In 1997, I ran the Dublin, Ireland Marathon as part of Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program. I raised $3,000 from friends, family, and colleagues to travel to the Emerald Isle for this special race.
Nearly 20 years later, racing to support a cause has become standard in the running community. Running USA estimates that U.S. road races resulted in $1.2 billion for nonprofit organizations in 2012. At this year’s Boston Marathon, runners raised an impressive $30.6 million for its more than 200 nonprofit partners.
I’ve been providing marketing support for the inaugural Silverton Double Dirty 30, a trail race through the majestic San Juan Mountains that benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Colorado. The race director’s goal is to raise $75,000 through a combination of corporate sponsorship, fundraising efforts by runners, and race proceeds.
I recently put together ideas to help the Double Dirty 30 runners with their fundraising efforts and thought it could be useful for those who are currently raising money for their own race beneficiary.
Give some of these suggestions a try or use them as a springboard for other ideas to help drive more funds to your cause. Remember it’s less about the actual activity and more about the ask—if you show enthusiasm for what you’re doing, it will be contagious and people will be more likely to donate.
10 IDEAS TO BOLSTER YOUR RACE FUNDRAISING EFFORTS
- Send personalized letters about your fundraising efforts to your network of supporters.
- Place a “change” jar at your office explaining your cause and how small change adds up to big impact for the nonprofit.
- Birthday coming up? Ask for donations for your fundraising efforts in lieu of gifts.
- Host a happy hour – many restaurants and bars will donate a percentage of sales to nonprofits. Round up a few friends and share race stories that will make them happy you’re running a race and not them!
- Have a garage sale and ask friends and family to gather up items that have been gathering dust, an easy sell knowing money raised will go directly to a good cause.
- Like to cook? Invite friends over for a dinner party – ask for a $15 donation in exchange for your culinary chops. Or switch it up and have friends over for dinner during Chopped (reality show on the Cooking channel). Have friends place $10 (or more) bets on who will be the winner and split the pot with the friend who guesses correctly.
- Offer to wash friends’ cars for as little as $25 (hey, it’s going to a worthy organization). Have kids? Get them to wash the cars for you, or at least help you.
- Bring in tasty treats to work – let your colleagues know they can enjoy a cupcake for as little as a $5 donation.
- Frequent local establishments? Ask for a small donation – ideas include coffee shops, dentist, dry cleaners, etc.
- Ask your local running store if you can place a change jar at the checkout for donations for your nonprofit. Or better yet, ask them to donate a percentage of sales from the day.
While I don’t think you need to have a beneficiary for your race experience to be meaningful, as crossing the finishline is rewarding in itself, but it’s merely a bonus if your race efforts result in a donation to an organization you’re passionate about—and it’s a wonderful way to support and give back to your race community.
Running a race for a cause? I encourage you to share your donation story as part of Small Change, my initiative to support nonprofits in our race and adventure cities.
What have you done to bolster your fundraising efforts. Share your story and ideas here.