People Give to People – Fat Cyclist Raises $100K+

Have you heard about Fat Cyclist? Elden Nelson, “Fatty”, started his blog to lose weight and asked his friends to hold him accountable (20 hits a day.) As an avid cyclist he also posted stories, fake news and satire about the cycling world and bike industry, especially around the Tour de France (100 hits a day). When his wife Susan, was diagnosed with cancer, they decided writing about it was important (more readership).

Then he posts an open letter to Johann Bruyneel, Team Director of the American Tour de France team applying for a job as a professional cyclist. Johann responded on his blog with a challenge – Raise $50K in nine days for LiveStrong and World Bicycle Relief, we’ll give you Trek Madone to ride with the Team Radio Shack in Arizona. The two posts went viral. Thousands of hits, readers, tweeting etc. etc.

On Sunday, Fatty put out the challenge to his readership and they responded. By Sunday night they had raised $20K. Monday noon – $50K and at the end of the same week Fatty and friends had raised $135K for LiveStrong and World Bicycle Relief. Average gift $35. The fundraising lesson begins. People give to people.

I have been writing about how social media is and can be an opportunity to raise money. The ROI (Risk of Ignoring) the social media landscape is too high – Fatty has proven the age old fundraising mantra – people give to people and used the social media to be successful.

Fatty’s blog hit a nerve with two large audiences – anyone who has been touched by cancer and the cycling community. The two groups are interconnected, passionate and large. People give to people and passionate people create positive energy and results.

Fatty started his blog for fun. It got serious when Susan’s breast cancer came back. His readership grew from those seeking entertainment to the Nelson’s fight against cancer. When Susan lost her battle in the Summer of 2009, Elden received thousands of comments of support. They had connected to him, Susan and their story. Team Fat Cyclist Fighting Like Susan had been formed and was already raising money. People give to people.

Elden is and can be like many of your real and virtual volunteers, current and prospective donors. The folks who follow an organization via Facebook and Twitter. Nonprofit communications should be sharing stories of how your organization is saving and changing lives. Ask followers to share their stories with their friends and followers because people give to people

We must engage readers in our stories. Ask them to share their stories. Empower their voices because….people give to people. In a previous post about On Line Major Donors – I talked about finding who your online leaders (followers of 500+) are and asking them to share their stories, experiences with their friends and followers – and yes ask for money. They can help your mission and message go viral…Because people give to people and social media is all about people connecting to people.

Elden views his fundraising as tribute to people who are being generous and as a tribute to his wife. He knows the thousands she inspired to fight against cancer are with him. There was a general sense of community after her passing and chance to do something good. People connected to Elden because they shared the same road for him for three years as Susan battled cancer and then lost. They were reading and responding to his as virtual neighbors – almost like the next door neighbor. They went from readers to friends. Elden went from writing funny jokes – to changing something he hated (cancer) into something good and restored his faith in humanity.

Every nonprofit has stories like Elden and Susan’s – homeless shelters, animal protection groups, schools, museums, health clinics. Look at your stories, who can share them for you? Every organization has an Elden or two. Ask them to participate in your social media and fundraising….because people give to people.

To hear Elden’s story in his own voice, listen to his interview in The Story with Dick Gordon –

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