How Do I Plan A Charity Ride?
One of the biggest questions I get is: “How do I plan a charity ride for an organization or a cause?” Bikers are some of the most giving people on the planet, and their generosity can be found weekend after weekend throughout South Western PA during the riding season.
I have some people coming in to talk to me in January about rides they would like to plan for the upcoming year. These are some of the things that I plan to share with them as we plan out their events.
Time is the most important thing to consider.
The reason you have to consider time is because there is a lot of planning, marketing, and logistical mapping that needs to be taken care of. If you are planning one, two, or three months out, it’s unlikely your event will be a success. The best rides are planned a full year in advance. Yes, that’s right, a FULL year is key.
When are you planning on having the event?
Do you want to have the ride at the beginning or the end of summer? I recommend the beginning of the season because people are itching to get out and do an organized ride after being cooped up all winter long. This is also a good opportunity to get them to your ride before they have spent money on other rides. As I mentioned earlier, bikers are giving, but there is only so much budget for charity and you want yours to be the charity they donate to.
Where are you planning on having your ride?
In my opinion the biggest factor in determining the route of your ride is the starting and ending locations. I would recommend that you either have the start/end at the same location, or start and end on the same side of town.
Let’s face it, Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh and people from the north don’t like to travel to the south. Those in the south have a hard time crossing the river to the north. It’s a Pittsburgh thing. The other downside (besides stubbornness), are the amount of red lights, traffic, and construction you will have to encounter going through the city to get to the other side of town.
I’ve always found it best to start at one location and find a destination about an hour to an hour and a half away in the direction opposite the city. Here at Hot Metal Harley-Davidson® we recommend rides that start here go south east. There are nice roads with minimal intersections and stop lights the further away from the dealership you go which will make for a nice relaxing ride.
How long should the ride take?
The ride should last no more than 2 to two and half hours if you are riding straight through. If you are planning a stop along the way, 3 hours would be sufficient. Anything longer then that and the newer riders will become fatigued.
For the veteran riders they are only getting warmed up, but remember you are going to have a mix of new and seasoned riders and it’s better to err on the side of caution.
Should I serve food after the ride?
I think that in this day and age it is expected that participants will be fed at the end of the ride. Some make the mistake of going fancy and getting it catered at cost. Remember, the goal is to raise money so you want to minimize all costs where you can.
Hot dogs and hamburgers are a great inexpensive meal with baked beans and a salad. These can be made in quantity while the riders are out on their journey. The benefit to having hot dogs and hamburgers is you’ll know how much you’ll need to cook based on the participation you have. You can keep whatever you don’t need frozen or run out to Sam’s Club if you need more… which should be the goal of every ride.
What do I charge to participate in the ride?
It seems like the going rate for a bare-bones ride with food is $15 for rider and $10 for passenger. If you offer a t-shirt with your ride then you can go higher and do $25 per rider and $20 per passenger. I wouldn’t go higher than $25 though. I don’t think we are there yet.
Make sure you solicit for Chinese auction and 50/50. If you have enough participants, you may make just as much on your 50/50 as you do on your ride after expenses are paid for.
These are just some helpful hints to get you thinking about your charity event. I’ve been organizing them for over 12 years here at Hot Metal Harley-Davidson® and have been participating in them since the mid-90’s. I’ve been around the block and can help point you in the right direction. Simply e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’ll answer any question you may have or we can schedule a meeting to sit down and talk.