We left the flat-footed adventurer last time trying to find support from adventurer-turned-Gardener’s-World-presenter Ben Fogle, as well as financial help and press coverage from the Docklands newspaper. So, what is new?
My email to the editor of Docklands was met with an auto-reply: he was out of the office, please contact x in his absence. Fair enough, I redrafted the email and sent it to the new news contact. Two emails, two auto-replies. This contact had actually left the newspaper some weeks before — and was now on an adventure of his own, in Africa. You can follow his own adventures on the site It All Began in Africa. It’s very inspiring stuff — doing good work, and finding positive stories in such an often-misunderstood continent. This auto-reply gave me yet another contact — but I figured maybe the paper’s editor was just out of office for a day or two.
I called the newspaper the next day, using all of my own journalist training to sound expected, asking for the editor by name, and feigning surprise when I was he was out of the office. What I didn’t expect, when I asked if he would be back in the following day, was to be told he was on long-term sick leave. Often this is code for a nervous breakdown, but I wish the man well, whatever the circumstances. I got from the receptionist a name for the news editor who was effectively in charge these days, but didn’t take the offer of being put straight through — people rarely appreciate cold calls. The third email — to the news editor — ddn’t bounce back. It also got absolutely no response whatsoever. My offer to the Docklands newspaper for exclusive coverage of my dog sled adventure was as good as refused.
In a continuing theme, I have also not had a response from Ben Fogle. That’s hardly a surprise, however — I get more emails than I can handle at work, I can’t imagine how many emails someone like Ben Fogle must get. I doubt he ever even saw it.
But help has come from an unexpected place. My work.
I deliberately didn’t ask them for any donation for financial support before now — not because I didn’t think they would provide it, but because I didn’t think it was fair to put them in that position. However, when I was telling a colleague recently about the adventure and my struggle to get the money to sign up, he pointed out the obvious: I could earn it. It was obvious: in exchnage for £500, I will work one evening a week for the next 10 or so weeks — on top of the day job. Yes, it means that once a week I will be working 12 hour days or longer, but it’s worth it.
That was one road block stormed through: I’ll get the money in this month’s pay. I am now free to sign up for the adventure.
I made contact with Cancer Research UK, to register to fundraise for them, to tell them my plans — and to get their permission. This last part has thrown up road block number 2. I am welcome to fundraise for them, and they will give me all the support I need: except for the option of the “minimum sponsorship” for the trip. The charity does not have the facilities to pay Across the Divide for the trip, so if I want to take part and want to raise money for them, that’s all great — but it has to be self funded.
My early attempts at securing a corporate sponsor for this failed, and my more recent attempt to just get sponsorship for the deposit also floundered. If I didn’t have £500, I certainly don’t have the best part of £3,000. So, I have returned to the idea of fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. It’s not a case of favouring one charity over another, I was planning to fundraise for Cancer Research only because my cousin requested for my uncle John’s funeral that donations go to Cancer Research — his illness had been too rapid for him to receive any support at home from Macmillan. I like to think of cancer patients and their families getting the support that they need, and I think my uncle John would have felt the same way. Naturally, my family have no objections to any choice of charity.
Macmillan Cancer Support have in a way given me a third road block in the process of helping me overcome the second. They are absolutely fine with the “Minimum Sponsorship” option, and being invoiced by Across the Divide for the cost of the trip — except that they have a different cost to donation ratio than the organisers. What does this mean? It means that I will have a higher minimum sponsorship — instead of £4,500 it will be more like £6,000.
Next week is the beginning of July. The trip will be in March. I expect I will have to have raised the money by about January. That’s roughly £1,000 a month. Do we think I can do it? I have to think about it and talk to Macmillan’s fundraising team. I spoke to someone tonight who told me that his own experience of fundraising has shown him that recording your event and making it available afterwards can double your total raised — just in donations received after the event. It’s worth bearing in mind.
The next wave of companies being contacted for help/sipport/collateral will be footwear companies — who better to support an adventurer with flat feet like myself — and perhaps electronics companies who would like to give or lend me a small camera.
But first, I should sign up for the adventure.