With ten years of organising The Mongol Rally under their belts, The Adventurists reveal the money-raising tactics that really work
Teams taking part in The Adventurists' gaggle of adventures have raised over £4.5 million for some great causes. The ways they’ve met and massively exceeded their targets have ranged from the obvious to the outrageous and everything inbetween.
Raising funds for charity can be a tough nut to crack, especially when in the eyes of many your fundraising seems to be linked to you going off on a jolly to an exotic corner of the globe. What you need to do whether you’re trying to raise money for your chosen charity or trying to raise awareness for your efforts, is capture people’s imagination or grab their attention like chewing gum grabs someone’s shoes. These days everyone is raising funds for this charity run or that fundraising swim; it seems you can’t walk to the shops without handing out donor forms and having a sponsored-walk-to-the-shops-to-buy-biscuits.
One trend we’ve noticed is that the best thing you can do for your fundraising is to make people know about it, find a way of sharing your endeavours with the world, find a way of shouting about the great work your charity do and the cash will surely follow.
Explain what you’re doing, explain what your charity are doing, explain why your endeavours are tough and why your charity is vital. Don’t just stick a post on Facebook saying you’re going for a jog in the park and expect them to cough up.
Don’t give everyone a sob story either. This isn’t the X Factor. Lay down your mission statement. Tell them something they don’t know about your charity and how it links back to them, if you can make it relevant to themselves or what matters to them it is harder for them to ignore.
Here are six other tactics that we've found work.
These days a popular way to reach people is through video; no one has any time to think about or understand information unless it is spelled out at least 15 frames a second. Not only does it show intent, and tell your story in a quick (and hopefully interesting) way but also it make it easy for your donors and media to share your story. If you can put together a polished well edited production all the better, if not something shot on your iPhone or web cam can still work if you think about it.
Laura Byng from the 2011 Mongol Rally amassed a phenomenal amount of publicity by breaking the world record for continuously driving a dodgem car. She did a bit of homework to ensure her attempt would be recognised by Guinness and contacted all her local media for publicity and her story was soon taken up by the national press.
Other Adventurists have raised money from even stranger methods like snail racing or slave auctions; whether it’s a £1 bet on which snail will win or £50 for your mate Steve to clean your flat in nothing but an apron, ideas that raise awareness as well as cash are a winner.
Rickshaw Run team, The Jaisalmer Taxi Service, are raising money for Frank Water. To demonstrate the importance of the work that Frank do they put together a video where they take a glass of stagnant water from the gutter in front of their house run it through a portable purification kit and drink it. It’s a very simple video that puts the message across in a strong way. Go into your local park in the dead of night and plant 2,000 seeds in the shape of your charity logo in one of their flower beds. Unless that’s illegal – in which case definitely don’t do that.
One of the easiest ways of raising money we’ve seen recently has been asking supermarket managers if you can take donations to pack peoples' shopping bags. An extremely effective way of raising awareness is tracking down a celebrity patron of your chosen charity and write to them to see if they’ll meet up for a photo shoot.
Once you’ve got awareness from press and the friends of friends, it becomes easier to pester them for more attention. Make sure everyone has the link to your fundraising page, make sure they are watching you while you are on your adventure, if possible keep contact through a blog or social media (while linking to your fundraising page) and don’t forget to ask them for more money when you get back. Don’t just blindly do what everyone else is doing, but often the popular stuff is that way for a reason.
If you get hit with the riposte, ‘Why should I give money for you to go on holiday?’’ it’s a good idea to have something in reserve which will silence such a critic. If you’re scared of heights, suggest a bungee jump, if you’re a chap with silly long hair offer to cut it off (actually you’d be doing yourself a favour there). Face your fears, unless you’ve got a massive peanut allergy. Dying from an anaphylactic shock won’t do your charity any favours. Teams on our adventures often take challenges from sponsors; this generally tends to end up with photos of nudity or strange tattoos, still if it raises money where it matters, who are we to judge?
Offer folks something in return for their investment: cook a meal for your friends and make them pay £15 each for the privilege, or throw a party and charge folks for drinks. Try to approach local businesses or friends who own businesses to give you prizes to give away in an auction or raffle.
It’s amazing how much easier it is to get money out of people if they can get something back, especially if that involves food or booze. A popular tactic on the Mongol Rally is for teams to send a postcard to top donors or even bring them back souvenirs, who wouldn’t want a sheep’s head in exchange for a few sheckles?
It is only worth fundraising if you want to do it. Half-heartedly shaking a bucket under people’s noses so you can call your trip a fundraiser fools no one. You’re better off going on a holiday.
The Adventurists have been running their particular brand of charity adventures for ten years. To celebrate a decade of raising money for good causes – and revelling in a bit of old-time adventure along the way – The Adventurists are knocking off up to £350 off the entry fees to their madcap adventures. The offer ends June 25 and you'll find the details on their website.
The Adventurists are also teaming up with The Cool Earth Project to reward one of top fund-raising teams from their 2013/14 adventures with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Peru to see first-hand the amazing work safeguarding these rainforests that is being done by the Ashaninka people. You'll find more details here.