When I was trying to get my head around the idea of participating in the AIDS/LifeCycle ride I would bounce the idea off friends and my comment was always, I’m more afraid of trying to raise $3000 than the physical challenge of training for and completing the ride. For me it was always easier to write a check than to get out there and do the thing. If you think about it though, most people are check writers so it should be easy for the doers to achieve their fundraising goals. You just have to make the ask.
When I finally signed up to participate in the 2014 ride I set my goal at a conservative $3750. I wanted to raise more than the minimum but kept my goal within reach. No one was more surprised than me when I hit that goal in early April. At first I thought, great, my fundraising is complete now I can concentrate on preparing myself physically for the ride. However a sage friend (thanks Craig!) said I MUST immediately raise my goal to $5000 and shoot for the $5k jersey. I did exactly that and I ended up raising $5300.
I was never more humbled by my family and friends for helping me reach that level. I wore that jersey so proudly I thought I would burst.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on fundraising but here are some ideas that worked for me…
Don’t be afraid to make the ask. Use every delivery channel you have access to including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, conversations with friends, coworkers and strangers (at a party for example). You would be amazed at how many people have had AIDS/HIV touch their lives and want to help you help others. If someone indicates they want to give, get out your phone right then and there, ask for their email address and send them an email with your link (helpful hint, setup your email signature to include your fundraising page link). Don’t let the opportunity pass by thinking oh I don’t want to bother them now, I’ll do it later. Seize the moment. If someone wants to donate, ask if their place of employment has a donation matching program. A donation can be doubled with that match.
Some of your friends and family might be unemployed or on a fixed income and unable to donate. Ask them to help by generating excitement on your posts by clicking LIKE, dropping a comment of encouragement, sharing the post with their friends. Getting a lot of likes and comments will help float a post to the top of the news feed and get the attention it deserves.
Use topical events as a way to open the door for the ask. For example when the infamous founder of the Westbourough Baptist Church, Fred Phelps was on deaths doorstep I made a fundraising ask. I said I wasn’t trying to malign the pending death of dear old Fred but if you wanted to give to my fundraising effort as a poke in the eye to the WBC, please donate now! I raised $150 that day.
If you have access to perform an email merge, create an email list of friends, family, colleagues that aren’t on your social networking channels and send them a personalized message. I use gmail and an extension called FlashIssue. It allowed me to create a great looking template and perform the merge. After you send the email, follow up in a couple of weeks if they haven’t donated with a personal note or better yet a phone call.
AIDS/LifeCycle has a great playlist of training videos on setting up your fundraising page, telling your story and using their tools for uploading your email contacts and generating email blasts. Click here to view the playlist. You are not alone in your efforts. Talk with your fellow riders, your cyclist representative, TRL’s, we are all happy to give ideas.
The bottom line is to talk about what you are doing and why. Tell your story and end with making the ask.
People want to help, give them the chance to do so. Make the ask….
— Curtis Paullins