Over the past 18 months I’ve been able to race for a purpose bigger than myself. Last year I raised money for a military charity, and this year, as I’ve been training to run my half marathon, I’ve been fundraising as a St. Jude Hero. To date, I’ve banked $750 for the children’s hospital. Racing for a cause can be hugely rewarding. Knowing that I’m training as part of a group raising funds, that I’m making a bigger difference in the lives of others, drives me to put in the hours. But fundraising is also hard work! Today I’m sharing a few tips to help you reach your fundraising goal as you train to reach your race goal.
Pick Your Cause Well
Some races, such as the Rock n’ Roll series, have charity entries where you receive a free race spot (and sometimes VIP perks) if you raise a certain amount of money for their charity partner. This can be a great way to seamlessly integrate your racing and fundraising. Just know that you’ll be asked to provide a credit card number, and if you fail to reach your goal, you will be charged for the balance. If you want to raise money outside of a formal relationship, it’s going to be easiest to raise money for a cause that you’re already knowledgeable and passionate about. Pick a reputable charity (go to charitynavigator.org to vet your chosen cause) and research their website to see if they have an ambassador or fundraising program in place. If not, reach out and see if they have suggestions on how to get involved.
Let Technology Help
There are a whole host of online fundraising software programs that will help make your fundraising easier, and most charities who run reputable fundraising programs should provide you with access to a platform. These platforms allow you to set up your own fundraiser profile and easily share your unique link to family, friends and social media. They also keep you from having to handle a bunch of checks or cash, and make it simpler for the charity to send thank you notes and donor receipts. Set up your profile asap and take advantage.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Money and Support
One of the biggest hangups people have with fundraising is that they don’t like to ask for money. It was something I definitely had to get over! But once I did, I was shocked by the response. No one told me to go away or to stop annoying them. Instead they donated, shared my fundraising link on their own social media, or asked me to remind them to give a donation at another time. If you write a personal, brief email about what the charity does, why you’re raising funds for them, and end with a specific call to action (such as, “Please go to my personal fundraising link to donate: <insert link here>”), they’ll likely be moved, not annoyed.
If you only do one email, or one Facebook post, or one phone call, it’s easy for people to forget your fundraiser. We’re all busy! While talking about your cause a lot might feel like overkill to you, remember that it’s just one fleeting moment in someone else’s day. That’s why multiple reminders are crucial! Send an initial email and then a follow up a month later. Post to Facebook once a week with your progress. Put your fundraising link in your Instagram bio. You don’t have to make people feel like you’re hunting them down for money, but multiple reminders and shares are going to help get people to push the donate button now instead of putting it off until later and eventually forgetting.
Stuck? Think about which groups you belong to- church, training groups, work, school, alumni friends, volunteer organizations. Don’t be afraid to ask those people to help out. Run a donation-based yoga or bootcamp class for your colleagues. Does your company have a gift matching program? Find out what the max limit is and how you can take advantage of it. Events can be another way to go- some restaurants have fundraising programs where you pass out fliers and the store will donate a portion of purchase when someone brings the flier in. Think outside the box to jumpstart your fundraising.
Say Thank You
Most importantly, don’t forget to say thank you! Keep track of each person who donates. Call out big donations through your social media feeds. Send a thank you text or email, and do one big round of written thank you notes when your event is over. I turned one of my finishers photos into a thank you card and sent them to everyone who donated. Take the time to thank everyone who takes the time to support you and your chosen cause!
I would be remiss if I didn’t include a link to my own fundraising efforts for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. I hope you’ll consider making a donation here: