If you’re a cycling extraordinaire and looking to raise money for your travel experience, why not put on a bike ride fundraiser?! ☆ Meaningful travel experiences are thrilling and life-changing and so much more. Unfortunately, they also cost money! Sometimes more than you have—and while some of your friends may be able to prevail on some long-lost rich uncle or capitalize on their cupcake-baking skills, that’s just not you. But if you spend a lot of time on two wheels, maybe a bike ride fundraiser is more your speed. If you play your cards right, you could end up with two exciting journeys for the (now actually in your bank account) price of one!
Whether your meaningful travel experience is a cross country bike ride for charity or you’re planning to use your bike ride fundraiser to raise money to fund your travel overseas, bike fundraising can be a great way to get (or stay) fit, spend time in the great outdoors, and flex your project management skills while raising money to support a worthy cause. Lucky for you, Bike Across America tours are super cool—but they’re not the only way for you to raise money by riding your bicycle.
Whether you’re planning to bike the Transamerica Bike Trail or just to do a couple laps around the block, these bike ride fundraiser ideas will keep you rolling towards your funding goals!
How to succeed at bike fundraising
1. Plan your route.
Decide where and when you’ll ride. Are you picturing a Transamerica bike tour? Or will you stick to a track or trail in your area? Map out your route realistically. Can you ride that far in the time you have? For bike ride fundraising on the open road, ask yourself: Are the roads you’re planning to drive on safe for cyclists? Are there bikelines, wide shoulders, lights for riding in the evening, and early morning hours?
Are there any stretches where you’ll go long distances without access to supplies and services and will need to carry them with you? Are there safe, affordable places for you to stay if you’re planning a multi-day ride? Consider who you might invite to accompany you in a vehicle to carry food, clothing, and spare parts. For track- or trail-based rides, you should also make sure you have permission to use the track for this purpose.
2. Decide how you’ll collect donations.
Will you ask for people to donate as much or as little as they like? Or maybe you’re envisioning more of a bike-a-thon where people pay by the lap or the mile and you see how many you can complete in a given time frame. Will there be rewards for donors at particular levels? For example, maybe $50 gets a postcard from your meaningful travel destination once you arrive, and $200 gets their name on your t-shirt while you ride.
Work this all out while keeping in mind both how much money you need and how much you think is reasonable to ask of the people and organizations you have access to. Create a FundMyTravel campaign to process your donations so that people can conveniently pay by credit card. Be prepared to share your address (only!) with people you can trust who might prefer to send a check.
3. Get the word out.
Call Grandma. Send a Facebook message to Aunt Carol. Make sure all your close (and not-so-close) friends and family get the link to your new bike fundraising page so they can invite others, and see the donations start rolling in. But be thoughtful about your approach! Articulate in your first message that the experience you’re preparing for is important, meaningful, educational, and potentially transformative.
Make it clear to your future supporters that you’ve got a plan to manage the money they contribute wisely and to make the most of the adventure on which you’re about to embark. Be prepared to answer follow-up questions clearly and graciously. People are usually happy to help. Make sure when they do they feel appreciated.
4. Find sponsors.
Another great source for sponsorship could be local businesses and civic associations. Reach out to local community groups like the Lion’s Club, your place of worship or spiritual groups, or the local Italian American club (or other such club related to either your own cultural heritage or that of the place you’re planning to go to with these funds) for donations. Local businesses are also a great place to seek support.
Start with businesses you know either through your family’s employment or your own, or because you’re a regular customer. And since this is a bike ride fundraiser, after all, don’t forget to hit up the local bike shops, fitness centers, health food stores, and other businesses that stay on theme. Every little bit helps, so be grateful even if they can only spare a small sum. To try and bump the donations up to the next level, consider offering to list corporate sponsors on your fundraising page and/or the back of your t-shirt while you ride.
5. Invite friends.
Maybe you have other friends who are also planning to go on the same or similar meaningful travel experience with you. Why not make this a team effort? Inviting friends to join your bike ride fundraiser will spread the workload around and has the potential to draw more attention to your cause(s). Plus, why ride alone when you can do it with a buddy or two? There is safety—and fun!—in numbers.
When riding with friends, make sure you have a few things established before you hit the pavement. Will money raised be split evenly between each of you? Or will there be ways to benchmark certain donations for specific riders? While riding, make sure you all have a strong communication plan so that no one gets left behind if they start tiring out or get into some kind of trouble.
6. Start Training!
You don’t want to hurt yourself during your bike ride fundraiser. You don’t want to embarrass yourself either. If you don’t ride regularly, start! If you do, start tracking more carefully how long your average rides are and how you feel during and after them. Is this enough for you to safely reach your goal for the fundraising event you’ve planned?
Increase the length and duration of your rides slowly to build your stamina. Practice riding on different kinds of surfaces and terrain and maybe even in different weather conditions so you can be ready for whatever you encounter during the main event. Even if your bike fundraising ride will be solo, your training rides are another great time to invite along some pals for some good, healthy fun and quality time before you travel.
7. Throw an after party.
Some of your friends might not be that attracted to the whole bike fundraising idea. That’s okay—cycling isn’t for everyone! But that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to engage them in the process and enlist their support for your fundraising goals.
Plan a cookout at the end of your route or ask the more cupcake-inclined in your circle to help with a bake sale. With your donation jar prominently displayed on the table, you’ll be able to celebrate your cycling accomplishments while the donations keep coming. Who cares if you’re a little bit sweaty?
These bike ride fundraiser ideas will put you on the right route!
Et voila! Now that you’ve got all that together you’ll be fully funded in no time. Strap on your helmet, make sure you wear reflective clothing, get hydrated, and start pedaling! As you coast across the finish line of your bike ride fundraiser, you’ll feel accomplished and a lot less broke (though probably a little fatigued). You’ll be ready to tackle your next meaningful travel experience and any challenges that come along with it. Happy riding!
[Sign Up for a FundMyTravel Account Today to Start Fundraising!]
This article was written by Amelia Dietrich. Amelia’s day job keeps her busy helping study abroad professionals grow and improve their professional practice in order to help college students have safe, high-quality educational experiences abroad. When work travel isn’t enough, Latin America is her destination of choice thanks to a past life as a Spanish teacher and bilingualism researcher.