After a wonderful summer spent focused on the launch of a new cycling event (as has been chronicled here in earlier blogs), yesterday I had the fun of experiencing my first Century ride - as a rider. As much as I love my work, it was kind of nice to just focus on getting to the site, making sure my bike was in good working condition and ensuring that I knew the route. There were some really wonderful things about this ride and some that I didn't love as much. All in all, I enjoyed myself and felt great about accomplishing what I had set out to do.
In many ways, I felt like someone who just opened a restaurant, got some reviews, and was now eating at a much more established restaurant. Point being, I couldn't help but compare several key aspects of the two events. I want to share three key points I was reminded of and believe are integral to all endurance fundraising events.
Volunteers Need to be Trained: Sounds obvious but there's a lot more to it. Volunteering at an endurance event is different than doing so at a Gala or Walk. There are multiple nuanced roles i.e. directing riders or runners, route marshaling, providing fuel along the way or managing a VIP tent for top fundraisers. In essence, these roles help event participants to be successful and be sure it all happens smoothly. Don't leave it to the day of. Have your route marshals get out on the route before the ride. Be sure your VIP Tent Ambassadors know who your top fundraisers are. Make sure they get the training and direction they deserve.
Make sure there's Plenty of Everything: Yes everything and I mean everything. Better to have too much food - worst case, you can donate the extra to those who need it. And yes, add the extra 25 t-shirts or jerseys to the order for day-of registrations. Again, if you're stuck with extras, they make great recruiting or fundraising incentives for the next year. There's nothing more frustrating to participants than waiting in a long line for water since you're down to the one tap or getting to the finish line to learn that the only shirts left are the XX-smalls.
Everything is Cause for Celebration: Above all, add Celebration to every participant interaction on the day of the event. You, your staff and especially your volunteers all over the route have a golden opportunity. Make participants feel fantastic about every accomplishment whether it's making it to the first rest stop or completing their first ever 10 mile ride. It doesn't take much - cheering, a simple trinket, a hug, or a cup of water - to feel like they've just completed their own Tour de France. And to your participants, they just did. It's Cause for Celebration!
Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com
Want to keep getting the latest New Thinking? Click Below...