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Top Fundraisers: Lessons and Recognition

Climate Ride organizes life changing, charitable sporting events. Year after year, hundreds of individuals (new participants and alumni alike) pledge to raise thousands of dollars to support the cause, support our beneficiaries, and better our communities. I’d like to share some of their tips, tricks, and success stories as well as the new layout for the Fundraising Hall of Fame, where we recognize and thank them for all they have given to our community.

Tips, Tricks, and Success stories from Top Fundraisers

Over the past few years I’ve noticed that Climate Riders usually fundraise in one of two ways: 1) a large quantity of small donations or 2) a small quantity of large donations. With our participants coming from such diverse life situations and backgrounds (think recent college grad vs. established business professional), raising $2800 or $3000 can seem like more of a challenge for some than others. So how does someone approach the task of raising $2800, and then triple, quadruple or quintuple it? In no particular order, here are a few take aways from some of our top fundraisers, including some of our $10k+ Club members.

Start early. Starting early means more freedom and less stress. You have more time to reach out to new donors, have personal conversations, organize an event, send follow up emails, send more follow up emails, send training updates, send more follow up emails… You end up raising the minimum faster and earlier. Here’s a quote from Alden Mudge, who raised $6500+ for his 2012 ride: “I signed up for the September ride in January and began sending my fundraising appeals immediately. This allowed me to do follow ups with people I had not heard back from. I sometimes got messages from people who said they were too strapped to contribute, and I responded to these as well as to the people who donated. One result of this was that as the ride got closer, a few of these friends were then able to contribute, and did.”

Follow up emails. You may have picked up the hint in that last paragraph, but follow up emails are essential. Alden’s quote really accentuates the synergy of starting early and sending follow up emails. People’s situations change, and sometimes they’re just busy when they get the first ‘ask’. Our Fundraising Guru, Russ, tells a story I like sharing in which his daughter asked him to donate for an event she was participating in. It took him three reminder emails before he made the donation because something just kept coming up that stole his attention away (one of which involved the dog getting sick!). So remember: a lack of donation is not a ‘no’, so send out those reminders!

Climate Ride California 2013 Top 10 Fundraisers with their VIP Green Jerseys

Matching Gifts. Jenny Shu, our first ever $10k Club Member, brought in $2870 in matching gifts alone for her 2012 ride. Dan Leaverton, our 2nd Place All Time Fundraiser, brought in $3060 in matching gifts for his 2014 ride. It’s simple: matching gifts multiply the impact of a donation. Reaching out to your donors and asking them to inquire about matching gifts is a game changer. Many companies have established programs with a form to fill out, while others will simply cut a check. The important part is to get your donors to ask. Consider providing them with verbiage that they can forward to their boss/supervisor. This takes the work out of their hands and makes it easier for them to ask. (More about matching gifts here).

Get out from behind the computer. Phil Morton is a three-time rider who consistently sails past the fundraising minimum and is only a few hundred dollars short of making the Lifetime $10k+ Club. One of the tips he recommends is picking up the phone, especially for larger donors. I couldn’t agree more! Emails and social media are great, but a more personal ask will get a more personal response. If you’re asking for a larger dollar amount from a specific donor, be sure to do so in person or at least over the phone. It will show them that it means enough to you to make the extra effort. (And, of course, be sure you’re sending out thank you’s to each of your donors after they contribute!)

The New Fundraising Hall of Fame

Last year, we welcomed nine new individuals to our $10k+ Club, and we set a record for total grants given to our beneficiaries – more than $725,000. Since our participants keep pushing to new fundraising heights, we thought we would update our Hall of Fame accordingly!

New $10k Club Levels. Our $10k+ Club now has Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels that reach all the way up to $50,000. We have 13 Bronze Level members, 3 Silver Level members, and 1 Gold Level member. We’re excitedly awaiting the participant who’s going to be the first to join the Platinum Level!

Greg Laemmle with Top FR Bike
Two-time $10k+ Member (Bronze and Silver) Greg Laemmle with the Top Fundraiser Bike Prize

New “Life Time Fundraising” recognition. One of my favorite things about our events is all of the familiar faces I get to see – some, at this point, for the 4th or 5th time! Our new Lifetime $10k+ Club was created to thank and appreciate those riders who have consistently succeeded in fundraising for Climate Ride year after year (like Catherine Bock, who’s done 6 events!).  We have 15 Bronze Level Members, 11 Sliver Level members, and 2 Gold Level members. Many of these individuals are registered for 2015 events, and we can’t wait to see where they end up at the end of the year!

Top Teams. In additional to individual recognition, we award prizes to Top Fundraising Teams on our rides – one to the team who raises the most overall, and one to the team who raises the most on average per team member. We happily fill their glasses with delicious local brew for them to cheers to their success. Team LACBC is the back-to-back Top Team for the 2013 and 2014 California Rides, and is looking to set the bar even higher in 2015!

We are thankful for all of our participants and the incredible challenge that they take on by participating in our events. The miles they cover, the dollars they raise, and the time they commit are all testaments to the importance of this movement. We look forward to continuing to walk, run, and pedal this movement forward! 

We have even more fundraising tips and strategies on our website, and we have all these fundraisers and more listed in our Fundraising Hall of Fame!