Need some help raising money for that charity race you've just signed up for? Self has some smart tips from an Ironman pro on how to get your friends, family, and even strangers excited to help you raise funds.
In addition to most race-entry fees costing some serious bones, you might (read: probably will) be required to do some fundraising.
And if you're all like, "WTF. I have to pay $120 to enter the race, then buy running shoes, a tri kit, a wetsuit, a bike, a helmet, cycling shoes, sunglasses, and a serious supply of Aquaphor. And on top of that you need me to raise a four-figure number for a charity?!"
Well, you're not alone. It's a pretty big financial responsibility. But it doesn't have to be such a pain.
I tapped tri pro and fundraising queen Kendra Goffredo (pictured here, killin' it at Ironman championships in Kona, HI) for tips on how to make asking people for a lot of money not only easy, but also enjoyable — and because her story is so dang inspiring.
First, a little history on Goffredo: As of November 2010, she didn't know how to swim, and she didn't own a bike. She just knew how to run. Still, she signed up for Ironman Arizona 2011. (Bananas, right?!) She did this because of her father, Poppy Tony. He's fighting multiple myeloma, a bone cancer without a cure. Although progress has been made in treating the disease, the five-year average survival rate remains one of the lowest of all cancers. It is also one that Poppy Tony has well outlived: 10 years and counting! If he could outperform all odds, so could Goffredo cover distances she never thought possible. And in her first year of triathlon-ing, she completed four full Ironman races and won the amateur title at Ironman US Championship. High-freaking-five, homegirl. We're seriously impressed.
So for more on her fundraising story, I Q'd, she A'd. Here's how it went down.
JE: Since you started racing in 2009, you've raised nearly $50,000 for the MMRF, right?
KG: More than $55,000, actually.
JE: Wowza. How?
KG: In both old-school and innovative ways.
JE: Go on . . .
KG: First, I created a campaign called, "Team Poppy Tony" for my father. This demonstrated that the MMRF was a foundation that I believed in and that I didn't view any donations simply as a way to grab a bib for a sold out marathon or tri.
Then I sent emails to family, friends, classmates, and colleagues to let them know about Team Poppy Tony, multiple myeloma, and about the great work that the MMRF does for people like my father. I also highlighted my race goals and included info about the type of training I would undergo to reach those goals. I included the link for easy online donations.
JE: Do you ever use social media?
KG: I posted huge milestones (e.g., first 50-mile ride, first 4,000-yard swim, two months until race day) to Twitter and Facebook with status updates like, "Today I biked 50 miles: one step closer to completing a full Ironman. Join Team Poppy and bring us one step closer to a cure for multiple myeloma," or "On my 100 mile bike ride today, I burned nearly 2,000 calories. Join Team Poppy Tony and burn calories vicariously through me."
I also post "Team Poppy Tony Fun Facts" on my blog, which tell stories of my father's impact on my life, as well as highlight other family and friends who have supported Team Poppy Tony. These fun facts are part of building the community around the cause, and helping people see that the MMRF is making a difference in the lives of real people.
Read on for more money-raising tips.
JE: How do you thank donors?
KG: I give public recognition to all donors on Facebook and send personal notes (hand-written, snail mail on a picture of my family) to all donors expressing heartfelt gratitude for their contribution.
JE: What do you do when there's a lull in contributions?
KG: I like to call that "fundraiser fatigue." When that happens, you have to get innovative.
JE: And how have you done that?
KG: Once I organized a huge raffle and silent auction for more than 300 local triathletes and cyclists for (the grand prize was a $3,000 road bike along with $9,000 in other goodies from top gear brands like Oakley, Pearl Izumi, Rev3, and Roxy). I leveraged relationships with triathlon shops and companies, race and camp directors, and other local shops to collect these prize donations. That night I raised $13,000 for MMRF.
JE: Dang! That's a big-time accomplishment. But to be frank, it sounds like a lot of work. What's the easiest way for someone to raise funds?
KG: To send emails with a clear purpose sharing the charity's mission, the importance it has to you, and your goals for the upcoming race.
JE: Old-school. I like it. And what's this "gift-matching" thing people talk about? That sounds pretty easy too.
KG: Some companies match donations made by their employees. My cousin donated $100, and since his company pledges to "match" all donations made to nonprofit organizations, he filled out some paperwork and the MMRF received a total of $200 from my cousin's single donation.
JE: Awesome. But still, being required to raise a lump sum on top of the entry fee, gear costs, and training regimen can be enough to discourage someone from racing at all. So what kind of advice do you have for those people?
KG: Find a charity with a mission that moves you.
JE: You make it sounds so easy.
KG: There are so many people in this world who, for financial, physical, or cultural reasons, cannot participate in triathlon or other endurance sports. Those of us who are healthy enough to swim-bike-run, who are in a position to afford running shoes, who live in communities where it is safe to train, and in countries where our sex does not prohibit our participation in athletics, owe it to the rest of our brothers and sisters who, for financial, physical, or cultural reasons, can't swim-bike-run. When a racer finds a cause she believes in, the cause can help to motivate her to run for those who can't. For example, every time I step into my running shoes, I acknowledge that I am doing something that my father once loved to do, taught me to do, but can no longer do himself because of the toll that cancer has taken on his bones. When I race, I race for both of us.
JE: Amen! So you'd say even though it can be another thing to worry about on your already slammed to-do list, it's worth it in the end?
KG: Fundraising for a race is providing deeper meaning to an otherwise selfish pursuit. Time spent training is time spent away from one's friends, children, and community. Using sport to raise funds and awareness allows the racer's sweat equity to add value to the lives of cancer fighters, wounded warriors, underprivileged children, and others in need of support. Training and racing for someone other than oneself can provide the unmotivated triathlete with a push out of out the front door. When I train, I train for multiple myeloma fighters, many of whom are not healthy enough to swim-bike-run themselves. That reminder helps me reject the excuses my sleep-loving-self invents when the alarms sounds at 5 a.m. My training is more consistent and focused because I don't make it about me.
So basically, fundraising doesn't have to be a burden. And Goffredo rocks. And so does Poppy Tony. If you are moved to donate to their cause, here's the link, again.
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