The Story Behind SOPFCA’s New Gift Card Referral Program

We have exciting news! In February, Shades of Pink Foundation California rolled out a trial project—our Gift Card Referral Program—to find a new way to get funds into the hands of women in breast cancer treatment. This  program promised a simpler application, faster turnaround, and easier qualification.  You may ask, “why  did we start a whole new program, and how did the trial turn out?”

Seven Years of Giving

As of 2020, SOPFCA has been providing BLESS (Basic Living Expenses for Support and Survival) grants to women in active breast cancer treatment for seven years. Over this time, we built a strong reputation in the San Diego community and developed a stable network of referral partners.

Recently, we have been hearing from our referral partners that not all of their patients were able to qualify for our BLESS grant program. Among the requirements for these grants is that a woman must be undergoing traditional types of cancer treatments and that she was employed prior to her cancer diagnosis. Our referral partners explained that some women chose to seek non-traditional treatments, while other women were stay-at-home mothers or  retired.

We realized that we needed  to find a way to support these women as well. After consulting with other breast cancer organizations, we developed our Gift Card Referral Program.

How Does the Gift Card Referral Program Work?

Our goal for  the Gift Card Referral Program was to provide  financial support to women in active breast cancer treatment as quickly and easily as possible. Fundamentally, the  program is  a stop-gap measure meant to assist with immediate financial need.

The requirements to request a gift card are simple and the application itself is half the size of a BLESS grant application. Women need only  to provide a few personal details, tell us what type of gift card they want, and include a verification from one of our referral partners that they are in active breast cancer treatment.

Unlike a BLESS grant, the gift card application does not  require full  Grant Committee review, which means we can quickly approve the applications and send off the gift cards.

We offer gift cards to some of the area’s most popular gas, grocery store, and big box retailors chains, including:

  • Chevron
  • Arco
  • Ralphs
  • Vons
  • Albertsons
  • Target
  • Walmart

Single women can qualify for gift cards totaling up to $300, while women with children or a spouse can receive up to $500.  If need be, they may reapply for gift cards after a year.

How Did the Trial Go?

The response to the  gift card trial in February  was immediate and robust!  We quickly gave away 28 gift card grants and used up our initial funding of $8,000.

At this same time, the coronavirus pandemic was descending on the United States, causing major business shutdowns and high job losses. Some of our donors asked us if the gift card program was in response to the pandemic. It wasn’t, but the need for financial relief is higher now than ever.

It quickly became clear that the Gift Card Referral Program was a hit, and that it helped us serve a different and wider population of women than our BLESS grants. Therefore, we  rolled out a full-scaled version of the Gift Card Referral Program at the beginning of September.

What Does the Future Hold for the Gift Card Referral Program?

Our goal is to get gift cards into the hands of as many women who need them as possible, but the breadth of our reach ultimately  depends on the generosity of our donors.  Not surprisingly, raising money has been uniquely challenging  this year, especially after we made the decision to cancel Purse Bingo, which is our biggest fundraising event of the year.

In the future,  we would love to be able to offer recipients gift card grants of $300 or $500 over two months. . However, that reality will depend on how much money we can raise. We humbly  ask all our donors to consider giving to our gift card program. This is the best way for donors to make an immediate impact in the breast cancer  community and to support the neediest breast cancer patients  in San Diego.

Our gift cards give women the means to address  their most pressing needs, whether that means putting food on the table for their families, getting to their medical appointments, or buying necessary everyday living supplies.

Please consider donating to the SOPFCA Gift Card Referral Program today.