13 Fundraising tips from Gerald
Gerald Coniel was another fundraising superstar on the 2010 tour. Many of you may have followed Gerald's daily blog on tour. In even the most remote conditions he was able to find an internet connection to send his updates. I remember in Yabello, where everyone guaranteed us there was no internet to be had, Gerald searched and searched and finally tracked down a local priest who happened to have a 3G modem in his house! That kind of energy and tenacity I'm sure were big factors in his success fundraising. Thanks to Gerald for providing us with these techniques. For fundraising tips or to find out more about the Tour d'Afrique Foundation visit our website at
I managed to collect over 120 bikes during my fund raising initiative for the 2010 race.Here are a few tips that I feel are important for future fund raisers.
1) Best results were achieved by contacting family friends and colleagues. Businesses were difficult and slow, they take forever to decide and often it is negative.
2) Prepare the fund raising initiative well before approaching anybody A nice looking blog with a special section on the TDA bike donation is an absolute must. Most people feel they need something they can read and be referred to. I also wrote a letter and approached everybody via e-mail first with a link to my blog and a link to the TDA web site.
3) Take the time to personalise the email, do not send a mass email to all in one shot. I sent about 200 emails and wrote something different to each one just to personalise the text. It is time consuming but the results were there. You can copy and pace the general info, but always start your email with a few personalised sentences.
4) In my email, I would never ask for money, but for the donation of a bike. I would then mention the cost of one bike (100 euro), but never asked for money directly. Funny enough, many people liked the idea to donate a bike more than to donate money. This point is very important! I always talked of donating bicycles, not donating money…
5) Then another successful argument that I put forward in my letter and when talking to people was that they would be informed about when and where the bikes they were donating would go. That was an excellent point which motivated many to join. I used my blog again there to remind people they would be able to follow the bike donation live on my site.
6) During the tour, I actually made sure to write about each donation and put plenty of pictures on line. Everybody could then see how their bikes were making a difference in Africa. I technically acted as my donator’s ambassador…. They loved it. 7) When you sell something, one of the key to success is to show success… So, what I did was to run a counter right on top of my blog showing how many bikes had been donated already. People are natural followers, if you show them that others have already purchased bikes, they will follow… but show them!
I had a few “dead certain” people that I used as my first bikes to get the counter ticking. Then I would use round numbers to motivate people, when I got close to 50, it was easy to say “come on, help me break the 50 marks…” and so on…. funny enough when I hit 100, the next 10 came in 24 hours… People are followers… 8) When contacting friends who did not have much money, I suggested they got together with other friends and offered one bike together. This worked really well. The 100 euro should not frighten away smaller donators. I had a lot of people donating 25 euro for a quarter of a bike, the nice thing was that they would look themselves for people to join them for more “bike shares”…
9) I did two rounds of mailing, the first round was in October and the second round in December. Many people had shown interest in October, but most would commit in December. I also gave a deadline, because if people don’t have a deadline, they keep on delaying, so I first made end of December my official donation deadline… Eventually, I would “reopen” donations during the race as many new blog followers would ask how they could contribute… 10) As soon as people showed interest, I would follow up with a phone call restating all the important points about the race and the incredible impact these bikes had on the communities we would hand them to. My best argument was: “This is the best 100 euro you will ever spend! There is no better way to have so much impact with so little money!”
11) The TDA web site is full of good example and I found it extremely useful. People would ask very technical questions such as what kind of bikes, where were they made, how would they be transported and delivered, and so on. I made sure I had all the answers before and spoke with TDA staff before starting my campaign, so I knew what I was talking about, a very important thing when you start picking up the phone…
12) I also made sure people could pay in any way they felt comfortable, many did not use paypal or did not want to pay on line, so I offered to collect cash, cheques, etc and kept a very clear transaction sheet. I would then do a global transfer to the TDA foundation. Each time I got a new bike, I would of course also contact the donator and thank him or her personally and mention what was the new total number with their own donation. I would then immediately update the counter clock on the blog.
13) And lastly, if you believe in this, you should lead by example and donate some bikes yourself as well. My suggestion to my family was that my Christmas presents should be bikes. If your birthday happens to be around at that time, take it as a perfect opportunity to get your bike counter rolling…
I donated a total of 142 bikes in 2010 and with making the race EFI, it is a life achievement I am most proud off!