Does charity running freak you out? Are you intimidated by fundraising or feel bad hitting your friends and families up for cash? Are you concerned that you wouldn’t be able to raise the money and would have to pay your pledge out of pocket?
I was the same way, until the fall of 2011, when I signed up last minute for a half marathon, but could only enter if I ran for charity. I didn’t think I’d be able to raise the $500 for Team DetermiNation in four short weeks, but a few e-mails and a happy hour night showered me with donations far exceeding the minimum. The experience made me a true convert to charity running, and I’m hoping I can convince you as well.Trust me, when it comes to charity running I know what I’m talking about; Last September I began a new job in Income Development (fundraising) at American Cancer Society This is my dream job! Not only am I raising awareness and money to defeat cancer (something my oldest sister has battled three times), but I also get to work on endurance sports events and help runners like you achieve their goals.
For those looking to run crowded marathons like New York or Chicago, charity running may guarantee entry to a race otherwise sold out. And if you’re not a speed demon but have always wanted to run Boston, fundraising is your ticket in!
But there are benefits to charity running no matter what race you enter. When you sign up as a charity runner, your entry fee is usually covered. Big charity teams like ours also provide customized training through “Marathoner In Training”, host team socials and a pre-race dinner, and provide fundraising support through a personal web site page in exchange for a minimum donation commitment.
The minimum donation is different for every charity, but for ACS it’s just $500 for a half marathon distance and $1,000 for a marathon distance. Now I know the financial commitment can be scary, especially since charities take down your credit card information to charge the balance, if you don’t raise your minimum donation. But not to worry–you can always drop out with no obligation, but you’ll have to re-register for the race. Also, most charity organizations require plenty of lead time between your commitment and the race itself, ensuring you have enough time to raise your money. In my experience, when people hear you’re raising money for a worthy cause it’s unbelievable how many want to help, and it feels so good running a race knowing you are contributing to a better world!
Why the minimum donations? Well, the charity foots the bill for entry fees and provides socials, singlets and training at no cost to the runners, so those donations help ensure the charity is able to fulfill its primary mission (in our case, it’s contributing to cancer care and research) in addition to all the incentives for athletes.
How to fundraise:
For the Columbus marathon I worked with 37 runners (including my mom!) and together we raised almost $19,000 to help fight cancer. But how? How do you raise that much money?
Two of our marathon runners, Wil Santivasi and Steven Niedermeier, suggest a dine and donate night. They invited friends and family to California Pizza Kitchen, and in one night raised over $400 with percentages of food purchases going to their team. Wil also used facebook to help raise money: for every “like” on certain statuses, he donated 10 cents. He also set incentives for his friends, like promising whoever donated the most in one week could choose whatever embarrassing outfit they wanted for him to wear at the Warrior Dash (luckily for him his grandmother won)!
Needless to say, creativity is key when it comes to fundraising, so most charities provide tools and resources to help you reach your monetary goal, including fundraising ideas. When athletes sign up for Team DetermiNation, we send a welcome packet in the mail with the fundraising ideas. And as a charity staff member, I can assure you that someone at your charity will be willing to help if you’re stuck for ideas or resources! We want everyone to succeed!
But just to cover our bases, here are a couple ideas we like to share with our runners:
Try a spare change bucket on your desk at work, in the lunch room, even a local gas station or another local retailer…then drop by and collect the dollars weekly.
Have a selling party! Silpada, Pampered Chef, Tupperware…most of these companies will give you upwards of 40% of proceeds if you have a party to sell their wares.
Friends with your local bartender? Ask him/her to put a sign up one night that says that all tips get donated to your cause, or ask if you can guest bartend and donate your own tips.
Ask your boss if you can host a “Dress Down Friday.” Employees pay ($5-$10) to dress down on an assigned day.
Have a fundraising breakfast or lunch at home or at work. Charge $10-15 per person. Ask a local restaurant or grocery store to donate food–you’d be surprised how easy this is!
Send an e-mail or pick up the phone! The number one reason people don’t donate is because they were never asked! Wil told me: “There isn’t a single person who isn’t affected in some way by cancer, and asking is the only way to know if they’re willing to donate. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much people will donate if you just ask!” And he’s right!
So, says Ginkgo….give charity running a go! Whether you’re a beginning runner or an experienced one, I think you’ll find that running for a cause is both a way to get extra perks for your race and make your miles more meaningful in the process!
Salty readers, have you ever run for charity? If not, why not? If so, what did you most enjoy about it?