The Hazon NY Ride & Retreat is one of the largest sources of support for the Jewish Environmental Movement. Each rider has a fundraising minimum, but most end up raising much more than their target. Since our first bike ride in 2000, the Hazon Ride has given away over $700,000 to support over a hundred organizations and projects. This funding has helped create a healthier and more sustainable world, and touched the lives of thousands of people through our transformative experiences and educational resources.
Just as you’ve signed up for a bike ride that may represent a real physical challenge, fundraising is a skill that can be learned. The pages in this section are designed to help you craft a fundraising plan that will help you reach – and surpass – your fundraising goal. Feel free to contact us at any point for assistance.
Your commitment to riding is significant and you should not underestimate the magnitude of this endeavor. People admire and respect those who challenge themselves for a worthy cause. Be enthusiastic about the Ride and share your enthusiasm with others. Your excitement will encourage sponsors to support you and to be generous with their donations.
Set your target
Each of our riders has a different minimum sponsorship, but regardless of the minimum we encourage you to aim higher. The higher your fundraising target, the more generous your supporters will be. When you are close to meeting your target, consider setting a higher one. Each ride offers incentives to those who raise significantly above their required minimum.
I learned that fundraising is not about asking people for money. It’s giving them an opportunity to contribute and become part of something larger.
Who to Ask
Although fundraising may seem intimidating at first, you probably know more people than you realize. To start your fundraising, you need to first make a list of who you will ask. And remember, people don’t give to support causes as much as they give to support people: your friends, family and colleagues will donate to your ride because YOU are riding. Here are categories of people to consider asking:
Family and Friends
The people closest to you are the most likely to support your efforts. Be sure to include aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends. Don’t forget about your old college friends, sorority sisters, youth group connections and old camp friends.
Many employers are eager to encourage their employees to participate in charitable events. Many corporations offer matching funds for the donations you receive from colleagues at work, or even your total donations. Contact your human resources director to see how they can help you.
Colleagues at Work, School, etc
The workplace is a great venue for fundraising. If you work in a large organization you have plenty of options. Get permission from your employer and spread the word to all the departments in your workplace.
This is a fruitful place to fundraise. Ask your rabbi, synagogue President, and different clubs where you can most successfully fundraise within the synagogue. Many congregations have a “Rabbis Discretionary Fund.” Ask your Rabbi to sponsor you. Be sure to utilize your synagogue directory for names of people you can contact.
Clubs, Committees, Alumni Groups and Associations
Bring information with you when you go to sports, recreation clubs or other volunteer work.
Business Contacts and Suppliers
If you are in business, you can approach colleagues, clients, suppliers and even competitors to sponsor you. People of all backgrounds care about creating a sustainable world for all.
Go through this list and highlight the names of the people whom you believe are potential major donors. A major donor is one who might be able to make a donation of $1,000 and over. These are the people for whom a pledge letter and/or phone call is not necessarily appropriate. Take them to lunch or dinner and explain to them why the Ride means so much to you. Tell them about the Ride and why you are doing something so challenging. Be serious, enthusiastic, and sincere.
Asking non-Jewish friends and colleagues for your support
This bike ride is in a Jewish context, but its broader goals are deeply universal. As Carl Pope, head of the Sierra Club, said in 2003, “When environmentalists lobby on Capitol Hill, we’re ignored. When faith groups take a stand, people listen.” So don’t be afraid to ask non-Jewish friends to support you. As we know, working for environmental education is something that’s important to a lot of people, not just Jews.
Utilize Your Network
Sometimes, the best way to fundraise is to get others to do it for you. Ask your spouse/kids/friends/co-workers to help you by sharing your link and telling your story, as well. It’s often times easier to raise money on behalf of someone you love than to do it for yourself.
How to Ask
There is no one right way to deliver your fundraising message. Emails, letters and in-person requests are by far the most common, but riders often get very creative with their fundraising strategies! Here are a range of techniques you can use to reach your fundraising goal. We encourage you to try several until you find the ones that work best for you:
Tried and True
- EMAIL: Many people use email as their main means of soliciting sponsorship. Tools on your Participant Center will help make composing, sending and tracking emails very easy (see final tab on this page).
- LETTERS: Although email is quick and easy, some have found that letters-sent via “snail mail” are more personal and often get better results. Be sure to include a return envelope, stamped and self-addressed, to help your donor respond to your request. (see sample letters on the next tab).
- JUST ASK: Some people are comfortable with the most direct approach: asking for money in person or by phone is usually very effective. You may want to follow up with an email reminder.
Creative, Funky and Fun
- SPINNING CLASS: Ask your fitness club or JCC to donate space and a teacher to host a class. Play music and show a slideshow of the route or other Hazon Rides during the class.
- RIDE TO WORK: Ask co-workers to donate a dollar for every day you ride to work. If you get 10 co-workers to donate for 30 days, that’s $300! Fundraise and train at the same time.
- BAKE SALE: The old-fashioned bake sale works every time. Set up a stand at work, school, or on your street corner with goodies of your choice.
- HOLIDAY OR BIRTHDAY: Connect the Ride to the holidays and your birthday and ask your guest to sponsor you for the Ride instead of getting you a present.
- DINNER PARTY: Host a themed dinner party and cook for all your friends. Ask a local grocery store for a discount on ingredients and charge $5 per guest.
- FLIERS: Place fliers or posters around the office, in the bathroom, in the company lounge, by the water cooler and at your desk.
- HOST A POKER GAME OR GAME NIGHT: Call your serious (or not so serious) card-playing friends and invite them over for poker night and ask for a donation to play.
- BOWLING NIGHT: Plan a fun night of bowling at the local alley. Ask the owner to waive the fees and you can collect that money and apply it to your campaign.
- INFO SESSIONS: Hold information sessions at work, at your synagogue.
- SKILL SHARE EVENT: Invite friends over for a skill share event. Are you a yogi or a master crocheter? Charge $5 admission or have a suggested donation.
- PLAY A GAME: Gather friends for a soccer, softball, or kickball game in honor of your participation on the Ride. Ask for donations and don’t forget snacks.
- RIDE ALONG: Ask a potential donor to ride along on one of your training rides. They may be more willing to donate once they fully understand what you have committed to doing!
- USED BOOK SALE: Sell your old books. Wear your Hazon t-shirt or bike shirt and put up some signs so people will know where the money is going.
- LOCAL SPORT STORES: Ask a local store manager if they are willing to sponsor you on the ride. Tell them you will put a link to their webpage on your personal fundraising page.
- SYNAGOGUE BULLETIN: Place an advertisement in your synagogue bulletin letting the congregation know what you’re up to!
- OTHER PARENTS: If your kids play in play groups, sports leagues or other activities, distribute your fundraising letter to the parents at the event.
- HAIR SALON: Ask your hairdresser to donate $2 from every haircut they complete during the weekend.
- AUCTION: Auction off sections of your body, and promise to write the donors name on them during your ride.
- CURSE JAR: Put a jar on your desk at work, and every time someone curses within earshot, they have to put a dollar in the jar. Pair it with a graph so your colleagues can watch your progress toward your goal.
- FACEBOOK: Post your current fundraising status in your status updates.
- BLOGS: Write about the Ride and your training progress on your blog.
- EMAIL SIGNATURE: Include a link to your fundraising web page in your e-mail signature.
- MAKE A VIDEO: Post it on Facebook or share by email. Watch some great examples on the video tab.
- CHAT: Put a link to your fundraising page in your Google Chat status.
- MAKE A TRAINING MIX: Offer to share it with your donors.
What to Say
When you sit down to write your fundraising letter, first make a list of all the answers to this question: “Why am I doing this ride?” Your answers will help you to articulate what you’re excited about to your potential donors, who at the end of the day really want to support YOU and causes you’re excited about. The list will also help you tailor your letter for different audiences, for example – someone who is really into food issues might want to hear more about the Adamah farm; someone who has young kids might want to hear about how the Ride is intergenerational.
Here are a few reasons to ride that riders have used in their fundraising letters:
- I’m signing up for a big physical challenge / riding farther than I’ve ever ridden, etc.
- I love being part of a great community
- I’m riding because it’s a fun, wild thing to do: ride my bike from one place to another
- A great way to be Jewish, and show that I care about environmental issues as a cyclist and as a Jew
In addition to sharing your excitement, make sure your letter includes a few key pieces of information:
- How much you’re trying to raise
- How much you’re asking for (aim high!)
- How to donate (mail check, donate online)
- 1-2 examples of projects supported by the ride
Fundraising Letter Tips
Your fundraising letter is, above all, a letter from you to people you know and care about. The most important thing to keep in mind when writing your fundraising letter is your recipient. Who is going to be reading this? What would they like to read? There is no single magic fundraising letter but there are a lot of ways that you can make your letter great to help you raise more money.
Read all the tips below to get prepared. Write your base letter or start from one of our sample letters, then read the tips again. Did you forget anything? Can you make it better?
1) Pick the Right Delivery Option
Most people send their fundraising letters electronically, but there may be people on your list for whom a real letter is more appropriate. If you’re sending your letter by mail, enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope for people to send you a check.
If you’re sending an email, use the email features in your Convio Participant Center. Include links to your personal page so donors can get there easily. Don’t use the long link that you get when you go to your website. You should have a personal direct shortcut link, which you can edit if needed.
2) Be Personal
Don’t write “dear friends” or “dear all” – write “Hi Debbie.” Make clear that some thought has gone into who will receive your letter. Add at least one personal line (“I’m going to be in town…”).
3) Use Photos and Links
Attach a picture of you on your bike. If you’re sending an email, use hyperlinks to send people to find out more information about Hazon and the projects supported by the ride.
4) Tailor the length
In general, shorter is better. However, sometimes there is someone who you feel wants more information. Include more details about the Ride for your friends who are interested in cycling, or more information about the Grantees if your donor is interested in cutting-edge Jewish environmental projects.
5) Be specific
Give simple and specific instructions about how they can sponsor you. Include the link to your personal page. In case they decide to mail a check, include your home address. Include your fundraising goal, and make it ambitious. Put it in bold! Believe it or not, THE MORE YOU ASK FOR, THE MORE PEOPLE GIVE. Share what your personal financial commitment will be. People are often inspired to see your personal financial commitment and might even be willing to match it. “In addition to training, I am pledging $500 towards my fundraising goal.”
Ask for a specific amount and aim high. Say “Please consider a gift of $180.” They can choose to do so, or choose to give you more/less.
6) Be confident and assertive
Send to the letter to everyone you know – especially relatives, even if you have not talked to them in a long time. Expand your circle of giving by including friends of friends and your children’s or parents’ friends. They will be thrilled to hear from you. People will be happy to support a cause that you think is important. Remember that you are not asking for money for your morning coffee. You are giving your friends, family, and colleagues the opportunity to be a part of a large-scale educational and awareness opportunity.
7) Follow Up
Remind people about your letter when you see them, and talk to them about the Ride. The most successful fundraiser in Hazon’s 2005 Hazon Ride received donations from more than 90 people. When asked the secret of his success, he said, “I sent out an email asking for money, and I kept on emailing people until they gave!”
If you are running an email campaign, send out follow up emails to everyone, even if they haven’t given (yet). Tell the people on your list about your training, or thank those (by name) who have already given – and encourage those who haven’t yet (“Oh, Aunt Martha gave so I should too!”) Seeing names of others who have given encourages others to give. Include the ride website on everything.
Using the Participant Center
We use an online database system called Convio Luminate (owned by Blackbaud) to help manage the fundraising process. For more help with our system, contact us.
When you registered, you were asked to choose a user name and password. This is how you can access your Participant Center on our system. If you have forgotten you password, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To access your Participant Center page, click “rider log in” on the Hazon Ride & Retreat main page.
Your Personal Page
Our system allows each rider to set up a personal webpage to use for collecting donations online. It’s easy to use, and we highly recommend you familiarize yourself with it.
At the top of the page, click the Personal Page tab. From here, you can customize the page that friends see and can use to donate online. We have set a default picture and text, but we strongly recommend uploading your own photo or video and editing the caption to explain your commitment to the Ride. To edit the text, simply begin typing in the box that says “body.” To edit the picture, click “Photos/Video” on the right side of the page.
You can also edit the URL (web address) of your page so that you have a convenient short link to post online, email to friends etc. Do this by clicking “URL Settings” near the top of the page.
If you are a team captain, you have similar options to edit the Team Page on another tab.
Under the Email tab, you can use Convio to send out personalized emails to friends and family with a direct link to your fundraising site.
Creating an Address Book
Click on the “Contacts” on the right sidebar where you can view contacts in the system (none at first) and upload an address book from your personal email system into Convio. If you use Gmail or Yahoo the system can directly import your contacts. If you use another program, you can export your contacts and then import them into Convio using certain file types.
Once you have an address book uploaded, you can either click on “Contacts” on the right sidebar, or pull up the list from under the “To” field in the compose section. If you have a first name associated with the email address, you can set up personalized emails.
Saving Email Templates
On the lower half of the main Email page is the composition section. We have uploaded sample letters into the system which you can use as guides for composing your letter. Under the subject field, click on “Use a template,” select “Solicitation,” then click “Fundraising Email General Template.” Or, you can compose a letter from scratch. See our tips on composing letters for more help. There are also various stationary options – entirely blank or one with an image at the top to give it some color.
Once you’ve written your letter, you can save it so you can recall it later. To do so, click the “Save as draft” link towards the top (next to the send button; you will need to write a subject for your email). You can view these later under the “Drafts” option on the right sidebar.
The emails will automatically append a link to your personal fundraising page at the bottom of the letter. Be sure to click on “Preview email” (next to the send button) to make sure it looks correct.
Once you have your names and addresses loaded, an email template or personal email written, and a subject line chosen, click “send email.”
Email History Log
The “Sent” link on the sidebar will show you all past solicitations sent via Convio. Just like with the address book, you can select previously emailed friends to add them to an email if you would like to send a follow up notice.
Entering Offline Donations
Donors who prefer not to donate online, can simply write checks and send them to you (the rider)or our office.
If you receive a check as a donation for your account, you should enter the off-line donation information by clicking on the “Enter New Gift” button on the sidebar (make sure you are on the home page by clicking the Home tab on the top). Once the donation is entered, you will be credited the amount of the check and the donor’s name will appear in the honor roll on your personal fundraising page. You should then mail the check(s) – it is best to include a note so we know to whom these are credited:
Make checks out to:
125 Maiden Lane, Suite 8B
New York, NY 10038
Once we have received the checks, pending donations will be confirmed and the checks will be deposited.
Keeping Track of Donors
Under the Progress tab you can view all donations you have received – both online and checks received.
If you are an alum of previous rides and would like a copy of your previous donation history please email David Rendsburg.