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Community Fundraising Tips

March 19, 2013 | Alexandra Mulvey

This weekend, I (that's me on the right!), fellow CRI staff member Brian Brewer, and about a dozen others ran the New York City Half Marathon to benefit CRI. It was an amazing experience! And, since our community fundraising through athletic/endurance races is relatively new, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of my impressions and insights from the event.

I signed up to do the NYC Half for CRI for three reasons: (1) a half marathon had been on my “bucket list” for a while; (2) as a CRI staff member, I knew I was contributing to our cause, but the NYC Half gave me an opportunity to do something that would help directly support our work by raising money; and (3) knowing that a big goal for CRI is to enhance and expand our athletic and other types of community fundraising, I wanted to get a sense of what it was like first-hand and understand how we could better support the amazing people who fundraise on our behalf.

Now that it’s done, here are some of the things I learned about fundraising that I wanted to pass along for community fundraisers-to-be.

The biggest thing I learned: Fundraising isn’t that hard—you just have to do it! For the past few weeks, I was so focused on getting our new website up that I didn’t focus a lot on fundraising to reach my $1,000 goal. I sent an email to a small group of people the day I signed up, and succeeded in raising $350 just from that. But on Tuesday—5 weeks later and with only 3 days left until the fundraising deadline—I still had $650 to go. I sent 2 more emails, one to work colleagues and one to close personal contacts, and I got there.

(Team CRI member Jamie Fried, holding up CRI's banner right before the race.)

To me, there were several lessons from this:

(1) Don’t be afraid that you won’t meet your fundraising goal! We all have a lot of people in our networks, and $10 donations add up fast.

(2) Don’t be afraid to ask, and to ask again! Many people who didn’t give the first time I asked did give when I asked again—and thanked me for reminding them. Most of the time, people want to support you! Even if they don’t give (likely because they forgot), they are probably happy to hear from you and excited for and proud of you for taking on something meaningful and challenging for a cause that you support.

(Team CRI member Jessica Kalish at the end of the race.)

(3) Use your extended social networks! I only used email and reached out to people who were in my immediate network (i.e., people I had actually been in direct contact with over the past year). But I knew that I also had a ton of Facebook friends who have been affected by cancer and who might have donated to my half marathon fund. At the very least, using my Facebook network would have helped raise awareness about CRI, whether or not anyone donated. But I was preoccupied with the website and self-conscious about reaching out to these networks. Don’t be! I can’t tell you how many people have written to me to congratulate me and tell me to let them know if/when I’m doing it again so that they can support it. CRI’s mission is very powerful, and there are people out there who will want to support it, whether you are a close friend, a ‘Facebook friend,’ or even a stranger!

I hope these are helpful. If you have other tips to add, please share!

And, in case you were wondering, I finished the race at 2 hours and 38 minutes. The other CRI runners were much faster! But we all got through it, and collectively raised nearly $40,000 for CRI. Go Team CRI!

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