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Young Heroes Foundation – Swazi Cycle

Tell us about your cause.

Young Heroes Foundation supports families of AIDS orphans in Swaziland, the nation with the world’s highest rate of HIV, by providing monthly stipends for food, clothing and other necessities of life. We are currently supporting just under 1,100 children. We also have an HIV testing and medical care program for the children done in partnership with Population Services International, Baylor College of Medicine and Hole in the Wall Camps, and an education fund that provides school fees for our kids who are in secondary school.

What kind of special event fundraising do you do to support your mission?

This year, we hosted our first bike-a-thon event with DoJiggy. We enlisted eight intrepid American riders to raise funds and bicycle 200 miles from Matsamo to Lavumisa, Swaziland. Before this event, Swazi Cycle, our special events were limited to house parties that people did on our behalf and an art auction and lottery entitled “Art for the Orphans”.

Walk us through the planning process.

Once we conceived of the idea of a border-to-border ride across Swaziland, the planning consisted of:

  • Enlisting 8 riders who would pledge to try to raise $10,000 each. For this first time, we decided to simplify logistics by limiting the number of riders and concentrating on those who could raise a substantial amount.
  • Researching and deciding on an online pledge/fundraising site in order to register donations.
  • Deciding on a route and possible accommodations based on our personal knowledge of Swaziland.
  • Hiring a local adventure travel company to execute the logistics, such as procuring bikes, transportation, food and water.
  • Building a PR campaign consisting of releases to national and local media, as well as social networks like Facebook and Twitter. We sent materials that riders could share with their friends, colleagues and families. This also included working with our Swazi staff for publicity in Swaziland.
  • Setting up an accounting system to track and record Swazi Cycle donations separately from our regularly received donations.

Did you reach out to local sponsors?

There is very little money in Swaziland for such sponsorship, and very little experience with corporate sponsorship of events. However, SAP South Africa, the branch of the giant software company, donated $5000.

How did DoJiggy help with the planning and success of your event?

DoJiggy was invaluable in this. They proved to offer everything we needed from a pledge site in a clear, straightforward way both for us to administrate and for users to navigate. And they augmented their site with responsive, knowledgeable customer service.

Tell us about your success…How many participants? how much did you raise? Did you accomplish your goals?

When we began, I considered our goal of $100,000 to be a dream. We’d never raised nearly that much from any undertaking or any grant source before. However, our eight riders—in conjunction with one young man who ran the Boston Marathon on our behalf at the same time—raised just over $102,000.

Do you have any advice for other organizations?

The success of any event lies in the details. Be prepared to spend much time planning, trying to foresee and prepare for any problem or eventuality.

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Young Heroes Foundation — Swazi Cycle
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