As open registration for the Tanzania Cycle Challenge 2016 continues, I am sharing a series of articles documenting my own experience participating in the cycling and fundraising components of our 2014 Cycle Challenge event! If you missed it, I documented my beginner’s approach to starting to train for the event in my first article of the series. Today, I’d like to share with you the ways in which I and my fellow participants smashed our fund-raising goals!

The Cycle Challenge offers two options for payment and fundraising. The first option is to self-fund your participation (i.e. personally cover the costs of your own participation in the actual cycle challenge which is approximately £2,000-£2,100 depending on the number of participants) and then just raise as much funding as you can for Bread and Water for Africa UK programmes with no set target. The second option, is to raise funds totalling your cost of participation plus an extra set amount of approximately £900 for Bread and Water for Africa UK (a total of £3,000).

Each of these options has its own benefit for the fundraiser. In the first option, there is a greater personal financial responsibility to pay for your own costs, but thereafter, whilst fund-raising you can claim that 100% of the donations will be going to charity which often leads to greater success in soliciting support.

However, with the second option, the participant can raise funds for both the cost of their participation and for Bread and Water for Africa UK’s programmes, which poses a lesser personal financial burden on the participant. However, their total fund-raising goal is much higher and they must indicate that a portion of the funds they are raising will be going toward the cost of their participation. If they do not reach at least 80% of their fund-raising goal by the time of the event (and do not have any pledges in place), they may lose their place in the challenge.

So, how did I and my fellow participants in 2014 blow past these minimum fundraising targets and raise nearly £42,000 for our education programmes across Africa?

Your Justgiving Page

After registering for the Cycle Challenge, one of the first things you’ll be helped with is setting up your JustGiving page. This page will be the easiest way for you to share your fund-raising efforts with your network online. You can also track your overall progress toward your fund-raising target, including any offline donations that can be accounted for at the bottom of the page and mailed in separately to our PO Box. Whilst setting up your JustGiving page, you can even choose to set up a blog alongside it in order to document your training, your fundraising events and activities, and eventually the actual Cycle Challenge itself!

The Mass Network-wide E-mail/Facebook Post (with some personalisation)

The way to start and end your fund-raising efforts are one and the same – by reaching out to your existing network and letting them know what you’re doing! Many people will be enthusiastic to help you out when you first announce your effort, and when you let them know that the window for accepting donations is closing. You can do a lot to encourage gifts, particularly by including various giving levels and describing what each amount can accomplish for our partners in Africa.

Occasionally, I would take photos on a particularly difficult or long training ride and send around a light-hearted “training-update” email and include those photos and a fun narrative of how the ride went. At the end, I would remind everyone to give and suggest that they donate a pound per mile of misery I endured that day or something similar. Often this would combat some of the donation-request-fatigue that your network might be experiencing half way through your fundraising and cycling efforts.

A well timed Facebook post might help you garner a few smaller gifts from your wider network, as well! One thing to consider is whether or not there is another fundraising cause dominating social media at the time. For example, you wouldn’t want to post about your challenge page while there are many appeals for earthquake relief, etc.

Donate your birthday/a holiday where you might be receiving gifts

Building on the above suggestion, you may want to consider asking friends on Facebook or via email to make a donation in lieu of sending you a gift or buying you a drink on your birthday or for Christmas. Depending on how old you are turning, you could ask that they make a donation equal to the age you are turning! So if you are turning 36, perhaps your friends could donate £36?

Employer Match

If you are reaching out to your colleagues for donations or inviting them to a fund-raising event that you are organising, why not ask your employer to match the total sum donated by your fellow colleagues? This may not work if you are using Option 2 whereby you are fund-raising for both your participation and the charity, but if your funds are going toward charity, your company or organisation may have no problem with a charitable donation in support of something that their employees are also already donating to!

Game Night

A game night is a low-key and fun way to host something at home for your friends while raising awareness and funds for your challenge! I attempted this strategy personally by inviting a large group of friends via Facebook to bring a favourite game and make a suggested donation in the amount of £20 to my Justgiving page. I left my laptop open to the JustGiving page on my tabletop at home so that people could also donate upon arrival. One of my relatives had just recently gotten married and donated leftover Italian Soda syrups and sodas to the party along with a massive Jenga set. If you can get your hands on a Bingo set or an otherwise structured group game, you can try to solicit a donated gift card or gift set from a local business to offer as a prize to the game winner!

Pub Quiz

Our supporters have run a pub quiz on our behalf two years in a row now to much success, raising over £1,000 at the first pub quiz and nearly £2,500 at the second pub quiz! There are several ways to run a pub quiz, but the general premise is to design a quiz (which we can help with) – typically centred around facts about Africa – and then invite people to sign up in groups of 4-5 to compete. Charge an appropriate ticket cost to participants and accept donations on-site at the pub. You can also ask the pub whether they’d be willing to donate a percentage of proceeds from drinks and food purchased at the quiz night. Keep in mind that if you are able to solicit donated gift baskets or gift cards for the pub quiz winners and runners-up, you might be able to charge a higher price of participation!

Bake Sale

A bake sale is a pretty straightforward way to fund-raise! Rather than taking on a baking extravaganza alone, ask if your co-workers, church group, book club, running club, etc. would be willing to bring in baked goods to sell for your challenge fundraiser! Being able to provide a baked good for sale is often a easy way to get people involved, because each baked good can be sold for more than the cost of ingredients and time.  It’s also a fun activity for everyone to get involved with!

Garage Sale

A garage sale is another idea you’ve probably heard of before, but it’s still a great way to make progress toward your fund-raising target. Again, you can ask people if they have anything they are trying to get rid of and offer to take it off their hands and sell it for charity! This is a service that most people would love to take advantage of. Though a garage sale sounds like an easy endeavour, be sure to leave enough time for yourself to organise your sale items, solicit items from friends and family, and then to advertise your garage sale and put out signs.

Donate your services

Do you occasionally baby-sit in your neighbourhood? Or do you offer computer or website maintenance services? Do you teach someone an instrument? While I was fundraising for my Cycle Challenge goal, I told the parents that I occasionally nannied for that I would be donating half my service fees to charity for the next six months which was an easy way for me to add a little bit here and there to my pot, and often incurred extra tips from the families I was working with! This strategy may or may not work for you depending on whether these types of services constitute a significant part of your income. But you can always reduce the percentage that you set aside for your challenge fund-raising. Usually, if it’s a hobby service then the amount that you set aside is nearly negligible to you but can be significant in progressing toward your fund-raising target.

This is just a short list of ways to meet your fund-raising goals for your cycle challenge! There are many more ideas in our Fundraising Toolkit such as a Coffee Morning or a Kid’s Coloring Party! Depending on your interests and your network, we can help you design a month-by-month plan to reach whatever target you set forth.

If your fundraising fears are all that’s holding you back, we hope this article has helped and that you consider registering today!