Our new fundraising blog series explores the hard work and dedication that individuals put into their fundraising efforts. It will include the challenges, success, and top tips of how to make the best of your fundraising, offering practical advice and insights on what it is like to fundraise for PAPYRUS.
We spoke with Jock earlier this month where he told us all about his incredible fundraising efforts in memory of his friend, Joe.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the fundraising challenge that you took part in?
Firstly, let me start of by saying hi, I’m Jock and I’m a 22-year-old student at the University of Royal Holloway, studying a degree in environmental geoscience. The challenge that I set myself was to, over the span of a month and a half, cycle from London, England to Bergen, Norway. I would be travelling just less than 3000km on a bamboo bicycle that I made myself.
What inspired you to want to fundraise? And why did you choose this specific event?
At the start of 2022, I sadly lost one of my closest friends, Joe. He tragically took his own life and had struggled with many mental health issues. I know that he found it hard to get the support that he needed and so there were two key reasons why I chose this specific event.
First, I wanted to take part in a fundraising challenge as I believed that it would reduce a lot of the stigma that is present regarding suicide, and I wanted to help create a more supportive environment for those that feel isolated.
Second, I had hoped that by pushing myself to my limits and doing something this big, the fundraiser would have more reach than what I would normally be able to do, helping to bring awareness of PAPYRUS and what they do.
What fundraising strategies or tactics did you find most effective in reaching your goals?
Planning for me was key, I had deadlines that I needed to reach, and this helped to make sure I stayed on top of everything that I was doing and that needed to be done. I had a set date to leave and a set date to return home by so the importance of sticking to the plan was crucial.
Admittedly, things occasionally slip my mind and so I also found to-do lists really helpful. This made sure that I wouldn’t forget anything and also gave me the added satisfaction of showing my progress and how far I was from reaching my goal.
Were there any unique approaches you took that worked particularly well for your campaign?
I found it beneficial to ask my friends and family to share, repost and talk about my challenge wherever possible. This helped me massively and meant that I was not alone in bringing awareness to what I was doing, I found this to have almost, a snowball effect.
What information did you find was useful to include on your fundraising page?
The number one question I would always get asked was, why was I completing the challenge. I included this on my page, so people knew why I was so passionate about my fundraising. I also believed that it helped a lot to be as open as possible, I wanted people to understand the importance of my fundraiser and why it should have been important to them too.
Did you find people engaged with your page and donated, if not, how did you challenge this?
I found that overall, people did engage, and they donated as soon as they were aware of my challenge. It was important to be mindful that of course, not everyone could donate, nor did everyone want to engage in my challenge; for personal reasons and I found it best to respect those boundaries. In general, however, this was not something that I would notice throughout my fundraiser and generally, everyone that I spoke to was incredibly kind and supportive.
How did you ensure you reached your fundraising target?
I haven’t yet! I have kept my fundraising page open with the links to it across my social media pages to try and keep it in the spotlight as much as I possibly can.
How did you go about building a network of supporters for your fundraising efforts?
I had to properly learn the ins and outs of social media, I also ensured that my social media accounts were set to public, so they were viewable to everyone. I posted as much as I could and people if they were able to share my posts, so they had a higher reach. I also made sure the before, during and after my challenge supporters knew where I was, what I was doing and why I was doing it. I found that this helped to keep the awareness present and it did make it a lot easier.
Can you share any tips for engaging friends, family, and the community to support your cause?
My advice on this would be to be as transparent as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask people to support you and if they can donate. More often than not, I found that if there wasn’t a time that I was being supported by friends/family it was simply because they were not aware of what I was doing. Spreading the news of my challenge through a variety of means went along way in ensuring that people knew about me and my challenge. They were then able to support my cause.
If your fundraising challenge involved physical activity, what kind of training and preparation did you undertake?
I had never completed a long bicycle trip before and so I did get advised (more times than I can remember) about the physical challenge of it and how tough it was going to be. I decided to divide my preparation into two parts, the first was the bike. I was very unfamiliar with bikes in general and so I decided to build my own bike – yes you heard that right! I felt that this would massively boost my knowledge on bikes and would be a bonus factor for my fundraiser.
Secondly, I made sure to complete one big practice trip before I began my challenge, this enabled me to see how the bike and all of my kit worked and I got to check everything was okay. As my physical challenge was going to be relatively long-term, it meant that I needed to be more flexible with my training because once I would started the trip, I felt I would get stronger, and it would get easier along the way. However, it was important to know that a baseline of physicality was required, and I made sure that I trained and prepared as much as I could have.
Can you share some tips and advice for others considering similar challenges?
Make sure that you get used to your equipment and know it inside out, back to front, and most of all – how to change a flat tyre! Alongside that, complete practice sessions. Test out how the equipment works for you and make sure that you can adapt to different conditions that you may be faced with.
Fundraising can be tough at times; how did you ensure you looked after yourself throughout all your hard work/what self-care elements were included?
I found it really useful to journal throughout my trip. Everyday before I went to bed, I would dedicate an hour or two to write down things that had happened that day. What I had seen, what I had felt, where I ended up and what weird and wonderful things had happened throughout the day. I also completed this challenge with a friend for the most part as I didn’t feel prepared to do it completely alone.
Challenges and obstacles
Fundraising often comes with its share of challenges. Can you share some of the obstacles you faced during your fundraising journey?
The biggest challenges I faced were throughout the first few weeks of my trip. At the start, I did struggle mentally as it was physically exhausting and I often found that I’d be lost in my own thoughts for hours at a time as I made my way down empty roads in the middle of nowhere. At times these could spiral and were hard to manage.
How did you overcome these challenges, both in terms of fundraising and personal motivation?
The key for me, was journaling. It helped me to identify the roots of these strains and thoughts and it ensured that I was much better at stopping things from getting out of hand when there was already a lot going on.
Furthermore, I knew for a fact throughout the entire trip that there was absolutely nothing that would stop me from getting to the end as I was receiving endless support from those who were around me (both physically and mentally) as it made all the difference.
Did you enjoy your event/challenge, and would you recommend it to other potential fundraisers?
I absolutely loved it and would highly recommend it to someone thinking about competing a challenge. It can seem incredibly daunting at first and sometimes it is hard to ignore negative comments when people tell you how difficult it is going to be. But I think one thing I have learnt from this trip is that people are a lot stronger than they imagine.
Did you find your fundraising rewarding?
It was incredibly fulfilling, both because of the fundraising, but also the physical challenge. I am so happy to have been able to be involved with PAPYRUS like this and hope to continue being able to make a difference.
What were some of the most memorable moments or milestones during your fundraising journey or event?
One of my most memorable moments was one of the final nights before reaching Bergen in Norway. I spent this in a national park camping on a mountain that myself and my friend had climbed up. At the top we managed to see the Northern lights which was truly incredible.
Can you share a highlight or achievement that made the entire experience worthwhile?
The highlight was honestly everyone else for me. I had the luck to meet incredibly kind people throughout the entire trip, they were all so supportive and so kind that I could never put that into words. The number of people who offered me a place to stay and food to eat despite meeting me by the side of the road was staggering. It was getting a chance to see how kind people truly are, that made this experience as special as it was.
Advice for prospective fundraisers/closing thoughts?
What advice would you give to individuals who are considering fundraising for PAPYRUS but may be hesitant to start?
Simply, give it a go. There is no time limit and so you can take your time and go at your own pace. Just trying to start a fundraiser, even if you do not get around to completing it will help make at least someone’s day that little bit better.
Would you take part in any fundraising in the future? / Do you have any future plans or ideas for continuing your support of PAPYRUS or other charitable causes?
Absolutely! At the moment, I am currently working alongside another charity taking part in something for Christmas. This is helping to improve gender equality in sports. I’m also hoping that I will be able to do the London Marathon in 2025, where I will be supporting PAPYRUS once again!