Fundraising Tips

Fundraising can be daunting to new runners/walkers, but as returning participants from these types of events will tell you, it's much easier than you'd expect. We’ve heard a lot of stories from first-time participants who were initially afraid of fundraising but then go on to surpass their goal and raise many thousands of dollars.

The fundraising generated by our runners/walkers provides the resources for our children to thrive. We can provide the basics, but it’s the extra funds generated by events like this that provide our kids with the resources needed to grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults. YOU are the reason why! Let us help you succeed at fundraising!

How to Go About Fundraising

- First thing's first – set a goal. A goal gives you and your supporters something to work towards. The fundraising recommendations we have set for the Headwaters of the Frio Marathon are based on raising $100 per mile. Therefore, if you're doing the half marathon the recommended goal is $1,310, and if you’re doing the full marathon it’s $2,620. We know it sounds like a lot, but it’s really very achievable! These amounts are substantially higher than the $500 minimum commitment needed to participate in the event, but provide everyone with a uniform set of challenging, yet achievable goals. Visualize it as the need to raise $100 mile and then break your request down into bite-sized chunks. For example, ask prospective supporters if they will sponsor you for a mile of the total, or a half mile, or even a quarter mile; almost anybody can do that!  30 – 60 gifts is all it takes to reach your goal, and you might be surprised to find that some of your donors will commit to even higher amounts. Chances are there are a lot of people you can reach out to for support: parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, employers, classmates and business associates are all good prospects to support your efforts. People will more readily give to a friend or family member raising money for a cause than any other form of charitable solicitation. Some of you may be confident to set a stretch goal from the very beginning, or perhaps later when you surpass your initial goal. It's always fun to raise your goal and watch your friends continue to help you achieve more!

- Personalize your Participant Page. This is your dedicated fundraising page on our website and where you can direct friends and family to donate. Make this page personal – tell your story and why this cause is important to you. You can also add photos and videos to make it more personal and interesting.

Now you can focus your energy on connecting with friends, family and associates.

- Email. From your Participant Page, in the fundraising section, you can ask for donations through email using a built-in email you can further personalize. For those with gmail accounts, if you link your profile to Google+, then you’ll have access to your gmail contacts. Personalize your emails by including why this cause is important to you and how they can support your goals. You'll likely have to send out multiple emails reminding folks – this is key! Follow-up and reminders are essential! Just make it sincere and fun. In the fundraising section of your Participant Page, you will see who hasn’t donated yet so you can follow up.

- USPS Mail. How many personal letters do you get from friends and family anymore? A hand addressed personal letter with a sincere personal appeal is guaranteed to get opened and given serious consideration. You can direct friends and family to contribute towards your goal on your personal page on the Headwaters Marathon website, send in a check to Hill Country Youth Ranch or give the check to you to forward to us. No matter how they give, it will all count towards your goal.

- Social Media. This is one of the easiest and fastest ways to see results. Connect your profile to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. This will allow you to ask for donations directly through social media channels.

- Social Media Sharing. Of course, sharing on social media helps drive awareness and people to your page. You can share your page on social media using the share links from your page. Anytime you upload a photo or video to your page you can share it. You can also upload photos and videos directly from Twitter and Instagram using our event hashtag and they will be added to your page. In your social media posts, tell friends what you're doing, and tell them how much you would appreciate their support.

- Thank Donors. In the fundraising section of your Participant Page, you can see who has donated and use the built-in email and social media links to thank them. Write about how you know this person and how much you appreciate their friendship. You will be surprised at the momentum this process builds! Everyone seems to want to participate and see what you will write about them when THEY donate!

- Throw a house party! We've seen people host BBQ’s, pancake breakfasts, game nights, Superbowl parties -- you name it, just do it! Make it exciting and different. Invite your friends, serve up anything fun, and ask them to donate to your run or hike!

- Schedule Training Runs/Hikes.  Invite your friends to join you for a training run/hike and ask for a modest donation. (i.e. $10, $15, $20 towards your goal)

- Take it to work. Hang a sign in your office break room with photos of you running/hiking and the story of why you're doing the Headwaters Marathon. Host morning coffee or donuts to gather people and explain what the Headwaters Marathon is and how they can get involved.

- Take it to your place of worship. Faith groups are always looking for ways to help the community, and you could even start a team of runners/hikers or volunteers to support the event. Host a donation drive or schedule a time for someone from HCYR to speak to your church group. We will be happy to visit and do a brief presentation. Many congregations have a newsletter where you can post a request for donations or tell your own story of why you're doing the Headwaters Marathon.

- Make it your story! Inspire your team, donors and other participants. Look at the sample message below for ideas on composing an email or letter. Find inspiration to share your story. Make it personal. Donors will connect to what matters to you! 

See Sample Letter. 

Other Tips

Follow Hill Country Youth Ranch on social media and use the stories we post in your asks. When we post a story and video about one of our programs, share it with a link to your Participant Page. If we post a story about the Marathon, share it to give friends an idea about what you're participating in. Click these links to Facebook, and Instagram.

Getting started can feel overwhelming. Break the process down into steps.

  • Make a list of everyone you know who might be willing/able to contribute to your campaign. Make sure you have their address and/or email address.
  • Use our sample letter as a starting point to craft your own personal letter to your friends and family. Make sure you tell them why the cause is important to you and why you’re participating.
  • Find a picture of yourself to add to the letter or ask a friend to take one.
  • Break down your goal into reasonable bite sized chunks. “Would you be willing to sponsor me for a mile ($100), half mile ($50), or quarter mile ($25). Even if you can only give $10 or $15, I’d sure appreciate it. Every gift adds up to help me reach my goal!”
  • In your letter/email let your prospective donors know they can give directly through your personal page on the website (provide the link to your fundraising page), OR send a check to Hill Country Youth Ranch (P.0. Box 67 Ingram, TX 78025 Attn. Tim Campbell) and indicate it’s for your support, OR send checks made out to Hill Country Youth Ranch to you and periodically you can mail the checks to HCYR at the address above attn. Tim Campbell.
  • Now it’s time to send out your emails or letters. If sending a letter, take the time to hand address the letter, hand sign it, and even write a small personal note (just a sentence will do) on the bottom. These little details make a huge difference in the overall response rate.
  • Finally, ask, ask, ask! Leave no stone unturned. People enjoy giving to worthy causes!

Important Things to Remember

  • Send a second request, or a "Reminder" or "Update" to those who don't respond to your first request! Many people just need to be asked two or more times or need a friendly reminder.
  • Thank your donors! Even the smallest donation is huge and the best way to ensure keeping your donors happy and possibly giving more the next year is to let them know how much their donations are appreciated.
  • You are making a big commitment! Not everyone takes on a challenging course through the Texas Hill Country! You are doing something BIG to help children recover from abuse, abandonment and neglect.
  • Right before the Marathon, send out a "final request." Many people wait until the last minute to give, but need a final reminder.
  • After the Marathon send a "Report" to everyone you asked to donate, whether they supported you or not. Tell them how well you did at the event and what you achieved with your fundraising. Keep it positive and include another thank you to everyone who supported you. You may even get a few more donations, and you definitely will pave the way for next year's donations!

The $1,310 and $2,620 amounts are simply Goals, not a Requirement

Hill Country Youth Ranch’s mission is to bring healing and restoration to children who have been victims of abuse, abandonment and neglect. To do this we need to raise funds to fulfill our mission and invite you to participate in this event as a fundraiser. We’re not merely looking for runners and hikers; we’re looking for runners and hikers who have a passion for helping children – especially children who have suffered abuse at the hands of those closest to them. To this end we have set these amounts as recommended fundraising goals, rather than a requirement. We hope you will be inspired to not only reach these goals but will keep pressing on to raise as much money as possible before the event.

We commit to monitor your progress and reach out to see how you're doing and help you stay on track. We want everyone to succeed so we’re able to provide the funding needed to help the precious children in our care.

What happens if I don't raise the $1,310 or $2,620 recommended goals?

If you plan to run/hike on April 7th and have not met the recommended goals of $1,310 or $2,620 by event start on Saturday, April 7th, don’t worry, we still want you to join us! If you have made a real effort to follow our recommendations and done the work to ask your network of friends, family, and associates for support and have raised at least $500, we want you to join us and be part of the event and celebration! Please don’t feel discouraged or drop out if you’re not able to meet the recommended goals. We know you’ll gain inspiration from others at the event and be more successful the next time around!

We Have Resources for You!

Contact us if you need suggestions, inspiration, or ideas. We can help you customize a fundraising letter or email appeal. You have support; we're here for you. All participants and volunteers can always reach out to our race director, Bryce Gaudian, at