How does a race with only 203 runners raise $70,000+ for a charity?!?!
Choosing the right charity to match your event
-Identify a charity that is highly rated by an independent rating site such as Charity Navigator. People are most often concerned with the % of overhead. If a charity has high overhead (greater than 10%) it is more difficult to get people to donate- as a large portion of their donations are going to expenses other than the charity’s mission. Charity business models can be debated, but it’s a whole lot easier to promote a charity with low overhead.
-Identify a charity that impacts the target audience of your event. If your area has a large military population, a military charity makes sense. If your race demographic is mostly women, maybe a charity focused on women’s issues. It is hard to go wrong with a charity that helps children. The more runners that have an emotional link to your charity’s mission the better they will fundraise.
-Identify a charity that the race director/promotor is passionate about. Just like any business, if you are not passionate about what you are selling, no one is going to buy your product or donate.
-Fully fill out all the charity and fundraising areas on Its Your Race (or your registration platform). Explain to people who might not know what the charity is. You can even include links to the charity home page or charity navigator page. Its Your Race can automatically set up fundraising pages for everyone who registers. If your registration platform does not do that, your goal is to get runners to setup their fundraising page during their registration process, so make it as easy as possible for them.
-Don’t forget to enable fundraising AND donations. Even if someone doesn’t want to setup a fundraising page, many will make a donation on checkout. Non-runners who don’t know a runner can also use this link to donate.
-If you have some awards for different fundraising levels, set those up as well to get things started. Having a very small award level for your first award will get people over the hardest step- actually setting up a fundraising page. You can think about refunding entry fees for people who reach a certain mark, getting them reserved parking passes, or sponsor discounts. Set a low bar and don’t have an overwhelming number of levels- too many levels will only make things confusing and make your life much more difficult when it comes time to get everyone what they have earned.
-Ensure that your runners are as familiar as possible with your charity (Actual email example at the end)
-Post updates from your charity on your race social media throughout the year. Be sure to highlight stories about individuals helped by the charity so people can put a face with the charity.
-Use the email function in your registration platform to both remind people to set up their fundraising pages and educate them about the charity. We also use our email list to send out ‘fundraising tips’ for individuals (see email below).
-Ask your charity to share posts about your event or fundraising successes on their social media.
-Brag about your fundraisers and share the leader board on social media. As with most things in life, about 10% of your runners are going to raise 90% of your donations. The more you can stoke the competitive fire in those 10% the more they are going to raise. And there is no doubt that runners can get very competitive, even over fundraising!
-Make a big deal about your fundraisers at your packet pickup, in your race program, at your pre-race briefing, and/or at your awards ceremony. It is uncomfortable and hard work to ask people for money, so some public recognition for a job well done will go a long way toward motivating them the next year. We treat our top fundraisers equal to or better than the people that won the race. The top fundraiser gets to wear a custom Bib #1 (awarded at the race briefing in front of all the other runners) and gets the same award as the people who won the race (at the awards ceremony). Not many people have the physical ability to win races, but everyone can see themselves receiving that fundraising award.
Make the charity part of your event
-Include the charity logo on all your race materials. It should be as big a part of your event as your top sponsor if you are really focused on fundraising. Your sponsor should also appreciate being associated with the highly rated charity you chose.
-We include the charity logo right on the back our runner’s medals. This demonstrates to the runners that we are committed to this charity and gives them a sense of purpose to accompany their sense of accomplishment. Everything from signs, to briefings, to awards are built with our charity in mind.
-Bring people who have benefited from your charity to the race. Once of the more emotional things I have experienced at my events is when families that have directly benefited from the charity thank runners when they finish. The runners are already familiar with how much these families have gone through (thanks to our emails, posts, and briefings) so they are pretty shocked to be getting thanked for simply running a race. If a runner didn’t fund raise, I bet they will highly consider it when they sign up the next year.
Example email to all registered runners
The Time To Act Is Now!
This week, during a special operations raid in Yemen, Navy SEAL Ryan Owens gave his life in the service of our nation. Unfortunately, Ryan's loss added his three children to the rolls of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) family. Since he was a member of special operations the SOWF made a commitment to him, long before he left on this mission, to put each of those children through college should the unthinkable happen. On Sunday the unthinkable did happen. And now us, the supporters of the SOWF, are committed to honoring Ryan's sacrifice and ensuring these three children are given the best education possible.
I share Ryan's story because you will all learn more about him and his family in the news over the next couple of weeks and you will have the opportunity to understand more about the sacrifices all our special operations warriors make each day. By all accounts he was a professional warrior, a great teammate, and dedicated father and husband. Although Ryan's family is the most recently affected, the SOWF currently has over 720 children just like Ryan's waiting to attend college. Many of you know the cost to send one child to college, so you can only imagine the cost of 720+ tuition bills.
While I know we will never raise enough to send all three of Ryan's kids through school at our small event, we are dedicated to doing everything that we can in his honor. If you are running the ultra and have not setup a fundraising page, simply click here to get started. If you are not running but would like to donate, you can do that by clicking here.
These SOWF children are the only reason the Destin Beach Ultras exists and we appreciate your training and dedication in support of them. We also still have room in each of our events if you have friends who would like to join us.
Fundraising Tips For Runners:
-Choose a fallen special operations warrior and share their story, along with the mission of the SOWF, with your potential donors. Don't personally anyone? You can start at the SOWF website http://specialops.org/in-their-own-words/
-Be sure to thank your donors! Check back on your fundraising page often and thank those who donated to you publicly on their social media pages.
-Keep your donors updated on your training with photos and reminders of why this event is special to you.
-Let those who can't attend be part of the event. If you are bringing a crew, let them Facebook live from your account or post to your social media feed during the event. Lots of donors will donate the day of the race or in the days following! I'll even let you stream the briefing.