Don’t be concerned about raising the money. Give people the opportunity to participate with you through their donation. People love being a part of such an amazing adventure vicariously.
—2013 Israel Rider
You can do it!
The Israel Ride is one of the largest sources of support for the Jewish Environmental Movement. Each rider has a fundraising minimum, but most end up raising much more than their target. Since the first Israel Ride in 2003, the Ride has raised almost $7.5m in support of the Arava Institute and Hazon. This funding has helped to bring more students to the Arava Institute and to bring Hazon’s vision of creating a healthier and more sustainable world to more people.
Just as you’ve signed up for a bike ride that may represent a real physical challenge, fundraising is a skill that can be learned. The pages in this section are designed to help you craft a fundraising plan that will help you reach – and surpass – your fundraising goal. Feel free to contact us at any point for assistance.
Your commitment to riding is significant and you should not underestimate the magnitude of this endeavor. People admire and respect those who challenge themselves for a worthy cause. Be enthusiastic about the Ride and share your enthusiasm with others. Your excitement will encourage sponsors to support you and to be generous with their donations.
Set your target
Regardless of your minimum required sponsorship, we encourage you to aim higher. The higher your fundraising target, the more generous your supporters will be. When you are close to meeting your target, consider setting a higher one. The Israel Ride offers incentives to those who raise significantly above their required minimum.
Know why you are riding
We encourage you to learn how the money supports both the Arava Institute and Hazon. You should pick one or two initiatives of the Arava Institute and/or Hazon that resonate with you personally, or tailor your fundraising messages depending on what your potential donor may be interested in.
Sample Fundraising Letters
To help you get started, here are some sample fundraising letters that we have crafted, or that have been used by past riders
Israel Ride Proceeds
- 70% supports the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies
- 30% supports the work of Hazon
Although fundraising may seem intimidating at first, you probably know more people than you realize. Most people know at least 400 people on a personal level. Some people even have networks that extend into the thousands. To start your fundraising, you need to first make a list of who you will ask. And remember, people don’t give to support causes as much as they give to support people: your friends, family and colleagues will donate to your ride because YOU are riding. Here are categories of people to consider asking:
Family and Friends
The people closest to you are the most likely to support your efforts. Be sure to include aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends. Don’t forget about your old college friends, sorority sisters, youth group connections and old camp friends.
Many employers are eager to encourage their employees to participate in charitable events. Many corporations offer matching funds for the donations you receive from colleagues at work, or even your total donations. Contact your human resources director to see how they can help you.
Colleagues at Work, School, etc
The workplace is a great venue for fundraising. If you work in a large organization you have plenty of options. Get permission from your employer and spread the word to all the departments in your workplace.
This is a fruitful place to fundraise. Ask your rabbi, synagogue President, and different clubs where you can most successfully fundraise within the synagogue. Many congregations have a “Rabbis Discretionary Fund.” Ask your Rabbi to sponsor you. Be sure to utilize your synagogue directory for names of people you can contact.
Clubs, Committees, Alumni Groups and Associations
Bring information with you when you go to sports, recreation clubs or other volunteer work. People admire those who fundraise, especially since you have to Ride across a country for it!
Business Contacts and Suppliers
If you are in business, you can approach colleagues, clients, suppliers and even competitors to sponsor you. People of all backgrounds care about building bridges in the Middle East and creating a sustainable world for all.
Go through this list and highlight the names of the people whom you believe are potential major donors. A major donor is one who might be able to make a donation of $1,000 and over. These are the people for whom a pledge letter and/or phone call is not necessarily appropriate. Take them to lunch or dinner and explain to them why the Ride means so much to you. Tell them about the Ride and why you are doing something so challenging. Be serious, enthusiastic, and sincere.
Asking non-Jewish friends and colleagues for your support
This is a bike ride is in a Jewish context, but its broader goals are deeply universal. As Carl Pope, head of the Sierra Club, said in 2003, “When environmentalists lobby on Capitol Hill, we’re ignored. When faith groups take a stand, people listen.” So don’t be afraid to ask non-Jewish friends to support you. As we know, working for environmental education is something that’s important to a lot of people, not just Jews.
- Family & Relatives
- Alumni Groups
- Sports Clubs/Teams
- Hobby/Interest Groups
- Meetup Groups
- Social Networks
- Facebook, LinkedIn
- Children’s Playgroups
- Members of Your Synagogue
- Customers or Clients
- Vendors or Suppliers
- Partners or Affiliates
- Professional Associations
- Social Networks
- Nonprofit Board Members
- Professionals You Work With
- Accountant & Bookkeeper
- Insurance Agent
- Real Estate Broker/Agent
- Coaches or Consultants
- People You See on a Regular Basis
- Yoga Instructor
- Baby Sitter
- Dry Cleaner
- Supermarket/Favorite Store
- Clubs, Teams
- Teachers, Advisors /Admin
- Hillel/Other Religious Groups
There is no one right way to deliver your fundraising message. Emails, letters, and in-person requests are by far the most common, but Riders often get very creative with their fundraising strategies! Here are a range of techniques you can use to reach your fundraising goal. We encourage you to try several until you find the ones that work best for you:
Tried and True
- EMAIL: Many people use email as their main means of soliciting sponsorship. Tools in your Fundraising Portal will help make composing, sending and tracking emails very easy. More tips on using your Fundraising Portal here.
- LETTERS: Although email is quick and easy, some have found that letters-sent via “snail mail”-are more personal and often get better results. Be sure to include a return envelope, stamped and self-addressed, to help your donor respond to your request. Read our tips on composing your fundraising letter in the tab “what to say”
- JUST ASK: Some people are comfortable with the most direct approach: asking for money in person or by phone is usually very effective. You may want to follow up with an email reminder.
Creative, Funky and Fun
- SPINNING CLASS Ask your fitness club or JCC to donate space and a teacher to host a class. Play Israeli music and show a slideshow of the route or other Hazon Rides during the class.
- RIDE TO WORK Ask co-workers to donate a dollar for every day you ride to work. If you get 10 co-workers to donate for 30 days, that’s $300! Fundraise and train at the same time.
- BAKE SALE The old-fashioned bake sale works every time. Set up a stand at work, school, or on your street corner with goodies of your choice.
- YARD SALE let everyone know that the proceeds go to charity!
- HOLIDAY OR BIRTHDAY Connect the Ride to the holidays and your birthday and ask your guest to sponsor you for the Ride instead of getting you a present.
- DINNER PARTY Host a themed dinner party and cook for all your friends. Ask a local grocery store for a discount on ingredients and charge $5 per guest.
- FLIERS Place fliers or posters around the office, in the bathroom, in the company lounge, by the water cooler and at your desk.
- HOST A POKER GAME OR GAME NIGHT Call your serious (or not so serious) card-playing friends and invite them over for poker night and ask for a donation to play.
- BOWLING NIGHT Plan a fun night of bowling at the local alley. Ask the owner to waive the fees and you can collect that money and apply it to your campaign.
- INFO SESSIONS Hold information sessions at work, at your synagogue.
- SKILL SHARE EVENT Invite friends over for a skill share event. Are you a yogi or a master crocheter? Charge $5 admission or have a suggested donation.
- PLAY A GAME Gather friends for a soccer, softball, or kickball game in honor of your participation on the Ride. Ask for donations and don’t forget snacks.
- RIDE ALONG Ask a potential donor to ride along on one of your training rides. They may be more willing to donate once they fully understand what you have committed to doing!
- USED BOOK SALE Sell your old books. Wear your Hazon t-shirt or bike shirt and put up some signs so people will know where the money is going.
- LOCAL SPORT STORES Ask a local store manager if they are willing to sponsor you on the Ride. Tell them you will put a link to their webpage on your personal fundraising page.
- SYNAGOGUE BULLETIN Place an advertisement in your synagogue bulletin letting the congregation know what you’re up to!
- OTHER PARENTS If your kids play in play groups, sports leagues or other activities, distribute your fundraising letter to the parents at the event.
- HAIR SALON Ask your hairdresser to donate $2 from every haircut they complete during the weekend.
- AUCTION sections of your body, and promise to write the donors name on them during your ride.
- CURSE JAR put a jar on your desk at work, and every time someone curses within earshot, they have to put a dollar in the jar. Pair it with a graph so your colleagues can watch your progress toward your goal.
- FACEBOOK Post your current fundraising status in your status updates.
- BLOGS Writing about the Ride and your training progress on your blog.
- EMAIL SIGNATURE Including a link to your fundraising web page in your e-mail signature.
- MAKE A VIDEO to post on Facebook or share by email. Watch some great examples by navigating to the “videos” tab above.
- CHAT Put a link to your fundraising page in your Google Chat status
- MAKE A TRAINING MIX and offer to share it with your donors
When you sit down to write your fundraising letter, first make a list of all the answers to this question: “Why am I doing this ride?” Your answers will help you to articulate what you’re excited about to your potential donors, who at the end of the day really want to support YOU and causes you’re excited about. The list will also help you tailor your letter for different audiences, for example – someone who is really into food issues might want to hear more about the Adamah farm; someone who has young kids might want to hear about how the Ride is intergenerational. Here are a few reasons to ride that riders have used in their fundraising letters:
- I’m signing up for a big physical challenge / riding farther than I’ve ever ridden, etc.
- I love being part of a great community
- I’m riding because it’s a fun, wild thing to do: ride my bike from Jerusalem to Eilat
- A great way to be Jewish, and show that I care about environmental issues as a cyclist and as a Jew
In addition to sharing your excitement, make sure your letter includes a few key pieces of information:
- How much you’re trying to raise
- How much you’re asking for (aim high!)
- How to donate (mail check, donate online)
- 1-2 examples of causes supported by the Ride (Get examples: the Arava Institute and Hazon)
Fundraising Letter Tips
Your fundraising letter is, above all, a letter from you to people you know and care about. The most important thing to keep in mind when writing your fundraising letter is your recipient. Who is going to be reading this? What would they like to read? There is no single magic fundraising letter but there are a lot of ways that you can make your letter great to help you raise more money. Read all the tips below to get prepared. Write your base letter or start from one of our sample letters, then read the tips again. Did you forget anything? Can you make it better?
1) Pick the Right Delivery Option
Most people send their fundraising letters electronically, but there may be people on your list for whom a real letter is more appropriate. If you’re sending your letter by mail, enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope for people to send you a check. If you’re sending an email, use the email features in your Fundraising Portal. Include links to your personal page so donors can get there easily.
2) Be Personal
Don’t write “dear friends” or “dear all” – write “Hi Debbie.” Make clear that some thought has gone into who will receive your letter. Add at least one personal line (“I’m going to be in town…”).
3) Use Photos and Links
Attach a picture of you on your bike. If you’re sending an email, use hyperlinks to send people to find out more information about Hazon and the projects supported by the Ride.
4) Tailor the length
In general, shorter is better. However, sometimes there is someone who you feel wants more information. Include more details about the Ride for your friends who are interested in cycling, or more information about the Grantees if your donor is interested in cutting-edge Jewish environmental projects.
5) Be specific
Give simple and specific instructions about how they can sponsor you. Include the link to your personal page. In case they decide to mail a check, include your home address. Include your fundraising goal, and make it ambitious. Put it in bold! Believe it or not, THE MORE YOU ASK FOR, THE MORE PEOPLE GIVE. Share what your personal financial commitment will be. People are often inspired to see your personal financial commitment and might even be willing to match it. “In addition to training, I am pledging $500 towards my fundraising goal.” Ask for a specific amount and aim high. Say “Please consider a gift of $180.” They can choose to do so, or choose to give you more/less.
5) Be confident and assertive
Send to the letter to everyone you know – especially relatives, even if you have not talked to them in a long time. Expand your circle of giving by including friends of friends and your children’s or parents’ friends. They will be thrilled to hear from you. People will be happy to support a cause that you think is important. Remember that you are not asking for money for your morning coffee. You are giving your friends, family, and colleagues the opportunity to be a part of a large-scale educational and awareness opportunity.
6) Follow Up
Remind people about your letter when you see them, and talk to them about the Ride. The most successful fundraiser in Hazon’s 2005 New York Ride received donations from more than 90 people. When asked the secret of his success, he said, “I sent out an email asking for money, and I kept on emailing people until they gave!” If you are running an email campaign, send out follow up emails to everyone, even if they haven’t given (yet). Tell the people on your list about your training, or thank those (by name) who have already given – and encourage those who haven’t yet (“Oh, Aunt Martha gave so I should too!”) Seeing names of others who have given encourages others to give. Include the Ride website on everything. People can donate to you directly through this site.
Want inspiration to create a great fundraising video? These ride alumni each created unique videos that help them communicate their message to their potential funders in their own special way. How to use your video to raise money and excitement about your ride:
- Post to Facebook
- Email to your friends
- Show it after dinner or at a party and ask your friends to pledge on the spot!