Set a goal that is a challenge, but feels doable:
Consider the minimum and what you have raised in the past. If this is your first time doing a charity fund-raising event, talk to others you know who have raised funds. Contact the MR 3 office (Andi: 555-555-5555 or Robbie: 555-555-5555) and seek technical assistance (how to make an on-line fundraising page, mail merge a letter, etc.) and support. Pick a number that is a stretch, and then make a plan to achieve it. Deadline to hand in funds raised is: July 23, 2004.
Consider how you will achieve your goal:
Perhaps you will write a letter to everyone you know; plan and conduct an event (garage sale, other fundraiser); talk to members at your place of worship, hold a house party; work to get businesses you use to sponsor you; make something that you can sell (craft, T-shirts) and/or sell raffle tickets. Riders have done all of the above and been successful in reaching and often exceeding their goals. Most people have found writing a compelling letter to be one good way to raise funds, asking everyone you can think of—friends, family, co-workers, and everyone in your path—to sponsor you. Some have had success asking friends to share the letter with others. People have used email or regular mail. In many communities the church or synagogue is a focal point for fundraising. Also, carry your Sponsor Forms with you and make a point of telling people you meet about what you are doing and why. Many people will ask if you are accepting sponsors!! You don’t want to lose those moments of opportunity.
Share your enthusiasm
The more you convey your reasons for riding and your genuine enthusiasm for what you are doing, the more successful your fundraising will be. Don’t be afraid to tell your story—what about this is compelling you to train and participate? What does this Ride mean to you personally? It is a major commitment and sharing your reasons and heartfelt motivation will inspire others.
Composing your letter:
To help you get started we have a few sample letters that have been used effectively by riders in past AIDS Rides. In short the letter should:
-Tell why you are riding -Share convincing statistics about the current AIDS crisis
-Give details about the organizations that will benefit from the funds and what the funds will mean to the organizations, or allow them to do in quantifiable terms—the more specific the better
-Ask people for support directly and with a time deadline -Thank them for supporting you -Be personal and in your own voice
Develop a list:
In most cases, quality is more important than quantity. This is not true in this case. Mail to everyone and anyone you can possibly think of.
Do not limit yourself to this network shown above. Think of everyone you know. Look through your checkbook and identify the people and places where you regularly spend money or have spent a large amount of money in the past. If you send holiday cards, use that list. Even after you have mailed your list, keep your eyes open for other people who cross your path that you had not thought of and send them a letter. Here is a list of people that you may not have considered:
• Co-workers of your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/partner
• Parents of your kids’ friends
• People in the office building where you work
• Mortgage broker
• Travel agent
• Hair stylist
• Health club operator
• Personal Trainer
• Video rental store employees
Making the ASK:
Many people that have been fundraising for AIDS through bike rides have learned an important lesson—don’t sell the giver short. In other words, you never know how much someone will donate, or why. It isn’t about how much money they make or have; it is really about their individual philosophy of giving and which causes they think are important. Some of your larger donors may surprise you. So ask people to consider how much you will train for this, what a significant commitment you will make, and ask them to think about that when making their donation. If you are asking someone in person, ask for more than you think might be possible, not less. Have them consider making a donation over a period of time via credit card. They will decide what they can or want to give you. Don’t be afraid to look someone in the eye and ask for the Cause. You are not asking for you, it is for the work of the benefiting agencies. Remember, you’ll never know until you ask.
Using the Web to raise funds via active.com:
Creating your own on-line fundraising page has never been easier. You can write a powerful email letter to the folks you wish to solicit, and explain to them exactly how they can make a donation on-line. It is easy and allows them to see how much you have raised and to get instant feedback. Even if you are not computer savvy, you can do it!! You will be glad you did.
About the Beneficiaries:
Each of the organizations has a specific mission and service area. Some of your donors will be particularly interested in one or two organizations, perhaps because of the population served, or because of the geography of the organization. You will have to consider this as you write your letter. We suggest that you stress the collaboration, and the idea that these organizations are banding together to take a proactive approach to the decreasing funds for their services. The investment in this Ride is an investment in a new funding stream for these organizations at a critical time. It is one example of how they are taking charge of their own organizational future.
Our website has short blurbs about each of the 18 collaborating organizations. The facts about HIV/AIDS are grim, and not improving. Using the state and national statistics to paint a picture of the major issues and why they motivate you to ride is key; telling the potential donor how the benefiting organizations are addressing this health crisis is the other half of the pitch.
Some Facts about HIV/AIDS:
RIDE WITH US because HIV/AIDS doesn’t see race, color, age, sex or disability. Only opportunity.
Of the 20,000 people in Massachusetts infected with HIV, 1 in 3 don't know it African-Americans and Latinos make up 50 percent of people living with AIDS in Massachusetts but only 12 percent of the state's population. The HIV infection rate among 13 to 24 year olds in Massachusetts has risen 43 percent in three years. Women account for nearly one-third of people living with HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts . This is almost double the percentage of 10 years ago. The city of Boston has the largest concentration of AIDS cases in the state, but 63 percent of people living with AIDS in Massachusetts reside outside Boston .
Thank your donors and stay in touch:
Be sure to send a good thank you letter when a donation is received. Monitor who has responded and after a significant time, don’t be afraid to send a second request. This time you can tell them how much more funds you need to achieve your goal, and perhaps a bit more specifics about the beneficiary organizations.
Communicate after the Ride:
After the ride, it is critical to thank all of your donors and share the experience with them. One long-time rider reports that every year many of her donors make a point of actually thanking her for the detailed letter about the ride and sharing what the experience meant to her personally. This step allows them to experience the event with you and to feel like they have participated in something important. Even if you thanked them at the point of their donation a few months earlier, take the time to do this. You will leave them ready to donate to you and your Cause again in the future.
Some other Logistics:
You may have your donors return all Sponsor Forms and checks to you directly, so that you can keep a list of donors, and then batch and send them along to us. Or you may have them send them directly to the Mass Red Ribbon Ride office at AIDS Action and we will periodically update you on your results. The former takes a bit more work and organization on your part, but gives you direct info about who is donating and lets you see first hand the little notes they might write back to you. The direct to Mass Red Ribbon Ride method will be easier for you, but will not allow you to have as much current info—since we are supporting many riders. Many who use the mail also include a self-addressed or Mass Red Ribbon Ride addressed envelope to make it that much easier for your donors. The easier you make the donation process, the more quickly the money will come.