Friday, October 16

Charity Rides

Serious question blog readers...

In the past I have resisted asking for money for any of my races or trips. I have no reason to beg. I am capable of earning my own money and saving up to do what I wish with it but I don't begrudge anyone else's way of financing their dreams. I enjoy the freedom that I am beholden to no one but myself when I am "out there." I know my blog provides entertainment to people but I don't feel like it's a job and don't wish to turn it into one. To me it feels more like family, as cheesy as that is.

However if I let myself dream bigger, I could see planning a trip that perhaps costs a significant amount of money and time that would be followed of spectators via SPOT and other means. Charity riding comes in when I use that event following to raise money for a good cause. I'm sure we can all debate what's a worthy cause, but to me there are more out there that are truly worthy than I could ever give a significant contribution too. My problem with charitable fund raising for a ride always relates to taking any piece of the money.

Is it ethical to use a percentage of donated money, stated clearly up front, to fund a trip that overall nets a charity a sizable donation? Or could/should you ask separately for a trip costs donation? Certainly without the trip's entertainment value to spectators, the donations to that charity would be much less. But if I still could find a way to fund the trip myself, the charity would get that much more. The crux becomes, at least for me, if you use a percentage of the money for the trip, you could take more overall trips and raise more overall funds for charity. Obviously you would need to state your intentions up front.

But I'm torn. My gut is wary. What do you think? Do you give money to charity? What about fundraising events like I'm talking about? Would you give more or less if 100% of your donation went to the cause? Would you donate separately to make sure the trip got off the ground? Please leave a comment, you can be anon if you want. I only delete highly inflammatory anon comments which I don't really ever get.

You won't see a paypal button on my site any time soon but I do wonder how I can do the most good with my activities in the future. Much of my charity has been volunteered time, not money but all kinds of donations are good in my opinion. Those who can donate funds at this time, please give to Fat Cyclists's Fighting for Susan campaign. You can even get a sweet bike and vacation out of the deal...

12 comments:

Fonk said...

When I ride in organized charit rides, it's pretty much understood that a small part of the money covers the costs of the event, and that doesn't bother me or (seemingly) my donors.

I think the key is the percentage used. You want to keep it as small as possible. Several years ago United Way took some huge negative publicity hits because it came out that something like 35% of the donations to them were going to administrative costs. I myself vowed to never give them any money after I heard that. They've cleaned up their act since then, and are more in line with other charitable organizations, which is something like 10%.

If I gave you $100, and $90 went to the charity and $10 to your trip, I'd be totally OK with it. The more those numbers skew in the other direction, though, the more questionable it becomes. (I think even an 80/20 split would be fair, though)

My two cents...

Cellarrat said...

when i've done fundraising for adventures its has been purely selfish however personally i give to several different organizations...

If doing a race/adverture for charity i'd say "i need X amount to make this race/adverture happen and anything over that goes to X charity"...

Seems people wanna have a hand in what your doing and help others out although at times i've wondered if guilt has played a part in the weird stuff happening... i donno?

People have a choice if they open their wallet or not...

just my .02

Kurt said...

I went through this same debate when I was trying to decide whether or not to race the Tour Divide. I didn't think I could financially do it, so I started thinking about other ways to get money. I seriously considered combining my World Bicycle Relief fund raising with personal fund raising and taking 5 or 10%. I asked a lot of friends about this, and they said they'd donate to WBR either way, but a surprising number said they'd prefer to be able to do the two separately and give me more than 10% of what they gave WBR.

In the end I ended up only collecting donations for WBR and instead lined up sponsors to help with gear and reduce my personal expenses a bit. I'm not sure what I'd do in the future for these sorts of things. But I think giving donors a choice about how much of their money goes where is potentially a good approach.

Keep that healing going...go sit outside in the sun for a while today and I bet it'll help your head.

Ed said...

I think it's a very worthy thing to do, combining a ride with an opportunity to raise money for a charity and cover some expenses in the process.

The key is to keep it above board so people know what they are donating to and why.

Remember there will ALWAYS be a minority of naysayers about any kind of plans you make - ignore them and focus on the goodness. People have a choice about making the donation.

You might also consult with the likes of Fatty.

Ed

Anonymous said...

let people know up front and allow them to divide their contribution up to support race costs vs. charity. (you can always suggest a % split)

The reason for this is that most people will use this donation as a tax deduction and if they do and you don't apply all of it to the charity (but advertise as so) then you are guilty of fraud. The amount that donators claim will not wash with the amount sent to the charity.

Personally, I would be happy to donate to charity and your race costs. I enjoy your blog. Hopefully I will see you out there sometime.

TJ
Broomfield - CO

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I did RAAM on a 4 person team. We raised money for a charity, they ended up netting about 100K, I got to do RAAM and only took about 1k out of my pocket for the experience.
As we were fundraising, we made certain that everyone knew how funds were being handled, and received many "in kind" donations which kept the actual cash spent much lower than you'd expect.

Don Meredith said...

Absolutely OK. I always assume when I'm donating money that some reasonable portion of it goes into administrative or support costs. The way I see it you are donating your time and efforts towards a good cause. The donors of us take care of expenses and actual charity. If you didn't take care of needs you wouldn't be able to generate the other 80% or 90% for charity. It might help to make it clear that no more than x% will go to support costs.

paxtoncoyote said...

Do it! As long as you're up front about splitting it or do a fundraiser like Callarrat for the whole she-bang as I wouldn't have a problem with attending something like that if I lived near. When it comes down to it I'm pretty sure my adventuring days are over so people like me can live our dreams through guys like you, David Nice, Joe Meiser, Jill Homer, etc.

I've enjoyed the incredible feats you guys pull off, if only I were 20 years younger!

Carney said...

My 2 pennies.

Go for it. I would look at it this way: If you raised money in the name of a charity and donated 90% of it while using the remainder to fund the trip, the charity would still receive more funding that if you privately financed the trip. Sure you could fund it fully by yourself and then donate 100% of the funds raised to a charity but I would think that by combining your adventure with a worthy cause people would be more inclined to donate to help both and therefore allowing you to raise more money for the charity. So, in the end I would venture to say that by combining efforts the end amount raised might be more.

Obviously stating your intentions up front is key. Years back I was the race director for a triathlon that partnered with the Red Cross. We kept enough money to run the race the next year as well as some money to send athletes to Collegiate Nationals, however the rest was donated to the Red Cross. People knew their money was going to both and in many cases they donated even more to both efforts because the partnership brought attention to both.

Putting your personal biases/opinions on using others money to fund your personal trips aside, I would think that by joining up with a worthwhile charity you could bring attention to said charity from a group of people who may not normally be exposed to such a charity.

Wow - I'm long winded today. I say go for it, I'm sure lots of people would be eager to support both you and a worthwhile charity - why not combine them? Good luck!!

EMathy said...

It's a tough one that I, like alot of folks who have posted here, have wrestled with. The biggest issue is that the person donating can't use that donation as a tax deduction if it goes to you (Chris) rather than directly to the non-profit. Rather, you get the tax deduction because you're the person who is on record as giving the donation.

Your best bet, and the toughest thing to actually do, is to incorporate a non-profit of your own who's express purpose is to raise funds and awareness for other charities. It's actually done pretty often. However, it involves filing paperwork with the state you live in and with the IRS. They look at non-profits very closely. The rules are strict. It's totally doable, however, and I highly recommend it!

I only wish they'd look at the banks as closely as they do the non-profits, though. Wouldn't that be cool?

Phil said...

Personal opinion not a legal one: if you are raising money for something I do not think one should benefit from that. We already benefit from the experience. I have raised a nominal $23,000 the past 4yrs for the leukemia society and my reward (aside from not perishing) is seeing my friend, in leukemia remission, doing great. Even though my debt for my stupid ventures far exceeded that...

However, maybe stick a paypal thing on your blog to simply donate to you. I like to live vicariously and with certain folks would love to read/see how they perform in an event. Even to pay medical expenses :)

mike said...

have really mixed feelings on this. the goal of you (or me) raising the money is so you (or me) can play outside doing cool stuff. its semi selfish in a way... but people seem to like giving $$ for things like this...

as much as the RAAM teams and Cancerwalk teams and all sorts of other adventurers raise awareness and $$... it just doesn't fit for me. i don't think i could ask someone to give me $$ so i can play outside... while 'promoting' or doing it in the name of charity. charity to me would be donating the time and the resources that would be spent on training / riding / planning / scheming down at the hospital / soup kitchen / research lab / phone bank / etc.

just my gut on it.