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Fundraiser Q & A: Jennifer & Michelle

Fundraising $3,500 can be intimidating, but our riders get creative and come up with all types of ways to reach and exceed the fundraising minimum. Take, for example, Jennifer, a first-time rider, and Michelle, a second year rider.
Jennifer and Michelle hosted a fundraiser that raised more than $7,000. Read below to see our Q & A with them about what goes into planning a successful event.

Tell us a little about yourself.
J: I am a new ESR rider.  I have been a member of Niagara Frontier Bicycle Club (NFBC) since 2014 and I currently serve on the board of directors.  I began participating in the Ride for Roswell in 2013 and have been a member of the Extra Mile Club from 2014-2019. I am employed full time as a litigation paralegal, and I work part-time as an usher for events at the KeyBank Center.
M: My name is Michelle Bates.  This is my second ESR.  My first ride was in 2018.  By day, I am a middle school music teacher.

Have you hosted a fundraising event before this one?
J: No
M: Yes, my family runs an annual golf tournament in memory of my cousin, Mark A. Monaco
What kind of event did you host?
J: We called it a beer blast fundraiser, which turned out to be a beer blast/basket raffle.
How did you incorporate fundraising into your event?
J: My husband donated a 55” TV, which we used  to entice people to purchase tickets for our event.   We sold tickets for $20, which included draft beer, wine and pop.  During the event, we sold tickets for one 50/50 split, basket raffle (we had over 80 baskets) and side raffle. We had a donated Yeti cooler and mugs and a mini basket of booze that we used, as well.  We also sold slices of pizza and homemade cookies, and had a cornhole tournament.

Where did you host the event?  Moose Lodge, Lancaster, NY
How many people attended? 175-180
What kind of preparation did your event require?  

  • Locating venue & picking mutually convenient date
  • Designing & printing tickets
  • Drafting and preparing flyers
  • Drafting, preparing, mailing/delivering donation request letters to numerous local merchants
  • Enlisting family/friends to donate baskets, sell tickets and volunteer for the evening
  • Picking up donated items
  • Preparing baskets
  • Purchasing miscellaneous necessities:  tickets for basket raffle and 50/50 split, poster board, paper, basket stickers, table clothes, snacks for the tables
  • Making cookies to sell
  • Organizing delivery of pizza to sell

M: We had to procure basket donations, organize and wrap, and number the baskets,  (Jen got most of them). We designed tickets, made a Facebook event and invited everyone and their brother.  Also, you want to have something for folks to do at the event: cornhole, cards, and dice games.  Music is good to have too, but not so loud that people can’t talk and mingle.

Did you get anything donated for the event? How did you handle the expenses of putting on an event?

  • Some local businesses donated goods/services/gift cards for the basket raffle and side raffle
  • A local pizzeria sold us sheet pizzas at a discounted price
  • We and some family members made cookies for us to sell
  • We worked to keep our expenses to a minimum, we paid for everything up front and then reimbursed ourselves through the amount of money we raised

M: Jen’s husband donated a huge HD TV.Baskets were donated from friends and family members, who also donated their time and efforts, too.  The bartenders donated their time and also donated their tips – they were amazing! 

What advice would you give a fellow rider interested in hosting an event to fundraise?
J: Start as soon as possible!  We started planning our event 5 months prior.  Sell as many tickets as you can prior to the event.   Ask everyone you know and always have tickets with you.   Send emails regarding the event.   Facebook is a wonderful tool to use to promote your event.  I joined the Facebook group WNY Activities, Places & Events, and posted our event on there a few times.  I also posted our event on the WIVB event page, a local news station, through their website.  I do not know if we got anyone from either of those, but the more people that know about it the better.   Also, make sure to enlist as many friends and family to help as you can.
M: Plan well in advance,  invite everyone,  keep ticket prices low,have a good sound system so you can thank everyone and  advertise everywhere you can.
Is there anything else you think other riders should know when hosting their own fundraising event?  
J: It helps to be organized.  We had lists for everything including tickets sold, businesses to solicit donations from, baskets, expenses, volunteers and timeline for the evening – I’m sure I am forgetting a list or two.  Michelle and I also met often and kept in close contact to address any concerns we had.   As you receive donations to your page, send thank you notes and letters to businesses, friends, family and anyone who donated goods, services, or baskets and to those that volunteered their time to help.
M: Don’t get discouraged by businesses that don’t donate.  There are always some that will.  Be prepared to front some money to get your event off the ground.  Be sure to work with someone that’s a detail person, like Jen.  She’s fabulous.  Ask for help, ask questions!