extras

We decided to sell logoed T-shirts and tank tops to raise extra funds. This process can begin after the location and date have been set. Secondly, form a decorations committee early because local merchants may donate flowers, candy, or other items. Lastly, do not forget to thanks. We gifted logoed T-shirts to each speaker and created a poster to thank all our donors.

– by Kaja Wagner, Breast Cancer Chair 2014-2015