Aiming high is never a mistake

You know that moment when, in a fit of enthusiasm you’ve agreed to do something and then the full enormity of what you’ve committed yourself to dawns. I had this when earlier this year, Peter Muffet challenged me to do a Lands End to John O’ Groats bike ride. He later told me he was hoping that’d I’d say no. Well I didn’t but I soon wished I had.

The physical challenge, as an enthusiastic but strictly weekend cyclist, was a long way out of my comfort zone. But I then compounded it because as a career fundraiser I had no option but to use the ride to make money for my charity and this couldn’t be an insignificant amount. “Why not fund a sight saving operation for each mile cycled?” said Peter (who you would have thought I’d have the sense to say no to by now). So there was the target, 969 operations or just over £29,000. My previous highest personal fundraising total was just under £3,000.

Well, as anybody who followed my blogs and updates knows, we achieved both targets. We both completed the challenge and got to the north of Scotland in one piece (more or less). And as of writing the total sum raised is £36,781, enough for 1,228 sight restoring operations in Africa and Asia. 126% of target. No less than 640 people supported the event with donations ranging from £5 to nearly £2,000*.

The fundraising actually was harder than the cycling which was just pain. Raising this much money was a slog and it wasn’t at all clear we would make it (as this blog entry confirms). This gave me more than a few sleepless nights. After all, this is my job, which I’m supposed to be quite good at. But the truth is that there aren’t shortcuts and easy answers in fundraising. If you want to raise a lot, you need to ask. A lot. And ask again.

(Of course you’d expect a grizzled old fundraiser to have a few tricks and some people will have spotted them. Including the event in our DFID Aid Matched Million Miracles appeal for instance. Thanks guys!)

But the key learning from this is to underline the importance of really challenging yourself. I’ve banged on before about how too many fundraisers and charities aim too low. But it’s a point worth making again. I gave myself a much bigger target than I was comfortable with and it really motivated me. And even if I hadn’t made the target (did I mention that we smashed it…?), I’m sure I would still have raised more than I would have done if I had given myself a sensible figure, based on my past performance.

So following this logic, we’ve set the target of our Million Miracles campaign at an appropriately demanding level. One million sight restoring operations which will cost £30 million

Although I won’t have to raise it all myself through cycling. Hopefully…

*breakdown for anyone who is interested
-Raised online £23,374

-Gift Aid on online donations £4,503
-Raised offline £1,694
-DFID Aidmatch** £7,291

    **all donations from UK individuals received Oct-Dec were matched

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