Easter Seals Canada is launching the Giving Gene, a fundraising and awareness campaign that invites Canadians to discover why they donate. Interested individuals can purchase a Giving Gene Kit online at GivingGene.ca that enables them to perform an anonymous at- home DNA test to determine if they have the “Giving Gene.”
The “Giving Gene” is scientifically known as COMT Val 158Met genetic polymorphism. An individual can inherit two copies, one copy, or no copies of a version of this gene that is associated with giving. As an additive gene, a person would be more prone to giving if they inherited two copies.
Dave Starrett, President and CEO at Easter Seals Canada: “Unlike other fundraising and awareness campaigns, the Giving Gene offers supporters the gift of self-discovery. By purchasing a Giving Gene test kit, you are learning about your genetic makeup while enabling Easter Seals Canada to continue providing the programs, services and support that makes it possible for Canadians living with disabilities to live life to the fullest.”
Giving Gene Kits retail for $70 each with the majority of proceeds going directly to Easter Seals Canada. Each kit includes an instructional brochure, a hermetically sealed cotton swab to collect DNA, a 5-digit anonymous bar code, and a postage paid return envelope to mail the DNA sample in for testing. DNA samples are collected and disposed of after testing to ensure privacy and no personal information is stored.
The genetic testing is being completed by Dr. Guillaume Paré, Canada Research Chair in Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology at McMaster University, as well as his team at the David Braley Research Institute. “The Giving Gene campaign tells us something very important about humanity: that giving to others, altruism, is actually a part of us,” said Dr. Paré.
Supporters are notified via email when their results are in and can visit GivingGene.ca to reveal their results by entering in their 5-digit anonymous bar codes. Upon viewing results, participants are invited to share their results on social media with the campaign hashtag #GivingGene.
To execute this national campaign, Easter Seals Canada teamed up with J. Walter Thompson Canada and Hill+Knowlton Strategies Canada. “With the Giving Gene, we wanted to inspire people to explore the reasons they donate to charities like Easter Seals Canada,” said Ari Elkouby, VP, Creative Director, J. Walter Thompson Canada. “The Giving Gene Kits allow people to discover whether or not their giving natures can be linked back to their genetic makeup, which presents a great opportunity to start a larger conversation around giving.”