Each year, a handful of athletes have tremendous fundraising success. We asked them to share their approach.

Team Member #1

What did you do?

I made a list of friends and family, sent them an email message and attached letter in a Word file in team letterhead layout.

Dear Friends:

I would like to ask for your support for the Varsity/Novice Wayland-Weston Crew team. Our Team fundraises each September in advance of our Annual ERGATHON. 

So what is an Ergathon?

It’s a marathon on rowing machines for crew athletes. This year our annual Ergathon is Saturday September 19th from 8am – noon [Wayland Town Beach, 30 Parkland Drive, Wayland, MA] The team will be divided into random squads that will row continuously on land for 8 kilometers. 

No donation is too small! The single dollars quickly add up and we appreciate any and all donations.

Donations may be made online at  Click on the Class of 2018 Sophmores to donate.

WW Crew is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, entirely run and funded by parents, volunteers and our thoughtful donors. Donations go toward getting us new equipment and maintaining what we already own. Crew is a demanding sport. It’s also an expensive one (1 boat can cost $30,000 or more!)   

Thank you!

Your Friendly Wayland-Weston Crew Team Member


A not-for-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) educational organization

P.O. Box 5508  •  Wayland  •  Massachusetts  •  01778-1032  •

Team Member #2

What did you do?

I found that sending out emails to lots of people worked really well.  I made sure that the email sounded formal, and had information about the team, not just that we need donations. (i.e. Going into detail about the equipment that we use, the equipment we need, the regattas we’ve done well in, etc).

I saw many posts from rowers on Facebook that just said something like “please consider donating to Wayland Weston crew, thank you!!!” and people didn’t give very much information about what the fundraiser is, and what the team’s core values are.

My dad also brought a sheet to his firm and got some donations there. I’ve heard that going door-to-door had worked well for people as well.

E-mail Message

From: Friendly Wayland-Weston Crew Team Member
Date: September 17, 2015 at 12:03:53 PM EDT
Subject:2015 Ergathon!

Hi everyone-

As I’m sure you all know by now, I’ve been rowing with the Wayland-Weston crew team for a little over a year. It’s hard to believe my time as a novice rower has come to a close, but I’m excited to be a varsity rower this season. 

Every year, we hold a fundraiser called the “ergathon” (an erg is a rowing machine). We set the ergs for 8000m and take turns rowing as teams until the monitor runs to 0. The idea of the fundraiser is having each rower individually raise as much money as possible to go towards repairs to equipment and new shells (which we are in desperate need of), new oars and other miscellaneous items. You’d be surprised at how many little things are necessary for us to operate! 

Quite a few incoming freshmen and sophomores joined the novice teams this season, which is awesome (the novice girls now have 3 eight boats!), but it means that in order for everyone to be able to row and compete, we need more boats. These can run anywhere from $30-60,000. Any donations that can be made towards us are incredibly helpful (even just $10!). If you would like to donate, checks can be made out to Wayland-Weston Rowing Association and sent to my home address. Please add a note and indicate the number of meters you would like to have me row – between 100-150 is preferable, as they add up fast! If donating online is easier for you, you can follow the first link below and select “contribute now” in the top right corner. If you make an online donation, put my name in the comment field. 

You are welcome to come join us on Saturday, September 19th, at the Wayland Town Beach from 8am-12pm. You can sign up for “speed rides”, learn-to-row, and launch rides by following the link below. A free pancake breakfast will be offered with donations of any size. Come out to support Wayland-Weston Crew! 

To donate online:

For general information about the ergathon: 

Thank you so much for your generosity! 

Team Member #3 (Actually, an athlete’s parent)

What did you do?

This is our 4th year asking for money, and we always do the same thing: Our rower will draft an email to all of his family members and very close family friends, as well as some neighbors that he knows well. He sends the email and asks people to let him know if they would be willing to donate.

Because the timing is always tight, frequently family members write checks to me and I send in a big check for everyone on the day of since some of the family members don’t get their checks to us in time.

Our rower always emphasizes in the letter that the money will go directly towards new equipment and how important it is to bring in new equipment to the program. He also thanks them for their generous donations the year before (since we always ask the same people).

I also make him send thank you notes with pictures of him rowing during the ergathon so the people can see what it’s all about. If you’re not a rower, the whole thing can seem crazy. I remember the first year, my sister was so surprised when she got the picture and realized they were on land, not on the water 🙂

We have this other issue in that two people in our family don’t like to give checks until the kids have completed the event, because to them, you are pledging for a given distance. So that’s another reason why we get pledges and I turn in one check with all the pledge money and then we just get the pledge money sent to me…that won’t work for people who want to deduct it though. They will want to write a check directly to the program.

Team Member #4

What did you do?

The first thing I did to raise money for last year’s Ergathon was make a list of everyone I was willing to ask for a donation. I asked all of my family, aunts, uncles and cousins, and then asked friends of mine and friends of my parents.

Next, I composed an email to send out to everyone that I tried to make light and funny but at the same time tried to make it a point that we needed the money. After I sent the email out and donations started coming in, I grouped the donations into families, so each family donated a specific amount, not just each person. This resulted in the average family donating about $100.

I think the most important thing, though, was being able to ask a lot of people, even if I was not sure they would say yes and donate something. I also didn’t ask for any specific amount, I just asked for people to make a donation.

Here is a copy of the email I sent:

After four days of coming home and telling my dad that I was bored, I knew something was wrong when he came home with a bag of McDonald’s. As I was eating, he asked me if I would ever consider crew team, and after the miserable experience my sister put me through with winter training for crew at CRI, I declined the offer. He said that it was too late, he had already signed me up, and we had to go and get clothes and the required items because I was starting the next day.

I have had a lot of fun participating in crew, but we have a small problem… we need a boat. The boat the novice team is using is in terrible condition and needs to be replaced. If we could raise enough money to buy a new boat for the varsity team, we would get the one they are using now, which is in excellent condition.

I am rowing in an ergathon, which is a race on a rowing machine. I will be rowing about 5,000 meters to raise money for the boat and I am asking for your help. If you could please give your support by making a donation, and my parents will match.

Please make your check payable to my mom and let me know by email if and how much you are pledging so she can get the check in as soon as possible.

I didn’t ask for a specific amount and I didn’t urge, I just asked for a general donation and people sent in what they felt comfortable sending in, some even sent in more than I expected.

Team Member #5

What did you do?

I contacted all my family (grandparents, uncles and aunts, etc.) and friends. I reach them through email and Facebook messenger. My message was just a few paragraphs about how I have started a new sport and I loved it and explained the expenses of it (like how much a boat costs) and asked for donations. I didn’t ask anyone using handouts, but I think e-mail was a good way because you can ask people who don’t live close. But going door to door could also be a good method, that I might try this year.

Team Member #6

What did you do?

I reached out to friends and family and sent them all a personally-written email that contained some key points.

First off, I made sure that included how much crew meant to me. It has really impacted my high school career, both in and out of athletics, and so noting that honestly, I think, is super important to show how important the donations of friends and family are to you.

Secondly, I mentioned the cause. Last fall, we found ourselves in the process of fundraising so that we might be able to purchase some new shells. In including that, it gave my friends and family an idea of what their money was going to and also worked to provide a solid goal that was being worked towards.

Lastly, I made sure to inform those I reached out to that any amount that they could donate would be greatly appreciated, stressing that it is the culmination of many donations that really propels us to the goals we try so hard to reach each year.

I hope that this can be helpful and informative to both those new to the sport this fall as well as those returning who just need an idea of how to fundraise even more effectively.

Team Member #7

What did you do?

For the most part, I just told people that we were doing a fundraiser to help pay for our sport, and most people were gracious enough to donate.  I reached out to my whole family (they have been extremely supportive since I started rowing) and they made up most of my contribution, along with a few generous donors.

Team Member #8

What did you do?

I sent out an email to my relatives, many of which have ties to rowing which I believe leads to higher donations.  My parents didn’t donate a specific amount, but instead offered to match what my other relatives donated.  As to what would improve the ergathon, I think more food would help especially after all of the erging.  Last fall I was only a new novice with much less experience so I was not as involved in the ergathon.

Team Member #9

What did you do?

I sent out an email following the suggestion on the website.  I sent it to members of our family, and my parents’ friends in town, my parents’ friends who know me, and my parents’ who are rowers, too. I also asked parents of rowers who graduated the year before.