As the days get longer, the time will come to return to a fundraising classic: the charity run/walk. The rising temperatures and New Year’s resolutions to get fit lend themselves perfectly to an active, outdoor event. Run/walks require a great deal of commitment, but research has found that events dependent on significant effort (or even pain) “can increase willingness to contribute to a pro-social cause.”
Although spring hasn’t sprung quite yet, now is the time to get into gear for your organization’s run/walk or ride.
1. Utilize the power of peer-to-peer fundraising
While community engagement and awareness is certainly an important result of a charity run or walk, the dollar amount raised will generally be your organization’s greatest measure of success. First and foremost, ask yourself how much money you hope to raise and how you plan to do it. Many runs and walks charge a flat fee to register as a participant. While this is the most straightforward process, it has limited fundraising potential.
Events tend to have high overhead costs, so fundraising solely through registration fees can prove difficult. In recent years, many campaigns have reacted to this by asking their participants to fundraise in the time leading up to an event.
One way to do this is by having attendees pay the registration fee and also commit to raising a certain amount to gain entrance into the event (or one or the other), and because they can call on friends and family to supplement their own donation, runners can raise hundreds or even thousands of dollars! It goes without saying that raising an additional $400 through a runner’s network amplifies the impact of their $20 registration fee.
Raising money through participants is effective – when enabled by the organization. Barriers to incorporating the “fundraise for entry” model include having runners complete a time-consuming, multistep process to pay for registration and then create their fundraising page. Making this process as minimal as possible (the less steps, the better), is required to successfully incorporate peer-to-peer fundraising into your walk/run.
Make sure you clearly communicate the process for registrants, so they can start fundraising easily and painlessly. (Fortunately, here at StayClassy, we just rolled out a new feature combining event registration and fundraising into a simple, streamlined process. When a participant registers for an event, a fundraising page is automatically created for them).
2. Get creative and make it a walk to remember
Although charity runs and walks have been held for decades (some dating back a century!), organizers are still finding new ways to make their event unique. Active Against ALS has the April Fools Day Twinkie Run, Wounded Warriors Project raised more than $5 million during their Tough Mudder Adventure Run series, and people all across the country have stripped down to support the Children’s Tumor Foundation at their Cupid’s Undie Run.
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Even if you keep the creativity relatively simple, you can spice things up with flashy mile-markers or have a costume contest for the participants. Anything that makes your event particularly memorable for participants can help keep them more engaged in the future.
3. Don’t forget donor delight!
The event is not over when the last participant crosses the finish line. Your nonprofit organization is posed with a unique opportunity at the end of these events: a pool of both new and old donors that have demonstrated significant commitment to, and engagement with, your cause.
As we’ve discussed before, donor retention is one of an organization’s most pressing challenges, and there is more to keeping them around then e-mail asks and off-hand thank yous. Delighting donors plays a huge role in keeping people in tune and on board with your mission, especially as “delighting” is a more gentle and pleasant reminder of supporters’ involvement with your organization.
Since delighting donors is equally as important as recruiting and thanking them, show your genuine appreciation for their support through action. Why not put on an after party to congratulate participants, e-mail out a special, interactive photo album of the event or allocate a part of your website to celebrating the run/walk’s participants?
There is a lot that goes into planning a run/walk and, on top of that, making it a successful event. However, it can turn out to be extremely rewarding if you utilize your nonprofit organization’s spring fundraising event as an opportunity to delight supporters, bring the community together and test out new online fundraising tactics!
Plan a Charity Run/Walk Like a Pro