2015 Year In Review
Team NL was on the chopping block this year at NeighborLink Fort Wayne. As a small nonprofit with limited staff hours, every hour of time has to count if we're going to execute our mission and invest/steward our time wisely. We're a donor driven entity and we have a responsibility to use our time on things that matter or we're not using our donors dollars wisely. Team NeighborLink has always been a worthy investment, but as it's grown it requires more time and we quickly found ourselves putting in 5-10 or more hours a week making it happen.
Team NeighborLink morphed into a development oriented entity and we needed it to start really impacting our organization either financially or with increased volunteer activity. So, we determined that if we couldn't raise $15,000 this year through Team NL athletes or events, we'd have to pull back the amount of time we were spending on it in 2016. Tough call, but one we needed to put down on the table and say out loud to ourselves and our most committed athletes.
If you've been following along in 2015, you know that this year has been phenomenal and beyond expectations. Between our Ambassadors, our Great 80 & Night Moves events, merchandise sales, and several other donors, we've raised over $18,000. About $7000 of that went to funding NeighborLink operations and the rest of it was fund raised for specific projects throughout the year. Athletes' fundraising helped fund two roofs, two furnaces, and many other small projects we've done this year.
Read a blog post about just how successful Furnace Fundraising has been this past month. About $4000 was raised through Team NL athletes and events for furnaces.
Besides the fundraising, we've added so many new members to our team this year. Over 20 cyclists/triathletes and dozens of runners. All wanting to represent us in various events, big and small. The word is spreading that we're a grassroots team for the common athlete looking to join a community of athletes that recognize there is more to sport than just winning, complex training schedules, and the latest gear. We talk about that stuff, but we spend more time getting to know one another or more about how to get involved in loving our neighbors in and out of sports. We love seeing our team members showing up on NeighborLink projects and getting their hands dirty as well.
It's fantastic to see our gear starting to sell around the country as folks hear about what we're doing and want to support us by buying a cap, a pair of socks, or even a full cycling kit. We've had athletes do Ironmans, the Chicago Marathon, several half-marathons, and show up in the CrossFit Games Regionals Team Competitions this year thanks to Mad Apple CrossFit. Beyond the cool factor, it's great to know that we have athletes proud to represent us wherever they go. They could be wearing other gear with cooler product sponsors or more technical gear than we have, but they choose us and we appreciate every time we see one of our shirts in pictures or at events. Thank you for the support.
One of the biggest surprises of the year was the success with our Night Moves Running Series. We didn't know anything about organizing running events and we certainly haven't been a fixture in the Fort Wayne running community. We set out to do 4 events and kept our fingers crossed that we'd get 40 runners at each event. By the 3rd race, we were selling out and by the 4th race, we bumped our entries up to 60 people and sold that out. This pushed us to organized a 5th and 6th race, which both had 60+ people participate and tackle even more intense courses. Sure, 60 runners isn't that many in typical 5k race terms, but when your goal is engagement with like-minded people, then it's exactly what we're wanting. We never want to be the biggest and best, we want to be the most connected and engaged with our athletes and supporters. Night Moves will return in 2016 with a full calendar of races.
Because of 2015's growth, Team NeighborLink is thriving and we plan on continuing to invest time and resources into it in 2016. Also because of this growth, we have some new opportunities with sponsors that want to see us succeed. We hope to continue adding to our sponsor list that has so generously supported us the past few years. We appreciate Summit City Bikes, Mad Apple CrossFit, 3 Rivers Running Company, and the few national supporters we have in SRAM and NUUN. We also thank Human Motor Works for helping us get some POC helmets for cyclists and for donating some gear for winners at the last Night Moves. If you want to help us continue to grow from a sponsor perspective, let us know. We'd love to share some vision.
Thank you for an incredible year. We hope you've had fun and feel like you were part of something significant in the community, even if it was only running one of our Night Moves or buying a pair of socks. Every transaction made makes a different at NeighborLink.
We're looking to put together an Advisory Committee for Team NeighborLink, so if you want to get more involved planning events and shaping our future, consider this your invite to reach out to us.