AIDS Lifecycle - Ride to end AIDS

125 Fundraising Tips
Fundraising can seem daunting if you've never attempted it; we're here to help you exceed your goals with 125 creative fundraising ideas.

How to Ask for Support

The first step is, as with everything, just getting started. Set your fundraising goal high—your family, friends and colleagues will be inspired by both the physical and fundraising challenges you set for yourself. We encourage everyone to set a goal of at least $5,000! Go for it—we know you can do it! Letting donors know what the minimum is and what YOUR personal goal is will impress them with your commitment and motivate them to give more. Create a fundraising plan and follow through with it. Your plan should include these five steps:

6 Steps to Successful Fundraising

 Identify your potential supporters  Now you're ready to Ask
 Engage Your Potential Donors  Follow-up
 Know where the money is going  The magic words


When you plan your fundraising strategy, the first step is to make a list of your potential donors.  This is a list of everyone you know.  Don't limit the list to friends and family, but add everyone you have contact info for or see in your daily life, including your online social networks, the person who delivers mail to you, colleagues that you work with, and acquaintances you might have lost touch with or only see sporadically. You never know who has been affected in some way by HIV/AIDS and would be happy to support you. 
It's important to engage your potential donors before you ask them for a gift. Start early and talk with everyone you know and see everyday about your participation in AIDS/LifeCycle. Let everyone know about your ambitious goals: fundraising and riding a bicycle 545 miles to help fund programs for people with HIV and AIDS. If you’re a Roadie raising money, set your goal, and tell them that you are not required to raise money, but this issue is so important to you that you have decided you must raise money to fight HIV/AIDS.  
Familiarize yourself with the beneficiaries for which we raise funds and the services they provide. If you can, find a story you can share about someone who has benefited from the services of one of their programs. This can often inspire your donor’s generosity. You'll find information by visiting the website of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation or the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.

A great resource for you to learn more about the services of our organizations is your Cyclist Representative or Roadie Manager. They will also send you periodic updates and more information on HIV programs and services that you can incorporate into your conversations and letters. The more confidently you can discuss where a donor's money will go, the more confident that donor will feel in making a larger donation.

Now you're ready to Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. Then ask some more! Don’t forget to ask everyone you know! You can ask in person, by email, letter or phone. It depends on the person you're contacting. Whatever the format, it's important to let people know what you’re doing, why it's important to you and how they can support you. If you're not asking in person, let your passion shine through in your letter or email! Did we mention that you should ask everyone?! Never assume people can’t or won’t donate. Ask, and let each individual decide for themselves.

When you ask, be straightforward. The most successful fundraising appeals ask the prospective donor for a specific amount—particularly those with great potential (ask them for $250, $500, $1,000 or more). If you're a veteran Cyclist or Roadie, look at what people have given you in the past and ask them to increase by 25% or more. Be sure to let them know about the monthly payment option.  Don't be worried that you're asking people for too much money. If they can't give as much as you have asked, they will tell you. People will surprise you. You will find that most will say yes, I want to help you.

Once you’ve sent an email to everyone, don’t forget to follow up after a few weeks. Your friends and family may have every intention of donating, but many of us tend to procrastinate. If you don't follow up with them, they'll assume you've reached your goal and don't need their support. Training and fundraising updates are a great way to gently remind people of your commitment and let them know you still need their support.

Don't ever be apologetic about asking for money! You’re not asking people to help you with your rent! You will be riding 545 miles on a bike or working hard all week as a Roadie. You are sacrificing time and sweat. You are making a huge commitment and you’re going out of your comfort zone to help other people. Donors will recognize that commitment and effort. Don’t be afraid to ask your potential donors to go out of their comfort zone to help too. You are, in effect, creating a team of people who care about ending this disease. You will do all the sweating and they will be with you in spirit. Your adventures will become their adventures if you ask for their support and continue to keep them engaged in the months to come.

Of course you'll say please when asking for donations, but don't forget to thank your donors. You may want to send them a simple note or a photo of you wearing your AIDS/LifeCycle t-shirt on your bike. Make your donors a part of your AIDS/LifeCycle experience, and they'll feel even better about the part they're playing in helping you to help those living with HIV and AIDS.

Continue to communicate with your donors throughout your training, let them know about the Experience the Event webpage, and be sure to write to them after you complete AIDS/LifeCycle. Let them know how successful the event was, what you experienced and, again, thank them for their support. There are millions of ways to thank your donors and keep them involved. We encourage you to be creative and have fun letting your donors know how much you appreciate their support!