Reaching Your Fundraising Goals

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getyourgutsingearNY2013_01jpgAt first glance, your fundraising goal may seem like a big number, and when you don’t know where all those dollars are coming from, it can be intimidating.  But don’t let this stand between you and the amazing experience and community that you’ll find with Get Your Guts in Gear!  There are lots of ways to succeed with fundraising, and you’ll find yourself happily surprised with the people willing to support you and the Crohn’s and colitis, and ostomy community.

Before you even begin, remember that you are not asking for people to give you money, rather, you are asking for support of you, and a cause that has likely touched your life or  someone you love.  By donating, people are promoting the empowerment, awareness, research, and advocacy, that GYGIG stands behind.  Your donors also support you in accomplishing something great, both physically and philanthropically, for the IBD and ostomy communities.

After all, you’re going to sit on your bike for 2 days and ride possibly farther than you ever have in your life.  You’re going to make it possible for GYGIG and its beneficiaries to do good in the world.  By generating funds, you’re making all these things possible, and making life easier for IBD patients and ostomates everywhere, and that’s a very big deal.  Keep this in mind when you are fundraising, and let it motivate you to surpass your goals.

First things first:  Tell your story.  A big part of getting involved in GYGIG is the opportunity to spread awareness about IBD.  By sharing your story during fundraising, you’re contributing to awareness.  You’re also letting people know that you’re doing this ride for a great reason, whether it’s for yourself or loved one with IBD or an ostomy.  Tell an honest story about your experience.  Explain what living with Crohn’s or colitis feels like, or how it has affected your family, what you have overcome in your life, and what it will mean to you to do the Ride.  You can share as much or little as you want, and include facts and statistics about IBD.

Your honesty and passion to make a difference will shine through, and people will be proud to support such an important and personal cause.  Share your story through a donation letter, email, or even a blog.  When doing this, include your request for donations, and remind people how much their support means to you.

Be honest about your goals.  Some events only require fundraising in the double digits.  Some don’t require fundraising at all!  But if people know that you’ve set an ambitious goal,, they’ll be more likely to contribute a larger amount.  Keep people up to date about what your goals are, and how much you have left to go.  Sharing this number gives people a theoretical finish line for fundraising, and they’ll know exactly how much they are able to contribute to get you there.

Don’t be afraid to remind potential donors.  As it gets closer to the Ride, it’s helpful to politely remind people to donate.  Share the number of days, or the amount you still need to raise, as a “finish line” to your preparation.  For example, “I’ve got two weeks left, and I’m only $250 away from meeting my goal” lets people see your progress, and exactly how their contribution will help you.  People will also verbally commit to donating, but it’s not unusual for people to forget or just procrastinate.  This isn’t because they changed their mind, they likely just didn’t get around to it.  They’ll still want to donate, and will appreciate a reminder.  Just remember to always be polite, and let them know how much their support means to you.

Social Media Campaigns.  Social media is a great way to spread the news that you are taking on this endeavor, generate donations, and
keep people up to date on your fundraising and training process.

Things you can do:

  • Create a Facebook page and inviting all your friends.  Post details of the ride, and a link to your donation page.  Often times, people will realize that they know others with IBD, and invite them to join the cause also!
  • Use Twitter to share links to your fundraising page, Facebook group, or blog.  Use hashtags such as #Crohns #Colitis #IBDRide #OvercomingIBD, and of course, by tagging @GYGIG.  We might even retweet you!
  • Start a blog.  You can do this easily using something such as Blogger.com. You can write longer posts about your training progress, and what you are feeling as you get closer to the ride.  Blogs often appear in Google search results also, so you might find strangers finding you and donating!
  • Post updates on your Facebook feed for all to see.  You can post a GYGIG badge to share with your network the milestones you have achieved, generate donations, and again, post updates of your training and fundraising.

With social media, repetition is your friend.  Posting often, get creative, and use variety to make the most impact.  Once a week is a great frequency to start, and don’t forget to share your fundraising link.  You want your friends to be able to find this at any time.

Quantify your Fundraising.  Think about all the times you didn’t go out with your friends, and therefore didn’t spend money on that Mexican Combo Platter or giant margarita.  You’ve made a lot of sacrifices by dealing with these diseases, or by helping a friend or loved one deal with the impact of IBD or ostomy surgery.  Explain to your donors that if they skipped one night of drinking or one meal out, they could easily save $50 and donate it in support of your Ride experience.  If they gave up their morning Cafe Mocha for a week, that’s an extra $20 closer to your goal.  Give people examples of how little of a sacrifice they could make, to find the money to support you.  Remind them that if you can give up coffee/Mexican/drinking for an indefinite amount of time, they can do it for a week, and it would really mean a lot to you.

Ask GYGIG’s staff and volunteers for help.  After all, we’ve been doing this since 2004, and we are always happy to talk through your fundraising ideas, and to help you generate new ideas.  Over the years, we have helped hundreds of riders and crew members achieve fundraising totals they did not previously think were possible.
GYGIG offers fundraising coaches to assist with your goals, please contact us atinfo@ibdride.org

Exceeding your goal, and finding a few extra dollars.  There are ways to increase your fundraising efforts that you might already have available to you.

You can be your first supporter – you can donate towards your own goal!  How can people say no to supporting you, when you’re already supporting yourself? Consider adding something similar in your fundraising letter/email to prospective donors: In addition to riding for my son’s/daughters Crohn’s, I have also made a donation toward my fundraising goal in their honor.

The second is places of employment.  Many companies have matching donation programs, so your own company, or that of your donors, could be instantly doubled, just by asking.  (Of course, be sure to comply with your workplace rules regarding solicitation!)

Many corporations also offer benefits for people who volunteer.  Ask to see if your participation qualifies you for a volunteer bonus such as extra vacation.

Finally, use your network.  So many people know of others in their lives with Crohns or colitis, and are eager to share your information or donate to support more than one person.  Let your donors to reach out to their own circles, to share what a great thing you are doing, and generate further donations.

*Remember to include in your donation letters to prospective donors that GYGIG is a 501(c)3 not for profit and all donations made for my fundraising goal to GYGIG are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law.

Individuals may not know that their donations are tax deductible, so including a small excerpt can help!

Grocery Stores and Local Businesses  Work with a local store, such as a grocery store or Target.  Often times, they’ll allow organizations to reserve a block of time to fundraise out front.  You can get a few friends, make some signs or wear your GYGIG t-shirt, and ask shoppers for donations.  If you want to attract some good attention to your cause, set up a bike trainer out front, with a table, sign, and donation jar.  Riding for a few hours as people walk in and out of the store grabs their attention, shows them that you’re working hard for your cause, and also gets you in an extra cycling workout.

You can also work with local businesses to create an event or time period where a percentage of sales will be donated to your fundraising.  Restaurants, hair salons, and coffee shops are great places to work with.  Some even have corporate programs that allow you to easily set something up.  Once you plan something, use social media and spread the word about the fundraising event.  The more you help generate for the business, the more you’ll earn for yourself, and you both win!

If you’ve got a big group to help you out, check around local sports teams to see about concession fundraising.  Many stadiums and arenas have groups that come in and work concession stands for a portion of the sales.  Depending on where you go, you can raise thousands of dollars this way!  Bigger venues will likely require a minimum amount of people, and minimum game commitment.  If you can’t do this, check with minor league baseball teams, or even local schools, for similar opportunities.

Bars, Parties, or Raffles Hosting fundraising events can be a really fun way to fundraise, as well as spread the word about your cause.  These are a great way to get your friends to donate, as they are getting something in return.  You can also plan something large or small scale, to fit your time and budget.

Work with a local bar to plan a guest bartending night.  Get a few friends together and help out behind the bar. Let patrons know that their tips go towards your cause, and they’ll likely tip more.  It helps to have a few small signs and extra tip jars around the bar, to let everyone know what’s going on, and give them the chance to contribute.  Make sure to spread the word and invite all your friends, so the bar that is helping you also makes money for the night.

Host a party, and have a minimum donation amount for guests.  Let them know that their entire donation goes toward your fundraising goals.  Some examples might be a fancy dinner party where everyone dresses up and pretends they are at a high-society gala (with $50 per plate instead of $500), a theme party such as spaghetti dinner or taco night, or an event such as a barbeque and kickball game in the local park.  Again, you can get creative or keep it simple, you can have it a small group, or a large gathering, it’s up to you.

Ask local businesses to donate goods or gift certificates and host a raffle.  You can even make this a part of your party or event, for some bonus fundraising.  Gift certificates to popular bars or restaurants, massages, tickets to sporting events, museum passes, etc will work great, and the businesses that donate will be happy to see more traffic come through their doors.

Garage Sales  If you’re already planning a garage sale this season, or if you are just looking to get rid of some clutter, you can use this to generate additional fundraising.  At your garage sale, let people know that all proceeds are going towards your fundraising.  Put this in big letters on signs near  your sale, on tabletop signs around the yard, and have conversations with people that stop by.  At the checkout table, have an additional tip jar so that people can donate a little extra if they want.  You could even pair this with a bake sale- they might not want your old coffee cups, but who can say no to some charitable cupcakes?

Sports Brackets  It seems like there is never a true off-season for sports!  From a long season of baseball, to March Madness, to the NFL playoffs, you can always find something exciting going on.  For a fun fundraising event, set up a bracket on Yahoo Sports.  There are several different styles, from guessing the nearest score, to whoever’s team goes the farthest.  Have people donate an amount such as $25.  The winner gets 25%, and the other 75% goes towards your fundraising.  This has been popular and successful with many of  GYGIG’s riders in the past, and something you can do over and over, as sporting seasons change.

There are countless ways to get creative with fundraising.  If you have more ideas, please share them on GYGIG’s Facebook Wall, to help others reach their goals.  And remember, throughout your fundraising process, you’ll be contributing to Get Your Guts in Gear’s goal of promoting IBD awareness, as every person you tell about the event, every time you share your story, every time you ask for a donation, you’re telling one more person that IBD exists, that it is a serious disease, and that you’re doing something to create positive change.