Getting a ton of sponsors behind you is a surefire way of motivating yourself to train for – and actually go through with – an event. After all, there’s no backing out of that 10k Tough Mudder if Aunty Jackie has backed you to the tune of 25 quid.
Many events actually offer free or heavily discounted entry if you promise to raise a certain amount of cash for a specific charity.
But you need to be tactical: endlessly banging on about your upcoming event on Facebook may get you a few quid initially, but you’ll swiftly start annoying people like a high-street charity-mugger who’s started following them around, wherever they go.
Thankfully, online marketing and social-media experts Chris Talintyre and Leo Widrich have a can’t-miss strategy for you to follow. You’ll be up to your neck in good-cause loot before you know it.
Set up an independent Just Giving page
“Start by setting up a Just Giving page that links the challenge you’re attempting to do with the work the charity you’re raising money for does,” says Chris. “This can then be used as the marketing hub for your sponsorship campaign.”
Send personal emails, requesting sponsorship
“Don’t worry, you don’t have to prepare a different email for everyone you know,” Chris assures us. “But do send your email to people individually, or in small groups, as this makes the communication seem more personal, which in turn makes people more likely to respond.”
Start with Mum and Dad
“Giving breeds giving, and your family are the easiest route to get the cash rolling in early on,” says Talintyre. “Start with your parents, as they’re likely to give you the largest amount.”
Next, target other family members
“A couple of days after emailing your parents, send an email to your siblings and other close family members,” advises Chris. “They won’t want to look cheap in comparison to your parents, so are likely to match, or come very close to matching, their donation.” If this all sounds a little mercenary and calculating, remember: it’s for charity. Mercenary and calculating is allowed.
Now move onto close pals
“Your next email should be to your close friends,” says Talintyre. “Again, they’ll want to sponsor you, and again social currency dictates that their donations will be of a similar amount to those given by your family.”
Download a Just Giving email sign-off
“I downloaded an email sign-off from Just Giving that you can add to your work email signature while raising money for an event, and it worked incredibly well,” says Chris. “It’s not overt, so it doesn’t annoy people, but it will be seen and people will be intrigued. In the end, some of the biggest donations I received were from businesses who sponsored me after seeing my email footer.”
Approach people who want your money too
“Reciprocal sponsorship deals are another good way of building your total,” says Talintyre. “Sure, sponsoring someone else so they’ll sponsor you is a bit like sponsoring yourself, but it builds interaction on your page and sitting-on-the-fence sponsors can be swayed when they see other people giving.”
Promote the charity, not yourself
“People on social media respond better to campaigns that are relevant. With that in mind, don’t post anything until around four-to-six weeks before your event and, when you do post, make sure you lead with your charity rather than your challenge.
“In other words, post an interesting story about the good work your chosen charity is doing, then drop in the fact you’re raising money for this cause, and that people are free to sponsor you if they like.”
Use the right mechanism at the right time
“People can donate to Just Giving via text message or the website,” says Chris. “If you post a social-media appeal in the morning then include the SMS number, as people are more likely to be checking Facebook and Twitter on their phones. And if you post an appeal in the evening, include the website, as people are more likely to be on their computers.”
Try to post at 4pm
Links from Facebook are now responsible for more then £60 million in donations on Just Giving every year. Make the most of social media’s generosity by getting your post up at the correct time.
Which is… “4pm!” reveals Leo Widrich, of social-media experts Buffer. “At this time, people are finishing work or starting to wind down for the day, and are anxious to check what’s new on Facebook. Post at this time and you’ll get more responses than at any other time of day.”
And go for Thursdays and Fridays
“A recent study found that the likelihood of a Facebook user interacting with a post increased by 18% on Thursdays and Fridays,” says Widrich.