We often hear from people who like the idea of fundraising but feel funny asking for money. We get it. We get it so much that we wrote a post a while back called, “I Hate Asking for Money (Even for a Cause).” But, as our Team DPF Program Manager, Lauren “Peachy” Kehn, will tell you, just like training, the more you do it, the better you get.
So, as we gear up for a busy fundraising season, and cross our fingers that events like Tour de Victory, Ride The Rockies, RAGBRAI, and Copper Triangle will go on as planned, we thought we’d share some stories and insights from some of our Davis Phinney Foundation staff members who fundraise. If you’re feeling squeamish at all about asking for money, these four fundraisers may very well give you a good reason to make the ask.
What fundraising event did you participate in?
Polly Dawkins: Ride The Rockies
Kayla Ferguson: Tour de Victory
Lauren Kehn: Copper Triangle, Community Fundraising, Louisiana Walks for Parkinson's, and more
Rebecca Reifel: Facebook fundraiser/upcoming Team DPF events
Why did you choose to join Team DPF?
Polly: My first fundraising event for the Davis Phinney Foundation was Ride The Rockies in 2012. I joined the team so I could better understand a fundraiser's experience and to give myself a few big goals – raise money for something I am passionate about and train for a week-long ride. I love challenges, I love being outside on my bicycle, and I love being a part of a team of people who care about the same things I do.
Kayla: I joined Team DPF because I'm a staff member of the Foundation and love the work we get to do every day! The Foundation’s mission and my work there offer so much to me every day; so, I wanted to give back.
Lauren: The first time I fundraised for the Davis Phinney Foundation was for a half ironman event. I had just joined the Foundation as a staff member and was passionate about turning my event into a meaningful fundraiser. The Foundation's mission was an easy one to get behind even though I didn't have a personal connection to Parkinson's… yet. Now, having been with the Foundation for nine years, I have many personal connections. People who have become family inspire me daily to get up and move, to connect with my community, and to seek small victories even on emotionally cloudy days. Fundraising has given me an extra push to train harder and push through challenging climbs. I ride, run, walk, and create art to help people with Parkinson's live well today.
Rebecca: Working for and with Team DPF wasn’t just a great career move for me (though it’s a really wonderful place to work!). My father was diagnosed with Parkinson's a few years ago; so, supporting the Parkinson's community is something that has a very special place in my heart. Add in cycling, running, and walking events and, well, you've pretty much described all of my passions rolled into one!
What’s your best memory from a fundraising event?
Polly: 2020 will be our ninth year doing Ride The Rockies. There are too many great memories to pick just one, but here are a few:
- Making lasting friendships that have endured over the years
- Being inspired and humbled by our friends with Parkinson's who’ve joined us
- Sharing the experience with my then-teenaged kids as they joined our SAG team (support and gear) and showing them how important this work is
- Winning the Ride The Rockies bicycle raffle and riding away with a sweet new bike
- Learning about hard work, resilience, fatigue, fundraising, acceptance, and pure joy
Kayla: For Tour de Victory, we created a fundraising team of four – two staff members and two people from outside of the Foundation, one of whom was a high school friend I hadn't talked to for years! It was such a gift getting to reconnect and create new connections for such a great cause. I'll call it my favorite memory because it was the start of many bike rides and outdoor activities I’ve done with the Foundation’s community.
Lauren: Fundraising itself was incredibly rewarding. Support from people I hadn't spoken to in years reconnected us. People shared stories I wouldn't have heard otherwise. In other words, fundraising connected and strengthened my community! But the most memorable moment for me was my second year of fundraising for the Foundation. I was climbing up Vail pass, the final climb of a 79-mile Copper Triangle ride in the Rocky Mountains with my intern Lis. I was struggling. How were these spaghetti legs going to get me up this incline that will never end!? (I wanted to cry, seriously). Lis repeated back to me something I'd said to her multiple times throughout the ride: "Are you going to tell your donors you gave up?? Get your ass up that hill so you have something to celebrate!" And that did it. With financial support and words of "encouragement," I finished my first Copper Triangle.
Rebecca: I started working at the Davis Phinney Foundation in January 2020. My first event right out of the gate was Tour of Sufferlandria, a weeklong virtual tour of the mythical land of Sufferlandria (or, really, hundreds of wonderful people training and fundraising with The Sufferfest from all over the world). It showed me right away the community we have with Team DPF – diverse, dedicated, hard-working, and passionate. I was even able to join Davis and Polly on some Wahoo trainers for a segment of the tour (and, yes, they kicked my butt).
What were some of the challenges you faced as a fundraiser?
Polly: My biggest hurdle has been to remember that people don't mind being asked, and they don't mind being reminded of your fundraising and why it's important. There's no reason to be shy about asking. People will make their own decisions as to whether they can support you in a given year.
Kayla: Maybe we were lucky, but I don't recall many challenges. It can feel a little daunting asking for donations when there are so many causes out there for people to donate to, but I think the enthusiasm our team had helped us reach our fundraising goal pretty quickly.
Lauren: I think the first challenge and scary part is, what if no one donates? If you ask, they will come. Then there is the inevitable plateau. Donations roll in and then fade. How do you hit your goal when the heart-felt email you spent hours composing doesn't bring in a dime? Ask again! And don't take it personally if someone needs a reminder.
Rebecca: I think people often see asking for support as begging for money. If you feel like you're begging, you're more likely to think you're inconveniencing people. The toughest challenge for me is to remember to switch my mindset. I'm not asking for money. I'm educating people about a wonderful cause and giving them an opportunity to support it with me. Once I have the right mindset, fundraising becomes so much more fulfilling (and successful!).
What are the top three actions you took that helped you reach your fundraising goal?
1) I organized my lists into spheres of influence by groups (family, friends, co-workers, book club, school classmates, swim team, bike group, etc.) and asked each group in a slightly different, more personalized way. I used Facebook as a way to reach friends for whom I didn't have email addresses.
2) I asked more than once ahead of the event, provided an update during the event, and asked again after the event was over.
3) I thanked my donors immediately using our fundraising tools. I thanked them specifically when I saw them. Finally, I sent personalized thank you notes to each and every donor who gave to my campaign. It takes work, but it makes a big difference.
1) I talked to people!
2) I talked to people again.
3) I posted pictures of us on training rides, which helped people know how serious we were. I think that helped a lot.
1) I made the first donation. (Donors want to see you have skin in the game!)
2) I asked more than once and in multiple ways (email, social media, repetition).
3) I wrote heartfelt thank you notes. (Donors are inclined to give again, even in the same season, with a truly great thank you!)
1) I made it personal. When I fundraise for Team DPF, I tell my dad's story and why it means so much to both of us.
2) I used multiple media channels to reach people – email, social media, text – different people respond to different communications.
3) I tapped into other people's networks. My network may not have too many connections to Parkinson's, but my dad's network does!
What would you say to someone interested in joining Team DPF?
Polly: Dip your toes in or take the big leap. It can be daunting, but once you start, it ends up being a lot easier than you think. And, becoming a part of the Team DPF community is fun and so rewarding.
Kayla: Use fundraising for Team DPF as a way to make new friends and get into the best shape of your life! You can't lose with that approach.
Lauren: Have fun and let the purpose of your fundraiser shine through. Let the support propel you, motivate you, and keep you engaged. Then be sure to say thank you in a meaningful way.
Rebecca: Odds are, you're already doing things in your normal day-to-day life that can easily be turned into a fundraiser. Bike rides, races, bake sales, or craft fairs – any of these things can be easily turned into a way to support Team DPF. Give it a try!
Do you have a Team DPF or fundraising story you'd like to share?
Your story, like these, could be featured on our blog and Facebook page so others can learn from your experiences. Submit Your Team DPF Moments of Victory® Story now.
If you're not yet part of Team DPF, but you'd like to join us in raising money to help people live well with Parkinson's today, contact our team to get started.