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Spinning for Parkinson's: Catching up with Team Fox members Rachel Spielman and Jennifer Geller

Team Fox members Rachel Spielman and Jennifer Geller joined forces to throw their first event, “Spin for Parkinson’s,” on Sunday, February 12. The afternoon included a 45-minute spin class at NYC’s popular cycling studio, Flywheel, and ended with refreshments, snacks and a giveaway. There was a $150 entry fee to secure a bike and 100% of all proceeds supported their Team Fox efforts. Donations are still coming in, but so far they have raised over $20,000—all of which will be doubled thanks to The Brin Wojcicki Challenge.

We caught up with Rachel and Jennifer to see what they learned throughout the planning process. Spin enthusiasts—and enthusiasts of all kinds—take note. Rachel and Jennifer offer tips on turning an everyday passion or activity into a successful fundraiser.

Team Fox: What made you choose to do a spinning event? How did you go about securing the location and getting the studio involved?

Rachel Spielman and Jennifer Geller: We chose a spinning event due to a personal interest of one of the co-hosts of the event, but also because it has wide spread appeal and skill level does not matter—it’s a lot of fun and just about anyone can do it (even complete novices).  Also, enlisting a venue where you have a meaningful personal connection, a place you frequent on a personal level, makes a huge difference.

TF: Your first event raised an astounding $20,000. Did you have a particular fundraising strategy that helped bring in donations? Was there another fundraising component besides the fee to reserve a bike (i.e. a raffle)?

RS & JG: Our fundraising strategy was based on communicating – a lot! – as it helped rally people around this cause.  We sent a series of communications: an invitation via email, personal 1:1 follow up, reminder emails, we did a push via our and the venue’s social media channels, sent update emails on how the fundraising was going and our progress toward our goal of selling all 45 bikes, and then sent a formal thank you with information on what we achieved.  Throughout, we also kept reiterating our messages around activating people around the need for a cure, getting more people to participate in our spin, and encouraging people to donate even if they couldn’t attend the event.  We asked for a specific minimum dollar amount for a bike ($150), but encouraged people to donate more per bike and to donate even if they could not make it to the event.  We did a raffle but this was an added bonus, not something we raised money for specifically, but an added draw for the event (the winner's bike number was pulled out of a bag).

TF: What was the easiest part of the planning process? What was the most difficult?

RS & JG: Picking an activity with a finite number of “seats” to sell was a plus.  Having 45 bikes to sell, a clear and not unmanageable goal, was helpful.  Finding the right ticket price was challenging, we wanted to appeal to many people but also raise the most money possible.  The bike price of $150 was based on the limited availability of seats, and it worked well. The other challenge was that checks had to be collected manually because it would have been hard to distinguish participant donations vs. non-participant donations on the Team Fox website and because two Team Fox teams were co-hosting this event.

TF: If there is one thing you would do differently, what would it be and why?

RS & JG: Getting others to join our teams would have made things even better, to tap into more networks of people.  Next time we would recruit additional team members.

TF: Anything else you’d like to share?

RS & JG: Having a partner made all the difference!  Doing the event with a friend not only helped make it more successful, but also made it more fun!

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