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Fundraising: The Hidden Challenge!

15 May 2010

15 May 2010

Fundraising: The Hidden Challenge!

Non-profit organisations are increasingly starting to realise that these big events provide fantastic fundraising opportunities. Think the Gong Ride (MS), Urban (MHF), Mother’s Day Classic (Breast Cancer), LifeStart Kayak for Kids and the Wild Endurance, which last year managed to raise more than $140,000 for the Wilderness Society - and this year they have crossed the halfway point to their goal of $500,000. And who could blame them, it’s a fantastic way to raise money.

Think about it for a moment. First, you come up with a truly challenging event, something that, while achievable for many, still has a lot of street cred “Yeah, I trekked 100km through the Blue Mountains last weekend” to get that hero status. What’s more, sending out emails asking for donations is a great way for entrants to boast to all and sundry that they are going out and undertaking this tremendous challenge. This gives the person’s friends and family the opportunity to (a) tell them just how stupid they are in a relatively public forum, and (b) reduce their tax bill while (c) supporting a worthy cause with all the associated feel-goodiness. So, everyone wins.

Now, to weed out the wannabes, some of these events are now enforcing minimum fundraising requirements. In the case of the Wild Endurance, this is $400 per team member. The theory here being that if you can’t commit to raising $400 for the event, then you’re probably not committed to putting in the appropriate training for the physical side of it either! This wasn’t the case, however, for the TriHards, who put a lot of effort into training for the event. So much effort, in fact, that hardly a thought was given to fundraising until a few weeks before the event when, in their usual form, they brainstormed (okay, panicked).

A new challenge was set. A fundraising strategy. One that didn’t involve the tried and true method of sending out emails to everyone in each of the team member’s address books begging for money. No, the TriHards were going to try something completely different. They were going to send emails to complete strangers begging for money! The event coordinator set about finding likely suspects (okay, just about anyone with an email address on a web site) and set to crafting highly entertaining emails asking for money.

Email 1: Real Estate Agents

Our first email was sent to almost all of the Canberra offices of a well-known real estate agent. Much as we’d like to say there was a reason for this, in reality, they were just the first email addresses we found on the internet and, after receiving so many notices in the mailbox and the odd phone call regarding selling our local property, we thought they were fair game for return spam. Unfortunately they seemed to have taken the same view to our spam as we do to theirs, and completely ignored it.

Email 2: Puppy Caring People

Max, the Cyborg's training partner
He is very cute, but not a very good fundraiser!

Following this unremarkable failure, and starting to run low on time, the Coordinator put a bit more thought into the issue. Considering the amount of times the Cyborg’s training partner, Max is mentioned in the Cyborg’s training blog perhaps somehow he could be used. He is, after all, very cute (Max that is, not the Cyborg). While the thought of “Sponsor me or the dog gets it” did cross the Cyborg’s mind, that theme had been done before and probably wouldn’t garner much sympathy. So, this email was sent out to a few purveyors of pet goods and services instead.

Email 3: Personal Injury Lawyers

When the considered email entirely failed, the Coordinator was ready to give up and send out the standard begging email. However, before completely giving up, he was inspired by hearing an ad on the radio for one of the ACT’s more prominent personal injury lawyers. Surely they could have vested interest in supporting the TriHards through the Wild Endurance! No doubt there would be a few people who may fall or be tripped during the event, to whom the TriHards could pass the lawyer’s details on to! It’d be like ambulance chasing, but much slower and more calculated. So the Coordinator sent this email to them.

Needless to say, none of these worked and the TriHards received no sponsorship from their “targeted” advertising. But at least the TriHards - and hopefully the recipients of the emails - had a bit of a laugh. The TriHards wound up posting a note on the site, Facebook pages, and finally reverting to the tried and true method of sending out emails. Thankfully, friends and families got them over the line once again - for which the TriHards are, as always, extremely grateful!

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