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How To Set A Fundraising Minimum For Your Nonprofit Cycling Event

The Plenty Team
February 23, 2015

We’ve had a busy month at Plenty preparing for the upcoming Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum Conference. We are leading a few sessions at the conference this year including a breakout session that covers how to set fundraising minimums to help you maximize your total revenue.

Fundraising minimums have long been a source of confusion for organizations as they decide whether or not they are right for their fundraising event, and if so, what the minimum should be. So we are taking the training wheels off and speeding ahead to take a closer look at the impact fundraising minimums have had on cycling events, and explaining how to effectively set a fundraising minimum so that your next nonprofit cycling event can reach new heights.

In recent years, cycling has had a great deal of success as a fundraising event. Bike MS attracts more than 110,000 cyclists participating in 100 rides throughout the country, raising a gross total of more than $83 million in 2013. The Pan-Mass Challenge, a 1-2 day ride that raises money for cancer research and treatment, has contributed $455 million since 1980, and Pelotonia has raised over half a million dollars for cancer research this year to date. There’s even been variations on the outdoor ride, such as Cycle for Survival, which takes place in an indoor spin class and benefits the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Events like Bike MS, the Pan-Mass Challenge, Pelotonia, and Cycle for Survival have all had significant impacts on peer-to-peer fundraising; in fact, these five events were so successful that they made the 2014 list of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Top 30 ranked by gross revenue (download the report here). Why are these events are so successful? One reason is fundraising minimums.

Runs usually get 20-30% of their participants fundraising. Walks can get 50-60% of participants fundraising, which is nothing to sneeze at, but when compared to cycling events that typically get 100% of participants fundraising, it is clear there is a lot of room to grow. So why do cycling events outperform runs and walks? Their success is due in large part to the fundraising minimums they have in place. Having a fundraising minimum ensures that everyone who participates has raised something. And in some cases, the minimum is not just “something” but rather a very high amount – a few thousand dollars, even.

Now, we understand your first instinct may be to instantly set a high fundraising minimum for your event and expect the dollars to come right in. And while you do want to set an aspirational goal that will motivate your participants, you have to be cautious of creating a barrier to entry that causes potential fundraisers to turn away. So how do you find a balance between the two?

Consider the following factors when deciding on a fundraising minimum for your nonprofit cycling event:

  • The distance of the event. For example, Pelotonia’s fundraising minimum is $1,200 for their twenty-five mile ride, while the minimum for their seventy-five mile ride is $1,800. There is value in how extensive your event is, and your fundraising minimum should match it appropriately.
  • The level of service provided during the event. Are you camping in between legs, or staying in a hotel? Are there any perks associated with participating, or is it a bare bones race? Providing a higher level of service can justify a higher fundraising minimum.
  • The length of time of the event. To continue using Pelotonia as an example, their 180 mile, two day ride has a minimum of $2,200. This is because an event that lasts multiple days provides a different level of value to participants than one that lasts only a single day. Therefore, it is important to consider this detail when deciding what your fundraising minimum should be.
  • What your competitors are doing. Consider what other events of similar distances, lengths, and service levels are setting for minimums, and use these amounts as guidelines for your event. You don’t have to mimic them dollar for dollar but you should try to set a minimum that is consistent with these amounts.

A fundraising minimum, when set correctly, can be just the fuel you need to boost your fundraising campaign into a different gear. Trade your bike helmet for a thinking cap and start running the numbers to determine what your perfect fundraising minimum is!

Couldn't make it to the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum Conference this year? Don't worry, you can now download our full report on the peer-to-peer fundraising trends of 2014 and how to leverage them for success. Download our free e-book "The Expansive Impact of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising" today! 

Download your copy here!

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