Ode to my favourite fundraising event: The Tweed Ride

If you’ve browsed around my blog you may have caught my recent posts about young and poor donors.

But a few months ago I took part in a fundraising event that was geared specifically towards young and poor donors. And it was incredible.

Let me tell you about Tweed Ride Toronto.

An offshoot of the original Tweed Run London, Tweed Ride Toronto benefitted Bikes Without Borders, a charity that uses bikes and bike-related solutions as a tool for development in marginalized communities. Tweed Ride Toronto touted itself as A dashing metropolitan ride in style, and boy was it.

Everyone, dressed in their dandiest tweed outfits (or similar old-timey digs) met at Trinity-Bellwoods Park on the west side of downtown Toronto. We rode our bikes en masse to the Old City Hall for a group photo, then to the Grange Park behind the Art Gallery of Ontario for a tea party (including cookies). To wrap up the day we rode out to Dovercourt and Bloor for a hearty dinner and dance lessons. There was even valet parking for the bikes.

Throughout the day prizes were given for best dressed man and woman, best bike (someone rode a penny-farthing, so you can guess who won that one), best accessory, best teacup, and best mustache. When was the last time you were at an event that rewarded teacups and mustaches?

It was a great day. Incredible sense of community, biking across a good chunk of the city, dressing up, dinner party, learning the lindy hop…

And what was the cost for attending the event? Registration started at $10.

Ten dollars!

I signed myself up, and found it extremely easy to convince three of my friends to join me, including one who was willing to show up on the day and pay the increased $20 registration fee.

What did the crowd look like?

Photo by ‘Xander Labayen @416cyclestyle
(That’s me, second row, second from the left with the tartan jacket)

Lots of young folks. Having a really great time.

And in one day, we raised $10,000.

But wait. How did it make money if the price of admission was so low?

Well, to start, while you could join the day for $10, there were plenty of opportunities and incentives to raise more money. Prizes were given to individuals who raised more then $500, $1000, and $2000. And while some participants stuck to the minimum buy-in (making it a truly accessible and welcoming event), some really went above and beyond, snagging those top fundraising prizes.

And the prizes were incredible. Both for enthusiastic fundraisers, and the aforementioned best outfits/accessories/moustaches. Bikes, gear, bags, locks, investment accounts… Getting the prizes donated was a huge contributing factor to the Tweed Ride.

The buzz of the event was terrific. Organizers BikingToronto.com and Bikes Without Borders did a great job using social media to engage potential donors and those who had already signed up. They even held a pre-event photo contest encouraging folks to share their ride-day outfits. Tweeters @josephtravers, @BikingToronto, @TweedRideTO, and @BWB_Canada were on hand for weeks before the event to clear up questions about registration and guidelines.

The day itself caught some great coverage too (even with Occupy Toronto going on in the same area). How could it not? Oodles of young Torontonians decked out in their finest historic clothes biking across the city are bound to catch a few eyes. Friends who heard how I had spent my Saturday were immediately interested, and disappointed they had missed out.

Fret not. Word on the street is the team behind Tweed Ride Toronto has another event in the works.

And you know you’ll find me there with bells and whistles on. Maybe I’ll even see you there!

Have you been to a fundraising event that really stood out?


4 thoughts on “Ode to my favourite fundraising event: The Tweed Ride

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