Kevin Bacon and the 7 steps to funding your adventure


This post is a takeaway from the Explore 2013 fundraising workshop chaired by Craig Pollard. The focus of the workshop was raising money to get your expedition going but the principles are also applicable for charity fundraising.

Before you seek external funding, carefully consider the need to have your trip bankrolled by someone else and what that could mean for you, your project and your potential sponsor.

In our case the trip to Sydney cost £8’000 or thereabouts, including kit. The costs were kept low so we did not need additional funding beyond what we had worked hard to save during our 18 months of preparation.

Our decision to use our own cash gave us carte blanche to do whatever we liked (within reason!) while abroad. Our commitment to The Cycle Diaries was proven by the decision which lent an air of credibility to the ride.

If your venture does require financial aid to get off the ground then here are Craig’s 7 steps for fundraising:

  1. Identify
  2. Research
  3. Plan
  4. Engage
  5. Ask
  6. Close
  7. Thanks

1) Identify: Make a list of people in your circle of friends who can help you or you think can help you. Also identify yourself in this process – what are you doing and why? What are your unique selling points and values that will attract a sponsor?

2) Research: How much or what equipment do you need? who supplies that? do they have similar values to your expedition? Do you have a backup and what are the risks? If you’re asking for £10’000.12p then you need to know what that 12p is for.

3) Plan: The how of it all. How are you going to get in front of the people you have identified? How are you going to pitch your adventure in 30, 60, 120 and 300 seconds? Practice this in front of other people and hone your pitch.

4) Engage: When you ask for funds you will be asking for a relationship with your potential sponsor. You are part of a transaction; you get the means to accomplish your expedition and your benefactors get to go on the journey with you, they get great content to market and to show that they care. How will you enable your sponsors to engage with your expedition?

5) Ask: The important and often missed call to action. Once you have pitched the potential sponsor you have to ask them for what you want, if you don’t ask then you don’t get.

6) Close: Once you have asked and gotten a positive response you have to get the money. The deal is not done until the money is sitting in your account, you may have to chase to see this done.

7) Say Thanks: Another important step that may get overlooked in all the excitement.

Reading this you may be thinking “this is a bit salesy!” Well, I’m afraid it is. There’s no way around it, unless you’re comfortable selling you’ll need to step out of your comfort zone and sweat a little. Consider it the first step of your adventure. If you’re still struggling then perhaps you don’t want to go on your expedition after all and should return to the desk job from whence you came, never to complain about the soul-sucking boredom ever again.

There are 2 points that I’d like to elaborate on regarding networking and passion. The first involves Kevin Bacon.

The 6 degrees to Kevin Bacon is a game with the aim of connecting an actor to Bacon within 6 steps. For example, Harrison Ford worked with Steve Altes in ‘Shallow Hearts.’ Steve Altes starred in Hollow Man’ alongside Kevin Bacon, giving Harrison Ford a Bacon number of 2.

The point I’m making is not that you should contact Kevin Bacon (although he would undoubtedly be good to know), but that when you search for funding looking to your immediate circle of family and friends and their network of friends, associates and acquaintances unearths a staggering amount of people. Some of those people may hold the purse strings to equally staggering marketing budgets.

In terms of human connections the world is small and it is getting smaller. Take hope from this.

My second point is that excitement and enthusiasm are like viruses that can spread. They’re not like dirty infections that you get from being mucky in Las Vegas but nice ones that make others feel good. If you are suffering with a bout of enthusiasm for your expedition you can infect others with that enthusiasm and as a side effect, they’ll want to help you.

I hope that these steps are useful to you as they will be to us when we get involved in more ambitious adventures. If you need any assistance or someone to practice your pitching and impassioned pleading then get in touch.



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One Response to “Kevin Bacon and the 7 steps to funding your adventure”

  1. Patricia says:

    Sorry to “1 Up” you, FC, but I’m just 2 degrees seaerptad from Mr Bacon.My sister was in the movie “Blink” with Laurie Metcalf who was in “JFK” with Kevin Bacon. Yep, My sis is an actress. In fact she’s appearing at The Steppenwolf thru mid-Aug. “Superior Donuts” with Michael McKean (“Lenny” from “Laverne & Shirley”). Going to see it with one of my meetup groups Aug. 17. Join us and have a drink with the “stars” afterwards.

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