If you began planning a charity race because you thought it would be a fun fundraising opportunity for your organization or cause, you were absolutely right. But, chances are, after wading through the many plans, logistics and costs of planning an event; you might start to question your original idea.
Fear not! There’s a reason why organizations as large as Susan G. Komen, and as small as local PTAs utilize charity races as an important part of their annual fundraising plan. You can raise money for your organization or cause, but you have to be strategic.
After helping lots of our customers organize their own charity races, here’s what we’ve learned about how to meet (and exceed) your fundraising goals by organizing a charity race.
1) Start Out With a Clear, Achievable Goal: Sure, it would always be nice to have an extra $10,000 for your church group or neighborhood association, but when you’re in the very beginning stages of race planning, it’s important not to just throw out a random number and make it your goal. To help you determine a realistic fundraising goal, ask yourself these three important questions:
- Is there a fundraising minimum for participants?
- Is fundraising for participants optional or required?
- Is the race benefiting more than just your charity?
Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer to any of the questions, but being clear about your responses will help you figure out the right goal.
This may seem like a small, unimportant step, but it’s crucial. Having an exact target will guide all of your future sponsorship and marketing efforts, and help you determine how much money you will want to spend in pursuit of your goal.
2) Partner With the Right Sponsors: Lots of race directors, from the most seasoned to the first-timers, are intimidated by the idea of getting sponsors for their events, so don’t feel bad if the task of securing sponsors feels daunting. However, if you want to meet your goal, it’s important to attract local companies and organizations to help offset the cost of hosting a race event.
Sponsorship can take many forms, and doesn’t necessarily require an exchange of money. Food and beverage sponsors can save you the cash you’d spend providing snacks to participants, for example, while boosting their brand and appeal within the demographic of runners. Local sports or running stores might offer up a free consultation or pair of running shoes to encourage more participants. In other words, think about what your race needs in order to be successful, and go after sponsors who can help make it happen.
3) Market Your Event Wisely: There’s a big, wide, cluttered world out there, and lots of other things are fighting for the attention of your potential racers. That’s why it’s important to think not only about how many participants you need to register to meet your goal, but also about how to find those people and be sure they’re interested in your event.
Take the time to create a marketing plan that includes a variety of channels: digital, print, radio and word-of-mouth are a few to consider for local events, depending on the demographic you’re trying to reach. Since you are a charity, some broadcast outlets might allow you to make announcements for free (you just have to ask!), while others might offer you a discounted rate. Tap into your network of volunteers, and find out if there are opportunities with their employers, alumni networks or friend groups to talk about the event.
Remember to be smart about where you spend your marketing and advertising dollars as well. Within digital marketing, for example, there are lots of mediums to wade through: organic (or free) social media, paid social media, email marketing and search engine optimization are just a few. Test out different options, and see where you get the best response to help create a solid marketing plan.
There’s lots more to planning a successful charity race that helps you meet your fundraising goal. Download the useful guide, “How to Organize a Charity Race,” for more tried-and-true advice.