As a small charity, raising funds to support our life-changing work is an ongoing challenge. To be successful, it is vital that we clearly demonstrate to our grant funders the positive impact we are having on people’s lives. This means collecting regular feedback from the people we help. By sharing their experiences, they enable us to keep our projects running, and it also helps us to better understand and support those we work with.
They say the pen is mightier than the sword – and this certainly proved to be true when our wonderful over 55s riders came to our rescue with an especially challenging fundraising bid…
Silver Cyclists speak up
Our ‘Silver Cyclists’ project offers free, gentle, group bike rides in and around Bristol to help people aged 55+ to stay fit, healthy and socially connected as they age.
The project simply could not function without our amazing volunteers, but it also costs money to pay qualified ride leaders and our part-time project coordinator Julie – who provides huge amounts of support and keeps everything running safely and smoothly. Raising money to fund older people’s services can be challenging. However, as with all fundraising we find that telling our beneficiaries’ stories is incredibly powerful.
We recently put a special callout to our over 55s rides, asking them to support us with an application for a much-needed grant. We knew that the trust we were applying to receives huge numbers of funding requests each year from other charities: Getting a “yes” would be tough. Thankfully, our wonderful over-55s rose to the challenge!
We asked them to write to us, stating why Silver Cyclists means so much to them. We were overwhelmed by the number of responses, and the outpouring of love and enthusiasm for the project:
We received an incredible 73 letters so we have included a small snapshot of the things they told us below (some names have been changed to protect privacy):
“I suffer from depression from time to time and I exercise in the gym to keep the demons at bay, but I can honestly say that the only time I feel really alive is when I’m on my bike in the fresh air, chatting to like-minded people” – Simon, 66
“Once retired it is good to be active and socialise with others. I have made friends with other cyclists and through going on the rides regularly I gained the confidence to train as a ‘cycle buddy’ and support others into cycling” – Becky, 64
“I suffer from occasional bouts of depression and ongoing osteoarthritis. Cycling keeps me mobile and helps with pain management, and meeting the cycling group keeps me hopeful and socially active. I receive Pension Credit, and thus have a very low income. The cycle rides are a very economical leisure activity” – Jeanne, 77
“The rides have allowed me to exercise gently and gain strength since having my knee replacements. The rides are tailored for people like me to gain confidence and make new friends. I would not have done this on my own” – John, 74
We sent all of the letters to the funder, alongside our formal fundraising bid. A few weeks later, we received a response from them, pledging to support us with a grant that would help fund 12 months’ worth or rides. Even better, they pledged another grant the following year!
Needless to say, we were delighted with the results – and we know we would not have been successful without the powerful testimonies of our riders.
On behalf of everyone at Life Cycle we want to say a huge thank you to the ‘Silver Cyclists’ riders who spoke up for us. It was wonderful to hear how important the project is to you – and then have that reflected in the support we received from the charitable trust. Thanks to you, we can keep the wheels rolling for another two years at least.