The Exeter Swim-a-thon : Interview with Coach Greig Cronauer
“91 families raised $38,000 in less than 2 months.”
Q: Tell us about your team & the need for a fundraising event:
Exeter Swim Team is a swim team with 130 members ranging in age from 7 to 18. The team hires two full-time coaches and three part-time coaches in addition to paying for pool time. (So) There is a need for fundraising each year to keep dues at a reasonable level. In the past our team had done raffles, car washes and “tagging” which is standing in front of stores in team apparel with a donation cup.
Q: Why did you choose to have a Swim-a-thon Pledge Event?
I had organized three different Swim-A-Thons with other teams and I like this pledge-per-length system because it is not just “asking for money” or “buying a chance” like a raffle. The swimmers are earning money to support their team by swimming for it. Swimming is hard work, and not that walking or golfing isn’t, but most sponsors are impressed that the youngster has a goal to complete “X” number of lengths within 2 hours. Swimming laps is tough for most people and this attracts more sponsors… or a higher amount per length.
Our team has 9 different age/ability groups and coaches gave each swimmer an appropriate goal of either 50, 100, 150 or 200 lengths to complete in the allotted 2 hours. We give each swimmer suggestions on how to approach friends and neighbors in person for pledges. The suggested line is “I am asking for you (or your business) to sponsor me for each length I swim to raise money for my team and the Olympic Swim Team. I will work very hard to support the sport I love.” This is how we had done things in the past, and we had been very successful with it, but it was all done by hand and door-to-door.
Q: You chose to use Online Fundraising Software this year. Why DoJiggy?
I did a lot of research prior to our fundraiser and DoJiggy was the only software company who didn’t charge an added fee for pledges or donations. We paid one flat fee and that was it. We worked with Dharma for our payment processor and they were also wonderful. They reduced the setup fee, and their credit card fees were the norm for what most retail businesses charge. (averaging 2%)
Q: How did DoJiggy Pledge software work for you?
The DoJiggy website allowed us to do this online and to more than triple our income from previous Swim-A-Thons while making it much easier for swimmers and their parents. The site is easy to set up and even easier for potential sponsors to view. We used one of their pre-formed fundraising templates and just added our text and photos.
Swimmers can easily set up their own page, with an individual message and photo, to solicit pledges. This gives a “personal and individual touch” without the need to go door-to-door. Your potential sponsors are now all your friends and family from across the country. With DoJiggy you can send your personal page through e-mail, Facebook or Twitter and sponsors can click a button to immediately submit a pledge, online, with their credit or debit card. This eliminates most of the door-to-door solicitation of pledges and the need to go back and collect the checks or cash when the event is over.
What most impressed us with DoJiggy was its clarity and simplicity. The main page on the fundraising website displayed a motivating thermometer showing our goal and the amount we had raised to date though donations or pledges. (Many sponsors just donated a flat amount instead of doing a per-length pledge.) Each swimmer’s page also had their own little thermometer with their individual goal so a sponsor could instantly see both thermometers rise once the pledge was made.
Q: What was your fundraising goal? How successful were you in meeting this?
Our fundraising goal was originally $25,000 but that was raised to $30,000 after we saw the total of the swimmers’ fundraising goals and how successfully the event was running. The coach-set goals for each swimmer were challenging, but doable. Any lengths achieved above and beyond were not charged to the sponsor, although some were so impressed that they donated a second, fixed amount when they saw what their sponsored swimmer had achieved. We ended up with over $38,000.
Amazingly, every dollar raised was pledged through the Dojiggy site and over $35,000 was collected via the online payment processor! Almost no door-to-door collection by parents or swimmers. The money went straight into the team’s bank account.
Q: How did you you motivate your team?
I think motivating “deep” was crucial to our success – finding ways to get every team member involved as opposed to letting the top 20% of the swimmers raise 80% of the money. We offered prizes to the “Top 10″individuals, and spent $1200 in prizes. These included IPods and digital cameras for the older swimmers and Lego sets, Barbie dollhouses and Laser Tag for the younger set. (They could also choose the equivalent amount in cash if they wanted.) This was key to motivating all the different ages that would be participating.
In addition, we split into three competing inter-squad teams, and mixed the ages and strongest swimmers amongst them. The top team got to “pie” the coaches, and this motivated every swimmer on the team…. some even more than the prizes! Even if you weren’t close to the top 10, you could get a chance to shove a pie in a coach’s face if you helped your team win. We constantly reinforced the team competition, and offered short-term rewards such as letting the team in the lead do something fun at the end of practice.
The Exeter Swim Team was extremely pleased with the results.
Triple the income with less than 25% of the effort is the way to go!