Fundraising Tips

Fundraising can be daunting to new runners/walkers, but as returning participants from these types of events will tell you, it's much easier than you'd expect. We’ve heard a lot of stories from first-time participants who were initially afraid of fundraising but then went on to surpass their goal and raised thousands of dollars.

The fundraising generated by our runners/walkers provides the resources for our children to thrive. We can provide the basics, but it’s the extra funds generated by events like this that provide our kids with the resources needed to grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults. We couldn't do this without YOU! Let us help you succeed at fundraising!

How to Go About Fundraising

- First things first – set a goal. A goal gives you and your supporters something to work towards. We have set a minimum fundraising requirement of $250 no matter which distance you choose. We believe this amount is very achievable with a modest amount of effort. Just 5 gifts of $50 will get you there. Some donors will give less, others more. The average gift for participants in our 2019 event was $76. Chances are there are a lot of people you can reach out to for support: parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, employers, classmates and business associates are all good prospects to support your efforts. People will more readily give to a friend or family member raising money for a cause than any other form of charitable solicitation. Some causes are harder to raise funds for than others. This one is easy. Most people have a heart for children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected. Ask your friends and family to support your efforts with a gift of $25, $50, $100 or more. You’ll be surprised how many people will gladly help you reach your goal. And once you've reached your minimum commitment, why stop there? You can raise your goal at any time and it's fun to see how much you can raise and watch your friends continue to help you achieve more!

- Next, Personalize your Participant Page. This is your dedicated fundraising page on our website and where you can direct friends and family to donate. Make this page personal – tell your story and why this cause is important to you. You can also add photos and videos to make it more personal and interesting.

Now you can focus your energy on connecting with friends, family and associates.

- Social Media. This is one of the easiest and fastest ways to see results. Sharing on social media helps drive awareness and people to your page. You can share your Participant Page on social media using the share links from your page. Anytime you upload a photo or video to your page you can share it. You can also upload photos and videos directly from Twitter and Instagram using our event hashtag and they will be added to your page. In your social media posts, tell friends what you're doing, and tell them how much you would appreciate their support. When someone clicks on your link they will be taken directly to your Participant Page where all donations can be tracked, acknowledged, and added to your goal.

Note: Please resist the temptation to use Facebook’s fundraising tools to set up a campaign. Money raised through Facebook’s tools do not add to the total on your Participant Page, they have higher fees, the money isn’t received until 30 days later, and there’s no donor information so we can’t thank your donors for their gifts.

- Email. From your Participant Page, in the fundraising section, you can ask for donations through email using a built-in email template you can further personalize. Personalize your emails by including why this cause is important to you and how donors can support your goals. You'll likely have to send out multiple emails reminding folks – this is key! Follow-up reminders are essential! Just make it sincere and fun. In the fundraising section of your Participant Page, you will see who hasn’t donated yet so you can follow up.

- USPS Mail. How many personal letters do you get from friends and family anymore? A hand addressed personal letter with a sincere personal appeal is guaranteed to get opened and given serious consideration. You can direct friends and family to contribute towards your goal on your Personal Page on the Headwaters Marathon website, mail a check to Hill Country Youth Ranch with your name on the memo line, or give the check to you (made payable to Hill Country Youth Ranch) to forward to us. No matter how they give, it will all count towards your goal. We’ll update your total on the back end to reflect checks received.

- Thank Your Donors. In the fundraising section of your Participant Page, you can see who has donated and use the built-in email and social media links to thank them. If using social media, write about how you know this person and how much you appreciate their friendship. You will be surprised at the momentum this builds! Everyone will want to participate and see what you will write about them when THEY donate!

Other Fundraising Ideas

- Throw a house party! We've seen people host BBQ’s, pancake breakfasts, game nights, Superbowl parties -- you name it, just do it! Make it exciting and different. Invite your friends, serve up anything fun, and ask them to donate to your run or walk!

- Schedule Training Runs/Hikes.  Invite your friends to join you for a training run/walk and ask for a modest donation. (i.e. $10, $15, $20 towards your goal)

- Take it to work. Hang a sign in your office break room with photos of you running/hiking and the story of why you're doing the Headwaters Marathon, Half, 12K, 5K. Host morning coffee or donuts to gather people and explain what the event is and how they can get involved.

- Take it to your place of worship. Faith groups are always looking for ways to help the community, and you could even start a team of runners/walkers or volunteers to support the event. Many congregations have a newsletter or bulletin board where you can post a request for donations or tell your own story of why you're doing the Headwaters Marathon, Half, 12K, 5K.

- Follow Hill Country Youth Ranch on social media and use the stories we post in your asks. When we post a story and video about one of our programs, share it with a link to your Participant Page. If we post a story about the Marathon, share it to give friends an idea about your participation in the event. Click this link to Facebook.

- Make it your story! Inspire your team, donors and other participants. Look at the sample message below for ideas on composing an email or letter. Find inspiration to share your story. Make it personal. Donors will connect to what matters to you! 

See Sample Letter. 

Getting started can feel overwhelming. For best results, break the process down into steps.

  • Make a list of everyone you know who might be willing/able to contribute to your campaign. Make sure you have their address and/or email address.
  • Use our sample letter as a starting point to craft your own personal letter to your friends and family. Make sure you tell them why the cause is important to you and why you’re participating. A one page letter is best. 
  • Find a picture of yourself to add to the letter or ask a friend to take one.
  • Break down your goal into reasonable bite sized chunks. “Would you be willing to sponsor me with a donation of $25, $50, $100. Even if you can only give $10 or $15, I’d sure appreciate it. Every gift adds up to help me reach my goal!”
  • In your letter/email let your prospective donors know they can give directly through your personal page on the website (provide the link to your fundraising page), OR send a check to Hill Country Youth Ranch (P.0. Box 67 Ingram, TX 78025 Attn. Tim Campbell) and write Marathon: "your name" on the memo line, OR send checks made out to Hill Country Youth Ranch to you and periodically you can mail the checks to HCYR at the address above.
  • Now it’s time to post on social media or send out your emails or letters. If sending a letter, take the time to hand address the letter, hand sign it, and even write a small personal note (just a sentence will do) on the bottom. These little details make a huge difference in the overall response rate. Our all-time top fundraiser mailed out 150 personal letters. 100 of her contacts responded and she raised $10,291. These strategies really work!
  • Finally, ask, ask, ask! Leave no stone unturned. People enjoy giving to worthy causes!

Important Things to Remember

  • Send a second request, or a "Reminder" or "Update" to those who don't respond to your first request! Many people just need a friendly reminder.
  • Thank your donors! Even the smallest donation is huge and the best way to ensure keeping your donors happy and possibly giving more the next year is to let them know how much their donations are appreciated.
  • Right before the Marathon, send out a "final request." Many people wait until the last minute to give and need a final reminder.
  • After the Marathon send a "Report" to everyone you asked to donate, whether they supported you or not. Tell them how well you did at the event and what you achieved with your fundraising. Keep it positive and include another thank you to everyone who supported you. You may even get a few more donations, and you will definitely pave the way for next year's donations!

Is meeting the Minimum Fundraising Goal a requirement to participate in the event?

Yes it is. Hill Country Youth Ranch’s mission is to bring healing and restoration to children who have been victims of abuse, abandonment and neglect. To do this we need to raise funds to fulfill our mission and invite you to participate in this event as a fundraiser. We’re not merely looking for runners and walkers; we’re looking for runners and walkers with a passion for helping children – especially children who have suffered abuse at the hands of those closest to them. To this end we have set $250 as the minimum fundraising commitment. To participate in the event on April 4th, 2020 you need to have raised the minimum fundraising amount. It’s our hope you will be inspired to not only reach your minimum amount, but will keep pressing on to raise as much money as possible before the event.

Thank you for signing up to participate in this special event. We are so grateful for your efforts and support!