If you’ve never done anything like this before, the idea of fundraising may be intimidating. It’s never easy to ask for money, but by following these suggestions, it will not be difficult to raise the funds for your participation in the ACT Ride.
Don’t wait to begin your fundraising. If you have a fear of asking for pledges, begin today. The sooner you get your first donation, the better you’ll feel about the process and the easier it will be to ask others for donations. Keep in mind that the money will be going toward an excellent cause. Set a personal goal beyond the minimum pledge amount. Make it your goal to raise double or even triple the $1,200 minimum for Riders or the $200 suggested goal for Crew.
The ACT Ride uses an online fundraising system called Kintera. You are able to set up a customized fundraising home page that will allow your donors to donate online, see how close you are to achieving your goal, view photos, read stories and see anything else that you wish to share.
How to Accomplish Your Goal
These basic steps will help you meet your goal:
Make a list of everyone you know, then everyone they know. Include friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, business associates, your hair stylist, bank teller, teacher, etc. Think about potential major contributors and people you want to ask for donations face to face.
Gather email addresses and create a fundraising message using one of the templates on the website. Send out emails to everyone you have an email address for.
Write and mail your first fundraising letter. Sample letters can be found later in this section of the manual.
Follow your pledge letter up with phone calls. Schedule a House Party to tell your friends and family about the Ride and ask for pledges.
Share Your Ride Story
Tell everyone you know about the Ride. Tell them why you’re doing the ACT Ride and what your goals are. Your excitement will inspire others. Carry pledge forms or your fundraising page website address with you everywhere. That way, if someone you don’t see often wants to contribute after hearing your story, you can hand him or her the necessary information.
Tip: By asking for donations, you may be stepping outside your comfort level. Remember, you’re asking for money for a cause, not for yourself.
Ask and keep asking. You will not receive donations unless you ask for them. The more you ask, the more you’ll raise. Once you’ve asked for your first few donations, you will be amazed at how easy it will become. Remember, practice makes perfect. Many people think that most of the money for charitable contributions comes from large corporations. You may be surprised to learn that ninety-five percent of all money donated to charities comes from individual donors.
Asking for a Specific Dollar Figure
Many people who are experienced with fundraising suggest specifying how much you’d like your potential contributors to donate. This eliminates the question, “How much do people usually donate?” Prior to asking for a specific amount, review your list of potential donors and decide how much you can ask each of them for. You might suggest someone donate the amount they spent on their last social outing -- whether it was renting a movie or eating in a four-star restaurant.
If you are going to ask for a large dollar amount, consider asking in person, and perhaps take the potential donor to lunch. Be prepared. Think about how you’re going to ask. Rehearse what you’d like to say to the potential donor. Once you’ve asked, give the donor time to either answer or ask you some questions.
Here are some ideas past riders have used with success:
Bake sale: enlist the help of a few coworkers and arrange (with permission from your employer) a day to sell goods donated from local bakeries or friends and family. Advertise your cause!
Birthday/house warming party: Ask people to donate in lieu of gifts. Send out invitations in advance.
Buy-a-part: Put up a big poster of a bike and let people at work buy "parts" of the bike ($20 for the tires, $50 for the pedals, etc), and put their names on the part they contributed towards.
Car wash: Use an available empty parking lot and get lots of friends and family to help out. This could be a lot of fun on a hot summer day.
Casual day: If your workplace has a dress code, convince your employer to allow a "casual day" where people pay a certain amount of cash to wear their favorite pair of jeans. Be sure to wear your ACT gear that day!
Collection from your congregation: If you are a member of a church or religious/spiritual organization, approach the pastor/leader to see if you could advertise your cause in the weekly bulletin. Perhaps a collection could be taken up in your honor or you could have an assembly for interested members after the weekly service with one of our House Party speakers showing the video and doing the asking for you.
Concert/jam session: Get a friend’s band to play and invite all your friends. Charge admission.
Door-to-door canvassing: Be sure to bring a friend. Only do this in neighborhoods in which you are familiar. Be prepared to answer lots of questions. An alternative is to put your fundraising letter in an envelope and deliver to all the houses in your neighborhood. Tip: It’s illegal to put something in a mailbox you haven’t put postage on. Leave it inside the door or under a doormat instead.
Garage sale: Ask your friends, family and even neighbors to clean out their closets of any old, unused or unwanted items and sell them. Make sure to indicate that your profits will benefit your efforts. You can also get local businesses (especially the ones that you patronize) to donate goods or services (coffee, bagels) that you can also sell, silent auction or raffle off (or simply use a donation jar). Advertise around the community and in the paper.
Hill-free "Century" on a stationary bike: Contact a gym or bicycle shop that would let you do this to raise money. Have people pledge you and you can do a hundred miles for fun!
Host a fashion/talent show: Get a theatre or nightclub to donate use of a stage and sell tickets to benefit your ride.
Plant sale: Buy packets of seeds and plant them in little pots. Sell them at your garage sale.
Shave your head: Offer to shave your head if you raise a certain dollar amount.
T-shirts: Dream up a funky design and get a local T-shirt printing shop to donate them. Then sell the T-shirts to other ACT participants, family and friends.
Work department contest: Don’t limit yourself to the department where you work. Let home offices, district offices and sister offices know your commitment. Do this through email, interdepartment memos, faxes, etc (with permission). Hold a contest to see which department can raise the most pledges.
Talk About the Ride
Just talking about the Ride and informing people of your progress can bring strangers out from nowhere willing to donate $20 bills. You will find that your actions inspire others to give of themselves in return. Remember, you are doing an incredible thing. People want to be a part it and you only need to give them the chance!
Bring It Home
Ask! Ask! Ask!
Don’t be worried that you are asking people for too much money. If they are unable to give, they will tell you.
Remember, no one ever gave away his or her last dime!
Thanks to Vicki Huss, ACT participant, for her creative ideas.