First let me apologize for my relative silence lately. We’re all busy so I’m going to list any excuses here. Just know that I’m officially firing up the training regimen, and fundraising campaign(s) which should lead to many more blog-worthy activity. Thanks for hanging in there during the slow winter months.

As promised in Part 1, I’ve reached out to my fellow Top Fundraisers to get their secrets and insight on what allows them to raise the most from their respective networks.

Q1: What’s the most important thing to remember when fundraising for BikeMS events?

Be persistent.  Many times, people just do not remember to get around to what they intend to do (e.g. donate to the worthy cause you emailed them about).  Give people an opportunity to say that it is not a good time or that they have already earmarked charitable funds to other causes or other riders.  However, do not put yourself in the position of hearing, “I forgot … is it too late to donate,” or, ” I wish you would have asked.” ~Mike Cook

I think of it as just an invitation to give, so people always have the option to say no, and this way I don’t feel uncomfortable asking anyone. I have also learned that many people often want to give (to good causes), and I provide them the opportunity. I am not asking for money, I am providing the opportunity for people to give/contribute to a good cause. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and ask again! ~Russell & Galit Birk

Q2: What is the most successful fundraising tactic you use or have used in the past?

Letters and emails to everyone that I know.  Follow up with “tales from the road” which can be short stories of what is going on while you train or fundraise … keep it humorous if possible, but stitch in the seriousness of MS and what “we” can do together to rid the world of this disease. ~Mike Cook

Fundraising Party – we do the “I Cured it Through the Grapevine” MS 150 fundraising Event – we ask for a fee at the door and sell raffle tickets. ~Russell & Galit Birk

Q3: What fundraising methods do you use?

Letters, emails and Facebook … may even incorporate Twitter this year … and tell everyone that you are doing it … and that they can donate if they would like to. ~Mike Cook

Fundraising letters and emails to everyone we know, post link in email signature, post on facebook, remind people that anyone can give just $10 (which usually generates several donations of more than $10 too), keep people posted on fundrsaising goal and current status (i.e. Thanks for helping us raise $xxxx, we’re only $xxxx away from our goal, can you help us get there?), offer a personal connection to the cause (share about our friends who have MS and what a difference this makes for them), resend letters and emails, be persistent and even borderline annoying, ask ask ask! ~Russell & Galit Birk

Q4: Any fundraising myths you want to debunk?

Times are tough, so it is good to empathize with that.  However, some folks still have $10 – $50 that they can contribute.  It all adds up and there will be a couple of bigger donors to help you clear certain levels.  By the way, for the long term, building the donor list is beneficial.  The individual that contributes $10 today and sees how committed you are to the cause, may contribute much more in a couple of years because of better times or because of the commitment they see in you. ~Mike Cook

Time – it doesn’t have to take a lot of time – send a mass email

Wealth – you don’t need wealthy friends – just a lot of friends, or a few generous friends, or both!

Economy – people can still give $10 or $25. People want to give and all you’re doing is asking anyway!

~Russell & Galit Birk

Q5: What’s more successful for you: Several big donations or many smaller donations?

All of it.  Big, small … I am a leach for donors to help me end this disease. ~Mike Cook

Many small(er) ones. ~Russell & Galit Birk

Q6: Any other advice, info, resources, steps to successful fundraising, etc?

Smile and keep it humorous/light and remember that YOU are doing an amazing thing.  You can and will help make a tremendous difference for the thousands suffering from the effects of MS. ~Mike Cook

Don’t be afraid to ask! Worst case scanario, they will say no! People will surprise you – in both directions! ~Russell & Galit Birk