By Ethan Maurice | September 23, 2015
Today, I'm officially coining the term “adventure fundraising.”
Adventure fundraising is doing something extreme and/or adventurous to draw attention to a cause. It's going the distance, pushing physical limits, or doing something outrageous enough to make your fundraiser and cause stand out. I've had much success going the extra mile, with two fundraisers I've raised over $100,000 for two incredible non-profit organizations. I'd love to see more people do the same for a cause they are passionate about.
Today, most people who do a fundraiser join the ranks of thousands of others doing the exact same thing. They run a race, do a walk, or some other kind of event where everyone's completing the same act by design. These fundraisers are great for the cause because hundreds or thousands of people can participate and collectively can do wonders for an organization. Additionally, the sense of comradery and feel of thousands of people pushing for a unified goal is wonderful.
However, trying to make your fundraiser stand out by joining a crowd doesn't work.
If you're motivated and willing to go further than the average participant, you can have many times the impact by not following the herd. Adventure fundraising, where one defiantly goes above and beyond what most would do, commands attention.
A Couple Examples:
Pedaling with Purpose, my 4,500 mile bicycle ride across the entire United States, from Atlantic to Pacific, for Phoenix Children's Hospital serves as a great example. The idea that I was willing to spend two and a half months straight of pedaling a bicycle across North America was quite the attention grabber. It was outrageous and seemingly impossible to many, the shock of the idea made the fundraiser not just worthy of sharing, but worthy of being on the news, radio, and in newspapers. Going the distance for my cause, I was able to raise over $96,000 for the hospital that saved my life.
Tom's Next Step is by far the most extreme example of adventure fundraising I've come across. Tom Denniss holds the record for fastest circumnavigation of the globe on foot. He literally ran around the world. 16,300 miles of running across five continents averaging over a marathon a day for 622 days straight. Incredible. He raised over $60,000 for Oxfam, a worldwide poverty fighting organization while on his journey. Thanks to the publicity and notoriety that breaking such an unbelievable world record entails, Tom was able to bring in some serious funding. That's going the distance for your cause.
My younger sister and I backpacked the ultra-remote 221 mile John Muir Trail to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in a fundraiser we called Summit Diabetes. All the local news stations wanted to interview the fifteen year old girl with type 1 diabetes, who could die without insulin injections in days in such an environment, as she carried backpacking gear and all her diabetic supplies up and over 14,000ft mountains for a couple hundred of miles. We raised $8,400, then Haley went on to give a killer speech about it at the JDRF Gala. Urging an audience of over 500 people to support revolutionary research, the speech helped spur $284,000 in donations.
Extra-ordinary skateboarder Mike Smith needed funding for his non-profit organization, Skate For Change. So he did something outrageous and selfless to draw attention to his cause. He slept under a highway overpass night after night, refusing to come home until $10,000 was raised. A local radio station caught wind and hosted the fundraiser on air, bringing exposure and donors who were obviously impressed by the lengths Mike would go to help those in need though Skate for Change. After 27 nights under that overpass, he reached his goal. Mike literally willed his way to raising $10,000 for Skate for Change.
Crazy stunts, epic rides, blister inducing treks, personal sacrifice, and creatively executed acts of selflessness can act as a major catalyst of goodness in our world.
If you really want to make a difference, there is no better way than striking out on your own adventure fundraising endeavor and going the distance for your cause. If you're creative and willing to do whatever it takes, people will notice, and flock to help you make the the world a better place.