The first step is to simply get started. Logging into your Participant Center, setting up your Homepage, raising your goal and seeding your fundraising campaign are just the beginning. To fundraise with success you need a plan that will strategically help you raise as much money as possible. Once you have a plan in place it's all about following through with it. Please attend our Fundraising Workshop - The F Word to really learn more about how to master the art of fundraising. 

Here are six effective fundraising steps to help you along the way.


1. Identify

When you plan your fundraising strategy the first thing you will do is create a list of all your potential donors. Who is on this list? Everyone you know; friends, family, colleagues, past co-workers, old school friends, your dentist, mechanic, doctor, etc. EVERYONE. When you make this list add everyone to it. If you skip someone you are saying no for them and they may have made a donation. You never know who has been impacted by HIV/AIDS so don't limit yourself.

Once you have your list your can then categorize them by the A,B,C,D's of fundraising. Attend our F Word workshop or contact the office to learn more. 

2. Connect

Connecting is the best way to start the conversation. You want to be sure to tell everyone you know that you are doing the Red Ribbon Ride and raising money for HIV/AIDS services, treatment, prevention and awareness. Let everyone know about your ambitious fundraising goal and that you are going to ride your bike 300 miles in 4 days. For Crew you will want to tell your potential donors that you are not required to fundraise but that YOU have a goal because it's that important to you. Your dedication and enthusiasm will inspire the people you know to support you with a donation. 

Connecting with your potential donors needs to continue well after the donor cycle. Be sure to check in with the people you know to see how they are doing, what's going on in their lives and listen to their stories. This can be as simple as "Liking" something of theirs on Facebook or sending a holiday card. This will make a huge difference when you return to the Ride the following year and begin your fundraising. 

3. Learn

There are several things that you will want to do in this step. Learn about the Benefiting Agencies, learn about HIV/AIDS today, and learn about your potential donors interest in the Ride, HIV/AIDS and making charitable donations. 

Learning about the Benefiting Agencies, the services they provide and the clients they serve will help you to advocate on their behalf. Knowing the stories of the clients can help you convey why it's important to raise money for HIV/AIDS services. These stories share the human aspect of the disease and how the Benefiting Agencies have been there to support them. The Red Ribbon Ride helps to make these services possible because of people like you who are willing to Ride 300 miles and ask for donations. 

Learning about HIV/AIDS facts and figures today is critical in being able to convey to your potential donor why they need to give now. AIDS is not a thing of the past. The rate of infection is continuing to increase, especially among people of color and women. We do have modern medicine which many people think have solved the problem but the cost of those medications are so high it is not possible for everyone to afford them. There is also prevention, education and testing work that is imperative. Understanding where we are in the epidemic today will help you impress the importance of this work onto your potential donors. 

Understanding where your donors interests are is also important. There are a lot of causes to support and HIV/AIDS might not be your potential donors cause. They may be really excited to support you which is great. The more you know about your potential donors interest in the AIDS epidemic the easier it will be to ask for a donation. If they are passionate about any aspect of what you are doing you are likely to get a larger donation. Not all of your potential donors donate. So if they are not a charitable giver don't take it personal when they say no. 

4. Ask

Ask, Ask, Ask! You have done the hard work and now it is time to ask all the people you know to donate. When people are asked "why did you donate?" most responses are "because someone asked me."

There are many different ways to ask for a donation and it all depends on the individual which way is best. In person is the number one way to ask for a donation and receive a donation. Sending emails, letters, posting on Facebook and other social media are also effective when done together. They are most effective when followed up with an in person ask.  Never assume people can't or won't donate. Ask and let them make that decision for themselves. 

When you ask for a donation it is best to ask for a specific dollar amount like $100, $250, $300, $500. This gives the donor something to think about in real terms and will help them make a decision. We want to be as straightforward and clear with our donors. If you are Veteran Rider or Crew member be sure to review your donors previous donations so you can ask them to match or increase that amount by 25%. You may also want to ask on or right before pay day because it could increase your responses. 

Be sure to let all of your donors know about the monthly payment plan. This option can take a $25 donation to $250 or more. 

If someone cannot give as much as you have asked for they will let you know. People will surprise you with their support. Most will say yes, how can I help. 

5. Follow Up

After you have made the ask you will need to follow up. Not everyone will give the first time you ask. Your friends, family and people you know have every intention of donating but many will procrastinate. So, they will need reminders. 

Sending email updates on your training and fundraising progress is a great way to remind everyone you are doing this event.  Making your letters personal will go a long way and could result in larger donations. 

If you keep reminding a specific person who has pledged to give set up a time that works for them to remind them. They will appreciate the individual attention. Remember they have the intention to give and are likely in the wrong place every time they remember this. 

Never apologize for asking for a donation! You are not asking people to help you with your bills. You are riding 300 miles on a bike or working hard all week as Crew. You are making a huge commitment and going out of your comfort zone to make a huge difference in the lives of other people. You are essentially creating a team of people who are dedicated to ending this epidemic. You will do all the sweaty hard work. Your journey will become their journey and their support will keep your wheels spinning. Together you will be making a difference. Keeping them engaged over the months to come is key.

6. Thank

There is no wrong way to thank a donor other than to not thank them. You likely said please when you asked for your donation, don't forget to say thank you. Once your donor has given be sure to follow up with a thank you note. This can be an email, hand written card, or letter. In addition to thanking your donors after their initial donation you will want to send them updates of your training and fundraising progress. 

 Before, during and after the Ride be sure to let your donors know where they can join the event. Have them send you off at Opening Ceremony, join you at Camp on night 3 for Friends & Family Night and cheer for you as you cross the finish line at the State Capitol Closing Ceremony. If they cannot physically join you connect them with our social media feed so they can see the event photos as the event is happening.

After the event you will want to recap your experience, let your donors know how much the Ride raised, how much your team raised and how much you and your donors raised. Showing your donors their part in the bigger picture is a rewarding way to be a part of such a big event. There are different ways you can send this final thank you. Send a photo of you from the ride, a news letter style email, a compilation of photos or a video. Get creative and thank them. Thanking your donors in this way helps to keep them engaged and appreciated. A happy donor will give again, and again, and again, and again.