The Letter Campaign
A personalized letter is the most basic tool of fundraising, and that’s because it works. Regardless of whatever else you do, write a letter first! Use it to explain the facts — that you will be participating in The SMART Ride, a 2 day, 165 mile bicycle event from Miami to Key West, and that you would like to offer them the opportunity to help you support people living with HIV and AIDS. Include some facts about AIDS and our beneficiaries, and why this is important to you. Send your letter to everyone you have an email or mailing address for, and then look for more addresses and send even more letters. Don’t forget to include a link to your Facebook page (not a bad idea to set up one for the ride that you can use as a blog), or a donation form and a pre-addressed return envelope or best yet, point them to your pledge page.
Your Own Backyard
There are countless opportunities to raise money within a few miles of your home. Think about it: the coffee shop, gym, workplace, laundromat, car wash, supermarket, newsstand, dry cleaners, video store, dentist’s office, bar, deli, parking lot, bike shop, and pizza place. You patronize these businesses all of the time — ask them to help you out with your fundraising effort. How?
- Just ask for the donation.
- Put a poster in the window, explaining what you are doing and how to help.
- Display a donation box and/or letters and donation forms on the counter.
- Ask the business to donate a portion of their proceeds on a given day. (Check places like Whole Foods)
- Offer to wear their name on a t-shirt during the ride in exchange for a donation.
Get Out and About
Make contact with as many people as possible throughout your everyday life. Make sure they know what you're doing, and take advantage of the opportunity to fundraise. Your friends and family will be more than happy to support you, but go outside your comfort zone and inner circle.
- Throw a party! Ask everyone who attends to write a check when they enter the front door. (Let them know in advance why they are being invited and remind them to bring their checkbook or credit card)
- Host an event — nights in a local bar, a 50/50 raffle, or get a few prizes to raffle off.
- Ask your friends to ask their friends for donations.
What about work?
Your place of work can be another good source of donations. The company may actually sponsor you…
- Just ask for money.
- Then, ask for more — see if your company has a matching gift program.
- Send an e-mail to the entire company with a link to your donation page.
- Set up a small display — hang your SMART Ride poster in a prominent place. (ask and we’ll get you one, you can also help us get these into the community)
- Approach clients, vendors, or anyone else that your company does business with (make sure it’s OK with the boss!).
- During lunch host a meeting and do a presentation about The SMART Ride and your commitment to the cause.
Timing is Everything
Special circumstances can provide an ideal opportunity to grab a donation. For example:
- Use March & April to suggest a great way to use tax refunds.
- Birthday coming up? Ask for donations in lieu of presents.
- Throw a Super Bowl party, selling betting squares with 50% of the money going into the pot and 50% towards your fundraising goal. Who knows — maybe the person who wins the pot will graciously choose to donate those winnings towards you goal as well!
- Do the same with Golden Globes and Oscar parties — put together a sheet of all the nominees for all categories and get everyone to select who they think will win. You can do this as a party, or even as an office pool.
The Internet and e-mail have significantly affected the fundraising world. Use them to your advantage:
- Let people know that they can make donations on your behalf at https://thesmartride.org/donate by entering your last name!
- Add a message on your personal e-mail signature about your SMART Ride participation and a link to donate to you.
Use your creativity, whatever it may be. Everyone has the ability to do something well; sell your product or skill to benefit your fundraising campaign. A few ideas: cookies, lapel pins, chili, short stories, tax preparation abilities, photographs, babysitting time, car washing, raffles, tutoring, personal training (ooh ha! Who doesn’t want to work out with a stud/ess?), t-shirts, designated driving, dog-walking, Yoga, errand-running, pool care, cooking a meal for friends.
There’s no limit to creative, effective fundraising techniques. The following is a quick list of many more ways to get reach your fundraising goals.
Garage Sale – Ask your friends to do the same. Put it in your front yard and sell, sell, sell! Put all the money raised toward your fundraising goal!
Bake Sale – Make cakes and pies and cupcakes for the holidays and sell them!
We Love Pennies – Everyone saves pennies. They throw them in draws, in boxes, in jars, have a get-together, and have everyone bring their pennies, or even better their loose change!
Office Fundraising Challenge – Speak with everyone in your office and get them to challenge each other to raise the highest amount. Give the winner a prize, like movie passes or a gift certificate to a local restaurant.
Voicemail Message – This will alert everyone who calls you that you are “out training”, even if you're not! Let them know that you need their support and direct them to your pledge page.
Facebook– Regularly update your status, let people know how your training is going, tell funny stories and ask ask ask for a donation. You’d be amazed by how many people will be willing to help you.
Tip Back Day– Ask a local bartender to donate tips for one night. You can create a sign for the bartender to place on the bar stating that “All tips collected tonight will go directly to “Amazing Susan/Bob” who’s riding in the SMART Ride.” If the patrons see that sign they may be willing to dig a little deeper in their pockets, and maybe, just maybe you’ll recruit a new rider.
Fundraising Dinner at your Favorite Restaurant – Ask your favorite restaurant/s to donate a portion of the evening sales back to you! Pick a slow night for the restaurant, tell all your friends, blast e-mail lit out, and put it on your Facebook or other social media page. You fill the restaurant, and the restaurant fills your pocket with 10-15% of the bill.
Happy Hour party – Invite all your friends (and their friends!) and get them to sign your cycling jersey. Charge $10.00 per signature.
Movie ticket donation – Ask your local movie theater to donate several tickets. Sell them and put the money towards your pledges.
Local theater donation – Ask a local theater to donate a couple of tickets to one of their plays or musicals and auction them off.
Delegate – Give 10 of your friends 10 donation forms and ask them to help raise money for you.
Local Artists or Photographers – Find a local artist or ask a creative friend to donate a piece of art or some jewelry to be auctioned.
House Warming Party – Are you moving anytime soon? If so, ask your friends to make a donation instead of purchasing a gift for your new place.
Monthly Newsletter – put pictures and tell stories, thank people who have sponsored, and do it as a self-mailer. You’ll be surprised how this helps gently remind those who have “forgotten” or “meant to” but hadn’t gotten around to that donation.
Business Cards – Print up some inexpensive business cards (you can usually get them for free from www.vista.com). Include all of the pertinent information on the card – your name, your rider or crew number, the link to donate directly to you, and information about The SMART Ride. Hand these out to everyone you meet!
Doctor/Dentist/Gynecologist – Hopefully you won’t have to put them under anesthesia or pull teeth to get them to help you out a little!
Chiropractor – They have cracked your back. Now ask them to crack open their checkbook and make a donation.
Teach a Yoga Class – You have bent over backward… now it is their turn to do the same for you!
The Media – Call your favorite radio station and ask them to make an announcement on the air. They may even interview you.
Collect While You Pump – Ask your gym to place a Donation Jar at the front desk! Leave a stack of donation forms at the counter, too.
Spinning Class – Have a stack of donation forms with you and ask your spinning instructor to make an announcement in class, or just talk to everyone there!
Hair Salon – Ask your barber or hairdresser to donate $5.00 from every haircut they complete over one weekend.
Neighbors – Write to all your neighbors on your block (or in your building) telling them what you’re training for and asking them to donate.
Free Rent! – Ask your landlord to donate one month’s rent to the cause! It can’t hurt!
Special Events – There are always places like Parrott Jungle, Disney, MGM Studios, Lion Safari, local aquariums, IMAX, Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Flagler Museum… and the list goes on. Contact them see if you can get them to donate a day at their business and have them give you a percentage of your friends' entrance fees. Invite your friends to an outing; they pay the normal price, and you get to make some money and hang with your friends.
Work Communication – Does your company distribute a newsletter? Run a story on what you're doing. Take advantage of these! It’s a perfect way to get the word out.
House sit – Friends going out of town for a while? Maybe they will pay you to watch their dog or their house – or both.
Neighborhood Chores – Are you a Mr. or Ms. Fix-it? A lot of your neighbors would probably rather pay you than someone else. Place signs around your neighborhood advertising your services (i.e. watering gardens, cleaning roof gutters, sweeping the driveway, fixing an easy plumbing problem, painting a room, etc.)
Karaoke Night – Who cares if you can’t carry a tune? Spend a Friday night at a Karaoke Bar and sing your heart out! Have the announcer tell the crowd that you’re singing for donations!
eBay – Remember the garage sale idea? Auction off the remaining items on eBay.
Company Vacation Days – Ask your boss or human resources director if they can swap one of your vacation days for a day’s pay.
Sell Spokes – Sell each bicycle spoke on your bike for $20.00 each.
Auction off A Date – Self-explanatory ;)
In memory of… – If you are riding in memory of a loved one, include a picture of them on your pledge letter, on posters, etc.
Game Night – Get out those board games and start playing! Break into teams and let the fun begin.
Bowling Nights – Plan a fun night of bowling at the local alley. Ask the owner to waive the fees and you can collect that money and apply it to your campaign.
Curse Jar – We love this one. Place a Curse Jar in your office, and whenever someone says a bad word, they have to put a dollar in the jar.
Dress Down Day – Ask your company to allow an official SMART Ride Dress Down Day. For the privilege of dressing down, employees donate $20.00 toward the ride.
Company Grants – Find out if your company offers grants to employees who volunteer their time for charitable causes. If so, you can volunteer your time at The SMART Ride and get paid grant money for the work. You may need a letter from us stating that you’ll be volunteering in the office, and we’d be happy to make that happen.
Church/Temple/Place of worship Bulletin – Place an advertisement in your church bulletin letting the congregation know what you’re up to!
Red Ribbon Distribution – Create small red ribbons to bring awareness to our fight against HIV/AIDS. Sell them at a local AIDS Walk, Pride Fest, or at the office.
Is there a teacher in the house? – Get your students to help you fundraise. Kids are incredibly creative and cute, too! Have them put together those red ribbons for you! (at the same time you may be educating and raising awareness)
Music Sells – If you know any musicians, ask them to perform a benefit concert. Tell people that their admission ticket is a check made out to The SMART Ride and your participant number.