Chelsea Alves
Chelsea Alves
Y in Central Maryland Annual Turkey Trot

How Y in Central Maryland Raised 800K for Their Annual 5K

More charity events are turning to peer-to-peer fundraising, yet few have yet to master it. Peer-to-peer fundraising is powerful, so much so it can add significant funds to your event’s overall revenue. As an event organizer, you are tasked with arming your supporters with the best fundraising software and tools available, and showing them how to use those tools. An educated participant is better equipped to become a successful fundraiser—making your event more rewarding overall. The Y in Central Maryland has found a way to educate their supporters and turn their event attendees into event fundraisers.

To reach their fundraising goals for their youth development programs the Y in Central Maryland hosts a number of smaller events, gives supporters the option to donate online, applies for grants, and holds their annual Turkey Trot Charity 5K. The Turkey Trot 5K has been a long-standing event for the Y in Central Maryland, a nearly 22-year-old tradition that is now their biggest event of the year. It started in just one location with 1,000 participants. Flash forward to November 2015. The event is now hosted in six locations with 12,851 participants and most recently raised $781,289.

Software Contributes to Three Monumental Years of Fundraising

All it took was purchasing the right software and empowering supporters for the Y in Central Maryland to see huge surges in event participation and revenue. Because of this, their last three Turkey Trots have achieved monumental success. After introducing registration plus fundraising in 2014, the Y in Central Maryland saw a 46 percent increase in fundraising. The following year, after raising their fundraising minimum and introducing a new customer engagement strategy, they saw a 24 percent growth in fundraising and a 19 percent growth in participants. Plans for November 2016 are already well in the works and include the intention to increase the fundraising minimum once again.

Y in Central Maryland Growth

Growing A Supporter Base with Registration Plus Fundraising

Introducing registration plus fundraising to their event strategy pushed the envelope for the Y in Central Maryland. Instead of just registering, participants had to complete a two-step process that also included setting up their fundraising page. This required an additional time investment. However, the benefits outweighed the risks. The Y in Central Maryland was able to streamline the process and have event registration and fundraising page creation take place on one site. Participants were then provided with education-oriented communications after they signed up to simplify the peer-to-peer fundraising process.

The Y in Central Maryland attributes much of their Turkey Trot growth to nurturing and educating their supporters. Instead of leaving participants in the dark after they register for the event, they send email communications each week with updates about the race, training programs, route directions, and fundraising tips. Lindsay Crone, Director of Philanthropy Campaigns and Online Fundraising adds,

 “You don’t want to bombard anyone but you definitely want to keep in contact so they feel like they have a relationship with your event.”

Having the right software has also allowed the Y in Maryland to streamline the registration process for participants and make it easy to both register and fundraise. They also made a point to keep their registration form short and sweet and asked as few questions as possible. Because of this, participants did not feel overwhelmed by the process and instead were able to focus on what’s most important: fundraising for a noble cause.

Finding the Right Support System

In order to incorporate a successful fundraising strategy into their Turkey Trot, the Y in Central Maryland looked no further than their local supporters to help get the event off the ground. Awareness for their organization spread quickly throughout their community. As fundraisers signed up, they reached out to their own support networks, helping the Y in Central Maryland reach new constituents with little effort. As the years progressed, the Y in Central Maryland began reaching out to past event attendees who were their strongest supporters. They nurtured these individuals by engaging with them on social media and sending relevant email messages, and when the time for the event came, invited them to create a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Because these supporters had already formed a close connection with their organization, they were motivated to help when asked.

Peer-to-peer fundraising campaign

The Y in Central Maryland is committed to improving their overall event experience every year, fostering and growing their relationships with their supporters, and making the fundraising process simple and achievable. By focusing on the donors’ experience, the Y in Central Maryland was able to make the necessary changes to improve loyalty, which continues to be at the heart of their fundraising strategy.


Learn More About How the Y in Central Maryland Grew Their Fundraising by 24% Last Year

Y in Central Maryland


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