Fundraising for Absolute Beginners

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Raising even the minimum donation can be the scariest part of committing to the AIDS/LifeCycle. The AIDS/LifeCycle website has information to help you:

Plus, there is a calendar of Fundraising Workshops for you to attend and get ideas.

But the number one way to get a donation is simply to ask for one. Your donors are your friends and family. Your donors are committed to seeing the end of the AIDS epidemic, supporting people with HIV, and eliminating the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS. Your donors care about you. Your donors have used HIV and AIDS services.
They want to be asked to support your ride. They want to be involved. They want to support you because they know it means that you care. So, the question is: How do you get up the nerve to ask? The answer is: you don’t need nerve, you need love and passion to ask. That and a little bit of social lubricant … er social media … can’t hurt either.
1. Post on Your Own Wall.
If you’ve not yet started your fundraising, I want you to post this message on your Facebook wall right now (modified to suit your fundraising level and with your own URL):

Hi. I’m riding in the #aidslifecycle #alc2014. I’ve committed myself to raising $12,000 to fight HIV and AIDS, to support people living with HIV, to end the spread of the disease through testing and outreach, and to finally end the stigma we all have to live with. 

I can only succeed with your donation. Please follow the link and donate whatever you can. Thank you. http://www.tofighthiv.org/goto/bear2014.

You won’t raise the money if you don’t ask! Post similar messages throughout the training and fundraising season updating your status, how far you’ve progressed in your goal, and with news items or facts about the ride, HIV and AIDS research, or your won cycling training!
2. Send Individual Messages.
Usually, status updates to your wall are not enough. Follow these up with individual messages to each and every one of your Facebook friends — however well you know them. Ask politely, and you’ll find only polite responses in return. Not everyone can donate to your ride. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to support you.
Let me know if you need ideas for the text of these messages; I’m happy to share the text I use.
3. Follow Up.
If an individual responds, always thank them for that response — even if it is negative — and reply accordingly.
  • “I understand you cannot donate, but your encouragement is greatly appreciated.”
  • “Thank you for your offer to donate! I’ll follow up in a few weeks to remind you.”
  • “Your generous donation will go a long way to helping people living with HIV. On their behalf, I thank you.”
If an individual does not respond, don’t pepper them with messages. But next time you see them in person, you might want to ask if they received it or you may want to follow up with a message in a different media (say by letter, email, or telephone).
4. “Promote” Your Facebook Posts.

Each post on your Facebook wall now has a handy “Promote” link. For about $7, you can make sure your posting will not drop the bottom of the stack. Thus, it will be seen by more people. Usually, I get a 30% increase in views for my promoted posts. I do that once a month or so — not enough to become annoying, but enough to keep my ride in the back of everyone’s mind.
5. Team Fundraise.
I don’t have the best advise about fundraising with others, but many teams are quite successful raising money together. Ask your training buddies what team they are on to find out about membership.
6. Multimedia.
Don’t limit yourself to social media. Use as many forms of communication as you can. Print business cards. Send out mailings to all your friends. Make a Youtube video (it is surprisingly easy). Make your message consistent and redundant!
The AIDS/LifeCycle Participant Center has an email interface you can use to send formatted emails asking for donations or thanking your donors. Explore your Participant Center and use it!
7. Thank your Donors.
A happy donor will donate again and again. Happy donors want to know they are making an impact. You are the face of the ride for them, so show them the impact you’re making by thanking them by name on your Facebook wall (ask them if they don’t mind being publicly thanked, first). Send emails and messages on social media.
And if you can, send a card or letter to each donor. No one gets handwritten mail any more, so a simple note will make each donor feel really special.
8. Don’t Stop There.

Once your donations start rolling in, challenge your donors to help you raise a sub-goal by a certain date, raffle off prizes, or offer prizes to top donors. Keep your donors engaged in the process. Many of them might love to ride, but cannot for various reasons. Therefore, let them know: This is their ride too!
Love,
Your Bear

Over the next couple months, I’m going to write a few articles with the lead-in title “Absolute Beginners,” explaining some of the basic principles of cycling. Most of the information is stuff I’ve learned from other cyclists, bike shop mechanics, classes I’ve taken, and Google searches. Please help me out and comment with corrections, additions, or supplements which will help my readers learn about how to operate their bikes!

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