Fundraising can be a challenge for some people, which is why we created this Fundraising Guide. Riders are required to raise a minimum of $1,500 in donations to participate. Crew members are not required to fundraise, however, a suggested goal of $250 is appreciated. If you are on a team, Rider and Crew funds can be combined to reach the minimums of each rider on the team. If a Rider is short of their $1,500 minimum, it may be covered by another rider who has raised more than the minimum and/or crew funds raised; making fundraising less of a challenge for those who are unable to raise the minimum. Talk to your team captain and/or contact the Ride office for questions or further information.
Why We Ride
By now you may have registered for the Ride. You are charged up and motivated by the inspiring words you have heard from people connected to the Ride. You feel connected to something REALLY IMPORTANT and can't wait to join other Riders and Crew to make a difference for people living with HIV/AIDS. You want to get on the road, and even crave Gatorade. This is probably the most exciting physical challenge of your life. How amazing do you feel?
The thing you must keep in mind about your fundraising is that it's the reason we are riding. It's why we're here to raise necessary, crucial dollars for the nine beneficiaries of the Minnesota Red Ribbon Ride. The money you raise is the concrete link between you and the people who will benefit from your efforts. Yes, as a participant on the Ride, whether it's as a Rider or Crew member, you get to have this amazing, life-changing experience. But the most important reason for this event is to raise those funds for the people who need them most.
The realization that this event is a service to those in need is an important first step and can help alleviate your anxiety about fundraising. You aren't asking for yourself, but instead for a cause that you believe in and are committed to. Committed enough to ride 300+ miles in the middle of summer and while camping each night in a tent. When most potential donors hear about the Ride and your commitment to it, they are more than happy to contribute. In fact, they want to contribute and often help spread the word about your cause.
For many people, fundraising seems more difficult than training. But we promise you, it's just as thrilling. The first time you receive a large donation feels like reaching the top of your first big hill. The love and support you receive from donors is as powerful as the love and support you receive from people who cheer you on the road. And the only way you're going to raise money is to start asking for it. It's a simple formula; you ask, ask, and then ask again. The more people you ask, the more pledges you will receive. And the more people you ask, the more comfortable you will feel every time you do it. And don't do yourself or the beneficiaries the disservice of thinking that $1500 is some kind of 'limit." It is merely a minimum. We strongly encourage you to go far beyond that amount. The more money we raise means the more money that goes into the hands of the beneficiaries.
You are going to have to do something many of us are terrified of ask other people for money. It can be a touchy subject, and often we just avoid it. We are here to help you step over that line and take the steps necessary to raise your fundraising minimum, and even go beyond it.
But in order to get those donations, you need to start asking.
Where do I Begin?
Fundraising Tools & Links
Who Do I Ask?
Simple ask EVERYBODY YOU KNOW. You need to generate a list of potential donors, from friends and family to coworkers, associates, neighbors, and to the person who cuts your hair. Think about people for whom you have made charitable contributions. Honestly, your list of potential donors cannot be too long. Go through your address book, and then double-check that you didn't miss somebody. You will be very surprised to find out the generosity that lies within the people you know. Many of them will be moved by your commitment, and some of them may also be personally affected by HIV/AIDS and want to make some kind of difference.
The other thing you need to do is to start talking about the Minnesota Red Ribbon Ride. Talk about it. It's an amazing conversation starter. People are fascinated when you tell them you're going to ride 300+ miles for HIV/AIDS service organizations. They want to know your story. Once you start talking, word gets around, and you will find that is as powerful a fundraising tool as anything you could do.
You have several powerful tools in your fundraising approach. Those tools are the Internet, the letter campaign, the Houseparty, and the face-to-face ask. Once you have generated your list of potential donors, you simply need to decide what method is most appropriate to use with them.
Your Personal Page
As a registered Rider or Crew you may already know about your personal page in the Ride Center. Fundraising online, using your personal page, is a quick and easy way for donors to make a donation at anytime. We provide you sample donation letters that you can easily email to people in your address book in an instant. It saves them the hassle of writing a check, addressing, stamping and mailing back your donation form. And once you email out your donation letter from your personal page you can have your friends and family forward it to their contact list! The more donations each participant raises, the more money that goes to the benefiting agencies.
Many people choose to do a large letter campaign to their potential donors. It's quite simple really. You draft a letter that describes the Minnesota Red Ribbon Ride and your reasons for doing it. Make sure in your letter to include instructions for them to donate online if they'd like. For some Riders their fundraising letter incredibly personal expression of their passion and drive for participating in the Ride and making a difference for people living with HIV/AIDS. You may choose to include information about the beneficiaries, the amount you'll be training and preparing for the event. The choice is up to you. The thing to remember is that it's your personal message about why you're riding, and it should be tailored to the recipient. You probably aren't going to send the same to your brother that you send to your boss.
When you send your letter, make sure to include a donation form and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Your donors can go ahead and send donation forms to the Ride office who will post your donations on your personal page. (If you do not use the computer regularly you can call the Ride office for a donation update.)
The Face-to-Face Request
As you generate your list of donors, there may be a name or two that jumps out at you as a potentially large donor. If so, do not send those individuals your email or letter. Instead, meet with them individually and ask them to make a donation to the Ride. You will have the chance to truly share your enthusiasm and feeling for this event, the crucial need the beneficiaries have for these funds, and your hope that this person will share your commitment by making a contribution to the Ride.
You may have other opportunities to make face-to-face requests for donations. Do you have a regular staff meeting at work during which you could make a short presentation about the Red Ribbon Ride? Do you belong to a community group to whom you may speak? Get creative. Again, the more people you ask, the more money you will raise.
Don't want to do the asking? We'll do it for you. Just gather everyone you know in one place for a few hours, give them some food and beverages, and we'll send a trained speaker to talk about the Red Ribbon Ride. The speaker will ask your guests to make a donation to the Ride, and your minimum fundraising requirement could be met with just one gathering. If you are interested in a Houseparty speaker, call the Ride office (612-822-2110).
There certainly are other ways to raise your minimum pledges. You may even come up with some unique methods of your own. If you have a birthday or other 'occasion' coming up, ask friends and family to forego gifts and instead make a contribution in your name to the Ride. Groups of Riders may choose to fundraise as a "team." There is certainly power in numbers, and you are able to combine your efforts and contacts in order to raise your minimum. If you choose to fundraise as a team, you must be aware that donations need to be sent individually under each Rider's donation form. For example, if a team of 5 people raise $1,000 each Rider must send in $200, or however you split it up amongst the 5 of you, under their own donation form. If you have questions about team fundraising, please call the Ride office.
Keeping current and accurate track of your donations is extremely important. It will help relieve anxiety about your fundraising and allow you to concentrate on training. You will be able to log into and use this website to keep current track of your donations on your personal page. You will also be given the option to receive an automatic email when a person makes a donation on your behalf.
Involve Your Donors
You should follow simple rules of courtesy and gratitude once you receive a donation from someone. Always thank your donors personally. Keep them involved and part of your experience. You may choose to send a newsletter out to everyone who has supported you. Encourage donors to check out our website and your personal page. Keep them informed of your progress and training. Invite your donors to Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and to the cheering stations along the route (that information will be given out prior to the Ride). These people have made a sacrifice and commitment of their own in order to let you experience the Ride, and keeping them engaged and involved in your experience is a gratifying and meaningful experience for everyone. Is there someone special you wish to honor with your Ride experience? Do any of your donors have someone for whom you could do the same?
After the Ride
Once you have completed the Red Ribbon Ride, you can also send out one last request for donations...sharing your experience. You may want to send your donors a symbol of your experience, such as a great photo of you on your bike wish a personalized message. Again, this is all very personal and your best choice is the one that suits YOU.