ARoundWithRog - developing the plan
By now, the project had been going for six weeks or so. I had a few top courses signed up, my network's tentacles were reaching out into places that without the 'charity ticket', it would probably have never reached and the whole thing was starting to consume me.
How much did I want to raise? Targets seemed to belong to a past life in sales, but I knew that there had to be some measure of success or failure of the project in order to drive me forward in times when the going got tough. A friend, Eddy, who had twice run the London Marathon for charity and was undertaking a London to Berlin bike ride to support his cause, seemed the obvious person to ask. He had raised £3,000 the first time and £5,000 for his second marathon, so £5,000 seemed an appropriate initial target. However, this target had been set at a time before I had come up with the plan to sell the other places on the tee with me at the various courses around the country. . . . so I doubled it. If I could raise £10,000 for the considerable efforts ahead, I would be pleased. Many were intimating already that I would smash this target, but with all their encouragement about organising this and that to support the event, it soon became clear that the sky is the limit, but it comes at a personal price of having to do almost nothing else for the period between now and the end of the challenge.
Also, my new wife Ana, was starting to notice that time for her was being eroded when it was just as precious to her with my uncertain future, so I pledged to myself to ensure I managed the project's demands within reasonable limits. . . . . . Apart from anything else, I would need to ensure time left over in the three months before to build my fitness, and to play enough golf to ensure my standard was appropriate for these tough championship challenges.
One of the key decisions was to develop a website which explained the whole project, so that I wouldn't be writing the same things over and over in the further development of the plan. Fortunately, my sister-in-law Jools volunteered her significant skills, almost before I thought she could have anticipated my request. She asked me to send her a website whose style I liked, and said that she would try to get as near as she could to it by personally undertaking a D.I.Y. job for me, free of charge. She's a whizz when it comes to e-biz so I was glad to be in her capable hands. Quickly I learnt of the hosting issues for websites regarding costs and security. So, despite initially having much grander plans, with complications involving dynamic sponsorship (eg I will sponsor you 20p for each par you score, I will sponsor you £50 if you par hole 13 at Turnberry, etc), I soon understood the wisdom of keeping a site like www.AroundWithRog.co.uk static meaning that such interaction would not be possible, given the constraints. The key is to integrate with sites that have already developed the functionality you need (like this one). It saves you trying to duplicate the best of breed functionality on your own site, that there is little point in re-inventing.
Rapidly, I penned (ok - typed!) the material that needed to be featured on the site so that we could get it up and running.
This immediately became an invaluable resource for three reasons:
- When people asked you to send an email explaining what you were doing, a two or three liner was sufficient, pointing them instead to the website for as much detail as they required.
- It validated and legitimised that this was not someone asking for another charity donation, for which companies receive thousands of requests, but a well thought through, challenging and committed plan. Having the charities' logos on it also helped in this area, as many charites guard these electronic resources to ensure thay are not imitated by tricksters and con artists.
- It provided an opportunity to publicise their donations of money or goods that they could see, as well as point others to if they wished.
Before very long, I was aware of the issues of making updates to websites, especially as the first draft clearly needed updating before long. Jools was straining to keep up with my developments and reminding me that she had work of her own too! So thanks again Jools for all your help.
The website was looking good, but with only holiday snaps to use for pictures, I engaged Dave, a professional photographer friend to see if he could take some pictures of me which would help to communicate what I was doing. He duly obliged FOC, snapping me riding my motorcycle one-handed around (ie not across!) the 17th green at my home club, The Lambourne GC, but with driver in hand in a 'jousting position'. I must say, that even with the permission of the general manager of the golf club, I was worried that if I toppled over on my bike, because of the soft and greasy surface, the cylinder heads would make nasty gouges in the turf and someone would surely moan. Club golfers would probably not list moaning as one of their key skills, but are still remarkably adept at it! Fortunately all was well and the pictures were taken, including one with me resting on the bike, using its length as a bed - to communicate the exhaustive nature of the challenge!
As an aside, what do club golfers moan about? You're playing too slowly is one of the favourites. Membership fees are too high. The greens are diseased. The rough is too long. The rough is too short and doesn't punish a bad shot. The out of bounds shouldn't be there. The pin position is too close to the edge of the green. The pin position is on a slope. Women shouldn't be allowed to play on a Saturday morning. Why do only 12 women play on a Saturday morning? It's too windy. They have hollow tined (taken small cores out of the green to increase aeration, promote root growth, reduce disease, but leaves a pitted surface) again. The tee markers are not straight. The fairways/greens have not been mown. The food is overpriced. The food isn't good enough. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Suffice it to say, take on the job of a Golf Club General Manager or Secretary at your peril!
On one occasion, a regular golfing buddy of mine, Steve, managed to find time in his recently busy schedule for a midweek game. He hadn't hit a ball for about six weeks, but needed to be finished by midday to meet work commitments. So no time for practice. He duffed the ball all the way up the first hole as he slowly regained his normal form. By the tee shot on the second hole, he was back to normal. As the 'senators' group who go out on that weekday morning (we subsequently found out) are legendary for their dislike of anyone venturing out ahead of them, they bullied the assistant pro at the club to drive out to us on only the second hole, asking us to play faster so that we didn't hold them up. Needless to say we weren't impressed at their complete lack of patience, but as a group they very soon disappeared behind us into the distance, as we quickly regained our usual pace! If you are a golfer reading this and you moan unreasonably, stop doing it, life is too short.
Back to the website. . . .It had become the perfect communications tool. But how would I look to sell auction items and my donated tee times? A friend had long been trying to get me into using Ebay and mentioned 'Ebay for charity' programmes, where sales could be promoted better due to the special status afforded them on this marketplace website. Not much good though if you have nothing worth selling. So, Jo, a Hodgkins Lymphoma sufferer who had a much tougher time than me, but who is inspirational herself in her positive approach to life, claimed Ebay expertise. She had me set up in a morning and before long, two items were listed and sold under my username aroundwithrog.
Following approaches at the NEC Golf Show and the World Golf Championships at The Grove in Watford, golf companies have donated all sorts of things both to my charity appeal as well as to me. For my appeal a particular favourite has been golf bags and items signed by Ryder Cup stars. However, after looking into the prices people achieve for these items, whether it is for charity or not, tends to be below the retail price, so this puts me in a quandary as to whether to organise an event at which to auction these items, or whether to sell on Ebay and take whatever is offered.
The items given to me have been donated specifically for my personal use during the challenge, as I suspect that with so many people (60 in all) playing golf with me, the companies concerned wish to be represented in the most positive manner possible.
Very early on in my planning, I had decided that in this celebrity culture that seems to prevail at the moment, that it would be a worthwhile exercise to engage a number of golf playing celebrities. Soon I found that my network started to work its magic. One chap I met on an inter club golf match had organised a charity event for the Bud Flannigan Leukaemia Fund and provided me with a list of the usual mix of A to C listers (one A, a few Bs and the rest C!) who he felt would be willing to support my cause.
From a chance meeting at my golf club, I had met up with Sir Clive Woodward, who offered me one day of his time, which I am still considering how best to use. I wasn't expecting him to be quite a quiet and unassuming man; but he is very polite, helpful and supportive. Bizarrely, he had shared a similar career history to me in terms of university, employer and jobs within Xerox, until his changed dramatically to pursue his rugby coaching. Mine had remained rather more mundane and typical of middle England, until the day illness changed it all.
More conversations led me to talk with senior people within the two supported charities, who were concerned about the use of valuable 'celeb' time for a campaign that may not be set up to make the best use of that time, for the money added to its value. It struck me that this was quite a commercial approach that I had not expected to come across in the charity sector.
On talking with others who had organised events dependent on celebrity involvement, I soon realised that trying to manage a large number of them could quickly lead to logistical problems, as their other commitments could easily become higher priority at short notice. So some hard nosed decisions about bringing things back to what I was trying to achieve, as well as feedback from other fundraisers, led me to exclude wide involvement of celebrities, as I thought they may be more aggravation than they would be worth to the cause.
My only celebrity, who I had met before the challenge started, is one of only two ladies currently enlisted to play ARoundWithRog. . . . . . . . needless to say I am looking forward to being played around with. . . . and also needless to say (in typical Eastenders style) you will have to tune in next time to find out who she is!
Published on writebuzz®:
> A day in my life