Racing for Charity, Don't let fundraising scare you away from supporting a great cause


This week we have another great post from Tiffany Zook on Charity Racing – Finding Your Passion. This week she is discussing the fundraising aspect of running for charity. If you didn’t see last week’s post, check it out here NOW!

There is no doubt that one of the most daunting and scary propositions about charity racing is the fundraising. Especially if you have never participated in any form of raising funds or quite simply, asking for money, it can be the single largest deterrent to jumping in and committing to a charity race. Now, here is the part where you may literally start laughing out loud, but here goes… I will tell you that fundraising is not as hard as it looks and does not have to be a daunting prospect, IF you have the right tools and utilize your resources.

First of all, lets pull apart some common excuses and fears. I have made many of these excuses myself.

  1. What if people say no? First of all, people WILL say no, and many times the people who say no will surprise you. I have very close family members who have yet to donate to TNT. However, many will say yes! It is not personal when a person says no and if you make that paradigm shift, you will move right on to the next person, and just keep unabashedly asking.
  2. How can I raise several thousand dollars in this economy? The Leukemia Lymphoma Society alone continues to raise more than $100 million annually through Team in Training… That continues IN THIS ECONOMY. When you are raising money for a cause that has touched so many lives, or a cause to which you have a personal connection, people generally find the money, even if it is a smaller amount.
  3. How do I know that the funds are truly going to good use? Especially with the larger organizations that have formal charity racing programs, they can provide you with the data and information to show you exactly where the money goes, dollar for dollar.
  4. How on earth do I get started – I have never done this before? You will be provided with a fundraising coach (with most formal programs), a fundraising resource kit, and so many ideas that you will have plenty to choose from. I, personally, have been blown away by the fundraising support.
  5. What if I get started and cannot raise the fundraising minimum? Most organizations give you an “out” or a cutoff date by which you need to commit to the full minimum. This is usually about half way through the training season, at which time you can opt out and not complete the season if you feel that you will have too much difficulty (which is usually related to procrastination and not taking advantage of fundraising resources) raising the money.

If you have other fears or concerns that immediately come to mind, please do not hesitate to start the discussion below in the comments or to email me and we can discuss.

Once the excuses/fears are worked out and you have decided to move forward taking the leap of faith, what is next? What is tried and true? How can you get creative? How can you knock it all out without having to ask all of your friends and neighbors? I have come to realize that the options are endless and the ideas are only as limited as your thinking.

So, what are the tried and true methods of fundraising? Yep, you got it, good old letters and emails, explaining your cause and asking for your friends and family to partner with you. Now, within the tried and true, you can get pretty creative, such as making up a unique donor form, such as “donate your age” or “donate how strong you feel about the cause,” or “donate a dollar per mile”. You can also use your letter campaign to educate about your cause and really appeal to what their connection may be to the cause. Additionally, social networking has become the new tried and true. Most organizations give you a personalized website with the capability of adding blog like posts and linking them to Facebook and/or Twitter. Here is my current website with several different blog-like posts along with the introductory page, so that you can see the flexibility of your own website. Social Networking also gives you a continual pipeline to promote your cause and hit a large audience at all different times.

Second, there has never been a better reason to get creative. Catch people off guard and create the wow factor! One of the absolute best examples of creativity was the brain child of Team Shrinking Jeans own, Christie O. Her “treadmill in a mall” project, literally consisted in her running and walking on a treadmill for nearly 12 hours, in different hats and outfits, all the while beckoning all of the passers by to donate. She made almost $1000… On a treadmill… In a mall! Another way to get creative is to pool your resources with your team. Team Shrinking Jeans hosted a huge raffle, utilizing all team members contacts and access to donated products and then had multiple levels of entry into the raffle. Because we had a team page, every donation was split evenly and the fact that we had great things to give away, enticed people to participate. My current favorite is known as the “mile of quarters” fundraiser and a group of local TNT participants is in the middle of their own spin on it. You can read about what they are doing here. Let your mind go and go wild!

Lastly, and I think the true key to really going big and being able to knock it out without all of the letter writing and small projects, is to plan a large event. This is especially key if you have interest in working with the organization on an annual or semi-annual basis, and is exactly the place I currently find myself. I was first introduced to this by our fundraising mentor with my first TNT event. Shannon has two annual events, both yielding $5000-$10,000. One is a 5K race and the other is a wine tasting event. She does live in a small community, so planning a 5K isn’t quite as daunting as it would be in a larger city, but nevertheless, there are a myriad of things that are possible. I love that the hard work nets a huge return and can be duplicated year to year. Two ideas that I am working on currently, are a charity concert and a pre-screening for an anticipated movie premier. Both involve ticket sales and donated space/goods in return for exposure and PR.

The fundraising possibilities are endless and the help is always available for the taking. This is a small peak at my tips and insight, and I haven’t even mentioned restaurant “percent sales nights” or the value of seeking corporate sponsorship. If you take one thing away from this post, remember that when you are passionate about your cause, the ideas and various “mechanisms” for fundraising appear and the money comes in… Your passion paves the road!

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