Featured Fundraiser: Ann Coleman

Ann Coleman is a second-year rider with the Fuller Center Bike Adventure in 2017. In addition to nearly quadrupling her personal fundraising minimum, she has offered invaluable encouragement for other riders as they strive to meet their goals. Ann resides in Park City, UT with her husband, Sandy, and a big black poodle.

You have been riding bikes and fundraising long before the Bike Adventure. How did you get started cycling for good causes?

My husband and I have always tried to support people doing something to help others so when we get requests from people asking for support for rides, walks, etc we normally donate. I have several good friends who ride their bikes in the MS150 so for years we have financially supported them. Five years ago one of them encouraged me to do the ride.  I had never been on my bike more than 25 miles at a time so it was a big step for me, but I decided to do it.  I got involved and had success in the fund raising.  Last summer Fuller rider Jackie Rouse and her husband Kurt who I work with donated to my MS ride.  I had only briefly met Jackie once, but after hearing she was doing the Fuller cross country ride I checked it out and donated to her ride.  She was in touch and invited me to join as they were riding through my area.  So I did a segment from Salt Lake City, Utah to Cheyenne, Wyoming.  It started out all about the ride for me. I didn’t do any fund raising because I had just completed the MS and didn’t want to ask my friends again.  However, during the ride I became very passionate about Fuller, the work that is being done to help those in need and the people involved.  When I was able to go to DC to welcome the team in last summer I knew that I was going to do something this year and I’m excited to be joining the west coast team in June.

Most people have trouble knowing where to begin their fundraising campaign. What is your advice to folks who love the idea of energizing their friends and family, but don’t feel confident or comfortable asking for donations?

I understand that and I started out that way too.  To be honest, I have learned that I don’t have to ask. No one likes to be pressured. I have found that what is important is to just tell people what I’m doing and find a way to send them the link.  So whether with friends, family, work people, church people, even strangers I talk about the adventure and the cause.  Most are interested so at the very least they are learning about Fuller…some give and some don’t, but you never know.  I recently went on a bike and barge trip to the Netherlands and three people I just met from that week have made donations. I start my fundraising by making a list of everyone I can think of who might donate.  I send them an email catching up with them about life in general and in that I tell them about my plans for the summer, including the Fuller link. I don’t write a lot, but I encourage them to go to my link if they are interested in knowing why I’m doing it. I think that encourages people to go to the link which is half the battle.  I think it’s very important to bring my donor team on the journey with me so I periodically send group emails (with bcc of everyone on my list) to update them on the progress of the fund raising, contests, my training, Fuller, etc.  I always include a thank you to those who have already given even though I have already sent out a personalized email thank you to each of them the same day (never more than 24 hours later) after I am notified of their donation. I believe you can never thank people enough.  Although I don’t ask for donations, every time I send out an update I get more donations which shows me that people who haven’t donated just need reminders.

Our returning riders find that fundraising in consecutive years can become harder, as they feel like they have exhausted their network. How do you continue to be so successful in your fundraising year after year?

To me the key is to build a team of donors.  In my ongoing communication with my donors I try to help them know they are part of something BIG.  My first email each year is a group email to those who donated the previous year.  I thank them once again and remind them how well we did the previous year, emphasizing that it wouldn’t have happened with every single one of them.  That starts things rolling.  This year that group email went out on March 10th and by the end of the month 60% of my donations had already come in.  Although I didn’t win any of the competitions during March Madness I utilized those contests to energize my donor team.  Another almost 25% of my donations have been received so far in May when I sent out information about the El Salvador work with pictures of my team’s three families.  I have found that different things motivate different people….. the cause, interest in the ride, desire to help with competitions, solely to support me, etc.   I had one friend make a sizable donation to the penny so my goal would be met. Of course when I thanked him I also explained that I would be raising my goal.  He loved that because he believes in the cause!  I did a fun thing this year and told my donors that anyone who donated a minimum of $250 would have their name on a sticker on my helmet and they would be riding with me.  I know that motivated some and there are currently 16 stickers.  Things like that make it fun both for me and the donors.

Featured Fundraiser: Karen and Mike Powers

Peanut butter and jelly…Hammers and nails…Tires and tubes. These things go together like Mike and Karen Powers, FCBA’s dynamic duo from Summerfield, FL. Mike and Karen are first-time FCBA riders this year, but quickly rose to fame by winning the inaugural March Madness competition, when they raised over $3,000 in just 18 days! With almost $7,000 raised in total, the “Powers Couple” is now zeroing in on their joint goal of $8,000. Mike and Karen are whole-way riders on the San Francisco to Savannah ride this summer, and took some time off from training and fundraising to share a few nuggets of wisdom with us this week.

Read more about the Powers’ ride – and consider donating to their campaign – at: https://fullercenter.donorpages.com/BikeAdventure/KarenPowers/


FCBA: Why did you decide to join the Fuller Center Bike Adventure this year?

K & M: “We were looking for an opportunity to volunteer for a wonderful cause and have a summertime adventure for ourselves at the same time. We wanted to do something big! We researched various options and discovered that the Fuller Center and their Bike Adventure had the best reputation. We are more than happy to raise the money and put in the practice miles to help families in need of a home they can be proud of, and we are looking forward to a summer spent biking across our country with new friends!”

 

FCBA: It’s awesome that you are riding as a husband and wife team. What strategies/methods have worked well for you two so far, as you’ve worked together to meet your big goal?

K & M: “We planned a multi-faceted approach to fundraising since we are trying to raise a fairly large sum of $8,000. We started off by using Facebook as a quick and easy way to tell our friends and family what we were about to accomplish; we created a fundraising group on Facebook and have been using it to update our friends and family about our fundraising and training. We have also been able to round up a few key people who have helped us fundraise by reaching out to their own networks of friends and family. We got a good response sending out letters to all of family and friends.

The March Madness contests motivated us to start contacting businesses we frequent in our area, and that worked out well. We learned a lot from that particular contest, most importantly that, when asked, most people are willing to help. The key is to ask.

In summary, we started early and stuck with our plan. We do not have much experience with fundraising, but we learned early on that there are a lot of good people out there willing to donate, whether for the cause, for us, or to be part of something big – something greater than themselves. We just had to ask them!”

 

FBCA: Can you offer any final tips for Bike Adventurers as they kick their fundraising campaigns into high-gear this spring?

K & M: “Tell everyone you know what you’re doing and why, and then ask them to tell everyone they know. Seek donations early and often. Don’t be afraid to ask; the worst someone can say is no. Finally, use all of the resources that the FCBA offers: publicity help, the wealth of knowledge that Henry and Connor possess, and the support community of fellow riders. FCBA veteran Ann Coleman has been a big inspiration and support for us, so don’t hesitate to reach out to the riders who come back year after year to raise money for the Fuller Center. It is clearly a cause they believe in, and they have been raising lots of money for several years now, so they must be on to something!”

 

Featured Fundraiser: Crystal Anderson

Crystal Anderson, a first-time FCBA rider from Richmond, Virginia, has raised lots of money this year – and she even seems to be having fun while doing it! Crystal will be trekking from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, D.C. with FCBA’s new off-road “Dirt to D.C.” ride in September 2017. With almost $1,000 raised, Crystal has already gone above and beyond her minimum fundraising goal of $750, and is now shooting for $3,500!

Read more about Crystal’s ride – and consider donating to her campaign – at: https://fullercenter.donorpages.com/BikeAdventure/CrystalAnderson/

 


FCBA: Why did you decide to join the Fuller Center Bike Adventure this year?

CRYSTAL: “There are many wonderful charitable organizations in the U.S. and worldwide, so it can be difficult to choose where to dedicate personal time and resources. I hope to win the lottery some day so that I can make meaningful contributions to more than one organization per year. In the meantime, I have to choose, and the Fuller Center for Housing won my heart and my commitment.

I have several friends who volunteer with the Fuller Center for Housing and mentioned how amazing the organization is. From the main website and social media, I felt the Fuller Center mission aligned with my values. After visiting the main website, I happened upon the Fuller Center Bike Adventure site and found the information to be thorough, transparent, and very helpful. They just made it so easy to say, “I want to do this!”

And then there is the challenge of it all – the challenge of fundraising (which I’ve never really considered myself to be good at) and the challenge of 350 miles (I’m only just now getting active again after a 2-3 year hiatus). I just love that I can challenge myself in ways that I haven’t before – all while supporting such a great mission and organization – as well as all those friends out there who are building with the Fuller Center. I’m so excited!!”

 

FCBA: We heard you like to ride your bike in your office…is that helping you fundraise?

CRYSTAL: “I purchased a FitDesk 2.0 during Amazon Prime Day last year – I got it for a steep discount (this isn’t advertising, rather it is just informative for anyone else who may be interested in the details).

I sit a lot – I mean, a lot. At least 8-12 hours each weekday for work and approximately another 10+ hours a week in my car are “sitting hours.” The FitDesk is a stationary bike with a sturdy desk on top, and it allows me to keep moving at times when I otherwise would not move. It has been helping me train – and yes, fundraise also.

During the February Fundraising Fiesta, I took the FitDesk to work for 2 days for an awareness campaign and fundraising effort. Most of my donations to-date were made during those 2 days. And while not everyone who stopped by ultimately donated, I know that they learned about an organization they were not previously aware of – the Fuller Center for Housing.”

 

FBCA: What other strategies/methods have worked well for you so far?

CRYSTAL: “Reaching out to specific people by email has worked for me. I started by contacting people I know are like-minded with respect to charitable giving and volunteering, and I branched out from there. The FitDesk awareness and fundraising effort also has been most helpful. I may have to consider taking it to a public place in the future – to see if I can’t gain some media attention for the Fuller Center 🙂

I’m still kind of new to fundraising (in any major way), so I’m sure I will learn a lot more in the process. I will continue to try to think of new/creative approaches. My best ideas may be the ones I haven’t thought of yet. A yard sale? A dance event to benefit the Fuller Center?”

 

FCBA: Can you offer any final tips for our other Bike Adventurers as they kick their fundraising campaigns into high-gear this spring?

CRYSTAL: “My tip: consider your workplace and your colleagues. There may be certain protocols in your workplace that you have to follow in order to send emails, to hang posters, or to ride a FitDesk, but there are potential exponential benefits of trying. Colleagues may end up being your best supporters, and many employers will match your colleagues’ donations (by some specific %). Exponential benefits!”

Featured Fundraiser: Bill Turner

Bill Turner, a first-time FCBA rider from Harrison, Maine, is currently the leading fundraiser across all rides in 2017. Bill will be trekking from San Francisco to Santa Fe (segments 1-4) with the cross-country ride this summer, and has raised over $6,400 to-date. He continues to make progress toward his fundraising goal of $11,000.

Read more about Bill’s ride – and consider donating to his campaign – at: https://fullercenter.donorpages.com/BikeAdventure/WilliamTurner/

 

FCBA: Why did you decide to join the Fuller Center Bike Adventure this year?

BILL: “Riding across the USA on a bicycle is on my bucket list. While searching for a mechanism to accomplish this, answered prayers lead me to the web information regarding the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure. Connor got back to me very quickly with details when I inquired last spring. I find the concept of what the Fuller Center is all about very appealing and look forward to sharing time with other folks on the trip, and those we will meet along the way. I was ecstatic to discover that I could use my riding effort to raise funds for a home in Haiti.  My wife and I partially support an orphanage and the education of three children there. Doing 1700 miles will be a good start on a potential cross country goal, the location of the segments is attractive, and the event fits into the time slot I can make available this year. Henry and Connor have been wonderful to deal with.”


FCBA: Tell us about your unique fundraising goal, and why you recently decided to increase it:

BILL: “Fundraising goal went from money for one home in Haiti to two homes. [Ed. Note: Bill increased his goal from $5,000 to $11,000 last month.] Having experienced short term mission trips to Haiti over the past three years, I have had wonderful opportunities to worship Jesus and work with folks who are spiritually rich and economically poor. Having worked on some homes while there, I understand the condition of much of the housing stock after the earthquake and hurricane and have some idea of the joy and security that a simple home will bring to a family. Many folks in Haiti still live in tarp houses put up by Samaritans’ Purse after the earthquake 7 years ago. When I was about to send out a second reminder notice, and realized we were close to the original goal 4 month prior to the event, prayer, God and my wife led me to increase the fund raising goal to two homes.”


FCBA: What strategies/methods have worked well for you so far? 

BILL: “I started fund raising in 2016 just as soon as I signed up for the ride hoping to catch some end of the year donations. I have mostly focused on sending emails to now hundreds of folks I have met over 66 years of living; mostly folks I have had a business relationship and/ or friendship with. We also informed folks in the 90 Christmas letters we sent out. If you know our family in any way, you likely know of the fundraising effort. I used the opportunity of the reminder sent out in late January 2017 to increase the fund raising amount; based on the challenge we were offered that if we went for 2 homes, a donor would add another $500 after we reached $10,000. I use to fund raise for the Bike Across Maine event for the Lung Association. I learned then that emails to folks I knew was very productive compared to phone calls.”


FCBA: Can you offer any final tips for our other Bike Adventurers as they kick their fundraising campaigns into high-gear this spring? 

BILL:

“Some thoughts:

  1. Be sincere. Be focused on your fund raising page and in your emails as to why you are riding and raising the funds.
  2. Tell the people why you believe in what you are doing and what will be accomplished with the funds.
  3. Be polite in reminding folks at some point after your first ask, that there is still an opportunity to contribute.
  4. Both churches we are involved in have put up notices and inserted a notice in their bulletin.
  5. Use local newspapers to get the word out.
  6. If you are involved in some type of civic group, let them know.
  7. Get a donor to start some type of a challenge when you are ½ or 2/3 way to your goal?”

A Note From Your Trip Leader

If you’ve made it this far, you are probably either 1) already registered for the cross-country ride or 2) are strongly considering making FCBA a part of your life in 2017. Either way, I’m glad you found our blog! This will be the most happening place on the world wide web, where real-live riders will share testimonials, sweet memories, and probably some random anecdotes from their epic journey. Once the ride kicks off in June, I hope you will check back with us often as you read and share our colorful stories from the road.

As for me? My name is Henry, and I will be serving as the Trip Leader for the cross-country ride this year. I rode across the country with FCBA in 2016, which was the best life decision I’ve ever made! I was a graduate student when I began in Seattle… but had decided to become a volunteer with the Fuller Center by the time we finished in Washington, D.C.! I honestly couldn’t pull myself away from the wonderful mission and community that had been such an integral part of my summer experience.

Now, I want to contribute in some meaningful way to helping people have that same experience for themselves. So…here I am, back for more! This year, I can’t wait to catch a glimpse of the Sierra Nevadas, to break a sweat during our six build days, and to break bread with our gracious church hosts in dozens of small towns from San Fran to Savannah. Most importantly, I’ll be doing all of this with plenty of good people, and in the service of a truly worthy mission. It’s easy to see why I’m thankful every morning that I get to do this for a living! Oyee!