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Fundraising Tips from an Israel Ride Veteran

David Eisenberg has been on the Israel Ride nine times and participated in numerous other charity rides.
He is currently Vice-Chair of the Israel Ride and will be returning for his tenth adventure in 2015.
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David Eisenberg
on the 2013 Israel Ride

Each year, I receive many questions about fundraising. Some new riders have never tried their hand at it. Alumni or seasoned charity-event participants are concerned because they’ve done it too many times. As I begin fundraising for my tenth Israel Ride, I’d like to offer some words of encouragement and advice to anyone who needs a little push.

My experience over nine Israel Rides and about a dozen other charity rides is that every participant finds their own anchor or approach, depending in large part on the nature of their network.  In my case, I do most of my fundraising by email – one letter early in the year, explaining about the ride, why I am doing it, and what it supports, including the fundraising link, etc. I then follow that up regularly with “update” emails, noting my progress in training and fundraising, thanking people for their support, and always including the link for anyone who has not yet donated.  I send the emails to a broad list, basically most of the people that I know for whom there would not be a conflict for them to contribute (e.g., employees & vendors). That is a relatively simple approach, and it has always worked for me.  Others have used more personal approaches (meetings, events, personal appeals), letters, Facebook, etc. I learn new ideas and approaches from riders each year!

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In my fundraising, I also always remind potential donors that I am part of Team JNF. While many have not heard of the Arava Institute or Hazon, JNF is well known and highly regarded.  Another approach is to offer something in return, which can be a gift from Israel, a promise of updates from the Ride, or something else. For the last two years, I have made a personal commitment to plant a tree in honor of each donor. This requires that I contribute to JNF to buy the trees ($18 each, or $9 each in an EZ-tree account), but my donors love when they receive their tree certificates! The funds that I contributed to JNF to buy the trees mostly came from what I’d otherwise planned to contribute to support my Israel Ride, so the cost to me was about the same.   In addition to appreciative donors, it means that each of my Israel Rides results in about 70 more trees in Israel – that is a great compliment to an environmental bike ride!

I should note that many riders also make a contribution of their own. Some think of the Israel Ride as comparable to a cycling vacation, and contribute the $3,600 directly. Others contribute $1,800, which is approximately the Israel Ride’s actual ground cost (lodging & food) per rider. By donating half of the fundraising, some people feel that the donations that they are soliciting go directly to the beneficiaries of the ride.  Others have created or joined teams where they feel like one or another member of the team may have greater fundraising capacity – team fundraising can be reallocated among members of the team.

Women israel ride

When you register for the ride, a personal fundraising page is created for you. By customizing your page, you will create the heart of the on-line support for your personal fundraising campaign. The site includes a number of tools for mailings, donation tracking, appeal personalization, etc.  Some riders do a lot of personalization and, I think, make very aggressive use of the page. Others, including me, tend to customize the page and use the link, but mostly e-mail directly from their personal email address rather than the software on the page.  For what I use it for – an address to send people to and record keeping – I’ve always found the page useful.

My personal experience, and observation from talking to many riders about this over the years, is that once people register and focus on their fundraising, they are generally able to raise the funds and prepare for the ride – and that whatever stress that may have caused for them quickly fades as they get to Israel and join in the Israel Ride. It is a truly magical event!

I’m very excited about the Israel Ride. There is nothing like seeing Israel from the seat of a bike, and supporting outstanding environmental leadership and peace-building work while you’re at it!

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