A sizeable percentage of riders who cross continents will often do it as a charity ride. A common question that often comes up is how to go about getting sponsors so that the ride is a success for the individual riding and also the charity that's hopefully receiving.
Dave outlines a number of the elements that can help you to raise money for your favourite charity. One element that he doesn't mention but that I think should be is persistance. As you will read it takes a lot of effort to raise sponsors, especially when you are doing it for a cause while independently funding your own expenses.
Most of the regular readers of this website will be familiar with cycle touring, and hopefully, a good few of the site's visitors may be encouraged take up this pastime. We had long nurtured the dream of cycling our country from coast to coast, and finally last year we said "Let's just do it!" After all, what is 10,000 kilometers anyway?! (6,250 miles to our American readers!)
We have both participated in many officially organized events to raise funds for charities - running, cycling, walking relays, etc. so we thought, why not try and use our ride to raise funds for a good cause?
For a number of reasons, not least of which is their annual 200km bike trek, we have chosen the Lung Association, and if any of you live close enough to
Vancouver, BC, please visit their website and maybe join us. Perhaps we will see you on the road in September!
Now comes the difficult bit - fund raising, and the cycling is probably going to be the easiest part of your adventure! The first thing to realize is that big corporations exist to make money - they are not philanthropic societies. Their websites write about being "good corporate citizens" and having departments "dedicated to sponsorship" which is all very true, but they seem to dedicate all of their charity budgets to big ticket events that provide them a lot of PR. So, unless you are fortunate enough to know somebody high on a corporate ladder, your chances of getting corporate funding for your ride are pretty remote.
We came up with a few good ideas to tempt the big guys, such as visiting their local outlets with our bikes and posters acknowledging their support, big slots on our website with links to their own sites, and in towns we visit that also have a sponsor's outlet, use local radio to advertise our venture and hence air time for the sponsor. So far, we regret to advise we have had no luck - not a single dollar, but lots of "best wishes". However, nobody said it was going to be easy, so we shall persevere until we finish that last kilometer of the home straight!
Although a couple of folk on bikes come nowhere near the corporations' favored national and international
events that provide mega exposure, don't let that deter you from trying. Develop a good line, and then aim your letter/email/phone call to the right person who can often be discovered from corporate websites. Go to their "about us" pages and check for a list of directors/managers - these often list the managers' roles. Failing that, use a search engine that may reveal other sites operated by the same corporation - often you will find the Shareholders AGM listed, and the agenda usually includes election of officers along with their relevant responsibilities. Look for sponsorship, public relations, or sales managers. A personal email address when listed, may bypass the ever-vigilant secretary looking to filter out just your kind of requests!
The next step is to turn your attention to smaller, local businesses. Here you can also try the local outlet of big corporations as they may have funds for simpler local events. Go along to the local radio and local newspapers with a story about you, your past adventures, and the ride you are planning - make it newsworthy, and just mention in passing the charity you are supporting. The aim here is to get known locally, not necessarily to get funding from the local media.
Start off with visits to the enterprises you use regularly, and tell them about your plans. It is a good idea to have a website to show them. If you own, or can "borrow" a laptop, you can make a dummy "offline" version that includes their local logo to show them what you can do if they cough up some cash!
Once you have the first sponsor on your site, no need for the dummy version any more - just show them your site with others sponsors logos and links. If you haven't done so yet, now is a good time to visit our site and you will see how we did it by following the link "Donate for Dave/Maxine" and you will see how this links direct to the BC Lung secure site for donors to make online contributions. ( While you are there, perhaps you would like to donate a few dollars!! )
A word of caution about websites - their cost. Unless you can launch one yourself, or have a friend to do it and maintain it for free, you could end up paying out more than you collect!
Another possibility is to print up some flyers, and ask these same local businesses to display them. Keep the flyer simple, but include methods of making donations - phone numbers, websites, etc. If you belong to, or have a close friend that belongs to a sports club, get a flyer posted there. The more you publicize yourself, the better chance you have of getting donations.
You can also make up a "thank you" flyer to be placed at any business that sponsors you, something like " Xxxxxxx is pleased to thank Yyyyyy Ltd for donating to this cause. Please also help us raise funds for this cause by donating to (add your details)"
Whatever methods you adopt, it is a good idea to make sure that people know that all the funds you raise go direct to the nominated charity. If your charity has an official website with secure on-line donation facilities, then donors will see that their funds don't go to you. But also get official tax receipts from your charity - not everyone can donate on-line.
People will be more inclined to give when they realize that you are doing the whole thing at your own cost, and you are not trying to cover any of your own incidental expenses.
We are still in the early stages of seeking donations for our Trek, so if we get any new ideas, this article will be updated. In the meantime, good luck, and if you have any doubts just ignore them and go for it!
Submitted by Dave and Maxine - Courtenay, BC Canada
You can learn more about Dave and Maxine's adventures in fund raising and on the road at Dave and Maxine's Bicycle Trek for Life and Breath 2005.
Tell A Friend about this page!
Copyright © 2004 - 2011James Noble All rights reserved.