What should I know to organize a successful fundraiser in the form of a race/fun run?
November 17, 2010 1:19 PM   Subscribe

I first want to raise funds, but a close second is to raise awareness and increase name recognition for our organization and its mission around watershed protection. How do I do this effectively with this kind of event?

Specifically, I want to organize a low-tide fun run on the beach. Never done this before but would like to do it well enough the first time for it to become a fun, anticipated annual event.

I'd expect to have a serious race component for serious runners (well measured and timed), but really develop it like a "stride," like I enjoyed years ago in Southern California: open to everyone who can walk, to appeal to a broader audience and include families. It may be overly optimistic to think we could get 300 participants, but it's a goal. The route I have in mind is probably about 5 miles along public and relatively untrafficked beach. Is 5 miles too exclusive? Should I have shorter options?

What kind of budget should I have beyond marketing and food? I'm told it's not really necessary to provide t-shirts (this is good, because we'd only be willing to order fully organic or recycled shirts). What about race numbers? Does a run need schwag? Do we need prizes? Music? We could reserve a free pavilion at the finish line and provide food so people mill about and look at information tables? Another consideration: We should probably provide a one-way shuttle to the start line. Any sort of special event insurance required?

What am I missing? What is a reasonable amount to expect people to pay to participate? Are there any online checklists I can use to guide me? Any help is appreciated.
posted by AnOrigamiLife to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A run does not need schwag or prizes (though, first through third medals for each age group are pretty standard, and it would kind of suck for the runners without them). Standard distances are best, though (5k = 3.1 miles, 10k = 6.2 miles). There are people who do not care a lick about your cause, who want a 5k on the day you're throwing it, for glory or training purposes or what not. Using an odd measurement will likely mean fewer people signing up.

If it's a point-to-point run then you will get more runners if you provide a shuttle. Not everyone has a non-runner friend who is willing to get up that early in order to wait around.

Your best bet, unless someone here has actually organized a run, is to email people who do medium sized 5ks for charity.

You will most likely need county/city permit as well. You might be able to get these for free, but you should not even try to host an event without permission from whatever entity is in charge of the area.

As for price, most 5ks in Southern California range from $25 - $35. I can't speak for other areas, but a quick search (active.com lists many races) for your area should give you a general idea. It also might help you connect with people who organize other races. Usually these people are into charity work as well, so they should be pretty helpful/willing to help.
posted by duckierose at 2:34 PM on November 17, 2010

I'm a runner. My perspective:

1. The 5 mile distance would not faze me -- I get a bit bored with the standard 5K/10K. It's maybe a little long for casual runners/walkers or families with small kids.

2. T-shirts are standard, but not mandatory -- I'd rather have no shirt (and a slightly lower price) than a crappy shirt. Although if it's a nice design I will wear it around town the week after.

3. You absolutely need race numbers and a service to provide results and times. I can run your route any time -- what you're offering is (a) a fun atmosphere, and (b) an official time. You will have a lot of disgruntled runners if you don't. Most areas have a few companies that provide timing services. (Corollary to this: your distance needs to be fairly accurate.)

4. Food at the end -- fruit and bagels is common. Water at the end. For 5 miles you will probably need 1 or 2 aid stations offering water along the route; for 5K you might get away with 1 or none.

5. Sponsorship. Most races I've run have been sponsored by local companies who also get tables at the area at the end of the race. I don't know how the finances break down between income from registrations and donations from sponsors.

6. Registration -- through active.com is pretty much standard, they will handle credit cards etc. Don't know how much this costs on the race director's end, they do charge a convenience fee on the runners' end.

Finally, and forgive me, but: you sound like you have good intentions but not much experience of such events or maybe with runners in general? Reaching out to race directors of other local events is a great suggestion. I'd also suggest that you participate in several before trying to do your own. Run or walk a 5K to see how it is from the public's viewpoint; and volunteer at a few to get an idea of the issues that come up from the organizer's viewpoint.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:02 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

7. Volunteers; you will need lots and lots of help.

FWIW, my local water district runs an annual 5K/10K/half-marathon race; I ran it this year and it was enormously good fun and a real community event. But I do get the strong impression that it's a labor of love for the race director.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:07 PM on November 17, 2010

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