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  • Fun Run Fundraiser: 3 Tips for Streamlining Your Event

Races, like marathons and 5Ks, are a tried and true fundraising idea. They’re used for anything from family-friendly school walk-a-thons to corporate social responsibility events. One of the most engaging types of charity races is the fun run.

Like any other event, fun runs require plenty of planning to be successful. You’ll need to choose a location, select vendors, sell tickets, and create waivers to keep runners safe. And streamlining each registrant’s journey to prevent check-in congestion on race day is key.

In this guide, we’ll explore some fun run basics and tips and tricks for giving supporters a seamless, positive experience. Let’s get started!

What is a fun run?

A fun run is a fundraising event similar to a walk-a-thon in which participants either pay a flat fee to race or gather pledged donations from family and friends. Then, they’ll gather together on the day of the race and complete a course together.  

Fun runs have an exciting, fun element that makes them stand out from an ordinary race. For example, 99Pledges recommends sprucing up a basic run-a-thon by adding foam and bubbles that runners jog through during the race. Other popular fun run ideas include seasonal runs like Turkey Trots, food-themed runs, and dress-up themes (e.g., book characters or the 80’s).

How can you streamline the fun run for participants?

Lengthy registration forms and check-in desk lines can turn participants away or leave them with a negative experience. Your organization can avoid both of these issues with the right tools and preparation. 

Here are our tips for streamlining your fun run:

Plan ahead.

To make your fundraising event stand out, take proactive steps to prepare for attendees. Remove slowdowns with steps like:

  • Setting up a one-stop, online registration system. Include everything attendees need to compete in one place, including registration forms, waivers, and payments. 
  • Preparing race packets ahead of time, complete with participants’ race bibs, t-shirts in their size, and other promotional items. To minimize lines, consider distributing these at multiple sites (e.g., one station for names starting with A-M and another for N-Z names).
  • Offering several water and snack stations. It’s recommended to set up water stations every two miles along the route. You may need more than one at the start and finish lines where runners will gather.
  • Training and coordinating your volunteers using volunteer management software. Create schedules and clearly define roles to keep every part of the event running smoothly.

Remember to follow donor data management strategies to track pre-registration data accurately. When your dataset is accurate and up-to-date, you can get insights that help you prepare. For example, you can predict attendance rates based on the number of people who register in advance. 

Go digital with your waivers.

Having participants sign a waiver beforehand is a nonnegotiable for physical events with inherent risk like a fun run. While traditional paper waivers can cause delays at events, using digital waivers allows attendees to sign them ahead of time. Additionally, digital waivers are more sustainable, easier to store and locate, and have more stringent identity verification requirements. 

According to the E-Sign Act of 2000, a digital waiver is equally as legitimate as its paper counterpart, but you’ll need to meet a few criteria. The digital waiver must be in an unalterable digital form, ensure accessibility for the consumer, and require consent to sign electronically. To satisfy these requirements, choose a reliable provider like Smartwaiver. Smartwaiver offers the features you need to ensure your waivers are compliant and accessible:

  • A variety of custom fields, from signatures to initial boxes
  • Multiple language translation options
  • The ability to discern parent/guardian relationships
  • An embedded waiver widget for your website
  • Shareable links
  • A certificate of authenticity for each waiver ensuring that forms were not modified after signing

As we mentioned, digital waivers allow participants to arrive at the event with their waivers already signed. Remember to share links to your waiver for participants in advance, include the waiver in the registration process, and embed the waiver into your website so attendees can complete it in advance. 

Accept online donations and payments.

Avoid the hassle of collecting cash payments on the day of the race by accepting donations online. Ideally, your event management tool or fundraising software should have payment processing features. Promote the opportunity to donate in your marketing campaign, and include reminders in follow-up emails with registrants.  

Accepting donations and entrance fees online can enhance your event by making it more:

  • Efficient: Providing efficient payment options improves the overall experience for all participants, as well as those organizing the run. By implementing online payments, it will be quick and easy to tell who has paid and who has not. 
  • Flexible: Online payment processors can accept many different kinds of payments. This makes it easier for the participant or supporter to donate through their preferred channel. With online giving, donations can be made with debit and credit cards, bank account withdrawals, Apple or Google Pay, and more.
  • Secure: Choose an online payment processor that is PCI-compliant and uses encrypted channels. This protects donors’ payment details and ensures funds will quickly find their way to your nonprofit. 

While the goal is to get your supporters to pay and donate before the event, it’s important to have a backup plan ready. Create signs with QR codes that link to your donation form or set up a text-to-give campaign. This is also a great way to motivate spectators who never interacted with your marketing materials or registration form to donate. 

Events drum up excitement for your cause and inspire new supporters to interact with your organization. Streamline the process to make a positive first impression by preparing as much as possible. Trim your registration process, use digital waivers, and remind attendees to do everything in advance so they can just show up and start running. 

By making participating so convenient, you’ll boost attendance rates, increase donor engagement, and motivate more supporters to join the race the next year.

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