Here at TETON Sports, we believe in giving back in big ways. Two of our writer-extrodinaires recently undertook great physical challenges to raise money for outdoor charities. Fundraising goals can be daunting endeavors, especially when funds are tight. Here’s an inside look at what it takes to raise money for a charitable cause outdoors.
Please introduce yourselves and the charity event you partook in.
Hi! I’m Meg and I climbed The Grand Teton with Big City Mountaineers’ Summit for Someone program. Each member of our team was charged with raising a certain amount of money for the climb. The money raised went towards helping an under-serviced youth go on their first wilderness experience. Through the wilderness, students will gain valuable leadership skills and discover their potential in the wild.
Hey! I’m Heidi, a trail runner who sometimes dabbles in racing. I recently participated in the Silverton Ultra Marathon race where there was a big push by the organizers to raise money for a local charity – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Colorado. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a nationwide organization that pairs of Bigs [mentors] with Littles [kids who are considered ‘at risk’] with the goal of getting everyone outside more.
How did you start raising money?
Meg: Since I was a late add to the trip I didn’t have any time to waste. I began by reaching out to friends and family who aren’t on social media. I created a fundraising page that told a story about why I felt so strongly about Big City Mountaineers and their mission. After that, I created a social media campaign.
Heidi: I leaned heavily on social media for my fundraising. During the first few months of my fundraising stint I was out of the country making social media the ideal avenue for my fundraising.
Did your organizations provide any help?
Meg: Yes. There were tons of resources available to us. If you reached a certain monetary goal, Big City Mountaineers gave you a prize package that you could raffle off. They would also do this if you were hosting an event in support of the charity. Otherwise, there were tips, tricks, and resources at your disposal.
Heidi: Yup, the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization depends upon donations, so they have a few tactics in place that they were quick to share. They provided us with great info-graphics to show were the money went and why it was so important to the kids. They also checked in with us regularly to answer questions or simply act as an ‘oh, right, I needed to update that campaign’ reminder.
Did you have any unique fundraising techniques?
Meg: I had a graphic artist friend create a really unique outdoorsy-graphic for me. I then went and got stickers printed at a local shop. In order to drum up more excitement for my cause, I gave a sticker to everyone who donated. It was a really rad way to say thanks. You’d be surprised what people will do for a sticker.
Heidi: Since my fundraising was focused on a race I was running I had people donate a upfront, then pledge additional money if I completed the race. This was a double edged sword because it meant I had to run 60+ miles to get all the pledged money, but it made the finish line even sweeter!
What piece of advice would you give to someone who’s trying to raise money for an outdoor charity?
Meg: I would encourage you to get creative. Host a BBQ, have a raffle, make a keepsake, create a hashtag – anything you can come up with to raise awareness for your cause. Even the smaller five-dollar donations start to add up quickly. It can be a bit nerve-wracking at first to ask people for money, that’s why it’s helpful to offer something in return.
Heidi: Don’t be afraid to tell people what you’re doing! Even if they don’t have anything to donate in the moment, they may have great ideas from their fundraising experiences or offer up connections to local companies that could help with promotion or simple donation drives.
Did your team do anything unique to raise money?
Meg: A team member of mine has been on seven Summit for Someone trips. He teams up with a local brewery to run a fundraising event every year for Big City Mountaineers. Usually, he would host the event with a gear raffle and he has managed to raise more than the required amount by running an event like that. It was amazing to hear his story.
Heidi: After the race those of us who did fundraising did chat about our tactics a bit. Some people teamed up with local companies to get their own community involved. Just having a photo and box/jar for cash available in a frequently visited local establishment [ie: coffee shop or brewery or cafe] is a simple way to get the spare change donated.
Would you do it again?
Meg: In a heartbeat. I have had the privilege to do so many amazing things in my lifetime, participating in Big City Mountaineers’ Summit for Someone on the Grand Teton was certainly a highlight. The team was incredible, and we were all united under this awesome cause. We all undertook this immense physical and mental challenge.
Heidi: Definitely! In part because I know I learned a lot this time around and I’m pretty sure I could make a bigger difference next time! It was also awesome to meet some of the kids who benefited from BBBS — they were manning the aid station that quite literally saved my race [yay, quesadillas!] which was a really neat way to see them in action!
Participating in an outdoor charity event not only gives back to the community you love, but it also helps you grow as a person. Together, we can accomplish amazing things and make the outdoors a better place.