The weather may not be turning just yet, but now is the perfect time to gear up for your spring fundraiser. With the warmer weather of spring and the time of year that people begin to spend time outdoors exercising, a charity run or walk is a perfect fundraising activity for spring. Taking the time now to prepare will ensure that you are that much closer to a successful spring fundraising – whatever it may be!

Step One: Peer-to-peer fundraising

As with any fundraiser, the amount of money raised is the signal of a successful – or unsuccessful – event. Raising awareness is, of course, extremely important, but you will measure the effectiveness of your campaign through the dollar figures collected.

Now is the time to determine how much money you hope to raise with your charity walk or run and how you intend on doing it. Some coordinators choose to charge a flat fee for registration to the event; however, this limits your potential success.

Events can have high overhead costs, so one way to supplement a registration fee is to request that participants also raise a specific amount in addition to the fee. Allow time leading up to the event for attendees to speak to family and friends, asking that they commit to a specific amount for the cause. Each runner has a network that can be tapped into for additional funds that extend beyond a $20 flat fee, thereby not only expanding the reach of the charity’s awareness but also extending its financial success.

Peer-to-peer fundraising for a charity run is effective only if it is fully supported by the managing organization. Supplying forms and envelopes for each participant, available upon submission of the entry fee, is one easy way to streamline this process for your runners.

Step Two: Get creative

Charity events have been around for decades – or longer.  Turkey trots, held in November around the Thanksgiving holiday, are notorious for being long-running. The Troy Turkey Trot, for instance, began in 1916 with only six runners and is one of the largest and oldest trots in the United States.

Many organizations hold their races, which are run at certified track and field distances of between 5K and 42,195 meters, during the week prior to Thanksgiving. Most turkey trots benefit local charities or provides holiday meals to homeless and low-income families. First prize may be given to the first to cross the finish line as well as other, more creative, winners. Some races are prediction based. Watches and other time-keeping methods are forbidden, and prizes are given to the individuals who finish closest to their predicted time. Other races give prizes for costumes, and runners dress up as pilgrims, native Americans, or turkeys.

The point is to make your charity walk memorable. Some more remarkable charity races include:

  • Cupid’s Undie Run, which benefits the Children’s Tumor Foundation, encourages runners to don their underwear for the event.
  • com’s Gorilla Run hopes to break the Guinness World Record for the “largest gathering of people dressed as gorillas” while raising money for the Miracle League of North Mankato.
  • “Running 2.5 miles, scarfing down 12 doughnuts and running another 2.5 miles might leave you a little nauseous, but the feeling you get after helping the kids at the North Carolina Children’s Hospital will instantly calm any unsettled stomach,” says Brandon Honeycutt, executive director of the Krispy Kreme Challenge.

There is no need to steal these great ideas to come up with something that is fun and memorable. You can decorate the race route, include color themes, or dip into popular culture to create a run that is uniquely yours and engaging to participants.

Step Three: Donor retention

After the event is over, you will have the opportunity not only to cater to the returning donors but embrace those new individuals who have made a significant commitment to your cause through the act of joining the race.

Donor retention begins at the finish line. Don’t wait until months later with a follow-up email, but instead, surprise your supporters with an immediate “thank you” at the finish line.

Provide small gifts of appreciation, brochures with more information, or a special visit from a celebrity – anything that will be a pleasant reminder of your sincere thanks. Consider throwing an after-event party for participants. Hire a professional photographer to capture the moment each runner passes the finish line and offer prints on your website. You can also encourage others to submit their photos of the race through an interactive photo album.

Final thoughts

There is a lot that goes into a charity run or walks – from the moment you begin planning until the final runner completes the route. But all of this work behind the scenes is what makes a successful fundraising event.

If you utilize peer-to-peer networking, get creative, and retain both old and new donors, you will be successful and have fun at the same time. Remember, while raising money is the ultimate goal in a fundraiser, if you make your donors smile and bring the community together, you are making a difference.