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Old 02-11-08, 06:01 PM   #1
valygrl
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Touring for a cause - did you raise any $?

Has anyone on this site ACTUALLY DONE a tour where they raised money for a cause? How much $ did you raise? What was involved - how did you do it, how did people donate, was there accounting & accountability?

I find myself skeptical, and wishing I didn't feel that way - so prove my skepticism wrong - tell me what you raised, and how.

Thanks.

(Hope this thread isn't a repeat.)
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Old 02-11-08, 08:19 PM   #2
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A friend and I organized and rode the Superior-Pacific Ride for Survivorship this past summer. We raised $5,590 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and rode 2700 miles in support of cancer survivorship. My friend is a survivor of testicular cancer.

LAF has what they call a "grassroots fundraiser" system, where you sign up for free and are given a small website to advertise your ride. This website also has a secure online donation system built in, as well as capacity for receiving checks/money orders. You direct people towards your website, and they donate to LAF but they do it in your name. The website also includes tracking and reporting tools for keeping track of donations. Since all donations are done through LAF, there is no accounting/accountability on our end. It makes it easy to ride for a good cause. Check out our donation page for more details.

We had 62 donors. Most of our advertising was just done within our family/friends by word of mouth, but we were featured in local newspaper articles. My mom is also an elementary school teacher, and her students organized a bake sale and donated the proceeds to our ride. The second graders also followed our progress through daily updates in her class. She was able to combine geography lessons with physical education...I'm hoping some future riders were inspired by her.

Admittedly, I would've liked to have seen more people donate. A lot of people supported us along the way, helping us out with lodging, bike parts, food, friendship, etc, but in all honesty I was slightly disappointed by people (friends and family) who I knew could afford even $20 but didn't donate. Then again, we had some really generous donors and on occasion complete strangers donated.

All in all it was an excellent way to turn a personal desire to bike tour into something beneficial to more than just ourselves as the riders. Some of the best feedback of the whole ordeal was from the second graders. Raising awareness is just as worthwhile as raising money sometimes. It's also a great way to introduce yourself and meet some interesting people.
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Old 02-11-08, 08:35 PM   #3
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aha, this is good to hear

you recommended me to the LAF and warmsowers.org and I am following through, it is really nice to see so many helpful people out there, I hope my ride is as successful

Thanks again for the tip!
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Old 02-11-08, 08:59 PM   #4
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I wish I could tour for a cause. But I am too lazy to find sponsorship for a solo tour and the organized tours for causes won't let me participate. There is an organized trip from Cleveland (where I live) to Cincinnati (my hometown) that I would love to do.
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Old 02-11-08, 10:55 PM   #5
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I did a century once and made it a fund-raiser for a kids' choir I lead. My co-workers and parents of the kids were the only donors. I made a couple hundred dollars. We had limited needs and $200 came in really handy.

I'm dubious about making a tour a major fund-raiser. It seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harriet is trying something similar. There are also the established rides to compete with, like the AIDS ride, the Tour de Cure (Diabetes), the MS rides, etc.

However, to me the idea of paying for your tour by calling it a charity ride (if that's what someone is doing) is somewhat disingenuous. If you were really that selfless you'd pay your own expenses, and give all the donated funds to the cause.
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Old 02-11-08, 11:05 PM   #6
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...the organized tours for causes won't let me participate.
Why not?
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Old 02-11-08, 11:55 PM   #7
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If you were really that selfless you'd pay your own expenses, and give all the donated funds to the cause.
+1... Too many people use charity as an excuse for getting their vacations paid for or in some cases that I have witnessed personally on the Appalachian Trail, people using charity money to buy everything they need, then giving what's left to charity. It's totally legal to use any charity money to cover your expenses.

I got praise from my local newspaper for doing a tour WITHOUT doing it for a cause, just for the love of it.

I've always maintained, if you doing rides for a charity, you shouldn't use a penny of the money for yourself or use the charity in order to get freebies along the way.
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Old 02-12-08, 12:33 AM   #8
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I am a sceptic too. My biggest problem with any major charitable fundraising is the fact that there appears to be no accountability back to the donors. The money disappears into a big black hole. Can you really tell me what that dollar was spent on that you donated to the research fund? Or the entry fee to the 150 ride that you went on? Just whose bank account did it ultimately end up in and what good did it actually do (and I mean, do you have unassailable proof of where the money went and what it was spent on?)?

Charity is a multibillion dollar business, and there are more and more people feeding off it in the guise of administrators and management than ever before. The trickle down to the people who actually need it is getting smaller and smaller each year as the costs escalate. Other posters have highlighted this even on small-scale cycle-touring fundraisers.

I am a sceptic enough to believe that this fundraising is such big business and there are so many feeders, that there is a vested interest in places such as medical research to NOT find cures for various ailments.

Having said that, BigBlueToe's seems to me to be a quite honourable venture -- because the fundraising was very localised and I can imagine there was a great deal of accountability on where the donations were spent!!

I also am irritated by the many who choose cycling as a means to raise money or promote a cause, often bringing cycling into disrepute, particularly when it promotes fundamentalist doctrines (should I mentioned environmentalists here?). Sheldon Brown had the right idea -- he disliked "a-thon" events involving bikes because of the negative effects on cycling's image they brought, and wasn't afraid to express the opinion.

So to answer the original question -- nope.
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Old 02-12-08, 01:28 AM   #9
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Why not?
Because they all require a helmet.
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Old 02-12-08, 02:33 AM   #10
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A coworker and I did an MS150 ride way back in ... ummm ... 1997, I think. We did our fundraising together, hitting up the Engineers, Accountants, Supervisors, and Bosses and raised just over the required entry amount each. No one person donated very much ... I think the going rate was $5, but it was a big company so all those $5 added up. And I believe the Bosses donated just enough to get their names on a list so they came out looking like a concerned and involved company ... always a good thing for a business.

We had brochures and everything about the MS ride, and basically just let it be known in the coffee rooms etc. that we were raising funds. In that company, it was a common thing for parents to bring in chocolates or raffle tickets or whatever they were helping their kids sell to raise money for whatever, and I had shelled out donations to several of these (especially the chocolate sales ), so in turn the others didn't seem to mind giving me something for a cause I was fundraising for. It was all quite easy in that environment.

We gave the money we collected to the MS foundation running the event, and then cycled for two days.

That's the closest to sponsored touring I've ever done.
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Old 02-12-08, 02:49 AM   #11
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Al Huphreys raised over 46,000 on his four year round the world trip.
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Old 02-12-08, 06:15 AM   #12
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I find the whole notion of raising money for by touring very strange. I don't get the whole concept. I never hear of folks saying "I am going to tour the national parks in my motor home and I am soliciting donations for X charity". I fail to see how raising funds with a bike tour is different.

Also I don't see it as good for the the image of bicycling. It makes it appear that cycling is some unpleasant activity that should be rewarded with donations. Sheldon Brown said it well at:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/thons.html

It bugged me that folks would ask what we were raising money for when we were touring cross country, then when we said "nothing, we are on vacation, we got disapproving looks.

I don't knock folks who do raise money for a charity, unless they use some of the money to cover expenses, because I am sure they are well intentioned. I doubt that it is good for the image of cycling though.

I definitely don't approve of using money donated to cover trip expenses. I find that pretty sleazy.
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Old 02-12-08, 08:50 AM   #13
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Hey thanks for the replies everyone. Just to be clear:

1) I'm not considering doing this.

2) I wasn't trying to open that conversation again about whether it is an appropriate thing to do, just whether is was doable and the *charity* ended up with any money.

3) I agree with other posters that it's inappropriate to use any donations to fund the tour.

4) I wasn't meaning to ask about large, short events like the MS150 or the Aids Ride I was meaning to ask about personal fund-raising efforts for long distance self-supported touring.

Interesting to note the one "successful" venture here had a large corporate infrastructure - Lance Armstrong foundation.

I'm looking at Alastair Humphreys' site now, thanks for mentioning that, DA.

Keep 'em coming, really interested if anyone has made this work.
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Old 02-12-08, 08:55 AM   #14
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Trying it now (see sig) but have no idea how were doing. We leave march 9th I hope a lot. WE are doing the tour self supporting with our own $ we just want folks to give to the cause in hopes that our ride will raise awareness, and thus $$.
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Old 02-12-08, 09:25 AM   #15
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The point of our ride - "Roll Aid - the Coast to the Coast" - isn't to raise money as much as it is to raise awareness in the general public about the Wounded Warrior Project and the Soldier Ride tour. I'm asking that people who choose to donate to the WWP mention that we drove them there, but that's it.

I don't want to get hung up on 'credits' and soliciting donations. I hate asking for anything, particularly money, so this is a way I can try to do something worthwhile, without that.

I hope it will have the added effect of reminding the veterans that they're not being forgotten.
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Old 02-12-08, 09:46 AM   #16
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I can officially now assign this thread a "10" on the Curmudgeon Scale. Wow.

Since we're already off to the races on the whole charity ride bit.... I'll add that I'm a serious cyclist now in large part because we have two local charity rides that anchor the "casual rider" scene here. We have a 2-day Tour de Cure ride in June and a two-day MS ride in September. Beyond the benefit of raising money for worthy causes, these two events galvanize the local cyclists from Februrary through October. I'm team captain for the local AIDS ride as well and we continually recruit "shy" riders into our group for training rides and the events themselves. We've grown the TdC from 300 to 500 riders in 5 years and the MS ride has simply exploded, from about 500 riders in 2001 to an expected 1700 cyclists this year.

I appeal to my donor base once a year per person. I have one group I ask for TdC and one group for MS150. People give partly because of the cause involved, but mostly because they know that cycling brings me great joy and they are happy to add to the goodwill of the event. No one's going broke making donations around here, and my employer matches my donations dollar for dollar. You should see the training rides here in the spring -- 200-300 people showing up on Saturday morning for a group ride through the countryside just outside our towns (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill-Cary). I ride my touring bike near the rear of the pack with my handlebar bag and trunk bag (or pannier) and enjoy the day.

We teach the newbies proper road etiquette, supply jerseys and "swag" from our companies, and generally take over the roads on Sat/Sun mornings in season. And we ride with diabetics at Tour de Cure, people fighting off MS at the September ride, and "HIV Positive Pedalers" at the AIDS ride.

We have the Raven Rock ride for National Kidney Foundation in May and a Halloween ride in Durham for the local Habitat for Humanity. All of these events are highly visible in the area, draw great sponsorship and goodwill, and create an "excuse" for dozens of new cyclists each season to take to the local roads and enjoy the trails and bike routes we're trying to put together. Don't tell me all of this is misguided or in vain.

"Bah humbug" right back atcha.

Ken
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Old 02-12-08, 11:09 AM   #17
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Chill out!

As the O.P. I wasn't meaning to ask about "charity rides" as in those big organized tours like the MS or Aids ride. I guess i thought that posting this in the touring forum would make that clear, but obviously not.

Those have pretty clear charity goals & accounting & accountability, and often the funds raised are directly from the participants -- like, you have to donate $xxxx to ride, and you can either donate it yourself or raise the funds or both, and some percent obviously has to go to pay to support the ride. That's fine! (I have to think about what Rowan said about those - don't think I agree across the board that they are bad, I would have to think it is quite variable how much of the proceeds go to actual charity.)

I was wondering about the type of thing where people do long self-supported, carrying own luggage, cross country type rides to raise money for charity. I was feeling skeptical that it was actually possible to raise a significant amount of money FOR THE CHARITY by doing this, and wondering how it was done and if it was possible. I would like to believe that was an effective strategy, because it sure would be cool to go on vacation and actually have your vacation give something back to a worthy cause.

Specifically, for openmindedgent (like your name by the way), if you are riding to "raise $ for your brother who has cancer" - do you try to get people to donate to an established cancer charity? Or are you going to try to get donations for a personal fund to help defray costs of treatment for your actual brother? Or are you going to raise awareness by having a sign or speaking to individuals or scheduling public speaking events?

Just wondering how something like that would actually work, and benefit the charity.

I think there are probably people who do abuse the 'charity' thing and use the $ to support their tour, and I think that totally sucks. but that's not what i was trying to find out.

peace.
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Old 02-12-08, 11:19 AM   #18
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FWIW: My brother who retired from the CDC told me about a guy there that rode the TA and raised money for Polio Eradication. I think he said the guy raised something in the five figure range.

His site is at:
http://www.bobsbikeride.org/index.html
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Old 02-12-08, 11:32 AM   #19
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As far as using money raised money for expenses is concerned, I don't feel comfortable about it, but I don't really think it is wrong. These would be my guidelines:

1) try to establish what an average cost for these kinds of fundraising is. Be also guided, perhaps, by what you would feel good paying into if you knew the score. For instance if the real cost of small scale efforts is 50% I can live with that, but if it is nearer 80%, that long since passes a line for me. As a donor I would rather find a way of getting a higher percent of my money in the charity's hands. But the last dollar in is going to be more costly to raise than the first dollar raised in a wholesale way by a charity with global name recognition.

2) Once you decide what is a reasonable rate, say 50% percent. Stick to it, don't start out saying you will give 50% over but slide into a habit of consuming even more, regardless of whether that would still be legal. It's just morally, and otherwise, sloppy thinking.

3) Consider what kinds of expenses are bookable. Probably a prostitute in Amsterdam should be your nickel. But if you spent another day in Amsterdam to give a talk, raised 1000 dollars for your charity, why should you carry the cost of an extra day's accommodation. Be reasonable, if you are willing to pay that cost out of your own pocket, fine. But it isn't as though you have magically found a way to make fundraising cheaper. There is a cost to this kind of thing and someone is going to pay it. For fundraising to be sustainable it has to pay it's own way.

If you don't book enough real costs to reach your target percentage, maybe you will beat your target and take even less money on a percent basis than you initially budgeted. You have to decide whether paying your way beyond marginal fundraising costs is legitimate or not.

4) Disclosure. You may get asked how much of the money you are passing on. You should be able to give an answer that you feel good about, and then it's up to others to decide how they feel about it.


"Because they all require a helmet." Right on Brother!
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Old 02-12-08, 11:45 PM   #20
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I find the whole notion of raising money for by touring very strange. I don't get the whole concept. I never hear of folks saying "I am going to tour the national parks in my motor home and I am soliciting donations for X charity". I fail to see how raising funds with a bike tour is different.

Also I don't see it as good for the the image of bicycling. It makes it appear that cycling is some unpleasant activity that should be rewarded with donations. Sheldon Brown said it well at:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/thons.html

It bugged me that folks would ask what we were raising money for when we were touring cross country, then when we said "nothing, we are on vacation, we got disapproving looks.

I don't knock folks who do raise money for a charity, unless they use some of the money to cover expenses, because I am sure they are well intentioned. I doubt that it is good for the image of cycling though.

I definitely don't approve of using money donated to cover trip expenses. I find that pretty sleazy.
I agree with you. And I, too, have had the personal importance of what I am doing on tour undermined by the demeaning look from those who have been answered: "No, I'm not raising money for charity".

I have followed the journals of several people on tours to raise funds for charity. It was evident from them that to do it properly requires a vast amount of work and organisational and marketing skill. There is the need to set up meetings in various destinations to expose the message to potential donors. First of all, the message has to be clear and strike a chord with the target audiences. The network in the country areas of any nation is finely tuned, and it doesn't take long for positive (or negative) word to travel if you are doing something relatively unusual such as bicycle touring. In fact, rather than being a pleasure tour, it becomes quite hard work, and when there are other things like breakdowns and pressures to be at certain destinations at certain times, the participants have given the impression of becoming very jaded. In the end, the amount raised almost didn't seem worth the effort as portrayed in those journals.

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Old 02-12-08, 11:57 PM   #21
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Because they all require a helmet.
Then wear a helmet. It's a real simple solution if you truly wish to participate.
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Old 02-13-08, 12:11 AM   #22
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It makes as little sense for someone to disapprove of a bike tour that is purely for pleasure as it does for someone to give demeaning looks when you say you are going to the beach for a week, or going backpacking, or on any other vacation. I find it hard to believe that is a common reaction. Maybe you were mistaking their animosity for jealousy.
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Old 02-13-08, 12:33 AM   #23
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Ah, but jeff^d, this is the essence of what affects the image of cycle touring and more broadly cycling -- that is regarded by the wider community as a tough, almost impossible challenge and that someone would undertake a continental crossing or shorter tour only on the basis of raising money for some charity. It's regarded as oddball.

I've noted from what others have written and said, particularly in the US, but in other non-European countries, that if you are taking the time to do a bike tour, then you are wasting time, and should be more constructively engaged, such as working for a living. This ultimately translates into the notion that if you are doing a bicycle tour, you should be "working" by raising money for a charity, not doing it for your(selfish)self.
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Old 02-13-08, 01:13 AM   #24
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I've experienced the same thing ... especially in conjunction with randonneuring but also with cycletouring. People will ask me if I'm doing my ride for a cause, and when I say I'm not, I've been asked if it would be possible if I could ... so that I would justify what I'm doing.

I've also been called "selfish" and a "bad citizen" for my choices to go on my tours, to do my randonneuring, to return to University at my age, and for my choice to work at temp jobs rather than full-time, permanent employment. Perhaps it is jealousy ... but I also think that we're raised to believe that if we take any time for ourselves, that's selfish and a bad thing.

It spills over into the world of exercise and weightloss too ... the very idea of spending an hour a day in the gym or doing some sort of physical activity is just a non-option for people because it would mean that they would be sacrificing time they could be spending with their family or friends or on a "worthwhile" project of some sort. Spending time exercising would be a personal thing, for personal benefit, and therefore selfish. I've talked to people about this, and it is really hard for some of them to get past that idea.
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Old 02-13-08, 01:45 AM   #25
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Ah, but jeff^d, this is the essence of what affects the image of cycle touring and more broadly cycling -- that is regarded by the wider community as a tough, almost impossible challenge and that someone would undertake a continental crossing or shorter tour only on the basis of raising money for some charity. It's regarded as oddball.
Not even touring. My commute is 10 miles (20 mile round trip) and people are in disbelief that I would ride that far. If my 10 mile basically flat trip is far, there is no way a non-bicycler (come on, everyone start using bicycler) could imagine that a tour could be fun and rewarding on its own merits.
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