The Art of Asking for Money

I may have mentioned before, that I am really into cycling.  It has been a hobby of mine for a number of years and it is something I plan to do well into my old age.  This past summer, I decided to take my hobby and use it for charity.  One of the great things about cycling, is that there is a large amount of charitable events throughout the year, with each one benefiting a different cause.

I decided to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, because they have one of the nation’s largest cycling-oriented charities, and one of my cousins had participated for a number of years.  Once I decided which charity I wanted to support I had to find an event that was nearby and did not conflict with my schedule.  After doing this, the only thing that was left to do was raise the funds for the charity.  I knew that I was going to be approaching my family and friends for money, but I also knew that I would need to talk to some people I was not too familiar with, if I wanted to raise as much money as possible.

I devised the flyer here, BIKE MS, in order to make a broad appeal to my target audience.  I used rhetorical methods of persuasion to increase the likelihood of receiving donations.  First, I tried to make sure my flyer was polite and non-intrusion, because asking for money; even if it is for charity, can be a tension-provoking experience.  Next, I decided to make a credibility appeal, and demonstrate that I would be an effective participant in the event.  Following this, I decided to explain the various ways that supporting Bike MS would help the donor.  I focused on both emotional and factual appeals, while trying to remain as polite as possible.

By the end of the flyer, I had established my purpose for addressing the target audience, my personal credibility and the credibility of the organization I was representing, and I had also provided logical and ethical reasons for my audience to support me in my charitable endeavor.  I sent over 15 flyers out by mail, with each one containing handwritten comments to further demonstrate to my audience that I was completely invested in my task.  Additionally, I sent out over 20 flyers by email, and used my Facebook to promote the event and provide a visual representation of the progress I made.  My hope was to raise $500 for the weekend long, 150 mile ride through the rolling hills of PA’s Happy Valley.  Unfortunately, I only manage to raise $420 for the event.  I was still incredibly happy with the results, mostly because I had raised a large amount of money for a good cause, using nothing more than a persuasive flyer and a bicycle.

The entire process of making the flyer, collecting the money, and then participating in the event was an excellent learning experience and a lot of fun.  This year, I plan to make an even better flyer, using all of the skills I’ve learned in this class and from the event last year.  I plan to try and raise even more this summer (hopefully $700), but either way I know I will have a fun time, doing something that is productive and beneficial for everyone.