Run for the Money: How to Start a Fundraising Race for Your Non Profit

runners-at-the-start-of-race on volunteer screening blogSponsored running events can be a great way to raise funds for your non profit organization. Runners and walkers are a close-knit group in most communities, and enjoy entering 5K, 10K, 15K, half marathon, and marathon races for charity. In return for their entrance fee, participants get a chance to post a good race time, reach a personal goal, and receive a goodie bag, a shirt, and free food. Your non profit organization receives free publicity, increased exposure, and a portion of the entrance fees!

Your first step should be to form a race committee. Dedicated volunteers who are committed to putting in the time necessary to pull off a race are a necessity. Plan on at least six months for your volunteers to plan the race.

Next, talk to a local running or sporting goods store. You may find that they sponsor or help produce a number of charity runs, and have great experience to share.

Establish a budget. There will be plenty of out-of-pocket expenses, from fencing to timing chips, numbered bibs to advertising. Entrance and liability waiver forms will need to be printed, and you’ll need insurance, too.

Set up plenty of spreadsheets and checklists—you’ll need them!

Solicit sponsors. You’ll want to approach local businesses to give goods, services, or cash in return for publicity. Bakeries can donate bread, muffins, or bagels for runners. If asked, many grocery stores will donate fruit or water. Graphic designers might offer poster and ad layout services. Sign companies can give banners for the start/finish line, as well as directional signs for runners. Retailers can offer gift certificates for raffle prizes or goodie bags.

You’ll need loads of volunteers; from pre-race publicity, distributing flyers, and charting the course, to race-day check-in, logistics, handling runners, putting out food, staffing water and first aid stations, traffic flaggers, and an emcee for announcements. Solicit volunteers early and often!

Get the word out! Face-to-face networking at Rotary meetings and Chamber of Commerce events, along with social networking on Facebook and Twitter, blogging, and press releases are all going to be necessary. Get ready to start talking about your non profit fundraising race, stay within your budget and on schedule, and cross your fingers for fair weather on race day!

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