Organizing a run for charity can be very rewarding. Whether it is for a charitable organization or an individual, it not only raises money and awareness for a cause, it can be lots of fun too.
1. Allow yourself plenty of time
It can take up to six months to get permits approved and things organized. Some cities even require a year advance notice.
2. Choose an organization or individual in need
The rules are different if you are trying to raise money for a verified 501c charitable organization or individual to help with medical expenses. Check with the state you will be holding the run. If holding in for an individual, you will need to have medical records sent to the state to verify if that individual qualifies for help with medical bills. The state will then have to approve it and send a letter which you can show to sponsors. With so many scams, this protects the integrity of the fund raiser. 501c organizations are already verified with their state and can provide a letter for fundraising.
3 Set a date and course
If using city roads, you will have to get your run approved by the city so have a back up date if your original date doesn’t’ work. You will have to measure your course to make sure it is the desired distance. The USATF has members who can certify a course for you for a fee. Make a map of your course. You will need it for permits.
4. Put together a committee
We had a several people help gather donations, volunteers for parking, a set up and take down crew, volunteers along the route, volunteers in the food area, a crew for registration, a crew for t-shirt design and pick up. It takes about 20-60 volunteers for a small to medium race and can take even more for races with over 1,000 entrants.
5. Decide how many participants you will have
Your city may limit the number of participants. Ours would not allow more than 600 because of parking issues. Keep in mind things like parking, spectator areas, traffic interruptions, etc.
6. Obtain permits
Most cities will require some type of gathering permit and it will cost money. The city may even require a police force at the race which you will have to pay for. You will also need to check with the Department of Health if you plan to serve food at the end as there are special permits required for that as well. This is the thing that takes the longest. It will require meetings with the city and other entities so be prepared.
7. Plan the cost
Between permits and paying for the police force, it cost us $3,000 to organize our race. We were able to secure sponsors that helped offset the cost and part of the entry fee went toward that as well.
8. Set the entry fee
What will be the costs of participant t-shirts and putting on the race? Those things will need to be factored into the race fee.
9. Design t-shirts, flyers and website.
Use the same picture on all of your materials and shirts. Make it fun.
10. Set up a free website with a link to the registration page
You can work with companies like runnercard.com for race registration and they take a small fee for the registration fee. You can set up a Facebook event and a free blog for the race. Make sure you have age group divisions if giving out awards. Give your race a name and even theme.
11. Obtain sponsors
It is hard to get cash donations. Offer sponsors something in return. A spot on the back of the t-shirt, advertising along the route, inserts in race packets and advertising on the race website. It is easier to get in kind donations like water and food for the end. We held a silent auction at the end of our race and companies donated gift certificates and products to use. Silent auctions are a great way to increase the amount you raise on your run. This takes a long time. Plan at least 3 months. Most companies require even more time than that. Many companies will only donate to 501c organizations and not to individuals. Keep it in the community. National companies are less likely to donate.
12. Secure race numbers and packets.
We were able to find a sponsor for our race numbers through Road ID. We just used plastic sacks for race packets but would have preferred to use large envelopes as it would have made packet pick up easier.
13. Advertise your race
Radio advertisement is not free but sometimes you can find places that will let you advertise for free. The community recreation center is a good spot for flyers, your local gym, running related businesses, etc. Sometimes radio stations and/or T.V. will consider reduced or free advertisements for a cause but it is rare.
Set a closing date for preregistration about a week before. This allows your printing company to get shirts printed in time and gives you an idea of the race numbers.
Week of race
15. Prepare packets for pick up
Assemble all of the sponsor literature and t-shirts for race participants.
16. Packet pick up before race
It helps to have a time and place for packet pick up before the race. You can also do a silent auction preview and allow people to start bidding at this time. The day of the race is hectic. This helps.
Day of Race
17. Set up course
Allow at least an hour to mark the course and set signs at all of the turn points. Also, set up timing area and make sure equipment works. Make sure you have adequate number of course volunteers to help along the way and to cheer on the runners.
18. Set up registration area.
If you allow same day registration, this will be hectic. Set up at least 4 volunteers to take payment so you can get the racers on the course in time. Set a separate area for packet pick up. The majority of people wait until race day. If you will have water and food, set this up near this area. Make sure restrooms are available and unlocked if using a park.
19. Make sure you have a clean up committee
Pick up trash along the course as well as in the registration areas. Leave no trace.
20. Have fun
Yes, races are supposed to be fun. And meaningful. So lace up your running shoes and get going.