As a finance and statistics nerd, who also happens to be training for a charity Triathlon event and on the brink of kicking off my fundraising efforts, I started wondering just how extensive the charity race world really was – here are some statistics for you fellow race nerds (from Running in the USA -2016 Annual Statistics):
- 16,957,100 finishers
- 30,400 organized races hosted
- Females account for 9.7 million finishers nationwide and continue to represent 57% from event fields
- The 25 to 44 year old age group continues to be the sweet spot for running, accounting for 49% of finishers
According to Runner’s World and Running in the USA, US road races have raised approximately $1.2 billion for non-profit organizations in 2012 and has only gained traction, speed and dinero in the years thereafter.
So there are some AMAZINGLY great aspects to racing for charity
- Raising money for a cause you’re super passionate about – in my case, it’s cancer-fighting arsenal through Maine Cancer Foundation – as someone who’s family and circle of friends has been touched by the disease, I am passionate about the research, prevention and treatment this charity is championing each and every day!
- Motivation During Training – even on my worst runs, I still think about all of the strong role models in my life who have overcome some seriously tough obstacles – like my Mom who kicked breast cancer’s butt 2 years ago (and my motivation for signing up and racing in this triathlon event)
- Raising Awareness – while there’s so much more information available, sharing personal stories, organizing events, and connecting with others can further help spread the word on some seriously important causes! Just check out the statistics in the picture below from the Maine Cancer Foundation
- Support Network – in some instances, running alongside others who are training and raising awareness for the same event(s) can help to provide a VALUABLE network of folks who can provide that extra bit of support you need during those tough training spells
- Access to Events – as many fellow-Bostonians know very well, the amazing Boston Marathon allows those folks who cannot qualify with speedy legs to run for a charity – a great opportunity to run one of the oldest marathon courses in the country and take part in a cornerstone running event – there are lots of races that offer folks the opportunity to race for a kickass charity and a chance to participate!
…on the flip side, there are also some nerve-wracking aspects of racing for charity…
- Asking for money just plain stinks – even as a seasoned finance professional, I DREAD the fundraising aspect because let’s face it, I can count at least 1/2 a dozen emails/events/etc. a quarter from other folks with similar aspirations – not bad but certainly doesn’t make it easy to stand out from the pack to help push your cause to the forefront
- Super competitive races, sometimes = super high goals – for a friend of mine 2 years ago, this entailed a price tag of $5,000 to raise in order to run the Boston Marathon, while this is a great contribution to the charity and they promise help with fundraising, that’s a lot of money to raise when you take into account full-time jobs, full-time training schedules, and pressure of factoring in fundraising events
Reasons to get over it –
- Because at the end of the day we all started running, swimming, cycling, climbing, whatever your challenge, to conquer a fear/goal
- Life isn’t about giving into our shaky nerves or fears, it’s about keeping things in perspective and realizing we only have this one shot at life to give it our all, right?
Here are some fundraising ideas:
- Get rolling on those emails – BUT instead of just blasting folks over and over again, try to make it personal – I’ll admit that when I get some of these email blasts, I sometimes overlook them or put them on the back burner for a whole host of reasons – but why not try sending personalized emails to individuals or if that’s too challenging, perhaps try sending them to “groups” (i.e. college friends, coworkers, family, etc.)?
- Use Your Other Races / Training – why not try sponsoring a $ per mile trained or run in other races? The concept is simple – log miles, find friends/family to sponsor you based on the number of miles you log swimming, cycling or running
- Balloon Bust – cheesy, yes possibly – but this is an idea I am contemplating for a work event. The concept is simple – sell balloons for $5/10/etc. a piece, buy enough balloons for those purchased and fill some with prizes – just try to make one prize a “big” ticket item compared to the others – great event with kids or even adults/big kids who love to pop balloons
- Matching – some companies (not my present employer, for now) will often times match your donations and, heck, even those folks who donate to your page may have matching programs themselves – it’s always worth asking!
- Sell Something – for some this will take you back to your childhood school- or team-sport fundraising days but depending on your idea, this avenue could work out to provide some great proceeds and some seriously cool swag to your friends and family that help them feel a part of your journey and raise awareness! I love Custom Ink’s Fundraising page here: Custom Ink Fundraising
…last but NOT least — make sure your donation page is PERSONAL! Don’t just settle with the prescribed templates from the race organizers. While the standard templates contain some great statistics, data and stories – nothing replaces the reason why YOU chose to race for this cause