Longtime fundraiser goes the distance for World Bicycle Relief

We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our fundraising community. Whether they raise enough for one bicycle or 50, the dedication and effort they give to the Power of Bicycles creates a major impact for those we serve.

We recently sat down with Nathan Rugg, who has been fundraising for World Bicycle Relief for 10 years, to hear what keeps him coming back

Q: Tell us about your fundraising background and your relationship with World Bicycle Relief.

I started doing marathons in the early 2000s, and I wanted to tie it into fundraising. Running can be a very personal sport, but it also takes up time, especially time with your family. So I wanted it to mean a little bit more. In 2014, I learned about World Bicycle Relief.

I first partnered with World Bicycle Relief through the Bank of America Chicago Marathon as a fundraiser. I was hooked. There’s something really intuitive to me about the kind of support and impact that World Bicycle Relief and the Buffalo Bicycle provides. While, every now and then, I would support other charities – WBR has been my go-to for the past 10 years – tying together not only marathons but also other running endeavors that keep me coming back year after year. 

Q: What stands out to you the most from the last 10 years as a fundraiser?

People might not believe it, but when I see someone’s donation, it truly does inspire me to keep going and push farther. 

After that first marathon for World Bicycle Relief, I wanted to push my running and expand my support. Partially because I was going back to a common group of friends, family, colleagues, and connections for fundraising. 

In 2016, I decided to run 2016 miles in a single year while fundraising for WBR. I noticed increased donations and a continued interest from people. Then, 2022 came around and it was going to be again a full year of running, a full year of pushing for donations. What was going to be the “big thing”? Run 3000 miles. 

This campaign has continued to build on itself and, part of it is, I love the challenge. But it means so much when people support you by supporting World Bicycle Relief and supporting your campaign. 

I had the honor to run the London Marathon in support of WBR in 2022 (one of three Marathons that year) as part of that 3000 mile goal, campaigning throughout the entire year. After all that, honestly, I needed a break! In 2023, I had the opportunity to attend World Bicycle Relief’s Communities on the Move benefit in Chicago with my wife. I had been fundraising for seven years at that point and still, I was struck by the impact. I was inspired all over again and immediately started to plan my next campaign – to fund 75 Buffalo Bicycles in a multi-phase campaign throughout 2024. 

Q: How has your relationship with our mission and impact changed?

It continues to grow and expand on itself. It just seems so intuitive and fundamental: the impact that a Buffalo Bicycle makes. I’ve seen how World Bicycle Relief has expanded beyond just the bicycle – through locally trained mechanics, assembly facilities, and multiple levels of community involvement. 

I like to think of the cumulative impact, as well. The more I think about the sheer number of bicycles that are out in communities, I can’t help but feel like my fundraising, my involvement and what I get back from World Bicycle Relief has expanded along with the organization throughout the years. 

Q: What reflections or advice would you share with others who feel inspired to activate their communities around World Bicycle Relief? 

I think the biggest challenge has been myself. I worried whether people in my network would continue to give if they had already supported World Bicycle Relief. Then I realized that people just want to support you. Your friends, your family, your coworkers – people like to support things that you believe in. They know how committed I am to this. If you build relationships with people, those are meaningful. I also realized, what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? They might not donate. OK! For everyone that doesn’t, there’s someone that has. It sounds kind of obvious now, but it took me a bit of a mental breakthrough to get to that point.

You never really know who’s going to get involved because you made an effort. Go ahead and ask that neighbor, that friend, that co-worker, that person on the other side of you. Nothing bad can come from showing that you’re dedicated to or believe in a cause.

Inspired to start a fundraiser of your own? Join our Pedal to Empower movement and raise funds to mobilize women and girls with bicycles!
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