Lessons learnt from the 2022 Menslink Great Walk

When you have to walk 142km over five days you have a lot of time to think and come up with great ideas. Add 30 other business owners and senior executives walking with you, and you suddenly get access to their wealth of knowledge, as you bond over which muddy track to get lost on next or remedies for blisters and sore backs. I could have written 30 blogs on the different topics we chatted about together as we completed the Menslink Great Walk this year, but today’s focus is on how pushing myself physically and mentally taught me three valuable lessons about marketing.  

Lesson 1 – Gritty, not pretty, sells

Gone are the days of beautifully curated content marketing when you want to spread the word about a cause and raise money and donations. To engage and reach your target audience, my favourite fundraising tip is to get wet and dirty. Literally! Every time I did a video where I was in the rain, mud or just absolutely exhausted with no makeup or pretty filters, I got more likes, more comments, and more donations, within minutes. TikTok has been pushing this agenda for a long time now but it proved to me personally that authenticity is easily the biggest seller for the marketing campaigns of today. 

Lesson 2 – You get what you give when fundraising

I take my hat off to the team at Menslink and charities who have to fundraise all year round. After previously working for Canteen, Hepatitis Australia and Cancer Council NSW, I knew raising $15,000 with minimal effort, was near impossible when our Raisely accounts opened on the 1st of July. On reflection, I know now my fundraising didn’t start four months ago, it started well over 20 years ago. Some of my biggest donations were from people I went to school with and haven’t seen since. These, and over 60 other donors, pay attention to my personal and professional social media posts. They understood this physical challenge was on brand with previous community contributions and the Threesides values.

But having a generous community to call upon for donations is not enough! A once-off email marketing campaign to your clients and friends does not work. I gave hours of effort to marketing strategies and utilised every marketing channel I had access to. This included:

  • e-newsletters
  • personal emails and phone calls to rally/remind 😉 clients, family and friends to donate
  • too many Facebook posts and Insta stories to count
  • capturing videos and photos on my phone at every opportunity – pre-, during and post-walk
  • email signature footer broadcasted on every Threesides email for two months
  • hosting fundraising events – we ran a Business Breakfast with likeminded local businesses – Parbery and Decision Revolution
  • a raffle
  • donations of time and money to other walkers so they donated back
  • blogs including this one, if you still want to donate click here.

And I would do it all again! 

Lesson 3 – Resilience breeds confidence and leadership 

In hindsight, 142km over five days was no “walk in the park”. It was truly a fitness challenge that required me to train – I walked most days for four months and completed at least one 10km walk every week leading up to the launch. Naturally, you feel physically resilient when you get to the end but on the other side of two years of no events and limited networking opportunities in Canberra, the biggest change for me, was not my dress size, but confidence. 

Fundraising forced me to step outside my comfort zone and learn how to sell myself, not Threesides. The experience encouraged me to step in front of the camera more, do public speaking for the first time in years, and get to know 30 complete strangers. I made new friends, broadened my business network and absorbed over 40 hours’ worth of valuable advice from leaders across 30 other industries. 

So if you have been thinking about how to align your business with a local charity better, embed social responsibility in your marketing, or want to role model community contribution to your team, I encourage you to take the leap or connect with me for a coffee to talk more about your fundraising ideas. 

x Rachel