This year, a team of cyclists from Metricon doubled their previous fundraising result for Canteen. How did they do it and what did the partners learn?
In March 2022, after a gruelling 568km, five-day bike ride through Victoria, a team of 24 cyclists from home-building company, Metricon, returned to their Mount Waverley starting point with $240,000 for cancer charity, Canteen.
This fundraising result has more than doubled the tally for the organisation’s previous ride in 2019, and exceeded their goal of $210,000. And for the young people who will benefit from Metricon’s pedal power, it means a whole lot more than dollars.
Canteen is a nationwide service, established in 1985, that provides free support to young people aged 12-25 who have either been diagnosed with cancer or have a family member living with cancer. Every year, 23,000 young people face the challenge of cancer in Australia and with operational costs of $32.6 million in FY21, Canteen is highly dependent upon, and grateful for, the fundraising efforts of individuals and groups such as the Metricon cycling team.
F&P’s Fiona Atkinson spoke to Katie James, National Corporate Communications & Engagement Manager at Metricon, and Cara Finneran, Strategic Relationships Manager at Canteen, to find out more.
How and when did the relationship between Canteen and Metricon start?
Katie (Metricon): Metricon’s national partnership with Canteen was forged in January 2019. As part of our strong commitment to community giving, Canteen was selected to receive over a million dollars in financial support over a three-year term and considerable in-kind support through volunteering and skills sharing. The funds raised through initiatives such as the bike ride are in addition to this.
Canteen was selected after a rigorous and collaborative evaluation of the causes Metricon’s people feel passionate about. The partnerships also signalled the move to a more strategic approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by Metricon, who had always given back but recognised the timing was right to adopt a more considered CSR framework.
We know that our people are passionate about many charitable causes, and youth and health rank very highly as their priority cause areas. The synergies between Canteen and Metricon became evident very quickly once we started exploring ways we could work together.
How did Metricon promote the fundraiser with their network?
Katie: The Canteen x Metricon VIC Cycle was promoted via a multitude of posts across our key social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. It was also promoted via internal communications to our staff and media outreach activities.
There were several industry sponsors for the bike ride – how did Metricon secure their support?
Katie: We work very closely with our trusted supply partners so when it came time to start talking about the ride, they were all very forthcoming and extremely generous with their contributions. We let them know about the opportunity to get involved via direct email and one-on-one meetings.
What channels and tactics did Canteen use to promote this fundraiser?
Cara (Canteen): Canteen worked closely with the Metricon team and the 24 riders to support them pre, during and post-event. Metricon played a crucial role by promoting the event and fundraising campaign to their wider networks with many of their suppliers and business networks giving generously. Similarly, the 24 riders promoted their involvement to their family, friends and networks creating a large web of people reached. To assist them with their efforts we were there to guide and support them in any way we could, ensuring it was an enjoyable and rewarding experience for everyone involved.
A user-friendly fundraising page was specifically created for the event using Canteen’s purpose-built tools, which included all the main event information, fundraising goal, the impact of the funds raised and a ‘Meet the Riders’ section.
The Metricon team were provided with key messaging and social media tiles/artwork about the event and Canteen, which they could then use and/or easily adapt to share with their networks. The messaging highlighted the fundraising goal and when reached, what positive impact it would make to the lives of young people impacted by cancer.
Leading up to the event, the Metricon team were also sent personalised emails, which included words of appreciation, encouragement and videos of young people and families impacted by cancer so they could feel inspired and connected to the cause.
In each email, the riders were updated on the fundraising amount they had reached at that point in time. It was important to us to let those involved know what impact that amount meant to Canteen (eg, providing 2500 free counselling sessions to support young people impacted by cancer), so they could get a sense of what their hard work and efforts would be contributing to and how they were making a difference.
With efforts combined, Canteen and Metricon reached out post-event to their media networks where the event has since received some great coverage.
How was the 568km route chosen?
Katie: This year’s 568km route for the bike ride was an extension of the route taken on the 2019 Canteen x Metricon Bike Ride. After riding 450km for Canteen in 2019, the Metricon riders wanted to challenge themselves by increasing the distance by an additional 118kms. The team worked together to modify the original route, as well as the duration of the ride, determining what would be achievable across their five-day journey. The route selected includes a wide range of areas where Metricon displays and builds homes, ensuring great support for the ride throughout regional Victoria.
What led to the significant increase in money raised this year?
Cara: Metricon had generously supported Canteen with their Victorian bike fundraiser in 2019 when they raised an incredible $117,000. Therefore, existing Metricon team members, suppliers and supporters were aware of the event and the purpose of raising awareness and funds for Canteen to support young people impacted by cancer. This created a great foundation and no doubt helped with the success of the event and outcome this year.
Even in these uncertain times we are finding, individuals and business continually want to help make a difference and are giving where they can. The riders worked hard to raise funds for the ride, and key businesses who work closely with Metricon contributed very generously, which also helped increase the total raised overall.
Both Metricon and Canteen worked seamlessly together and supported each other wherever possible to make the event as successful as possible.
It was key to steward those involved as best as we could and ensure they had the resources/key messaging to help them become our ambassadors and spread further awareness about Canteen.
I note that the campaign video featured some of Canteen’s young ambassadors speaking with your cycling team – can you tell me a bit more about this?
Cara: Within the emails sent to the participants leading up to the event, Canteen Youth Leaders Lena, Nathan and Jupiter were introduced to the riders and were told to expect them at the finish line festivities. On the day, the Canteen Youth Leaders were able to personally thank the riders for all their amazing support and were able to share their cancer story with anyone who asked.
During the formalities, Lena, along with Canteen Chair Joey Lynch (a previous Canteen service user), shared their cancer journeys and how Canteen has made a positive difference in their lives. They both have powerful stories, which allowed the group to feel educated on the benefits of Canteen services, feel more connected to our cause and hopefully bring fulfilment on what their support means to our young people.
After the event, Lena, Nathan and Jupiter also put together a heartfelt thank you video, which was sent to the Metricon team to show our appreciation for all their hard work, time and incredible fundraising results.
What were your learnings along the way?
Cara: We understand the importance of working collectively as a team and providing support wherever necessary to make it a streamlined, enjoyable and better experience for the corporates supporting us. Metricon were naturally incredible to work with and did an outstanding job driving the event with their networks as much as they could.
The key messaging and supporting material provided to the participants and the Metricon team to send onto their networks was an important part of the campaign. Our aim was to make it an easy process for everyone involved and ensure that everyone involved understood the true impact of their efforts and how their support will help young people impacted by cancer.
How did it feel for the riders to cross the finish line after the five days?
“Having been touched by cancer in my family and through friends, the ride is a cause I really wanted to support. There were a few days that were tougher than others, but I’m thankful I pushed on and played a part in raising funds for Canteen.” James Cage, New Home Advisor
“As a three-time breast cancer survivor, being able to support an organisation like Canteen who do so much for young people battling cancer is an amazing experience and a cause that’s close to my heart.” Kylie Jones, Building Estimator Team Leader – Regional North
What other ways do Metricon support the community?
Katie: Metricon support a range of charities in the locations where we operate throughout VIC, NSW, SA and QLD. We have three-year strategic partnerships not only with Canteen, but also with Habitat for Humanity who we support with both financial and in-kind support. At Metricon, we believe giving and sharing creates a strong foundation on which true community spirit grows. Metricon is committed to building and nurturing strong relationships with organisations in the community that have a positive impact in areas we’re passionate about.
Our support includes the two partnerships with our principal national charities, assisting local charities in regional communities, and gifting our people two days of annual volunteering leave to devote to causes they care about. For more information on the national and local charities we support, visit here.