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I wanted to make sure you were aware of a very handy tool in the fundraising toolbox, compliments of the BikeMS crew. It’s a Facebook app/widget that you can add to your personal profile that shows folks your fundraising goal and progress toward that goal. It also has a convenient “Support Me” button that links directly to your fundraising page. If you have not already set up a fundraising page for your efforts, read my last post as to why then go to the My Participant Center on the National MS Society page to get started.

The tool is perfect for Facebook b/c it does not just sit back and wait for others to notice it. No sir-ee bob! It will do some heavy lifting for you. With any new donation or change in your overall fundraising goal, it provides a nice reminder to your Facebook friends that updates your progress via the Newsfeed. Very well done and help you consistently and gently remind your friends and family that your busting your hump for a great cause!



It’s go time and I’ve been so focused on kicking off “Operation Fundraising” that I’ve inadvertantly ignored my Top Fundraiser duties. My apologies. Let me catch you up and vow to keep all (six) of you informed.

1. I officially kicked off my fundraising efforts about 2 weeks ago when I updated my Facebook Group page and announced that I was once again participating in the Sam’s Club BikeMS and open for business. I posted an update to the group wall which shows up in the Feed of all the members AND sent a private message to the members that goes to their Facebook inbox.

I then turned my attention to the awesome tools provided by the MS Society via the “Participant Center.” This is an awesome fundraising suite packed with all kinds of goodies to help you break through your fundraising goals. I made sure to update the information on My Participant Center as well as my personal direct link ( This link is so handy b/c it allows you to share via emails and social media updates and is easy to remember.  I then imported my various address books to the email tool and sent out a mass email describing why I ride, what I’m asking, and how to donate. You can find the copy of my email on the Facebook Group wall post. Now I’m planning to gently remind folks via all my channels (Facebook, Twitter, email, blog, posters at office, etc) every couple of weeks. We all need to be reminded to do most things, especially if it’s something you want to do but not right this second.

2. I also got my first “long” ride in this past weekend. If you weren’t inspired by the absolute wonderful weather we had last weekend then there’s something wrong with you.

red wolf being released into the wildI felt like a caged animal being released into the wild and took advantage of kiddo nap time on Sunday to get in a nice 2-hour ride around Texas Motor Speedway. You can find me there most Sunday’s around 2pm so let me know if  you’re going to be there and I’ll make sure to be on the lookout. It can be boring so I welcome the company and conversation.

That’s all for now. I hope your riding and fundraising efforts are going well and please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions about the tools listed above or ideas you may have.


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


I ran across this blog post in reading up on MS across the interwebs. I shared the high-level idea below and encourage any questions and/or ideas that you have via the comments.

“Circle of Ten” – I read about this concept on the MS Blog on by Julie Stachowiak, Ph.D. It’s a fairly straightforward idea that looks both fun and realistic. Here’s some excerpts from her blog post:

“It is very simple: one person recruits ten people that they know (she wrote a touching letter to do this) to ask ten people from their circle of family and friends to give 10 dollars each. Viola! Pretty soon, you have a thousand dollars.

Unlike many other fundraising situations, this one can actually be graceful and fun – usually people like to give, but neither the asker or the person being asked enjoys that yucky moment where they are both doing mental calculations as to how much looks good, but doesn’t cause financial or emotional stress. With this strategy, mentioning a small amount allows everyone to feel great about the whole thing (and people often give more).”

Make sure you read the whole post as it’s got some additional info including several related posts with similar fundraising and giving back ideas.

While I’ve been asked to share my chronicles of fundraising, I want to do my part to represent all Top Fundraisers in Club 100. To do this I turned to my fellow Club 100 members to get some insight on what they do to raise INCREDIBLE amounts of money to further MS research and better the lives of MS patients across the US.

While I await their response to my informal survey, I wanted to share my answers and insight to several key questions. My hope is that I can get your fundraising juices flowing.

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

A: To make a personal connection as to why you are participating and feel passionate about this cause. For me, it’s to raise funds that better the lives of MS patients like my wonderful mom Valorie and amazing wife Andrea.

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

A: Through my company imc2 we hosted a charity golf tournament where we raised thousands to donate back to the MS Society. Some of the fundraising sources included player fees, sponsorship fees for every aspect of the tournament including goodie bags, meals, and raffle items.

Q3: What fundraising methods do you use?

A: Mail letters, emails to everyone, Facebook, and good old fashioned word of mouth. The MS Society offers some great tools to help you tackle almost all of these including form letter templates, email marketing tools, and tracking.

Q4: Any fundraising myths you want to debunk?

A: Your friends will avoid you at all costs. If you follow the advice in Q1, you will make it impossible for folks to ignore your passion for asking for $10+. Keep stressing that any amount is much appreciated and don’t be too pushy.

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

A: My average donation is generally around $35 – $60 so the key is quantity with a few large donations. Many times you need to stress any size donation is the key and continually message this throughout your communications. Most people want to help but are prone to disqualify their target donation of $25 as being too little. One additional note is to remind folks to check into their company matching of personal donations to approved charities. This goes a very long way to reaching your fundraising goals.

I sincerely hope this helps you better understand how anyone can raise significant amounts of money without having rich friends or a few sugar daddy donors.

Prepare yourself for one of the most original posts you’ll read all week. That’s right, it’s new years resolutions time! Seriously, I wanted to share my personal resolutions with the hope that you’ll join me in reaching some of these goals. I hope you’ll pick up on the theme of “improvement.”

1. Spend time taking care of my “stuff.” This means taking the cars in for scheduled maintenance, investing in the DIY home improvement projects we’ve been talking about for months, and even the little things like cleaning and storing the grill rather than leaving it out all winter.

TimTaylorTooltime.jpg Tim Taylor image by TimTaylor1

2. Break a sweat at least 5 times per week. You may see this as working out, running, cycling but I include wrestling with the kids at night, playing soccer or racing my boys in the back yard, or taking the stairs on the busy days. I re-read a great book over the holidays called Fitness is Religion: Keep the Faith that reminded me that fitness is a life long endeavor, not some new years resolution tied to a body fat %, per mile split, or miles ridden. It’s a great read that helps me keep a long term perspective on focusing on my health which in turn improves my overall wellbeing.

3. Laugh and smile more. This isn’t about subscribing to a ‘joke of the day’ email, but rather avoiding and removing the stress factors associated with the root of what makes me smile less. Items on this list include reducing my bad debt with more “cheetah” like tenacity, striving to find that ideal work-life balance, and stop sweating the small stuff in order to enjoy life’s little moments.

4. Boost my brain power. I’ve subscribed to the theory that I enjoy the IDEA of reading and have struggled with actually doing it. I’ve found a great solution for overcoming this reality. No, it’s not books on tape. It’s finding the reason and motivation to read. This year I’m going to embark on getting my PMBA, or Personal MBA. I’ve wanted to get my MBA for some time but have yet to figure out how to come to terms with the associated student loan debt and time requirements. Then I evaluated the reason why I wanted to pursue furthering my education and realized it was to better my professional and personal knowledge base in order to raise the ceiling in my career. That’s when I stumbled on the PMBA system and decided it was exactly what I needed. I won’t go into great detail here but in the end I’m committing to making my way through at least 50% of the recommended PMBA materials and experience. This ties directly to boosting my brain power, specifically reading, because it’s based on reading some of the classic and emerging thought leaders works.

4. Last but not least, I plan to do everything in my power to raise at least $5,000 for MS research. Of course, my main event will be the Bike MS event in May. This will prove to be a large challenge since a significant source of my fundraising will not be in place, but that’s no excuse. I’m shooting for at couple of events… the 2nd annual casino party with my dear friends as well as a potential for another event. The leading idea currently is a kids triathlon with a slight twist. If you have experience in managing large events like a triathlon or road race, please contact me because I could use your expertise and advice.

I hope that this has inspired at least a small bit of introspection on your part as to what you want to accomplish in 2010. I would like to thank the awesome bloggers, some of which are good friends, that laid the groundwork and inspired the content and ideas within this post. Feel free to take a look at their fine work and systems in order to fire up your resolution ideation:

1. Pixel Maverick’s 2010 goals (aka: Eric “one of the best in the business” Williamson

2. Josh Kaufman’s year and decade in review (aka: the mastermind behind the PMBA)

3. The GROW model for setting effective goals

Because bikini car washes are so yesterday. (pictured: not me)

So every year I try to think of a new, creative way to fund raise and keep my seat warm in the Club 100. I do the standard letter & email campaigns to family and friends, but I’ve also done a few other things at work like an eBay auction, BBQ, fajitas & margaritas, walk-thru beer barn (big hit in my work environment), a golf tournament and most recently a casino party that our good friends hosted. Each of these had their up’s and down’s but it’s time to think outside the box a bit.

By nature I think and dream big, the issue comes when I try to pull it all together. That’s where good friends and logistical realists come in handy. In my time participating in this even, I have seen some incredibly creative & unique ideas that have raised thousands for MS research & support. So in the spirit of sharing, here’s a few ideas I’ve been kicking around for 2010:

1. Battle of the Bands >>> either real bands or team Rock Band contest. This will come down to the venue, prizes, and creativity of the participants (i.e. full KISS make up, etc).

2. Texas Hold ‘Em series >>> this is a mini series of poker where you have monthly winners working towards a grand prize. Thinking multi event (3-4) over the course of the new year where you can buy in each round and accumulate points. I like this even though I am not a great poker player.

3. Sponsors >>> this is the marketer in me. If people can sell ad space on their pregnant bellies, surely I can sell it on my self during a 2-day bike ride across N. Texas. I’m also thinking about how I can monetize this blog so I’ve started talking to several small businesses about profiling their products and getting a portion of any referral sales donated back to the National MS Society. If you know of any businesses who may be interested, please let me know and I’ll reach out to them to discuss a fair partnership.

Whatever your style or fund raising level, thank you for all that you do and please feel free to share your ideas or reach out with questions. Feel free to take any of these ideas and run with them.

Happy Thanksgiving,


If you’re a Twitter user like me, check out the Twibbon I created for the ride. You’ve probably seen these for the Lance Armstrong Foundation during Cancer Awareness week, etc.

Check it out and add it to your Twitter profile image. It’s easy to do and will help us raise awareness to this event benefiting this great cause.

Well, this blog isn’t about me or my story. It’s about two amazing ladies in my life and numerous other wonderful friends and family members of friends.

In years past, I prepare for the adventure that is the MS150 to raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis (“MS”) that affects millions of people worldwide, including my wonderful mom Valorie Noe. She’s been a rock throughout my life and this is the best way I know how to help find a cure for a frustrating and disabling disease.

Well, my passion for fundraising and first-hand knowledge of this frustrating, relentless disease grew ten fold in May 2008. Approximately five days after the 2008 MS150, my wife Andrea was diagnosed with MS. Man, life is full of surprises and this was the ultimate blind side punch.

The road leading up to the diagnosis was a rocky one. Shortly after giving birth to our second son Carson, Andrea began having trouble walking, specifically issues with her left leg dragging when she got tired or too hot. After months of numerous MRIs, tests, physical therapy and doctor’s visits, we were almost relieved to have a name for her symptoms.

It’s been about 18 months and thanks to the drugs and wonderful doctors, Andrea is doing better. Well, she’s not doing worse. That may sound negative but that’s the way you treat MS… hope is primarily based on not getting worse.

For the most part, her symptoms do not stop her from being an incredible mother to our two wild-and-crazy boys, amazing wife to a well-intentioned husband, wonderful teacher to her pre-schoolers, and thoughtful friend to her tight-nit circle of girlfriends. She is a rock and source of inspiration to all of the above, but especially to me.

So that brings us to how we can make a different together. The MS150 – a two-day, 150 mile bike ride – raises awareness and funds for Multiple Sclerosis research. As I’ve expressed before, it’s an incredible event that’s filled with hills, thrills and great times. As always, I’m riding with the Feisty Devils, the largest friends and family team in the nation. Lead by some of the most amazing and inspiring leaders I know, we have raised over $1,000,000 and counting for MS research. But we need your help in continuing the fight against MS by supporting events like the MS150 which funds newer & better drugs.

Please stay tuned over the coming months as I chronicle my adventures in training & fund raising as well as share my experiences as a husband who wants nothing more than to support and provide for my lovely wife Andrea.

Take care,


Top Fundraiser

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