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  1. #1

    Default Fundraising with a thru-hike?

    Has anyone here used their thru hike to raise funds for a cause? If so, how did you go about it? I've seen various hiking blogs/vlogs that talk about hiking to raise money or awareness for a cause, and I'm interested in doing something similar.

    I've saved up what I need for my thru hike attempt this year, but it feels like a selfish way to spend all that money. (To be clear, I adamantly support everyone's right to spend their money however they choose, and I think a thru-hike is a great investment in oneself, but for me personally I want to extend that benefit to others somehow.) So I was thinking about asking people in my community to pledge "a penny a mile" to donate to charity. This way, by setting aside about 15 cents a day, each person would end up donating just under $22. If I could find 200 people willing to do this, I would raise almost $4400, or about the amount I expect to spend on myself. (I've budgeted a little over $5k but hope to finish under so I have a bit of flexibility in the months after the hike.)

    I guess my question is, what is the best way to go about this? GoFundMe? Ask people to write checks directly to the organizations I'm supporting? Cash?

    My favorite idea is to ask them to literally use pennies and other coins. Our pocket change is so useless here in the U.S. (I've spent most of the last few years in Morocco and Europe, where coins actually have purchasing power, and now that I'm home I'm so annoyed by all this change I get with every transaction when it's next to impossible to buy something with pennies and nickels.) that I think it would be easy and even convenient for people to add some change to a jar every day. So if people want to use their pocket change, I would be willing to go around and collect it after my hike and take it to Coinstar or whatever and then donate it to a few charities.

    Does this sound like a reasonable idea? Has anyone else here done something similar before? Thanks for your input.
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hike Hopeful
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  2. #2
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    It's a nice thought, but really, you don't want to be in the middle of this and definitely not personally going around collecting loose change!

    If you like you could put a link to your favorite charity on your blog and explain why you think they should give money to them, then they go from there.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  3. #3
    Registered User evyck da fleet's Avatar
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    The easiest thing to do would be to provide a direct link to whatever charity you want to help on your vlog and mention that 100% of the donations go to the charity. Transparency is key so that anyone who wants to donate knows it going to a charity and not someone’s vacation.

  4. #4

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    The easiest thing would be to just give the charity your money. Seems odd that you want others to support your charity while you spend your money on yourself. Don't misunderstand. I see no issues with you spending your funds however you want, such as hiking. The charity thing seems a little odd since you aren't really giving anything up yourself. Not sure I see the real motivation. JMHO

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    if you really want to hike and raise money while doing it-----go door to door......

    pretty sure after going door to door for 2000 miles, you'd raise more money than a thruhike.......

  6. #6
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    Years ago, I met a SOBO along the trail in NY who was raising money for a cause. His trailname was Tyvek, because he'd literally made much of his gear from tyvek, but the really unusual thing about him was he was hiking the trail barefoot (yes, you read that right) as a tribute to his buddies who didn't make it back from Vietnam. The idea was that their boots were hung up when they died, so he'd hung up his too. He was raising money for PTSD treatment and support. His solution (this being way before such sites as GoFundMe) was to carry business cards with his name and his website on them. The site told his story and cause in detail and gave links to the organization he was raising money for. That seemed like a pretty good (and relatively lightweight) solution that didn't depend on other people having to write down, etc. the info to donate and didn't get him in the position of trying to handle and forward donations.
    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
    Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

  7. #7
    Registered User soilman's Avatar
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    Lots of people have done this. The best example, or most successful, that I can think of is Jeff Alt who wrote a book and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for his charity. I have hiked with or met on the trail several people who were hiking for a charity. Each had a different approach. One hiked with a SPOT beacon so his pledges could track his progress and offer a level of transparency. He had a stamp that he would use in trail registers to raise awareness of his charity. Forty years ago I ran into a hiker who claimed he was hiking for a charity. He had gotten most of his gear donated and he never finished his hike. I met a couple in Hiawassee who were videoing their hike for a charity. I don't know how they were raising money. I never ran into them again. I think they spent too much time uploading their videos in town. I commend you for thinking of others and hope you can figure out a way to succeed in your effort. I like the fact that you are not looking for others to fund your hike under the guise of raising money for charity.
    More walking, less talking.

  8. #8
    Garlic
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    My hiking partner back in '08 did this. He asked anyone interested to donate something like a penny per mile to a cause of their choice, directly to the cause. He suggested two that were close to him. Then he matched it! He ended up with people reporting over $7,000 and he personally doubled that. One of his causes recognized him at their annual meeting.

    That definitely helped the miles go by as we hiked.

    We finished hundreds of dollars under my personal budget and I ended up donating that to the cause, too.

    Many were impressed by the transparency and the personal dedication to the cause. He handled cash once, when a day hiker we met handed him a twenty. It was carefully recorded and handled.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  9. #9

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    If you really want to raise money for a cause just stay home and donate $5,000 somewhere. A vacation and charity are two vastly different things. To me this is like those people who go on vacation "mission trips" where they spend ridiculous amounts of money in order to take a "vacation" to the third world to "help" people when they should really just stay home instead of treating impovershed people like some kind of tourist destination.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bronk View Post
    If you really want to raise money for a cause just stay home and donate $5,000 somewhere. A vacation and charity are two vastly different things. To me this is like those people who go on vacation "mission trips" where they spend ridiculous amounts of money in order to take a "vacation" to the third world to "help" people when they should really just stay home instead of treating impovershed people like some kind of tourist destination.



    see post #5....

  11. #11
    Registered User JJ505's Avatar
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    It's an exceptionally inefficient (and questionable) way to raise money for a charity. Basically $5000 goes to a thru hike and whatever left over goes to charity?

  12. #12

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    I have received business cards with the hikers name, and the charity with a web link. Then when people get home they can donate if they wish without putting them on the spot in person to donate or not. I personally do not see why people "hike for a charity" its walking.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by evyck da fleet View Post
    The easiest thing to do would be to provide a direct link to whatever charity you want to help on your vlog and mention that 100% of the donations go to the charity. Transparency is key so that anyone who wants to donate knows it going to a charity and not someone’s vacation.
    Yep. Was chatting with a women who was hiking for a cause. The more questions I asked, the more it seemed that the charity involved was her website that called attention to the plight of that distant cause, without actually funneling any funds outside of her website. Just general advocacy. I think she caught on that I was a skeptic, and she never did tell me the website address.

  14. #14

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    Thanks for all the helpful suggestions and anecdotes! @Garlic08, what you and your partner did sounds really great. As a 24 year old teacher, I don't currently have the funds to promise to match all donations, but I do plan to donate whatever is left from my hiking budget if I finish under. Or possibly use it (my extra money, not donations) for relocation costs to actually go and work for one of the organizations I'm supporting. Which I am well-qualified to do, I should add, just so it's clear I'm not a voluntourist. I too object to pointless mission/volunteer trips. As this excellent comedian said, if you work at a mall, Uganda doesn't need you. While I do agree there are some parallels between thru-hiking "for a cause" and those kinds of trips (the high overhead cost, mainly), voluntourism is harmful in ways that a thru-hike simply is not.

    To perhaps add some clarity to the original post, I am not raising money to fund my hike. Sorry JJ05 if that was not clear. The $5K for my hike is money that I've saved up for this purpose. 100% of money I raise from others would be for charity. Of course, the obvious alternative would be to stay home and donate my $5000 directly, but you could argue that about most charity efforts. From Relay for Life (also just walking) to the Ice Bucket Challenge, most charity initiatives seem to operate on the premise of "Hey I'm doing this weird thing! Now that I have your attention, may I direct it to this cause?" A thru-hike is a weird thing, which I'm doing for a myriad of reasons that benefit me, but if I can also use it to direct people's attention to some great causes, I figure that's a win-win.

    But in any case, I'll keep the business card with a link idea in mind! If I also go through with the pocket change pledge thing, that will be strictly pre-hike in my local area. Going around my town after the hike to pick up coins is tedious legwork, but which I'd be happy to do, because I have sort of a personal crusade against the penny. xD
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hike Hopeful
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  15. #15

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    Here is what I would suggest--for what its worth--Your heart is in the right place and I applaud you and your thoughtfulness in helping others. This is especially refreshing in that it seems like many hikers are all about me-me-me.
    With that said I would take the $5,000 that you have saved and get rolling on your thru hike. With your attitude you will no doubt help others along the way and when you finish your hike will have plenty of time to help non-profits and those that need your help.
    Best of luck on your hike!

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ505 View Post
    It's an exceptionally inefficient (and questionable) way to raise money for a charity. Basically $5000 goes to a thru hike and whatever left over goes to charity?
    over 6600 accounts on GoFundMe asking for a handout to hike.
    over 1800 for the AT.

    I guess it's very tempting to piggy back a charity to go on vacation.
    Last edited by Vanhalo; 01-29-2018 at 22:02.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by tawa View Post
    Here is what I would suggest--for what its worth--Your heart is in the right place and I applaud you and your thoughtfulness in helping others. This is especially refreshing in that it seems like many hikers are all about me-me-me.
    With that said I would take the $5,000 that you have saved and get rolling on your thru hike. With your attitude you will no doubt help others along the way and when you finish your hike will have plenty of time to help non-profits and those that need your help.
    Best of luck on your hike!
    Great advice.

  18. #18

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    Instead of giving money, maybe do a good deed/RAK each day of your hike? For me, it would be more meaningful.

  19. #19
    Registered User soilman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bronk View Post
    If you really want to raise money for a cause just stay home and donate $5,000 somewhere. A vacation and charity are two vastly different things. To me this is like those people who go on vacation "mission trips" where they spend ridiculous amounts of money in order to take a "vacation" to the third world to "help" people when they should really just stay home instead of treating impovershed people like some kind of tourist destination.
    I disagree with this sentiment. The OP has saved for and wants to do thru hike. He also would like to possibly help out others. What is wrong with that? To me it is a win-win situation. Today we have all kinds of charity 5K's, half marathons, marathons, bike rides for cancer, etc. To me no different than a thru hike for charity. I ran into a fellow in the Smoky's this fall who was hiking 32 miles in one day for breast cancer while others were paddleboarding or swimming across Fontana Lake for the same charity. So there are a lot of people out doing things they love trying to help out others.
    More walking, less talking.

  20. #20
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    Your heart is in the right place and I commend you for that. But just going off other people I've seen hiking for a cause or raising "awareness", it often comes across as some veiled attempt at creating more attention for themselves or turning their vacation into some noble undertaking. Besides that, people constantly get hammered for handouts everywhere they go, not to mention it's pretty disheartening to realize just how inefficient (and that's being kind) many charities are when it comes to putting those donations into action.

    I've always said that the best way to help others is putting your checkbook away, rolling up your sleeves, and donating your TIME and ENERGY to a cause.

    Just enjoy your hike bro. Remember why you decided to do it in the first place.
    "In every walk with Nature, one receives far more than he seeks"....John Muir

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