I got a very happy email from my Team in Training manager last week informing me that I had reached my fundraising goal for the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon! WOO HOO! That means I successfully fund raised almost $6000 total for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society over 2 seasons within one year- not bad!
Now, I’m not a super duper amazing fundraiser like some people I know- I’m not raising $10,000 in one season or anything (I wish!) but each time I have met and surpassed my minimum with very different approaches. I have gotten several emails from readers as well as fellow team mates asking me how I did it so I thought I would go ahead and share my personal fund raising process.
When it comes to fund raising, I am not a newbie- I raised tons of money for the Breast Cancer Fund prior to joining TNT, worked as the fund raising chair for my kids’ preschool for 3 years, and I have a background in Public Relations- all of which makes me a really, really good beggar.
When I first joined TNT to complete the Nike Women’s Marathon last October, that was an easy sell- it was my first marathon and for such a great cause. The main things that got me to my minimum for Nike were:
1) Asking, asking, asking, and then asking again all my friends and family for donations. Right after kick-off, I emailed a donation request to every single person I knew. Then, I snail mailed a formal fund raising letter to those who ignored my first email. Then if they didn’t send me a check via the letter, I sent another email about a month later. And then another email, and then another until I finally shook them all down
And sometimes I would be at a social event, pick up a friend’s purse, shove it in her face and say, “Give me my donation.” This approach I only recommend for the closest of friends so as not to incite anger and/or drinks-in-your-face.
If you got annoyed reading all that, you wouldn’t be the only one- if you follow this approach, expect to get a handful of people that respond with, “No, I will not donate! Please take me off your list!” and try not to take that rejection personally- charitable donations are personal and everyone has a different interest (especially if they have already donated to another charity).
2) Facebook the heck out it! I would post the link to my fundraising page several times a week and noticed that when I posted the link as in hey-look-what-I’m-doing I would get $0 donations but if I posted something like “If 10 of my Facebook friends donated $20 to me today, I would reach my goal!” I would get donations. Or if I wrote, “I just ran 20 miles for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society– gimme 5! $5 that is..” I would also get donations (and typically more than $5!). In other words, you gotta tell the people what you want- if you ask for a specific dollar amount, Facebook “friends” (that is, those people you haven’t seen since high school, your ex-boyfriend, that favorite college professor) will be more than likely to donate.
3) Community events are also a great way to get donations but do take a bit of effort and some are more profitable than others. For my Nike season, I worked with 6 other team mates to host a fundraising event at Sports Basement in Walnut Creek complete with food, drinks, raffle prizes and goody bags. While we raised $450 for LLS, between 7 of us, that wasn’t much, PLUS they took forever cutting the check so none of us even received the donation!
I also did a couple community events on my own at Coldstone Creamery and Pasta Pomodoro. Coldstone gave me a percentage of their sales during a 3 hour block of time whereas Pomodoro gave me a percentage of sales for the entire day but customers had to present a special flyer when they paid. For both events, I advertised, made a flyer, created a Facebook event, reminded, reminded, reminded, and reminded people to go, as well as attended myself- I made over $100 in donations at Coldstone and maybe $20 from Pasta Pomodoro.
I find that the community events where you have to rely on people to present the flyer aren’t so profitable; however, I believe they could be if you partner with other team mates as well as create a team bonding or family night or girls night out event out of it, getting people to RSVP their attendance in advance.
My advice here is to do events like these well in advance of your fundraising due date- the more time you have, the more effort you can put into getting people there, and the more donations you will earn!
4) Get donations from strangers via the power of the Internet. I started this blog to document my experience with Team in Training and once I started getting more followers and increased traffic, I figured I might as well see if I could get donations from them too so I created an online raffle. Now this takes work, time, and a ton of research…
Every item that was donated to my raffle, I secured through email. Not once have I stepped into a store asking for a donation (although I know that works like a charm too!). I keep my emails brief and to the point and ask TONS and TONS of places! Seriously tons. Takes hours.
For running gear, I ask smaller companies that are up & coming. When I read a running magazine, I make a mental note of all the companies that do advertising in the back of the mag and start there. I search online for other blogs that have done online raffles/auctions and email the same companies. I ask every single one of my running friends what items they would be likely to donate towards and ask those companies too. I make a mental note of the items I receive in race goody bags and ask those companies as well.
When asking companies for item donations, it’s a little more complicated to track down the right contact. info@ usually is never the right person, so I will dig and dig on a website until I find someone in charge of community or marketing or PR. Or, I go to their Facebook page and check their “about” page and see if I can get a better contact there.
My raffle for Nike was incredibly successful- I raised close to $1000 with that, putting me way over the top of my goal and getting me to that Finish Line.
When my Nike season was complete, I became a mentor for the spring season but still felt like I could fund raise more, so I joined the summer team and did…
Following my own advice, when I decided to fund raise again for San Diego, my first step was to email all of my friends and family. Given that they had just donated for Nike, I implored with a cancer-hasn’t-quit-so-why-should-I? approach and guess how many donations I got? ZERO. Low hanging fruit all gone, I realized now it was time to get creative if I wanted to hit my goal a second time!
5) Offer your services in exchange for donations. The service I offered was babysitting on Valentine’s night- $10 an hour for one kid, $15 for 2 kids and I provided activities, crafts, and dinner. With 13 kids, I made $400 in donations that night!
Other services I have considered doing are bake sales, garage sales, doing people’s taxes, or an electronics recycling drive- anything people may need help with and don’t want to do themselves, you can offer to do for donations. (I won’t list all of my ideas here as this post is already too long, but please free to leave a comment or email me if you want to talk ideas!)
6) Do not repeat endeavors! I wanted to make sure I didn’t burn people out when asking for donations consecutively so I made sure to do all different things this second time around. I did another community event as well as asked for donations via my blog again but totally changed it up. I held a Cocktail Flight School event a local distillery, St. George Spirits, and hit up people on my blog with an auction as opposed to a raffle.
Both the event at St. George and the auction were incredibly successful in securing donations from people who had donated once, twice, even three times before! I raised $1500 with the auction and $320 with the St. George event.
And there you have it!
And here I have it- 2 weeks to go until my second marathon with TNT and I couldn’t have done it without the support and encouragement from my friends, family, team mates and blog readers. THANK YOU for helping me fight against blood cancers- your donations make a difference in someone’s life, more than you know.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your generous support.
How about you? Any awesome fund raising tips and strategies to share?
On that note, TNT buddy and fellow blogger Kate is fund raising for the ultra (!!!) team this season and partnered with Endure Jewelry Company (really cute running-themed jewelry), use code KPTNT12 at check-out and 35% of your purchase will go towards Kate’s fund raising efforts.