Fundraising Hints & Tips

Alright.  You are participating in an upcoming fundraiser and you are tasked with raising at least $1000 for your team.  How do you do it?

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Like many aspects of #AHikeForMentalHealth, the idea is to take a big, daunting, task and break it down into smaller manageable pieces.  Don’t be too set back by the large number attached to your goal.  There are no requirements here, just have fun and don’t see this as a chore.  It is an opportunity to help reduce the stigma.  Open dialogs with people, don’t just ask them to sponsor you.

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Step 1:

Set a fundraising goal.  A Hike For Mental Health is in a bit of a bind.  A minimum amount is set on the fundraiser as a whole, due to the type of fundraiser, AND we need to limit the number of hikers due to impact.  That is why we expect $1000/team raised.  We understand that not every circle of life is the the same, so feel free to select any amount that works for your team.  Just make sure that it is not set so low that you will easily achieve it with no work.  Having your goal a challenge will not only keep you engaged but will actually prove to make you more successful.

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Step 2:

Work out a timeline and set goals.  Actually write it out!  Use paper, a calendar, or your phone but actually have a guide that you can track your progress on.  Fundraising starts May 1st and ends June 30th.  That is basically 9 weeks to find sponsors.

A 1 person team, with a $1000 fundraising goal, could set it up as follows:

Seek to find one sponsor per week.  We suggest seeking $100/day sponsorship’s.  If you get your first sponsor at the beginning of the first week and your last at the very end, that’s 10 sponsors!  Totaling  $1000!

A 2 person team could work together or set separate goals.  Such as gaining a sponsor once every 2 weeks each.

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Step 3:

Create a team identity.  It sounds in bad taste, but you need to market what you are doing BEFORE you start asking for sponsorship.

Send in pictures, original music, bios, mantras, goals, and links to AHikeForMentalHealth@gmail.com.  We will work with you to stand out!  Have a clear message that is personal, this fundraiser is for you!  Personalize it!

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Step 4:

Create a pitch.  You want to look for serious sponsors in this fundraiser.  Anyone can donate any amount to you but to ensure the greatest success with minimum effort, focus your pitch on securing a sponsor for ONE day of your journey.

Use your personalized page on AHikeForMentalHealth.com to speak directly with people.  Your pitch is not about a rehearsed blurb that you recite to potential sponsors. Come up with 3 or more short responses.  These responses should be tailored to questions that may come up.

Example: What is ‘A Hike For Mental Health’?

“It is a 3 day, 50km, hike through Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park in Kananaskis.  It involves teams of 1 or 2 practicing no-trace random camping in the mountains.  I am very lucky to be a part of one of the teams that was selected to participate.  We are currently looking to for sponsors to support us for one day of our journey.”

The idea is to open a dialog about A Hike For Mental Health.  Start talking about why hiking matters to you and the impact it has made on your mental health.  Don’t think that you are just asking for donations.  Try to reduce the stigma with every conversation.  Try to get people thinking about going outside.  If you can connect and get them to truly care, then you will have an easier time getting them to become a sponsor.

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Step 5:

Determine your targets.  It is great to bring this fundraiser up at all possible times but focusing and determining your target sponsors beforehand will keep you on track.  Aim for business’ or managers you know or visit often, as well as groups or clubs that you are a part of.  Remember that all of your sponsors will be listed on your CMHA fundraising page!  Someone can donate anonymously, personally, or as a company.  They will be listed as your team’s sponsor.  On top of this, we will list any sponsor on your AHikeForMentalHealth.com page that you ask us too!  Sponsoring you in this event IS advertising for that company.  Cold calling businesses is a great way to get out there as well.  Use you teams identity and connect!  Good old fashioned Door-to-Door fundraising can provide results but is not recommended unless you already have a relationship with your neighbors.

Aiming for friends and family to sponsor you can be a difficult challenge.  A $100 sponsorship is not likely to fit into everyone’s budget.  You could ask them to donate whatever they can, but that will create extra work as well as turn you into a skipping turn table.  Repetitive sponsorship requests will dull the impact you need to make.  Instead focus on a group.  If you have mentioned your hike to one or two coworkers or family members, try suggesting that they go in together.  You could ask your colleges to all pitch in to sponsor you for a day.  Then use that to rally the boss to match it.  All the while giving credit online for the sponsorship.  The Jones’ example always works well.  It is a sales pitch that references what your neighbor the Jones’ did.

Example:  Your Branch Manager (Kate) decides to sponsor you for 1 day for $100.

“Hello John(Area Manager)!  Did you hear that my team got accepted to participate in AHikeForMentalHealth 2017?  We are super excited!  Kate just sponsored us $100 for one day of our 3 day journey and we are giving her branch a thank you on or web page.  I expect that you will want to match her!”

When making a suggestion like this there are a few things to remember.  You must ensure that the target has enough background information to make a full decision at once.  You must also assume the sale.  Don’t ask if they want to match ‘Kate’, tell them you assume that they will.  Assumptions are not fun but they do put someone on the spot.  As long as you have set them up, they will want to work with you.  That does not mean they will be able to sponsor you, and do not force them, instead offer other ways that they can assist you including your special event.

If you lay out 1 or 2 target sponsors to approach for each week of the fundraising time, you will never feel like you have no one to ask anymore.  Plus you will spread out your load.  Causal conversation is key to success.

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Step 6:

Plan at least one special event!  Plan to hold some sort of special event before the end of the fundraising time.  Be creative!  Ideas could be finding a local pub to offer you up tables, drink specials, or donations.  Set up a silent auction.  Don’t be afraid to ask local businesses to donate services or products!  Have a BBQ.  Invite friends and family over for a dinner party or fire with donations to attend.  Food or beverages could be donated to help you if you ask the right places.  The idea is that you have some way that people, and especially potential sponsors, to engage and take part.  It will add to the awesome things you can bring up when talking to potential sponsors, and it will allow them to look forward to something that they can be apart of.  If someone can’t sponsor you but has interest, an event would allow them to help in a smaller way while also being included.  Reducing the stigma goes hand in hand with fundraising for the CMHA.

Games, lotteries, raffles, and 50-50 draws can easily be incorporated into your event.  They will increase participation and increase the strength of your fundraiser.

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Step 7:

Get out there!

Go forth and spread the word.  AND START TODAY!   The first and easiest way to do this is via social media.  Use your links to your CMHA and AHikeForMentalHealth.com donation pages!  You can make your own Instagram just for the event or use your existing network!  Facebook Event Pages are a great way to spread word about your team’s special event!  Share it everywhere!    Don’t forget to use #AHikeForMentalHealth, and even create your own hashtag like #StompTheStigma!

Bring up AHikeForMentalHealth.com in casual ways during day to day life.  Don’t try to get everyone to sponsor you but instead try to get everyone you know interested in the conversation.  This means going through your contact lists in Gmail, Facebook, and Instagram.  Once they start asking questions is when you drop the information about needing sponsors.  Do not open with that!

Don’t forget to mention the shout outs your potential sponsors could receive, if wanted.  Include them!  Include them in Mountain Meetups for Mental Health, include them in your special event, include them as a non-hiking part of your team.  Get them involved!  If you have any questions about what you can and cannot do for a sponsor, just email AHikeForMentalHealth@gmail.com.

Don’t be afraid to ask and ask again.  If you are just pitching the same thing over and over, you will get nowhere.  However, starting up the conversation again with someone who said before that they would sponsor will get them to sponsor you.

Once a sponsor has donated funds to your team, THANK THEM!  They will be listed on CMHA’s site and can be listed on AHikeForMentalHealth.com, but YOU need to directly thank THEM!  This is important for many reasons but in a fundraising point of view, it helps with the Jones’ Effect once again.

Tax receipts are automatically emailed with an online credit card donation.  If you take cash, there is a form to fill out on the CMHA website.  The big thing for you is just to send people to AHikeForMentalHealth.com.  Tell them to find your page under the Hikers section AND make sure you have sent in content to keep it up to date and personal.  The donation link will be right there on that page.

Easy!  Now start those conversations!

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Watch for updates and announcements regarding upcoming meetups and more fundraising tips to keep you on track!

Any questions or tips for others?  Email AHikeForMentalHealth@gmail.com or fill out the contact form in the menu.

Hike on,

Happy Alfano