Spreading the word about your charity bike ride helps raise money and awareness for your charity. We asked charity rider Steve Fabes how he publicised his cycle challenge.
Awareness is harder to quantify than money, but presumably the charity still benefits from getting their name out there. How important is balancing raising awareness with raising money?
This is very important to any charity, so think about how you can get the word out. First, decide on what level of interest your ride will ignite – local, national, international. It’s usually best to start with local newspapers and radio stations; if your story is unique, it may get picked up by the nationals. Before you agree with a journalist to an article or interview, make sure that they agree to mention your charity and Just Giving webpage. Don’t ask, insist on it!
For interviews, make sure you know and can get across the charity's success stories and convince people of the cause – have a list of points that you want to get across before you start.
Social media has undoubtedly had a massive impact on fundraising. Justgiving saw a doubling in the number of charitable donations after Facebook gained prominence. Using these social media should be an essential part of your fundraising effort. Make a Facebook group and document every part of your preparation for the challenge – not just the challenge itself – as this keeps people interested and donating. I had videos and photos from bike repair courses, a survival course, a cycle show and my training rides. Before I left the UK, I even went into a local bike shop, explained the details of my journey and asked if I could borrow a small pink child’s bike with tassels on the handlebars for an hour. They said yes. I went into central London with the bike and a huge rucksack on my back and took a number of silly promotional photographs which were perfect for my justgiving page and Facebook group.
Blogs are really important. It’s easy to ignore an email, but people return to a blog if it’s entertaining and well written, so it’s an obvious medium through which to appeal for donations.
Can you give us an idea of how much time and energy you're having to put in to maintaining the profile of the ride through your blogs, media work, Flickr uploads and Facebook correspondence?
Quite a bit! I spend more time than I want to in internet cafés but the blog and photos are an essential way to keep people following the story of my journey and hopefully encouraging more people to donate to Merlin.
Do you have any additional media advice for people wanting to raise the profile of their ride?
Think about which publications would be interested – local newspapers are usually easy to get coverage in. Is there a magazine produced by the company for whom you work? Would cycling magazines be interested? Men’s health magazines? Make a list. If you do get any corporate sponsors, they will have a marketing team who could be interested in helping you raise the profile of your journey for mutual gain.
See more of our charity bike ride articles:
- Charity Bike Rides: Taking the Plunge
- Organising a 1500km ride for 80 charity cyclists
- Tips for Raising Money
- How to Cover Your Costs
- Robbie Sage's Global Guitar ride
- Steve Fabes' Cycling the 6 ride