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Old 05-03-12, 09:53 PM   #1
bikexcountry
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Fundraising Problems

Hi everybody,

As you may have seen from my other posts, I will be riding across the country this summer for charity, Autism Speaks and the National Down Syndrome Society.

I am currently an individual (I am still trying to organize a group) and I don't have enough time to set myself up as a nonprofit. Accordingly, many companies are reluctant to give me donations, I'm guessing because there is no assurance I will give the money to charity. Any advice on how to get businesses to be more willing to donate?

I had the idea of giving patches on my jersey, so in any media they would be advertised. How well do you think that would go over? I see problems because most companies have an order minimum of 10 pieces, and I don't want to carry that much, and also they need a few weeks to print them, but, since I am leaving in late June, that gives me only a few months to raise funds before I have to leave.

My other question was on the legality of using donations to cover trip costs. I am a very frugal person (ask my friends when they have no money), so I would keep the costs to a minimum, but I am not sure if that is allowed since the funds are going to charity. Much of the money raised would go to charity, but I'm not sure if its allowed...any IRS agents or accountants here?

Thanks for the help guys!

Alex
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Old 05-03-12, 10:35 PM   #2
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I think that if you want to have professional businesses contribute, you need to act professionally yourself. That would mean going to the effort of forming a 503-C, putting together some sort of press package, contacting media along the route and setting up interviews, news stories, etc. What are you bringing to the table that will entice a company to want to contribute? That may be the question that provides the answer to what will work. For instance, do you have a popular blog where the companies that donate will receive exposure?

I have seen several articles on blogs as well as videos on youtube that describe what is needed to get sponsorships and/or donations. Any company should and will be leery of donating to just anybody that shows up and says give me some money so I can give it to charity. They can simply donate directly to the charity unless you are providing something that is advantageous to them.

Hope this helps a bit to give you some ideas of what to think about in approaching this endeavor.

Edit: I want you to know that I admire your efforts and think it is great that you are trying to raise money for a worthy cause.

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Old 05-03-12, 11:28 PM   #3
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Haha I totally agree but the problem is time. If I did this again (and I'm thinking about doing it again next year) I would start planning way ahead.

Did you think logos on the jersey would be a good incentive offering?
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Old 05-03-12, 11:31 PM   #4
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And unfortunately I don't have a blog or even a twitter. Maybe worth creating a twitter account?
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Old 05-04-12, 12:26 AM   #5
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I think you still have time to try and arrange some media exposure along the way. Perhaps the charity could help with this. Maybe a jersey with the entire back stating that some company supports Autism Speaks would get a donation. I think your best bet might be to get friends to sponsor you per mile and to sign up friends of theirs to do the same - and I am talking about small amounts, so it adds up to just $25 or more each. Businesses do business, and you have not done the prep to do business. you also say you don't have the time for it now, so I would look in other directions. You really need some kind of publicity and promotion to go the business route, because like I said before, they can just donate directly if they aren't getting any added value by going through you. That is the important thing. What value are you adding or bringing to the table for the business you want to get a donation from?

I am not disparaging your goal and objective at all, but just trying to be objective in my answer. Most people who do this kind of thing do put several months into planning and prepping to make it all work.
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Old 05-04-12, 02:03 AM   #6
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1. Have you contacted the charity and told them what you're planning to do?

Some charities will work with you to set up a link on your website so that people can click the link and donate directly to the charity. That's a good way to do it. You don't handle the funds at all.

Or maybe they'll authorise a jersey with their website and info on it which you can wear while riding.


2. No, ethically, you do not have the right to use any of the money you raise to pay for your little holiday.
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Old 05-04-12, 05:08 AM   #7
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Some, myself included think that asking others to donate money because you are riding across the country is bad form. Basically a bike tour is a vacation. I have no respect for folks who would fund their vacation with donations.

That said...
My suggestion would be to arrange for all donations to go directly to the charity. Your charity of choice can probably help you with the logistics.
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Old 05-04-12, 05:25 AM   #8
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Some, myself included think that asking others to donate money because you are riding across the country is bad form. Basically a bike tour is a vacation. I have no respect for folks who would fund their vacation with donations.

That said...
My suggestion would be to arrange for all donations to go directly to the charity. Your charity of choice can probably help you with the logistics.
I fully agree. I was all on board until the statement of using some of the funds to pay for your expenses. Your expenses may be able to be tax deductable for you, you should check on that, but its really bad karma to ask that your adventure be paid by supporters of the charity.
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Old 05-04-12, 06:14 AM   #9
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And unfortunately I don't have a blog or even a twitter. Maybe worth creating a twitter account?
No blog? No website?

How is anyone going to follow your progress?
How is anyone going to know where you are, or where you're going, so they can join you (you say in your first post that you're hoping to put together a group)?
If someone is interested in donating to your charity, through you, how do you plan to provide the online link directly to the charity?

With no online presence, no one is going to believe you're for real.


Also, you say ... "so in any media they would be advertised" ... what media? You're just cycling across the US like so many others. It's not particularly newsworthy. Or were you planning to arrange media coverage along the way? If that's your plan, have you talked to the charity about that?
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Old 05-04-12, 08:30 AM   #10
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Although I assume your intentions are honorable, without setting up a non-profit with full disclosure, using cause-donations for your own expenses is wrong. It sounds like you need some more planning. There are several non-profit collection groups that you could set up an account with. You provide awareness, they do the money handling and legal paperwork.

If you want others to pay for your tour, then just FULLY DISCLOSE to them that you want money to pay for your trip. I'm not recommending this, but there is nothing wrong with it, IMO.

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Old 05-04-12, 08:33 AM   #11
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And unfortunately I don't have a blog or even a twitter. Maybe worth creating a twitter account?
On the Autism Speaks web page under "Ways to Give", there is a link that says "Create a fundraising page to honor a loved one": http://www.autismspeaks.org/ways-give On the National Down Syndrome Society web page, there is a pointer to a donations page including links and email contacts: http://www.ndss.org/get-involved/donate/

Perhaps you could contact both groups and see the best way that you could use their existing donation pages so that any donations were summarized, such as their tribute/memorial or other pages. In this case, what I would do - is go to local print shop and have business cards printed up with:
- your name
- bicycling across America
- raising money for Autism Speaks and National Down Syndrome Society
and the web links I list on those business cards would be the ones I got from the agencies so people could donate directly to the groups.

Rather than create a patch or other mechanism - I would use my bicycle, gear and natural curiosity of people. When they strike up conversations, I would introduce myself, say what I was raising money for and leave them with a business card. I would let the agencies handle the business of collecting the donations, issuing tax receipts, etc. If I were raising money or awareness in advance, I would more directly contact local newspaper and see if they might do a story or otherwise contact groups I knew about. Again, I'd use the business cards to leave behind pointers to the donation links.

As far as collecting donations for your own expenses on the trip, I wouldn't refuse money if someone wanted to give it to me - but I would try to be very clear and not try to mix donations to the agencies (direct to their web site) and donations to the ride (if any, given to you directly).
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Old 05-04-12, 08:40 AM   #12
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As far as collecting donations for your own expenses on the trip, I wouldn't refuse money if someone wanted to give it to me - but I would try to be very clear and not try to mix donations to the agencies (direct to their web site) and donations to the ride (if any, given to you directly).
I tend to think this is good advice. These are likely to take the form of a comped room or meal. Once in a while you might get that even if you are just riding across the country for nothing other than your own pleasure.
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Old 05-04-12, 04:00 PM   #13
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Alright I understand that. I will try to pay for it myself. However I am still in high school and don't have too much money to fund the ride. Maybe I could ask for them to donate to two different accounts that don't mix, one for the charity and one for funding the ride across country?

And btw this isn't a pleasure ride, I'm not trying to be selfish. I thought this would be a cool thing to do to raise money for charity. I'm giving up a lot of other stuff (football camp, college preparation camps) in order to do this. But I understand your concern and thank you.

And you were discussing media, I was going to contact a nationwide network and try to get coverage. I saw a kid a couple of years ago who rode across on Good Morning America and thought I could kind of do the same thing. Not viable?
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Old 05-04-12, 04:25 PM   #14
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If there is some possibility that you might need donations to fund your trip, set up two accounts. One for the charity and one for your expenses. Let people decide whether they want to help you make the trip or just donate to the charity or both. You'll need to be transparent and honest about how the money is being used.
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Old 05-04-12, 06:33 PM   #15
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Alright I understand that. I will try to pay for it myself. However I am still in high school and don't have too much money to fund the ride. Maybe I could ask for them to donate to two different accounts that don't mix, one for the charity and one for funding the ride across country?

And btw this isn't a pleasure ride, I'm not trying to be selfish. I thought this would be a cool thing to do to raise money for charity. I'm giving up a lot of other stuff (football camp, college preparation camps) in order to do this. But I understand your concern and thank you.

And you were discussing media, I was going to contact a nationwide network and try to get coverage. I saw a kid a couple of years ago who rode across on Good Morning America and thought I could kind of do the same thing. Not viable?
You can ask for donations to cover your trip if you want, but I suspect that with the US economy being what it is, people aren't going to want to pay for your fun and interesting little holiday. Yes, I know you say this isn't a pleasure ride ... but that's not how people are going to look at it. Riding a bicycle is looked at as a leisure activity.

If you want to fund this trip, get a part-time job and start putting money away.


As for the donations for the charity ...

1) Have you contacted the charity and talked to them yet?

2) Set up a website. This will accomplish two things: a) Anyone who donates to you will be able to follow your progress, and b) you'll be able to put a link to the charity's donations area there so that you will not touch the money for the charity at all. It will go directly to the charity.


You can try contacting the media, and maybe you'll get some coverage, but it could be old news by now because someone else has done it. If you're going to go that route, however, you'd better have that website set up .... and you'd better have talked to the charity so that you can show proof you are officially affliated with them.


You've got to go through the right channels and be professional ... people aren't just going to hand money over to some high school kid on the promise that he'll give it to a charity.

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Old 05-04-12, 08:06 PM   #16
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Alright I understand that. I will try to pay for it myself. However I am still in high school and don't have too much money to fund the ride. Maybe I could ask for them to donate to two different accounts that don't mix, one for the charity and one for funding the ride across country?

And btw this isn't a pleasure ride, I'm not trying to be selfish. I thought this would be a cool thing to do to raise money for charity. I'm giving up a lot of other stuff (football camp, college preparation camps) in order to do this. But I understand your concern and thank you.

And you were discussing media, I was going to contact a nationwide network and try to get coverage. I saw a kid a couple of years ago who rode across on Good Morning America and thought I could kind of do the same thing. Not viable?
If you cannot pay for the ride yourself then you should not go. Why should others pay for your vacation? You said above that there is no assurance that the money will go to charity. If you meant they have no assurance then that can be arranged where you would never touch the money. If you meant you can not be certain it will go to charity then you are doing this for all of the wrong reasons.

Sorry but unless 100% of the donations are going to charity then it is not a selfless act it is a free vacation no matter how you look at it.

Raising money for charity is a noble cause. If you truly want to be selfless then take a year and earn the money and pay for the trip on your own. It will also give you time to arrange donations directed to the charity and not touched by you.


If you do that then you can look yourself in the mirror with pride. It would be a heck of an accomplishment for a young person to fund a cross country trip and raise money to boot.


Now if you want to get sponsors that are knowingly paying your way then go for it. But don't you think every Tom, Dick and Harry and Sally have the same idea? Unless you are doing something unique or have connections you are going to have a hard time convincing folks to fund the trip.
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Old 05-04-12, 08:40 PM   #17
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I think what everyone is expressing here is that if this ride is truely for charity, then you have to pay the expenses for the ride. Given that you appear to be ill-prepared for a charity ride, you should consider other options.

If your heart is really into this charity, while not just volunteer at the local level near your home all summer. There is no need to ride cross country to help the charity. I would guess that your talents would be very benefitical assisting at local events or just working in your local area to raise awareness. After that experience, next year you would be far better prepared to move to a larger fundraising effort.
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Old 05-04-12, 09:45 PM   #18
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+1^
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Old 05-04-12, 10:06 PM   #19
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I do not view this, in general, as a good plan.

You don't sound adequately prepared.
You don't have the requisite fundraising experience. Sounds like you don't have any fundraising experience, really.
You do not apparently have a plan for properly funneling collected cash to the charities.
It doesn't sound like you have much of a plan for raising money in the first place.
You don't appear to have any particular connection to these charities.
It takes more than two weeks to establish your credibility as someone who's doing something like this for charity.

There are already lots of established charity organizations that run a variety of cycling events; MS Society, the AIDS Ride, Tour de Cure (diabetes). Might want to start with one of those.

If I were you, I'd do the college prep camp.
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Old 05-04-12, 10:07 PM   #20
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Hi everybody,

As you may have seen from my other posts, I will be riding across the country this summer for charity, Autism Speaks and the National Down Syndrome Society.

I am currently an individual (I am still trying to organize a group) and I don't have enough time to set myself up as a nonprofit. Accordingly, many companies are reluctant to give me donations, I'm guessing because there is no assurance I will give the money to charity. Any advice on how to get businesses to be more willing to donate?

I had the idea of giving patches on my jersey, so in any media they would be advertised. How well do you think that would go over? I see problems because most companies have an order minimum of 10 pieces, and I don't want to carry that much, and also they need a few weeks to print them, but, since I am leaving in late June, that gives me only a few months to raise funds before I have to leave.

My other question was on the legality of using donations to cover trip costs. I am a very frugal person (ask my friends when they have no money), so I would keep the costs to a minimum, but I am not sure if that is allowed since the funds are going to charity. Much of the money raised would go to charity, but I'm not sure if its allowed...any IRS agents or accountants here?

Thanks for the help guys!

Alex
Alex, here's a link to Autism Speaks Canada with a pair of bikers who are raising funds for this society through this website. It's legit and a sample you can emulate.

http://events.autismspeaks.ca/index....icipantID=9490

I really commend you for doing this. As a fundraiser myself, I know that raising funds for any society is a difficult process. I also did fund raising for Heart and Stroke foundation in the past as well as Ride for Cancer and MS bike rides so perhaps I can shed some light into your potential cause.

First and foremost, you must identify yourself as someone who is either suffering from down syndrome /autism or know of someone who does by name would be best. It is best if someone is really close to you, like your immediate family member or maybe a niece or nephew or cousin. If no one is close, then perhaps a friend. You're going to get asked a lot on this for sure. Donation works really well through sympathy because that's how we are -- we have compassion. Unfortunately, many scam artists in the past had abused this sympathetic cause to steal other people's money to fund their lifestyle that many people today are extremely reluctant to give any money to anyone's cause unless there is a tie to a legit society or group and that they can check it, track, tweet it and catch up on blogs.
This is unfortunately the new reality.
Secondly, if you are looking to fund your trip to promote a cause, you should be soliciting sponsorship not donors. Donors donate to the cause, whereas sponsors use you as a moving billboard across the US to promote their involvement in the charity they are supporting. Which means, you got to need a website or perhaps convince Autism Speaks USA to build you a website like the one I just linked. You need to have your photo on it and a little of your bio and the reason why you do what you want to do. When you have a presence on a legit charity website, then perhaps you can ask this charity to give 2 options link. Donate or Sponsor, where donate will forward the funds directly to Autism Speaks and then Sponsor will forward any funds directly to your PayPal account towards your trip. You also need to have a monetary goal like I'm raising $100,000 or $200,000. The higher the value, the more challenge and the more people will keep tabs on your progress and the more value your cause will become. But you must be able to convey your gratitude by means of tweeting and blogging your cause when your goal is approaching. People always want to know where the money is going and what they could do to help. You can not really expect just taking other people's money without reporting what this sponsorship is doing for you and how it is furthering your reach towards your charity cause. All of that is legit and I know a friend of mine is doing exactly like this for a bike ride with both donate and sponsor links to it. As long as you are upfront with your approach, then it's fair game if people want to fund your bike ride across America.

With all the good news, here are some bad news.

As you know, we are in the midst of an economy downturn and with money committed elsewhere between various charity events (there are a LOT of charity bike ride btw), it becomes very difficult for someone like yourself out of high school to try and network with people to solicit sponsorship and donations, because really what you are doing is done like dinner for so many times with so many bike riders every year that it does not make newsworthy. Lastly, a lot of money had gone through for event promotions and administration work that the money raised from any charity event are used to pay for these expenses and what's left (not much really) are actually ended up towards the cause. So most people I know of who do these kind of fund raising pay their own way. Some hope that their sponsorship money can hopefully offset some of that, but realistically, it will not be. Most charities expect that you are volunteering your time and effort towards a good cause and expect expenses borne by each individual fund raiser will be their sole responsibility.

I hope this helps. I like the idea of patches, but really how new and innovative is that? I'm afraid it's not.

Good luck on your cause!

To summarize what I had just said. You will need to associate yourself with a charity organization and get your photo and name on it. Be legit and then you ask for donations. The way you are doing now, I'm not surprised most businesses think you are a scam.

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Old 05-04-12, 10:12 PM   #21
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The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has some pretty sweet "vacation" rides. All free.
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Old 05-04-12, 11:27 PM   #22
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Thanks everybody for the advice. I'm thinking now this year just buy the bike and gear, and raise whatever money I can (all to charity) and head out. Then, when I get back, set myself up as a charity, get a website, twitter, etc., and next year have a much bigger and more organized ride, maybe somewhere else.

Also I think it would be a good idea to set up a blog. I am utterly clueless at programming, any help with that?
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Old 05-05-12, 01:31 AM   #23
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"Unfortunately, many scam artists in the past had abused this sympathetic cause to steal other people's money to fund their lifestyle that many people today are extremely reluctant to give any money to anyone's cause unless there is a tie to a legit society or group "

That pretty much describes the whole fund-raising enterprise in totality. You can keep up to 80% of the money you raise in some jurisdictions, as the cost of raising it. And many legitimate charities accept money from sketchy fundraisers, or fund-raising mechanisms, like books of gambling tickets, because every nickel collected, after they have also scalped it, could save a life, so how can they afford to turn it down. So on the one hand, someone who collected money and only took a modest percentage for personal use, would be a breath of fresh air. On the other hand, hard to see who is left to fund these scams, and in addition has the time to follow a blog.

You don't need to be a programmer to do a blog, it is pretty much set up for you. You should probably also look at crazyguyonabike, to get an idea of all the folks who have blogged this trip already. There is lots of interesting info there, on the touring part of the equation.
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Old 05-05-12, 09:05 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by bikexcountry View Post
Thanks everybody for the advice. I'm thinking now this year just buy the bike and gear, and raise whatever money I can (all to charity) and head out. Then, when I get back, set myself up as a charity, get a website, twitter, etc., and next year have a much bigger and more organized ride, maybe somewhere else.

Also I think it would be a good idea to set up a blog. I am utterly clueless at programming, any help with that?
Now you're on the right track.

You can set up your own blog, but for maximum readership, go to crazyguyonabike. All there is to know
about cycle touring. Here is link to some guys who are walking to Chicago, raising money for cancer research. Might get some ideas from them, especially Matt Gregory.
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Last edited by Cyclebum; 05-05-12 at 09:11 AM.
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Old 05-05-12, 10:12 AM   #25
TheReal Houdini
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Get a job this summer, ride next. Do charity work when you're not on holiday.
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