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Athletic event-based fundraisers are growing in popularity. 

In the United States, there are over 30,000 endurance type events that can benefit a singular charity or multiple charities.  Commonly referred to as multi-charity events, they offer a handful of nonprofit organizations an opportunity to be a part of the same event.  Some require the purchase of a specific number of “bibs” while others offer discounts for the charity runners.  No matter what the requirement, it is an open field worthy of our attention.

Change is coming.

Though these events are growing in popularity, the percent of endurance participants who actually fundraise is very low (less than five percent) so there is a great potential. Some marquee events are revising their strategies to meet the demands of an evolving world and challenging economy.

An athlete is still, after all, a donor and wants to fundraise for the causes she cares most about.  If her cause or charity is not designated by the event as a “preferred” organization, she will simply choose not to fundraise.  She doesn’t have that connection point.   For this reason, organizations like the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series are beginning to open up their doors a little wider.

“Charity is at the ‘Heart of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ and we’re thrilled to partner with everydayhero to offer participants yet another way to get excited about running,” said Dave Hussa, Vice President of Charity Partnerships for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. “Integrating everydayhero into our registration platform will make it even easier for participants to run for a reason, beyond living a healthy and active lifestyle.”

Now even more folks can take the reins and start their fundraising journey as they run for a cause.

Do as little or as much as you want.

So how can your organization jump on the bandwagon and help supporters include you in their endurance journey? Perhaps you don’t want to commit to a special status at an event, but you also don’t want to miss the chance to incorporate new ideas into your fundraising plan.   The tactics below can help you define your strategy in this area and acquire new donors:

Plan

Your resources are limited—I can say that with 100% certainty.  So you have to decide how this fits with your other programs.  With millions of potential donors out there, you must determine how to activate your marketing.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this a fundraising tool or a donor acquisition tool or both?
  • Can you leverage marketing done by the event organizer?  What does that require on your side?

No matter what the plan, it is important to let your supporters know that you are part of the event.  Let them act as your feet on the ground to bring new participants to the event through easy social media integrations and captivating stories.

 Choose the event wisely

All events are not created equally.   Your brand should continue to be a driving point. A well-done event will reflect positively on your organization, so you also need to consider any obstacles to admission.

  • Is it an event that sells out quickly? Factor that into your decision on how involved you want to be in marketing to your current database.
  • Is it local or will your supporters travel for something really exciting?
  • Are there ample low cost registration options?  Or do you want to position this as a WOW event that supporters will invest more in?

Once you have chosen your event, selected your strategies, and determined your involvement level, it is time to make sure you have the tools to make it work.

Pick a good partner

Earlier this year, Blackbaud introduced its new crowdfunding service, everydayhero. Shortly thereafter, everydayhero announced a key partnership with the Rock’n’Roll Marathon Series to be the chosen fundraising platform for their US-based events. That means that any participant can fundraise for any charity they choose. The charity simply has to register with everydayhero and express interest in being an event partner.

“Crowdfunding services like everydayhero are leading the charge to make this change real and sustainable,” says Simon Lockyer of everydayhero, “Participants are demanding a choice, and we know that if we provide them that choice and make giving simple, they will come.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debbi Stanley is manager of the Blackbaud client success team. As certified fundraising executive, Debbi has raised more than $15 million for nonprofit agencies and is a recognized expert in strategic, succession and resource development planning. During her nonprofit career, she served in many positions including development director for health and human services agencies and she was a successful consultant teaching nonprofits approaches to organizational development that properly leverage resources for project sustainability. Her expertise in situational leadership and her knowledge of funding strategies has helped hundreds of nonprofits do more for their communities. An avid fan, Debbi is blessed to have two sons who are great athletes at both forms of football – the American and the International version.

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