Fundraising Focus
Couch Concerts, Cocktails, and Candles: A Fearless Leader's Guide to Fundraising During COVID-19

By Selena Browning|January 04, 2021

In 2020, I set my highest fundraising goal to date: $10,000 for cancer research. And I reached it, thanks to the generosity of family and friends!
Wondering how I accomplished this through COVID-19? If there’s one thing I’ve learned about fundraising, it’s to start early and stay consistent. This is especially true while we are living in a pandemic!
In each fundraising ask, I try to be transparent and real about the importance of cancer research. And during the past year, I reminded people that cancer hasn’t taken a break because of COVID, so neither am I. I tried to meet people where they were during this very weird year, coming up with many different ways to engage people in a way they felt comfortable with.
The biggest component of my fundraising efforts is hosting events.  I try to pay attention to what’s happening in our area and the kinds of things my friends and I are into and build events around what people are already doing.  I regularly partner with businesses that support my ride as a way to give back to them and promote their brand. For example, a local campus bar called Three’s has partnered with me on a Three’s/Pelotonia collab t-shirt, so when I was ready to throw a bar crawl to benefit my ride, I ended it at Three’s!
Read on for more information on the top ways I reached my fundraising goal in 2020:
Valentine’s Date Night at Candle Lab: This was a pre-COVID event where Candle Lab donated a percentage of proceeds to my ride. A freak snowstorm came through that night, but people still showed up and poured over 60 candles. This raised over $300 for my ride (and was this Candle Lab location’s biggest donation made to date!).
Blown Glass Night at Glass Axis: While this event had to be postponed due to COVID, the venue allowed people to either hold onto their class pass until the event could be rescheduled or come in individually and use it on their own. This fundraiser SOLD OUT and brought in $545.
Pop-Up Floral Shoppe: A few members of my Peloton and I partnered with The Butcher and Grocer in Grandview to set up a pop-up floral shoppe, featuring fresh florals and succulents. It also included Pelotonia branded items that we made, such as coffee mugs, hair bows, candles, decorative arrows and earrings.  We masked up and set up under a pop-up tent outside two different weekends, leveraging the walking traffic and line outside The Butcher and Grocer. We raised around $1,000 over 2 days!
Birthday Party Fundraiser: I threw myself a birthday party fundraiser where a local bar let me take over their patio. We brought in a food truck and all parties involved donated a portion of their sales to my ride. This Sunday fun-day miraculously brought in $880 all while being outside, socially distanced and safe.
Cocktails For A Cause: I embraced the virtual world we are living in and offered a chance to learn from a master mixologist how to put your own twist on tiki classics. Some folks opted for the VIP package that included custom logo’d glassware and coaster, while others just paid a small fee for the shopping list, recipe cards and interactive lesson that featured tiki trivia. This virtual event was delicious and brought in around $250.
Couch Concert: Audience members paid a $10 “cover charge” to attend an evening of music on Zoom right in their living rooms, featuring local band Brick. The band set up in their practice space and played a bunch of classic 80s and 90s hits while people donated live to people’s Pelotonia profiles.
Bonus Donations: Pelotonia and my specific Peloton, Team Buckeye, both offer different bonus days and incentives at random times throughout the year to encourage fundraising. Whenever there was a bonus donation or match day, I let people know that their donation had the chance to be increased. My bonus matches totaled $1,250 in 2020, just by asking during these certain times windows.
In years past, I’ve felt odd about hosting Pelotonia fundraisers in the “off-season” of November to February because our Pelotonia profiles weren’t active. However, I’ve realized that there are still many ways you can raise money through the entire calendar year that also allow you to take advantage of different seasons and opportunities. Happy fundraising, Pelotonia Legends!   

To learn more about Selena’s story, listen to her episode of the One Goal podcast

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