There is a day in the Motor City when you can hear the rumble of a race through the streets. What you’re hearing isn’t wheels; it’s feet, racing for a cause. It’s Detroit’s annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®, and it has graced this city since 1992.
Volunteer Friends for the Cure® Chair Mike Meldrum works with Komen Detroit’s staff of four to pull off the event year after year. While participant numbers continue to grow — this year (2011), more than 40,000 people took part — the organization, which has raised $21 million since its inception, saw fundraising (Friends for the Cure) revenue jump by 10% over the previous year largely due to ACTIVE Network’s online fundraising software.
Simply by the numbers, Komen Detroit Race for the Cure is a major undertaking. All the more reason to implement management processes as streamlined as possible. For years Komen Detroit handled volunteer tracking, participant registration and donation processing through the race management company, Do It Sports. When Do It Sports merged with ACTIVE Network in 2004, a new level of technological streamlining was at their fingertips, providing tools that brought together online registration and fundraising.
Change is always hard. Participants accustomed to the old registration system found the adjustment difficult; they hadn’t expected a learning curve. For the staff, planning the event is an enormous job, with tens of thousands of participants, plus hundreds of volunteers, to keep track of and to be ready for come race day. Mike stresses that their goal has always been to grow--not only in the number of participants, but in overall community awareness and in funds raised, so integrating these changes quickly and efficiently, while keeping everything moving forward, was paramount. After all, he notes, the purpose is awareness and the funding of work that will one day lead to "a world without breast cancer," the vision of Susan G. Komen.
The reports give immediate access to a five-year history
The reporting section of ACTIVE’s online registration software provides the organization with immediate access to a five-year history, allowing review and tracking of current and past participants and pumping up the organization’s planning ability. This has proven to be a huge advantage — especially when preparing for a crowd in the tens of thousands. They use this aspect of the race registration software daily. “The search and edit functions make it easy for us to quickly make corrections to participant entries,” says Mike, “while the downloads provide custom reports, such as how many survivors are registered, what size shirts are being ordered, how many participants run vs. walk, etc.” The software also includes robust functionality to accommodate team registrations, including the download of valuable team information and communication of it to team captains.
Of course, fundraising is crucial, and ACTIVE’s fundraising management software offers personal pages for fundraisers, links to team pages and more, for an effective means of keeping funds flowing and community awareness and enthusiasm high. The reporting functions are ideal for keeping a daily accounting of monies raised and helps ensure contact with top online fundraisers is maintained. Another aspect, unique to an organization operating as long as the Komen Detroit Race for the Cure, is that many donations are made offline. “ACTIVE’s fundraising management software can easily track offline donations to help us more effectively enter and manage these donations,” remarks Mike.
The many tools available through ACTIVE’s race management and fundraising software have helped streamline tasks and save time. At this point more than 90% of race participants register online, so simply eliminating the need to input 30,000 entries is a big deal for this small but mighty nonprofit organization. The customization options have made a huge difference when it comes to team management, not just the reports and rosters, but even down to a customized packing slip for team pack-up. The event also depends on a bevy of volunteers, and with ACTIVE’s volunteer management software, committee chairs can easily communicate with their volunteers, making planning, thanking, inspiring and day of tasks run more smoothly.
For any organization, the ability to quickly fix a problem is a priority. ACTIVE understands this and offers some of the most dedicated support staff in the industry for both event directors and fundraisers. “Feedback has been very positive from participants who have called the support line and the staff is pleased,” says Mike. “Your support team is the #1 reason we stay with ACTIVE.”
The organization enjoys media support from all three major TV networks, radio, outdoor billboards and sends numerous emails. They are also featured in our ACTIVE Local Events Newsletters and are always looking for new ways to help with promoting their event through online marketing and social media. All in all, the goal remains to end breast cancer forever. Thus, “Although we are proud to be a respected race in the running community, we do not put a big focus on the competitive running aspect. Eighty percent of our participants are walkers. It is more a day of memories, celebration and hope. Our tactic is to make our participants feel like this is the best day in the city of Detroit.”
“Your support team is the #1 reason we stay with ACTIVE.”
Chair, Volunteer Friends for the Cure®