Cycling 120 miles from London to the east coast, overnight, with no sleep, sounds like most people’s idea of Hell. But when a friend told me about the Dunwich Dynamo – an annual overnight bike ride from London Fields to Dunwich that’s been running for nearly 25 years – I decided to find out 1) which was stronger: my will or my doughnut habit, and 2) whether I could raise some money for The Yard doing it.
I’m Gareth, The Yard’s Development Officer. Each year, I have to help raise about 35% of its annual turnover through things like trusts and foundations, local businesses, and individual giving. Like many other UK theatres, it’s also a registered charity – a fact that might surprise some people.
I figured this could be a fun / physically excruciating (delete as applicable) way of publicising that fact, and making my fundraising job a bit easier in the process. This money goes towards doing what we do best: supporting artists to make outstanding theatre, and creating free opportunities for local children to get involved in the arts.
It was all much simpler than I expected. I set myself a target of £500. It felt low enough to be achievable but high enough to be a challenge. I created a JustGiving page and registered The Yard so people could donate easily online. Then I started telling friends; family; colleagues; and anyone else who’d give me the time of day. It turned out to be a great conversation starter, with a lot of people committing their support (and expressing relief it wasn’t them having to do the ride).
Two things about the experience surprised me greatly:
One: I actually did the ride! Sure, it took nearly 11 hours… but I can still walk, picked up loads of great memories, and enjoyed a quick swim in the North Sea at the end as a reward. I’m planning on doing it all again next year.
Two: loads of people donated! In the end, I beat my target and raised £605, plus around £111 in Gift Aid. Even better, Arts Council England have agreed to match-fund ALL new donations between now and September 2019 as part of their Catalyst: Evolve initiative, meaning we actually raised over £1,300!
Raising money for The Yard is really simple. If you’re thinking about doing some fundraising of your own, whether it’s bungee-jumping out of a plane or sitting in a bath of baked beans for a week, remember that anything you raise will be DOUBLED. And if you want to know more about Catalyst, JustGiving, where our fundraising money goes or want any tips or advice, I’d be happy to help – just let me know!