• How I Raised Money for TNT

    January 11, 2011

    Rise and shine! 8-)

    Inspired by yesterday’s Carrot Cake Muffins, I started my morning with a delicious bowl of Carrot Cake Quinoa with a big scoop of peanut butter in the middle. In the mix:

    • 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
    • 1/4 cup rolled oats
    • 2/3 cup coconut milk
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp ginger
    • Pinch of nutmeg
    • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed meal
    • Shredded carrots
    • Raisins
    • Walnuts

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    I also drank a glass of iced coffee with soy milk. It was a fabulous breakfast!

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    The other day, I received an email from a fellow blogger asking for tips and advice about raising money for an organization. I spent the last 5 months raising nearly $8,000 for Team In Training, so I figured writing a post on the subject would be helpful to others. Plus, with regard to races, sometimes raising money is more difficult than the training! My best advice: start early!  

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    Here are some of the ways that I raised money for Team In Training that produced the best results:

    Blog Raffle

    I hosted a couple of raffles on CNC to raise money for Team In Training. I think these only really work if you have big-ticket items (like a juicer) or services (like a custom website banner) that your readers really want. Otherwise, not many people will donate their money. (I had a few blog fundraisers that raised $0!)

    The juicer and the custom banner were donated by companies that I had worked with in the past through Carrots ‘N’ Cake. These people reached out to me, but it doesn’t hurt to ask for donations (as you will see below).

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    Basically, how the raffle works is for every $5 (or whatever amount you designate) that a reader donates to your fundraising page, they will receive one entry for a chance to win the prize.

    For example:

    • $5 gets you ONE raffle ticket.
    • $10 gets you TWO raffle tickets.
    • $15 gets you THREE raffle tickets.
    • $25 gets you SIX raffle tickets.
    • $50 gets you FIFTEEN raffle tickets. 

    Be sure to let your readers know how long the raffle will run. I ran mine for 4 or 5 days and reminded people about it a couple of times on CNC. Not all of my readers read everyday, so I wanted to give people the chance to enter/donate. I also asked readers to spread the word about the raffle via Facebook and Twitter.

    To pick the winner, I listed everyone’s name in an Excel spreadsheet (one entry for $5, two entries for $10, fifteen entries for $50, etc.) and had Mal chose the winner using the Random Integer Generator. Then, we mailed the juicer to the winner, which we paid for out of pocket.

    Bar Event

    Mal and I also hosted a fundraiser at a bar in Boston. This took a lot of planning and coordination!

    A friend, who similarly raised money for Dana-Farber, tipped us off to Cafeteria, who donated the space for the event and a bunch of appetizers for FREE. We couldn’t turn down that deal!

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    To advertise our fundraiser, Mal and I sent an email to all of our friends and family. I also mentioned it a bunch of times on Carrots ‘N’ Cake and invited local readers.

    We asked attendees for a $20 donation at the door, which went directly to TNT and got them 5 raffle tickets to win one of 14 prizes, which included an overnight stay and breakfast at a nearby hotel, New Balance sneakers, Starbucks gift baskets, a Healthworks membership, and lots of other good stuff.

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    To obtain all of these donations, I simply asked. I’ve worked with a lot of different companies over the years, so I just emailed my favorites, told that I was planning an event to raise money for Team In Training, and asked if they would donate something. Almost everyone said ‘yes’!

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    The raffle was the highlight of the evening and we raised $700 for TNT!

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    Blog Bake Sale

    If you’re willing to put in the work, a Blog Bake Sale is a great fundraiser!

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    Here’s how to do it:

    First, announce on your blog that you are hosting a bake sale and ask readers for donations. Ask those who want to donate to provide you with the following information:

    • Name of the baked good
    • Link to the baked good
    • Their name
    • Link to their blog (if applicable)
    • Whether the baked good is customizable
    • Whether they are willing to ship internationally

    Also, feel free to reach out to your favorite bloggers to see if they will donate something, especially those who are known for their special baked goods. Again, it doesn’t hurt to ask!

    Be sure to give the bakers a deadline a few days before you want to host the bake sale. It takes several hours to create the post for it.

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    Before the Blog Bake Sale, make sure you talk it up on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, email, etc. I also did a couple of Bake Sale Previews to get my readers excited for it.

    On the day of the Bake Sale, be prepared to sit in front of your computer to track the bids! (Personally, I don’t recommend letting the Bake Sale go longer than 24 hours! It can get pretty crazy!)

    For my first Bake Sale, I sent up a new email account to keep the bids separate from my personal email. I didn’t like switching back and forth between my Gmail accounts, so for the second Bake Sale that I hosted, I had people send their bids to my personal account. Both ways worked; it’s just a matter of preference.

    To keep track of the bids, I wrote all of the baked goods down on pieces of scrap paper with space below each one for the bids. Once someone made a bid, I wrote down their name, bid amount, and tagged their email (using Gmail labels) to have a record of it and save their contact information.

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    As people got outbid, I crossed off their names and added the new high bidder to my list.

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    Once the bidding closed, I emailed all of the high bidders to let them know that they won. In that email, I asked each person to make a donation to our fundraising page and then email me with their mailing address, which I sent to the baker of the item that they won. Then, the baker sent the goodies to the winner. (The baker pays for the ingredients and shipping out of their own pocket.)

    Emails & Letters

    Most organizations have a form letter that you can use to solicit donations. Mal and I used Team In Training’s letter, but we personalized it by explaining our motivations for training with TNT and running a marathon together. We emailed this letter with the link to our fundraising page to all of friends and family, which resulted in about a dozen online donations. (Tip: Give people a fundraising deadline. It encourages them to donate early on.)

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    TNT offers to pay for the postage on letters sent via snail mail, so Mal and I broke out our wedding list and sent the same letter to all of these people. We almost blew-off this fundraising method all together because we didn’t think we’d get a good response, but we were pleasantly surprised with how many checks we received in the mail from family and friends. I’m so glad we took the time to do it!

    Question of the Day

    Have you ever raised money for an organization? What are your tips?

    P.S. For the locals: Be sure to enter my giveaway to win theater tickets and dinner in Cambridge!

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    { 61 comments… read them below or add one }

    Lisa@ Dishes of Mrs. Fish January 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    What a great post! I ran the Flying Pig with Team two years ago. Like you, I was shocked by how much I raised through letters. I also got a good chunk of my fundraising through a jeans week at my work. People paid five bucks to wear jeans for the week! Congrats and good luck at your marathon!

    My school is doing Pennies for Patients right now, and I kept telling my kiddos, all those pennies certainly add up!

    Reply

    Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin January 11, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I’m so impressed with how much work you’ve put into raising money for TNT! You’ve done such an awesome job! :)

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    Hannah January 11, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Okay, that breakfast? BEST EVER. Off to go cook some quinoa now…

    Reply

    Lisa@Smart Food & Fit January 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Fundraising can be fun if you are passionate in the organization you are working with.
    My husband and I organized a fundraising event to help pay for my sisters medical bills from her accident…she got hit by a bus in Mexico. Our situation was different because it was very emotional, we got a lot of donations. We had a hall donated that accommodated 500 people, included appetizers, wine/drinks, local businesses donated small and big ticket items (costume jewelry to furniture & services) for silent auction.
    Have you thought of having a band donate their services for a fun night? Have it at a hall or country club (donated of course), have a local pizza company donate pizza’s and subs, local bakery donate baked goods/desserts, local businesses donate stuff like gift baskets, salons, sporting good store, etc. Make it a fun night and have a cover charge of $10 or more per person. Good luck!
    Sorry this post is soooo long! I could go on and on!

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    Monica January 11, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    I am a fundraiser for a living and the biggest piece of advise I can give is educate, educate, educate. People want to understand what they are giving to and with so many philanthropy options out there, it is important to make it clear why yours should be a priority. Plus it doesn’t hurt to make the educational part personal by sharing with them what this charity means to you.

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    Jenna January 12, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Definitley going to steal some ideas as I am fundraising for TNT for the Paris Marathon, April 2011 (Southern Florida Chapter). One thing that worked great for me was selling beads at professional sporting events. We bought them in bulk (colors based on the teams schedule) and made our way through rows of tailgators. We didn’t “sell” them for a specific amount, just asked for a donation of any amount. Sometimes we got $1 and sometimes $20! I made over $1,000 attending 4 games.

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    Marjorie June 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    I know this post is over a year old but I wish I had these ideas in 2005. I completed a half marathon for the American Stroke Association. The fund raising was the hardest/most stressful for me. I sold candy, butter braids, had a silent auction and a PartyLite party. I love these ideas. This post may make me reconsider doing this again . . .

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    Jennifer September 5, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I joined Team in Training and am raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I am no where near to my $3200 minimum goal and have less than a month left. These are all great ideas, however, I just recently moved to the US from Canada and I can’t get a work visa, so I have no job/co-workers. I am desperate! If I don’t reach my goal, I have to pay the difference as I committed to this! I am wondering if there is any way you can help me through your blog?!?! Thanks for the consideration!

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    Allison February 6, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Awesome ideas! I am looking for fund raising ideas for my Team In Training goal. THANK YOU SO MUCH for this! I know this post is over 3 years old but it helps!!! Good stuff here and in the comments too! Cheers!

    Reply

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