Hosting vs Attending an Event

Are you considering putting on a charity run or fundraising at a public event?

When I was at the Colorado Nonprofit Association’s fall conference, I met a lot of folks that had great questions about fundraising at athletic events like runs, walks, and bike rides. The biggest and most common question that I heard was, “Do we have to host our own event?” You certainly can, but don’t feel like you have to. In fact the most successful fundraisers on Frundraise have been for charities that attend events hosted by other organizations/professional race directors.

The first thing to think about when considering whether to host your own event or attend an event put on by someone else is what are your goals? Runs, walks, and bike rides are great ways to raise awareness for your cause and they are also great opportunities to raise money. Which is more important to you? Depending on your answer, there are different routes you can go.

If your primary goal is to raise money, the best and most efficient way to do that is to organize a fundraising team to participate in an event together and to do fundraising for your charity. You can pick any event – whether you officially partner with the event or not – and have each team member start a fundraiser on Frundraise. The money that they raise goes directly back to your charity and there are minimal costs. You can let others worry about organizing the event, securing permits, and all of the other logistics that go into hosting an event of this nature. You and your team can simply focus on fundraising.

On the other hand, if your primary goal is to raise awareness about your cause, you can host your own run, walk, or bike ride. This puts you in control of the messaging surrounding the event and you can use that platform to raise awareness. The event will generate revenue for your organization through registration fees and you can also encourage or require participants to do fundraising when they sign up. However, there are also significant costs, time, and energy involved in hosting an event. These costs include city permits which will vary depending on your location and the duration of the event, renting equipment for the start and finish area, employee time and energy to plan and organize the event, and more. Although these events can generate quite a lot of money, often times charities find that the costs of hosting the event end up eating away at most of the revenue and by the end of the day, the event is barely profitable although it did raise a lot of awareness.

I’ve seen charities be successful with each approach. Start by defining your goals and go from there. Then remember, with either approach, Frundraise is here to help you with the fundraising efforts. Good luck!

Part 5: Fundraising Tips

This is part five in our series, Organizing a Charity Fundraising Team for Athletic Events. Check out last week’s post on Fundraising Incentives.

You’re almost done! So far, we’ve covered how to select an event, organize a team, set up sponsorships, and create incentives. The last step is to support your team members with fundraising tips to ensure they raise the most money possible for your charity. For those of you that have sales and marketing experience, this will be right up your alley. If you don’t have that experience yet, don’t worry, you can master the basics in no time!

Raising money for charity is sales. Supporters may not be buying a product from you, but you do have to convince them that their money is better spent supporting you than it is on some other charity. The best way to do this is to create a marketing plan made up of two basic parts: increasing exposures and creating closing opportunities.

The Plan: Increase Exposures and Create Closing Opportunities

The first part of your marketing plan is to increase exposures. An exposure is a moment when a potential supporter is shown something about your brand or product. In this case the product is anything about the charity, the event, or the individual’s training for the event. Exposures increase your brand awareness amongst potential supporters and create positive emotions in them.

The second part of your marketing plan is to create closing opportunities. A closing opportunity is a moment when your team members have the chance to close the sale – to get a supporter to make a donation. The more of these opportunities your team members can create, the more money you can raise.

What to do

Fortunately for you, social media and the fundraising tools on Frundraise make it unbelievably easy to complete both steps of the marketing plan. To increase exposures, tell your team members to post updates on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media about their training, fundraising, and the charity. Be sure to tell your team members to always include pictures. Frundraise help with this because your team members can log each of their workouts and also see their total mileage so far. They can use the workouts and total mileage in their updates. Here are some examples.

“I just finished my first 10 mile run! I’m so excited to be on the charity team. <link to fundraiser>”

“I just signed up to run the marathon with the charity team! What a great cause! <link to fundraiser>”

“I can’t believe I’ve run 100 miles total so far. 1 more month until race day! <link to fundraiser>”

“I’ve raised $500 so far for my charity! 3 weeks left to reach my goal of $1000. <link to fundraiser>”

Note that the exposures are not asking for donations. Their focus is on talking about the charity, the event, and the training. You should always include a link to the fundraiser, but getting donations off of these types of posts is not the main point. A good rule of thumb in marketing is that an individual needs to see 7-10 exposures to your brand before you can expect them to take action. That means that a potential supporter needs to see 7-10 updates like this before your team members should worry about asking directly for a donation.

After your team members have been promoting their fundraisers for a while, it’s time to start pushing for closing opportunities. The key to creating good closing opportunities is to ask directly to one person at a time for their support. Tell your team members to send an email or Facebook message to one person at a time asking, “Will you make a pledge to support my fundraiser for the charity? <link to fundraiser>” Asking directly gives the potential supporter an enhanced feeling of responsibility. This is more powerful than sending the same email, but with 50 people on the To line. It is also more powerful to direct the question specifically to someone. If your team member makes a generic post to their own Facebook page for example saying, “Will you support my fundraiser?” this is not a good closing opportunity because the question is not directed at anyone in particular.

Finally, tell your team members to ask for pledges per mile. Frundraise is unique because it allows people to make two types of donations – a fixed one time donation or a pledge per mile. Pledges are great because they are a recurring revenue stream since they are processed once a month throughout the fundraiser. That means that instead of just getting one donation, you may get 3 or 4 donations throughout the 3 or 4 months of the fundraiser (or more if the fundraiser is longer!). Pledges are also great because they keep your team members motivated to go out for their workouts and reward team members for every mile they cover.


Help your team members with these fundraising tips. You’ve put together a great team and if you support them, they’ll be able to raise a lot of money for your charity!

Create your free charity profile on Frundraise.

If your charity is in Colorado like we are, you can attend our training session with the Colorado Nonprofit Association in January. Sign up for the training session here. You can also follow us on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter to find out more information about the training session and future dates around the state.

Part 4: Fundraising Incentives

This is part four in our series, Organizing a Charity Fundraising Team for Athletic Events. Check out last week’s post on Gathering Sponsors.

In order to maximize your success fundraising, it is important to offer incentives. As you start putting together ideas for incentives, consider both the athletes on your fundraising team as well as their supporters. A complete incentive program has incentives for both. The key here is that you do not want to spend much – or any – of the charity’s money on buying fancy prizes. This is where your partnerships with your sponsors comes in (see last week’s article). If you can get your sponsors to provide in-kind donations you can use those as the prizes. Here are some examples of ways to provide incentives.

Tiered prizes

Tiered prizes reward athletes and supporters with bigger prizes for bigger levels of giving.

For athletes
Total Raised Prize
$100 Team tech tee
$250 Team soft shell jacket
$500 Pair of running shoes
$1000 $200 gift card to running store
For supporters
Donation Amount Prize
$50 5% off one purchase at running store sponsor
$100 10% off one purchase at running store sponsor
$250 20% off one purchase at running store sponsor

Promotions for temporary periods

Temporary promotions are designed to generate momentum and excitement during a given time period. It works best to time these with other events going on like the team kickoff or right before the big event. Here are a couple examples.

Ex 1: During the first week of fundraising, the athlete that raises the most amount of money receives a team soft shell jacket.

Ex 2: During the first week of fundraising, the athlete that receives the largest number of pledges wins a 25% off coupon to the running store sponsor.

Ex 3: During the week of the event, any supporter who makes a donation will receive a 10% off gift card to the running store sponsor.

Raffles

Raffles are also a great way to motivate people because it gives them a chance to win a select number of larger prizes. They are also great from your perspective because there are only a set number of prizes that you have to give out. Here are some examples.

Ex 1: In the next month, an athlete’s name is entered once in the raffle for every donation and pledge that they receive. At the end of the month, one name will be drawn and the winner receives a pair of football tickets.

Ex 2: This week only, any supporter who makes a new donation will be entered into a raffle to win a new iPad.

Tangible Prizes vs Gift Cards

When you speak with your sponsors about providing in-kind donations for incentives, be sure to talk about tangible prizes vs gift cards, coupons, or discounts. A tangible prize like a pair of shoes is a great prize, but it doesn’t drive more business to your sponsor’s place of business. However, gift cards, coupons, or discounts do drive more business to your sponsor’s place of business. For example, the incentive might be a $75 gift card, and when the person ends up using it, they might end up spending $125 at the store. This is great for the store – your sponsor. Not only that, but your sponsor just gained a new customer that will start shopping there in the future.


These are just a few ideas to get the creative juices going. Remember, try to work with your sponsors to provide in-kind donations to use as incentives. This helps you save money and is a great way to help promote your sponsors.

Check back next week for part five in our series, Fundraising Tips.

If your charity is in Colorado like we are, you can attend our training session with the Colorado Nonprofit Association in January. Sign up for the training session here. You can also follow us on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter to find out more information about the training session and future dates around the state.

Part 3: Gathering Sponsors

This is part three in our series, Organizing a Charity Fundraising Team for Athletic Events. Check out last week’s post on Recruiting Team Members.

Increase the success of your fundraising team by working with local businesses as sponsors. Many local business want to get involved in their community and give back, so supporting your charity fundraising team is a great fit for them. Here’s how to make the most of sponsorships from local businesses.

What to offer and ask for from sponsors

Present your offer to potential sponsors as not only a sponsorship opportunity, but a true partnership. You need to show potential sponsors that you are invested in helping promote and grow their business – not simply in getting a handout from them. The best way to do this, is to talk to them about how you plan to incentivize your team and their supporters (more to come on incentives next week).

Ask sponsors if they could make in kind donations in the form of gift cards, coupons, or other tangible products. Tell sponsors that you will use these donations as fundraising prizes/incentives for your fundraising team and their supporters. Remember, local businesses have limited cash supplies, so not all of them can make a large monetary donation, but they will be more likely to provide in kind donations.

Gift cards and coupons are the best type of in kind donations because those items get consumers to come back to the sponsor’s location which creates more business for them. Tangible products can be good incentives too because tangible prizes work great as an incentive, but they do not drive more business for the sponsor. If you do go with tangible products, have the winner pick up their prize from the sponsor’s location.

The last thing you should ask for from sponsors is a cash donation in return for logo placement/advertising space. This does provide benefit to the sponsors in the form of advertising and brand awareness, but the real benefit to them is small unless you have a very large team and are going to participate in a very large event. Advertising is all about exposure and if you have a small team, there simply is not enough exposure to make the advertising meaningful for the sponsor. Further, a cash donation from a sponsor is also a smaller benefit to you because it is just a one-time donation. Although you should see this as a last resort, it is still worth asking – especially if you approach larger sponsors.

Who to approach as sponsors

Primarily, approach local retail athletic stores where the athletes on your team would typically shop. Try to focus on athletic specialty stores like running, cycling, or triathlon shops because these make the best partners since their market aligns with the athletic team that you are forming and the athletic events that you will be attending.

As a secondary focus, approach popular general retail stores, local restaurants, and clothing stores. The athletes on your team are still part of their target market, although it is not as specific of a market.

Lastly, you can also approach other businesses like law firms, accounting firms, or other professional service firms. These companies’ target market does not align as well with what you are doing, but they often have goals to give back to charity and support the local community.

How to approach sponsors

The first thing you need to do is put together a sponsorship packet. Try to keep this short and to the point. Remember, you are trying to sell potential sponsors on the benefits that they will receive by working with you. This is sales. Simply thinking that they should support you because you are a charity and everyone should support a good cause is not enough. There are too many good causes out there to support and you have to sell them on why partnering with you will be better than supporting another charity.

When you are ready to approach sponsors, try to do so in person. Go to the retail stores in person and ask to speak with a manager or owner. Pick a time of day that is an off-peak time for that store so that they have free time to speak with you. If the right person to speak with isn’t there, ask when a better time would be to come back. Then leave your business card and a sponsorship packet and say that you will come back at a specific time (and make sure you do).

Next, network with your team to find more sponsors. Ask your team members if any of them work for – or own – companies that would make good sponsors. You want to have some sponsors in place before you form your team, but some of this can be done simultaneously and you can always take more sponsors later in the season.

You can also use social media to recruit sponsors. This is a good option because it is free. Make posts to your social media accounts that you are seeking sponsors, mention a couple of the key benefits, and state who to contact for more information.

When to approach sponsors

Start recruiting sponsors as you are also recruiting team members. The goal should be to have most of your sponsors in place by the time your team starts fundraising.


We hope this article helps you put together a great lineup of sponsors! Remember to approach potential sponsors and present this opportunity as a true partnership. Convince them that sponsoring your team will help them grow as a business.

Check back next week for part four in our series, Fundraising Incentives.

If your charity is in Colorado like we are, you can attend our training session with the Colorado Nonprofit Association starting in January. Sign up for the training session here. You can also follow us on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter to find out more information about the training session and future dates.

Part 2: Recruiting Team Members

This is part two in our series, Organizing a Charity Fundraising Team for Athletic Events. Check out last week’s post on Selecting an Event.

Now that you have an event – or events! – in mind for your charity fundraising team, you’re ready to start recruiting team members. Recruiting team members is a critical step because your team members will become ambassadors for your charity and will raise money as well as spread awareness about your cause. Follow these steps to build your team.

Recruiting Team Members

There are many ways to recruit team members. As you get started, make sure you put together a plan and decide which ideas you will focus on. Ideally, your final plan should include elements of all of these suggestions.

Fundraising Page on your Website

Add a fundraising page to your website. This piece is key because other promotions you run can link back to here. The content will vary based on which event or events you decide to do. Hype it up and put on your salesperson hat when you design this page. You need to get people excited to join your team and participate in the event. Here’s the key information to include:

  • A link to join the team!
  • Information on the event (sport, distance(s), location, date, etc.)
  • Benefits to the athletes

Social Media Promotions

Make social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc encouraging people to join your fundraising team. Provide a link back to the fundraising page on your website where the athletes can get more detail. The social media post itself should be short and to the point. The goal is to get people’s attention and peak their interest enough to get them to click the link back to your website where they can join the team. Once there, they can find out more and join the team!

Make sure you tag the event on your posts. This will help reach a larger audience. Then if you can get the event to like, share, retweet, etc. you will have a better time recruiting team members. Talk to the event coordinators about this prior to making your posts and ask them for their assistance. Even if you don’t have a formal partnership in place, the event coordinators may help you promote your team because it is also getting more people to participate in their event.

Newsletters

In your monthly newsletter, include an article about joining your fundraising team. The content should be similar to the content on the fundraising page on your website. Again, make sure you provide a link to join your team.

Joint promotions with the event

If you partner with an event, you can utilize the event’s resources to help recruit team members. This is especially powerful if the event sells out and reserves registration spots for your charity team.

Work with the event coordinators to make sure they promote joining your fundraising team through their website, social media outlets, and newsletters. Be specific when you set up the partnership. You should include in the contract details on the content that they are responsible for sharing and the number of social media posts and newsletters that they are required to make to help promote joining your fundraising team.

Word of Mouth

Last but not least, talk about the fundraising team at every opportunity you get! Encourage your team members to do the same and recruit their friends. Look for people that are active or interested in participating in athletic events and encourage them to bring larger meaning to their training by fundraising for your charity. Remember, you don’t have to be a world-class athlete to join a charity fundraising team. People of all shapes, sizes, ages, and ability levels participate in events like marathons, bike rides, and triathlons. In fact, sometimes the people that look least like they could run a marathon are the ones that end up being the best fundraisers.

Ideal Workflow

Notice that in each of the above ideas, we recommend including a link to join the team. Before you publish any of this information, you need to design a workflow that incorporates each of these steps: joining the team, registering for the event, and starting the fundraiser. The best way to do this depends on which event you decided on. Above all else, remember you want to make this as easy as possible for the team members. If you make the sign up workflow overly complicated, you will lose good people.

Join the team

The first step the team members need to take is expressing interest to you in joining the team. This may be as easy as an online form or an email that gets sent to your team coordinator. Make sure get the team member’s name and contact info.

Once the team coordinator gets the name and contact info from team members, the team coordinator can send each team member information on how to register for the event and start their fundraisers.

Register for the event

This is typically done on the event’s website. Depending on your partnership with the event, that might change slightly. If you partnered with the event to get discounted or free entries, work with them to determine the best way to get your team members registered.

Start your fundraiser

Frundraise makes it easy to share a link with your team members so that they can start their fundraisers.

If you picked a specific event for the team, your charity can be featured on the Frundraise event page as a charity partner. Share the event page on Frundraise with team members because it has a button to easily start a fundraiser for your charity at that event.

If you leave it up to the athlete to pick the event, share your charity profile page on Frundraise with your team members. The charity profile page on Frundraise has a button to start a fundraiser for your charity and allows the athletes to pick their own event.


You should have some good ideas for how to recruit your team members now. Remember, this is a sales process. Your goal is to get people excited to join your team and be a part of a great cause while participating in a fun event.

Check back next week for part 3 in our series, Gathering Sponsors.

If your charity is in Colorado like we are, you can attend our training session with the Colorado Nonprofit Association starting in January. Follow us on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter to find out more information about the training session.

Organizing a Charity Fundraising Team for Athletic Events Part 1: Selecting an Event

Fundraising at athletic events like runs, walks, bike rides, and triathlons is a great way to raise money for your charity. It’s such a great way to raise money in fact, that fundraisers at athletic events are the only thing Frundraise focuses on! That’s why we are putting together a series of articles about how to organize a charity fundraising team for athletic events. This is part 1 of a 5 part series, so stay tuned over the coming weeks to learn more.

On top of that, if your charity is in Colorado like we are, you can attend our training session with the Colorado Nonprofit Association starting in January. Follow us on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter to find out more information about the training session.

Selecting an Event

The first step in organizing a fundraising team for athletic events is to pick the event. There are three main ways to go about it.

Let the athlete decide

Give athletes the flexibility to pick any event they want and fundraise for you at it. This is great for the fundraisers because they can choose any sport, distance, and location for the event. All you have to do is encourage athletes to fundraise for your charity as part of their training.You may even have multiple athletes at multiple events throughout the year fundraising for you.

Effort level: Low

Potential funds raised: Low

Benefits to athletes:

  • Freedom to select any event
  • Flexibility to go to any location
  • Ability to participate in any sport (run, walk, bike, etc.)

Example: Julie is running the Boston Marathon this year and wants to fundraise for your charity. Jon also wants to fundraise for you, but he is going to do a century bike ride is his home town. They both can start fundraisers for you on Frundraise as part of their training for the different events.

How to use Frundraise: Add a fundraising section to your website if you don’t already have one, send out a newsletter, and make social media posts with content about starting a fundraiser at athletic events. Encourage your existing supporters to fundraise for you at the events that they are already doing. Provide a link to your charity profile page on Frundraise where the athletes can quickly and easily start their fundraisers. Once the athletes have their fundraisers live, links to each fundraiser show up on your charity profile page so that everyone can see how well each individual athlete is doing and the amount raised from their combined efforts.

Participate in an Event as a Charity Team

You pick the event, and form a team of athletes to participate together. When selecting the event, think about what event the people in your charity’s support network would enjoy. What sport and distance would be best? Do you want to stay local or travel to a different location?

Effort level: Moderate

Potential funds raised: High

Benefits to athletes:

  • Team camaraderie
  • Organized team workouts

Example: You form a fundraising team to participate at the local marathon, half marathon, and 5k that is held every spring. Each athlete on your team starts a fundraiser to support you.

How to use Frundraise: Add an <Event Name> Fundraising Team section to your existing website, send out a newsletter, and make social media posts with content about joining your Team for the event. In the content, tell athletes to register for the event and then provide a link to your charity profile page on Frundraise where the team members can quickly and easily start their fundraisers. Once the athletes have their fundraisers live, links to each fundraiser show up on both your charity profile page as well as the event profile page so that everyone can see how well each individual athlete is doing and the amount raised from their combined efforts.

Become an Official Charity Team Partner at an Event

Partner with an existing event to become an official charity team partner. Typically, events will provide added benefit to official charity team partners like discounted or free race entries for their team members.

Effort level: High

Potential funds raised: Very high

Benefits to athletes:

  • Varies depending on the partnership agreement, but may include:
    • Discounted or free registration to the event
    • Swag bag from the event’s existing sponsors
    • Free/discounted accommodations for the event
    • VIP area at the event
  • Team camaraderie
  • Organized team workouts

Example: You partner with the event coordinators for the local century ride as an official charity team partner for the ride. The ride provides free registration for your charity team members. The ride also promotes you as a charity partner and give participants the option to join your team when they register for the event.

How to use Frundraise: Create an event with your charity as a featured charity partner. Add an <Event Name> Fundraising Team section to your existing website, send out a newsletter, and make social media posts with content about joining your Team for the event. The event coordinators will do the same through their channels (make sure this is included in your agreement). In the content, tell athletes to register for the event and then provide a link to the event page on Frundraise where the team members can quickly and easily start their fundraisers. Once the athletes have their fundraisers live, links to each fundraiser show up on both your charity profile page as well as the event profile page so that everyone can see how well each individual athlete is doing and the amount raised from their combined efforts.


These are some great ideas to get you started thinking about the event and type of team you want to organize. Also, remember that you can do a combination of all of these options. For example, you might organize a fundraising team for a running event and also give cyclists the opportunity to fundraise for you on their own at bike rides that they participate in. The more options you give people, the more likely you are to get more folks fundraising for you.

Check back next week for part 2 in our series, Recruiting Team Members.

Team RMHC: Running and 5-Star Hospitality

Support Team RMHC

Four years ago, Will was in a horrific accident that left him in critical condition. Fortunately, Will was treated by the incredible staff at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Fortunately, Will has an incredible family to support him. And fortunately, Will has an especially incredible big sister, Emily. While Will was being treated, Emily and the rest of the family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus. Emily says, “I truly believe the Ronald McDonald House had a direct impact in Will’s recovery.”

Team RMHC is filled with runners with similar stories. Everyone on the team is training to run the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon together on October 18 this fall. Each runner runs to help raise money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. Many of the runners enjoy running for Team RMHC because they add fundraising as an additional option for the race, but do not require team members to meet lofty fundraising minimums. That affords the runners some peace of mind knowing that however much they raise – large or small – is going back to a great cause.

Located next to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, the Columbus Ronald McDonald House is the largest in the world with 137 rooms. The house provides a home away from home for families with seriously ill children being treated at the hospital. The house is much more than a good bed to sleep in. It provides home-cooked meals, laundry services, a shuttle to the hospital, and most importantly a community that provides support to one another.

Team RMHC is filled with runners who have been touched by the generosity of the Ronald McDonald House. Shannon’s cousin stayed at the house while their premature twins were being treated in the NICU for two months. Parker has volunteered at the house with the Red Shoe society and joined Team RMHC with his wife, Elizabeth. Ken’s grandson was born prematurely and the house saved his parents a two hour drive while he was being treated for 7 weeks in the NICU. With over 20 runners on Team RMHC, the stories go on and on. Frundraise wishes each of the runners on Team RMHC the best of luck at the Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon.

Support Team RMHC