Planning a Bikeathon Fundraiser: The Complete Guide

Planning a Bikeathon Fundraiser: The Complete Guide

One of the most popular fundraising event types for nonprofits and advocacy groups is a-thon style fundraisers. These types of events ask participants to collect donations from their friends and family based on their ability to do an activity as much as or as long as possible. For example, you’ve probably heard of charity walkathons, and swimathons have grown in popularity.

A bikeathon fundraiser is very similar to a walkathon or swimathon, except that you ask participants to bike a set course to raise funds for your cause. The peer-to-peer fundraising component of a cycle event works the same way: participants share individual fundraising pages with their friends and family, who pledge to donate based on how far their loved one cycles.

To help your organization get started with planning a successful bikeathon fundraiser, this complete guide will cover:

Power your bikeathon fundraiser with Grassroots Unwired

With the right resources to power your bikeathon, you’ll be able to make the most of this fundraising event. Let’s get started by looking at the ways a bikeathon fundraiser can benefit your organization.

A bikeathon fundraiser has several unique benefits for your organization.

Benefits of Bikeathon Fundraisers

Some of the benefits of bikeathons are similar to those of other peer-to-peer fundraising events. They allow your organization to expand its reach and spread awareness of your cause when supporters reach out to their friends and family for donations. These new donors will likely be more inclined to give when asked by someone they know as this increases their trust in your organization. 

Bikeathon fundraisers also have unique benefits, such as:

  • Widespread appeal. Many people enjoy cycling, and all they need to participate is their own bike or access to one for the day.
  • Flexibility in participation. Bikeathons are easy to adjust so that everyone from avid cyclists to families with children can participate.
  • Creativity. Many nonprofits that host event fundraisers involving physical activity choose to have participants walk or run instead of cycle, so your bikeathon will naturally stand out from other organizations.

Additionally, cycle events offer a variety of fundraising opportunities. Participants will be able to bike farther than they can walk or run, so you can bring in even more revenue from peer-to-peer donations depending on how you structure your pledges. You can also set up a donation box at the event, sell merchandise branded to your organization, and leverage corporate giving programs to maximize the funds you raise.

Follow these nine steps for a successful bikeathon fundraiser.

9 Steps to a Successful Bikeathon Fundraiser

Between managing various fundraising opportunities and ensuring the best possible experience for participants, bikeathon fundraisers have many moving parts. We’ve broken the planning process down into nine smaller steps to help your organization stay on track.

First, set a goal for your bikeathon fundraiser.

1. Set an Event Goal

Before you start planning any fundraising event, establish a clear goal. That way, your team can organize the event with a specific purpose in mind, and you’ll be able to tell whether you were successful after the event is over.

Your definition of success will vary based on your organization’s overall fundraising strategy. For example, your nonprofit or advocacy group might try to:

  • Bring in more revenue
  • Attract more new supporters
  • Retain more existing supporters
  • Spread awareness of your cause

Consider each of these success indicators and prioritize them as you set a fundraising goal for your bikeathon. For example, if an organization’s top priority is to attract new supporters and their secondary objective is to maximize the revenue they bring in, their goal could be to “register 50 new event participants and raise at least $10,000 for our cause.”

Including specific metrics in the goal will allow you to determine exactly how successful your fundraiser was when you analyze post-event data. Also, keep your organization’s mission and impact in mind. Remembering not only what program or initiative you’re raising funds for, but also why that program or initiative is important, will help guide your efforts as you organize your cycle event.

Second, assemble your bikeathon fundraiser team.

2. Assemble Your Team

Event fundraisers require a team to put together. Communicate clearly with your organization’s staff members to ensure everyone knows who is responsible for which aspects of planning, marketing, and running the event. This is especially important if it’s your first time hosting a bikeathon. 

Recruit volunteers to help with various essential tasks at your bikeathon, such as check-ins, time tracking, and clean-up. In case of emergency, specifically recruit some volunteers who have first aid training.

Third, chart a course for your bikeathon fundraiser.

3. Chart a Course

Your event team’s largest logistical responsibility is to decide on a course for the bikeathon. Most organizations choose one of two options: either have participants ride as many laps as they can around a loop within the designated time frame or hold a road race with a start line and finish line.

Which route you take depends on available space. If you’re hosting the event at a local park, you’ll likely want to go with the first option and choose a park with a loop trail. The second option will require your organization to secure a longer stretch of space on a greenway, in a remote area, or even on city streets. You may want to put together a few road races of different distances so participants can choose one based on their cycling abilities.

Once you’ve chosen a location, map out the specific courses riders will take. Then, post the map on your organization’s website along with the date, time, and inclement weather plan for the event.

Fourth, secure sponsorships for your bikeathon fundraiser.

4. Secure Sponsorships

Recruiting corporate sponsors for your bikeathon can take some financial stress off your organization. Some sponsors will donate directly to the event, while others will make in-kind contributions like water bottles for participants or tables for your volunteers to sit at during check-in. In return, you’ll promote your sponsors by adding their logos to marketing materials and event signage.

Whether you approach a local business for a sponsorship or establish a partnership through a large company’s corporate social responsibility program, look for sponsors whose values align with your organization’s mission. This way, you can build a foundation for a partnership that will benefit your organization far into the future.

Fifth, market your bikeathon fundraiser.

5. Market the Event

Marketing is essential for any fundraising event. Start promoting your bikeathon as soon as you know the date and location so supporters can mark their calendars and begin training. It’s perfectly fine if you haven’t finalized every detail at this point—you can share more information as the event gets closer.

To attract as many potential participants as possible, market your bikeathon using multiple channels, including:

In each of your marketing materials, include a link or QR code to your event registration form to allow supporters to sign up as quickly and easily as possible. Cycle events are physically demanding, so make sure to communicate clearly what is required of supporters before they sign up.

Sixth, launch the peer-to-peer aspect of your bikeathon fundraiser.

6. Launch the Peer-to-Peer Campaign

As participants register for your bikeathon, send them links to their individual fundraising pages. Your peer-to-peer fundraising software should allow you to:

  • View and track campaign data in real time
  • Brand fundraising pages with your organization’s logo, color scheme, and mission statement
  • Communicate with participants through multiple channels

Participants should also be able to share their pages using email, social media, or another communication platform they prefer. Planning ahead is particularly important for the peer-to-peer component of your bikeathon to ensure supporters have plenty of time to collect pledges before event day.

Seventh, host your bikeathon fundraiser.

7. Host the Bikeathon

The day of your bikeathon fundraiser is when you’ll see all of your hard work pay off. To make the event run smoothly, make sure to:

  • Arrive at the location early to set up.
  • Meet with volunteers to answer any last-minute questions.
  • Use your event management software to check guests in efficiently.
  • Check that every participant has signed an event waiver and provided emergency contact information in case problems arise.

In addition to confirming logistics, have strategies ready to engage participants on event day. At the beginning of the event, ask a staff member to welcome everyone, build excitement, and speak about your cause. Encourage participants to invite friends and family members to cheer them on as they ride, and remind them to tag your organization in social media posts from the bikeathon to continue spreading awareness.

Eighth, evaluate the success of your bikeathon fundraiser.

8. Evaluate Your Fundraising Success

After your bikeathon, analyze the data you collected during the event. Compare your actual event metrics to the ones you outlined in your goal to determine what went well and where you could improve. Bikeathons make great annual fundraisers, and a data-driven strategy will help you make each year’s event more successful than the last.

Let’s return to the organization that set a goal to register 50 new participants and raise at least $10,000. If they registered 55 new participants, they’ll know they succeeded in that area. But if the event only raised $9,500, they’ll want to examine their data to see where they could make up the remaining funds. For example, if they didn’t create branded merchandise for their cycle event, they might consider selling t-shirts the following year.

Lastly, thank everyone who made your bikeathon fundraiser possible.

9. Thank Everyone Who Made the Event Possible

Another purpose of hosting an event fundraiser is to cultivate lasting relationships with the individuals who contributed. After your bikeathon, make sure to thank four key groups:

  • Event participants. Use your event software to send a thank-you email to your participants. Share the final results of the fundraiser and emphasize that they made your organization’s success possible. To help retain these supporters, provide additional opportunities for them to engage with your organization, such as signing up for your newsletter or registering for your next event.
  • Peer-to-peer donors. As you write the thank-you email to this group, remember that your bikeathon will be the first time many of them engage with your organization. Include some resources to help them learn more about your cause and overall impact and encourage future involvement.
  • Volunteers. Recognize the people who made your cycle event possible behind the scenes. Send a separate email to them thanking them for their hard work, and offer them extra branded merchandise from your event as a token of appreciation.
  • Sponsors. Going above and beyond when thanking your event sponsors can lead to longer-lasting, more beneficial partnerships between your organization and those companies. Instead of just emailing them, make individual phone calls and recognize each sponsor publicly through a social media shoutout.

To show that you value each individual’s support, personalize each thank-you message by addressing the supporter by name and adding unique details about their engagement where possible. Participants, donors, volunteers, and sponsors who feel appreciated are more likely to stay involved with your organization long-term.

Use these three tips to make the most of your bikeathon fundraiser.

3 Additional Cycling Fundraiser Tips

As you follow the steps outlined above, there are a few extra strategies your organization can use to take your bikeathon fundraiser to the next level. Keep these three tips in mind as you plan a cycle event.

1. Leverage Corporate Giving Programs

Besides securing sponsorships, there are other corporate giving programs that can help your nonprofit maximize revenue from your bikeathon fundraiser.

For example, some companies have fundraising match programs for run/walk/ride events. When an employee of one of these companies donates during your bikeathon, their employer will match that donation, usually at a 1:1 ratio. An automated matching gift tool can help you identify eligible participants and double their donations with no extra work on the supporter’s end.

Corporations may also provide volunteer grants through dollars for doers programs, meaning they’ll contribute to your organization when their employees volunteer. Ensure your bikeathon event volunteers can easily check their eligibility and submit their hours to their employers to take advantage of this opportunity for your organization.

2. Introduce Friendly Competition

Like with other athletic events, your bikeathon will be more engaging for participants if it’s competitive. Try these ideas to foster competition:

  • Provide certificates or ribbons for the participants who cross the finish line first in their age group or bike the farthest distances.
  • Display a leaderboard of peer-to-peer fundraisers during the event and give prizes to top-ranking supporters.
  • Give participants the choice to sign up individually or in teams that compete against each other for the highest fundraising totals.

If you host a bikeathon annually, include the names of the top finishers and fundraisers from your most recent event in next year’s promotional materials. Doing so motivates participants to improve their rankings from year to year, helping your organization raise more funds and retain supporters.

3. Invest in the Right Software

The right event management software plays a major role in your organization’s fundraising success. When planning a bikeathon fundraiser, look for these key software features:

Look for these features in your bikeathon fundraiser event software.

  • Streamlined participant check-ins, including the ability to assign bib numbers on event day.
  • Offline capabilities so your volunteers can continue working even if your location has spotty internet connectivity.
  • Real-time data reporting which allows you to track fundraising numbers as they come in.
  • Brand customization tools that help you design a peer-to-peer campaign unique to your organization.
  • Quick access to participants’ emergency contact information to keep them safe, especially during long rides.

Grassroots Unwired’s 4EventDay App has all of these features to power cycle events of all sizes. Your volunteers can download the app on their smartphones or tablets and start checking in participants in seconds, eliminating the need for paper forms and complicated spreadsheets. Plus, 4EventDay integrates with several nonprofit CRM solutions to enter and store data automatically after your bikeathon.

Bikeathon Fundraisers: The Bottom Line

Bikeathon fundraisers appeal to a range of supporters, work for any size organization, and make great annual events. With strategic planning and the right event management solution, your nonprofit or advocacy group can easily adapt the steps and tips in this guide to fit your specific needs.

To learn more about peer-to-peer fundraising events, check out these resources:

Take your bikeathon fundraiser to the next level with Grassroots Unwired.

2 Comments so far

Carolyn AlbrightPosted on8:00 pm - Jan 4, 2024

Thank you! This article was helpful. Our organization is investigating the possibility of holding a bikeathon this fall.

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