Happy smiling rider on NYC-DC 2013

12 Essentials

Here are some tried and true methods for successful fundraising.

#1: Set a challenging but attainable goal

Set your fundraising goal higher than the required minimum, to something that’s a stretch, but doable. People often donate based on a percentage of your goal. If your goal is $2800, you may see a lot of $25 or $28 donations, whereas if your goal is $5000, you may see more $50 donations. You still only need to raise $2800, but you may get there a lot quicker and who knows, you could earn some great fundraising prizes along the way! As you get closer to your goal, raise it so people continue to donate. You want to avoid prospective donors deciding not to donate because you have almost reached your goal. Remember, you want to raise as much money as you can for your chosen beneficiaries.

#2: Start early

The sooner you start asking, the more money you will raise. It takes time to ramp up your fundraising efforts. As soon as you register to become a fundraiser, get organized and start asking.

#3: Develop an exhaustive list of prospective donors

Contact everyone you know. Include people you don’t think will donate and folks you haven't contacted since elementary school (including that 4th grade crush!). You'll be surprised who gives! Start with your email address book, then your regular address book and member lists from clubs and organizations you belong to. Check with your employer regarding soliciting donations in the workplace. Include all your social media contacts as well. Create a separate list of people whose email address you don't have (Grandma?) and send them a letter in the mail, along with the donate by mail form.

#4: Customize your personal fundraising page

The most compelling fundraising pages include a personal story about why you are participating, along with a good photo of you. Convey your passion in a way that motivates visitors to make a donation! Update your page's message periodically with information about training, progress, or challenges so that visitors can stay informed and engaged throughout your fundraising effort. If you need help setting up your fundraising page or developing your ask let us know. We’re here to help!

#5: Customize your emails

Make the email template yours! Text in your email should be aligned with your fundraising page. Include a personal story, why you're participating and raising money, why it's important to you, where the money goes, and what specific action you'd like the recipient to take. Include key points such as what Climate Ride and your beneficiaries are all about, and how their donation will help. Include the link to your fundraising webpage. You can also download some templates for fundraising letters from the 'Resources' section of your fundraising dashboard.

#6: Create an email schedule and stick to it

Set a date in the very near future to send your initial email blast announcing your participation and asking for support. Then, schedule a second email about two weeks later thanking those who have already donated and reminding others they can still donate. You should send monthly updates keeping your potential donors informed about your training and fundraising progress. As you get nearer the event you may wish to increase the frequency of updates to bi-weekly or even weekly. You can also segment your list of donors into groups (e.g. past donors, new list of members, family, fellow members of a club) and send different emails to each audience.

#7: Ask, ask, and ask again

In addition to following the email communication schedule, you should ask, ask, and ask again at every possible opportunity. People can only make a donation if you give them the opportunity. During face-to-face interactions or phone calls with friends, family, neighbors, or other prospective donors, mention your progress and your goal. Don't be shy about asking more than once because a lack of response isn’t the same as a “no.” People get busy, and need reminding.

#8: Add social media to the mix

Social media is a great way to stay in front of people without making a 'hard ask'. Use Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to update friends on your fundraising progress. You can connect your personal fundraising page to your Facebook and Twitter accounts to automatically post updates. One great way to motivate people to donate is by publicly and enthusiastically thanking those who have already donated.

#9: Get creative

Add the URL for your fundraising webpage to your email signature. Give out "piggy banks" and ask people to save their change for a month. Create business cards or handbills to give out during face-to-face interactions. Hold an auction. Set up an omelet bar at your workplace. Throw a party! Want to brainstorm together? Give us a call!

#10: Join a team

Need help staying motivated? Join a team for camaraderie, encouragement, and friendly competition. Teams aren't for everyone but there's something to be said about power in numbers.

#11: Stay focused

At times, all this work can seem overwhelming. Remind yourself why you are participating in the event, and how the money you will raise will help your beneficiaries do the critical work that they do. Turn to other Climate Riders/Hikers for inspiration and ideas about how to raise more money. You can always email or call us too. 

#12: Send a personalized thank you

After you've completed your fundraising and the event is over, send your donors a note to thank them for their generosity. Tell them how much you raised in total and what your participation in this challenge meant to you. In addition to 'closing the loop', you are setting the stage for future donation appeals. Donors will be more likely to give again if they feel that their donation was appreciated and valuable. You might need their support for Climate Ride or Climate Hike again next year!