If you are a nonprofit professional looking for an engaging fundraiser to increase your organization’s revenue while attracting community support, consider organizing a fun run. Hosting a fun run is an excellent way to raise money for your mission and increase awareness for your organization.
First things first: What is a fun run? A fun run is a non-competitive fundraising run similar to a walk-a-thon (or run-a-thon), in which participants either pay a flat fee to race or gather support from family and friends in the form of pledges for the run. These funds then go towards the cause.
A fun run can be a more traditional running event, or you can choose to spruce up your fundraiser with an exciting theme: such as a color run or a zombie run. Introducing a theme, although requiring more preparation beforehand, has been known to attract much-needed attention to a fundraiser.
There are three key sets of individuals crucial to the success of any fun run or walk-a-thon— the organizers, the supporters, and the participants— each holding a specific role in ensuring fundraising success.
Whether this is your first time organizing an event or you are a fun run-planning pro, consider these tips and tricks concerning participant management that will take your fundraiser to the next level!
Ready to get started? Let’s jump in:
1. Utilize Checklists for Your Fun Run Event
The first— and arguably most important— step in hosting an event is the planning process that proceeds the event itself. Generally, the better the planning, the more successful the event. Some of the greatest tools to ensure maximum levels of organization and efficiency during the planning process are checklists.
Checklists provide an accessible record to determine which tasks have been completed and which remain on the to-do list. With many team members and volunteers involved in the planning process, checklists reduce the risk of duplicate assignments, wasted time, and/or important tasks falling through the cracks.
Two main types of checklists can help at this stage:
- Scheduling checklist: Figuring out ahead of time how much time to allocate for each task prior to the day of your event is necessary for ensuring that everything is finished on time— and that you’re not rushing to complete big tasks at the last minute. This tactic improves coordination between teams as you make big decisions such as the date and location of your event. Scheduling events out on a fundraising calendar ahead of time can be very useful.
- Calls & reminders checklist: As a type of call log, this checklist provides the team with a record of the contact occurring between organizers, participants, and supporters. With a fundraiser that is highly dependent on participant involvement, phone calls and reminders are an important way to ensure a good turnout. Standardized communication makes sure that each person receives the necessary information.
Using checklists while planning a fun run for your organization will assure you that everyone is on the same page, and ultimately lead to a positive fundraising experience for all involved.
Consider using these fundraising checklist templates to boost the preparation of your event, and lead to a successful fun run. However, make sure to customize any template to meet the needs of your nonprofit, and more specifically, your fun run.
2. Integrate Online Payments
To streamline check-in on the day of your event, participants should have completed as much of the process as possible prior to their arrival. You don’t want to have to worry about collecting cash payments on the day of the race.
One way to avoid this issue is by using event management software— and choosing a platform that includes payment processing.
Accepting donations and entrance fees online offer the following benefits:
- Efficiency: On the day of your event, efficiency is the key to success. 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.
- Variety of options: Online payment processors can accept payments in many different ways that otherwise could not have been processed, which makes it easier for the participant or supporter to give in a way that suits them. These can include debit and credit cards, bank account withdrawals, Apple or Google Pay, etc.
- Security: Find an online payment processor that allows you to accept payments from participants and supporters in a secure fashion via encrypted channels. This way, the donor’s payment details won’t be compromised and the funds will quickly find their way from the donor to the nonprofit, as expected.
Because the main purpose of a fundraiser is to bring in revenue, it is vital that your process for accepting payments is effective. Without a solid payment collection plan in place, you run the risk of missing out on potential donations for your nonprofit. By using the perfect set of event management tools, you will have the right infrastructure in place to collect the funds you need.
3. Encourage Pre-Registration for Fun Run Participants
Participants arriving having already registered for the event continues to streamline the process, which makes things easier on both the participant and the organizer.
When participants pre-register for an event, you see the following benefits:
- Better organization: When your team has a better understanding of the size and scope of your event ahead of time, it allows for a better-organized event. Knowing exactly how many participants you will have can help with the preparation and ensure an event that runs as smoothly as possible.
- Reduced wait times: Nobody likes waiting in long lines for long periods of time, especially if there is a simple solution to avoid doing so. Introducing and encouraging online pre-registration helps with this, as the majority (or all!) of the paperwork can be completed digitally and off-site. Some software platforms offer event management features with the ability to check-in upon arrival.
- Increased attendance: Participants will be more likely to show up for an event they had pre-registered for, as opposed to one they can just choose to drop in if they would like to the day of. Pre-registration boosts the sense of commitment a participant may feel towards your organization and the fun run, which then increases the rates of follow-through on the day of your event.
If reducing wait times are not enough of a perk to encourage pre-registration, you can award early registration by offering benefits such as giveaways, reduced fees, and other small prizes.
4. Go Digital with Your Waivers
As with the cultural shift towards all things digital, another aspect of your fundraiser that can become digitized is the liability waiver. With an event like a fun run, where participants are at risk for injury, you will need to have a waiver signed by each participant.
If you’re doubting the validity of a digital waiver, you can rest assured with the E-Sign Act of 2000, which states that a digital waiver is equally as legitimate as its paper counterpart. However, a few criteria must be in place to ensure its validity.
For example, the waiver must:
- Be in an unalterable digital form.
- Ensure accessibility for the consumer.
- Require consent to sign electronically.
Why switch to digital waivers? Even if you’ve been using paper waivers for years, digitization provides features that physical waivers simply cannot.
These key features offered by online waivers include:
- Unlimited storage: With digital waivers, all of your information can be stored in the cloud, rather than in some filing cabinets stuck in a closet somewhere. You don’t have to worry about misplacing or losing waivers to fire or water damage. And you’ll get to free up that closet!
- Easy retrieval: When your waivers are stored in the cloud, it is also remarkably easy to retrieve a particular waiver, taking only a few seconds instead of having to sort through thousands of files. This data management tool also allows you to download all the information as a spreadsheet or PDF for increased accessibility.
- Identity verification: Digital waiver platforms offer increased security features, such as email validation and auto photo capture while filling out the waiver, in order to deter forgery. These additional steps to boost identify verification only further go to prove the validity of the signed waiver.
Finally, digital waivers offer the ability for participants to arrive at your event with their waiver already signed. You can send out a link to your waiver for participants in advance, and even send reminders to those who have yet to complete the form before the event. Again, streamlining the registration process when it comes to the day of your event!
When you include checklists, online payments, pre-registration, and digital liability waivers in your community fun run, you are laying the foundation for a powerful fundraiser. By providing participants with effective tools to increase efficiency and streamline necessary processes, you increase the likelihood that new participants will join your team and increase revenue. Good luck!
About the author:
Daryl McCarl is the Director of Business Development at Smartwaiver, the leading digital waiver service trusted by thousands of organizations around the world.