Interview with fundraising guru: Rex Miller

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Editor’s note: Rex Miller is one of our most ardent and dedicated supporters and has become part of our Obliteride family. We asked Rex to share some of his thoughts about Obliteride and what’s helped him become one of Obliteride’s most successful fundraisers.

Q: How long have you done Obliteride?

A: I participated in the inaugural Obliteride in 2013 and have done so every year since.

Q: Why do you ride?
A: Initially in 2013 I was riding for two people in particular but since then I’ve met so many more people affected by cancer. I ride so that one day we will find a cure for all cancers.

Q: Were you scared to fundraise the first time?
A: I did not have any reservations about my fundraising but my family had some. Not everyone is comfortable fundraising but the more you ask, in my experience, the more comfortable you will become at fundraising. Share why you decide to ride, make it personal.

Q: How did you overcome that fear, or any fear since?
A: One thing I had to overcome was hearing “no” from businesses that were not able to donate to my auction. Not every business is able to contribute and that’s ok. Just remind yourself that it’s not personal. Honestly I was more fearful about riding a bike on the street than I was about fundraising. I’ve gotten out more on my bike and am more comfortable with that so I look at it the same way. The more you fundraise, ride, etc. the better and more comfortable you will become.

Q: Do you contribute any of your own money?
A: Yes. I host a silent auction every year and spend a lot time procuring items. In three years, the auction has generated $18,000 and with total donations, I’ve raised about $23,000 in three years! Last year was the first year I had a team and I believe the final team tally was a little over $45,000. Everyone is welcome to come to the auction this year. It’s at the Wilde Rover in Kirkland on June 4th, at 6 p.m.

Q: What’s your best fundraising trick/tip?
A: My best fundraising tip/advice is to never miss an opportunity. Always be prepared to send out the link to your fundraising page by text, email, Twitter, whatever. If someone wants to give you cash or a check, accept it and then fill out an off-line donation form when you can. Also, if someone said they would make a donation but haven’t, things happen, maybe they forgot, it’s ok to follow up with them.

Q: What hasn’t worked well for you?
A: That’s a tough one because even if someone is not able to make a donation or a contribution to my auction, I still look at it as an opportunity to share something about Obliteride, cancer or why I’m  motivated to ride.

Q: How do you decide who to ask for money or other types of donations?
A: I try to ask everyone, never miss an opportunity and I don’t put a limit on what someone may or may not be able to donate. If someone is not able to donate, don’t take it personally.

Q: Do you use social media to fundraise? If so, do you use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, other?
A: All the time. I use Facebook and Twitter to fundraise, I also use it to update my fundraising goal, to recruit new riders, volunteers, etc, I use it to send thank you messages. I also use social media to procure items for my silent auction.

Q: What do you do to thank the people who have supported you?
A: I send thank you notes, emails, text messages and even post thank you messages on social media.

Q: How do you ask? Literally what words do you use?
A: As I’ve said, I really try to never miss an opportunity to either ask for a donation or share something about Obliteride. One of the simplest things I say is please consider making a donation. I talk about how every dollar goes to the Hutch. I share that half of all men and one third of all women in the U.S. will get cancer in their lifetime. I talk about what inspired me to participate in the inaugural Obliteride and what inspires me every year to keep riding. Make it personal. Speak passionately about why you decided to ride, volunteer, etc.

Q: What if someone says ‘no’?
A: If someone is not able to make a donation then I let them know there are lots of other ways to support Obliteride, like volunteering. I also let them know that I completely understand, so they won’t feel bad.

Q: Why do you love supporting Obliteride?
A: I love supporting Obliteride because of the impact the scientists at Fred Hutch are making in the fight against cancer. I enjoy getting the updates on the latest breakthroughs and going to the Hutch campus to hear stories first hand about how people’s lives are changing for the better because of the work being done at the Hutch.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about Obliteride?
A: I have to say one of my favorite things about Obliteride is reconnecting with riders from previous years and meeting new friends during Obliteride weekend.

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