Women Riders

Organizing a Charity Ride

Written by  May 31, 2005

How many charity rides do you participate in a year? If you are like most bikers you probably support at least 2-3 per year, maybe more. It’s not always about the ride; it’s about giving back to your community and helping non-profit organizations with their cause.

I’d like to share some planning tips on how to organize a charity ride. I’m presently on the steering committee with area Realtors and we are planning the first annual ride, Bikers for Habitat on August 28. All proceeds will benefit Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit interfaith ministry dedicated to eliminating impoverished housing. Their goal is to provide simple, decent, affordable homes to qualified families. Everyone who volunteers for Habitat help make the dream of home ownership a reality for those in need.

First of all, get your committee members together and brainstorm on what you want to accomplish and how to structure your event.

Second, set a date for your event and allow ample time to procure donations, distribute promotional materials and recruit volunteers. Make sure to check event calendars to see if there are any conflicts such as Chiefs games, other benefit rides, and so on. Our Local Rallies & Events page is an excellent resource for checking on other motorcycle events.

Start scouting out locations on where to start and end your ride. Large parking lots, shopping centers, motorcycle dealerships, parks or area casinos are a few suggestions. Of course you would need permission to use any of the above, but most businesses will cooperate if they know it is for charity.

Make a list of local businesses and contacts that will support your cause through a donation. It can be money or items, but try to subsidize all your expenses from donations. If you are providing food, ask for donations of hot dogs, buns, chips, soft drinks and paper supplies. Make sure you advertise your sponsors on all your promotional materials, such as flyers, banners, newspaper ads, radio announcements, web sites, and acknowledge them on the day of the event. You can setup a vendor table and the businesses can bring their own promotional materials for handouts.

Have a representative from the charitable organization present and introduce them. Give them the opportunity to thank everyone and tell the history of the organization.

Determine how many bikes you want in the event and the cost to participate in the event. If you offer pre-registration you can give them a break in price, or they can register the day of the event and pay a higher fee. Keep your entry fee in line with other charity rides. A lot of your riders will be riding two up, so if your fee is $25 for the driver, only charge $15 for the passenger.

Begin designing your promotional materials; flyers, registration forms, banners, letter to sponsors, and so on. Be sure to put a liability waiver/release on your registration form to cover your organization. If they mail their registration and money, designate one address for a return. If they register online, it must be a secure site for credit card information. For registration the day of the event, have plenty of forms, pens, wristbands and maps on hand.

Plan your beginning and ending times. An example would be registration at 9 a.m. and last bike out at Noon. Cut-off would be 4 p.m. for the last bike in.

Determine the route and stops. Are you riding 50 miles, 75 miles or 100 miles? Map your course to include a safe and scenic back roads ride.
Riders can depart in groups of 10-15 or on their own. If you have extra volunteers you can assign road captains to lead the groups.

Pick five places of business for your stops; each should have restrooms, snacks, soft drinks and gasoline. Most riders will stay 15-20 minutes per stop to stretch, visit, or have a cold one.

You will need 1-2 volunteers per stop. As the bikers come in they will roll the dice or draw a card. The volunteers will then record their score on the score sheet and give it back. All score sheets will be turned in at the end and tallied.

Begin distributing your promotional material early. There are so many charity rides going on throughout the spring, summer and fall. Contact local radio stations for sponsorship—it’s a great way to get free publicity for your event. Leave flyers at all the motorcycle shops, bike night locations, and submit your ride to Cycle Connections using our online Rally & Event Submission Form. Make sure you have a contact name and telephone number on all your materials.

If you are selling raffle tickets, start procuring gifts to give away. Your volunteers will feel like professional beggars when it’s over, but its great experience for next year’s event. You can sell tickets in advance, the day of the event at the registration site and at the ending location. You will need to decide if the winner needs to be present to win. If your event is open to the public you will probably set a separate fee for them to attend if they are not riders. All participants should have a wristband as proof of registration and entry to the ending party. You can order wristbands online or go to a local party supply business. They are approximately $21 for 500.

If you are offering entertainment at the end of the ride, you might check out disc jockeys or local bands who will donate their time. That could get complicated if you are in a park or shopping area due to electrical hookups. Some events just have a boom box with upbeat music playing and a portable microphone for announcements.

Awards for a dice roll or poker run is normally given to the high and low score/hand and are announced at the end of the ride. Money or gift certificates to local motorcycle dealerships are often the prize. Everyone can use a little more chrome somewhere! If there is a tie, another roll of the dice or draw of a card would determine the winner.


The finish line! When everyone has assembled at the ending location, stay organized, keep the food lines moving, have plenty of spaces for people to sit. Volunteers can mingle with the crowd to make sure everyone is having a good time and are happy when they leave! You want them back next year and you want them to tell ten other riders about your ride. AND thank your volunteers who diligently worked so hard to make this a success! Enthusiasm is contagious, so it’s your job to get everyone excited about the cause!

My best advice for planning any event is to be “organized” and “delegate” to your committee members. It will make your job much easier as the overseer.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for Sunday, August 28 for the
Bikers for Habitat ride. The 75 mile ride will take place in the Northland. The Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors (KCRAR) is the promoter of this event and will include riders in the field of realtors, builders, landscapers, electricians, plumbers, and any other crew members that it takes to build a house!

If you are interested in helping please feel free to contact me at Reece & Nichols Realtors/Liberty office: (816) 407-5244.

Well divas, I hope this helps you in planning your next event, whether it is for your group chapter or a charity organization. If you have other ideas and suggestions to share, bring it on!

I am off to the Myrtle Beach Bike rally and will be gone for 10 days! Will keep you posted on all the happenings in South Carolina when I return.

Ride Safe, Ride Smart!

Goldie Arnold

“Never ride faster than your angel can fly”

TIP OF THE MONTH: In a large group ride, always stay further back from the bike in front of you.