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Virtual marathons and races are the latest rage in online fundraising. While many models exist, the basic principle is to encourage grassroots, peer-to-peer fundraising in a flexible way.

Like a traditional marathon or race/walk fundraiser, groups set a date (or a timeframe) for participants to race. Participants either pay a registration fee to help the charity, or they raise money for the charity by accepting pledges from friends and families.

Runners/walkers then race, either on their own or in a group, log their miles online, and collect their pledges! Here are just a few examples of different virtual marathons and races to think about.

virtual marathon fundraisers

1. UNHCR Virtual Marathon Challenge

The UNHCR is the refugee arm of the United Nations. They are encouraging everyday citizens all over the world to ‘Go the Extra Mile’ for refugees with a virtual race. Their goal is to raise 50,000 British Pounds to help 300 refugee families. The cause also raises awareness for refugee crises around the world.

The fundraiser is set up on the platform Give Penny. Participants set up their own fundraising profile and pick their dates for a run. Participants invite their social networks to chip in with a gift or pledge. The program softly suggests setting goals of either 50 or 100 British Pounds to receive a special gift.

A cool aspect is a partnership with Runkeeper. Runkeeper is an app (by ASICS) to plan and track runs with GPS on your cell phone. That way racers can ‘prove’ their results in real time.

Also read: Tips for Running a Marathon Fundraiser

2. Virtual Strides Platform for Virtual Marathons and Races

Virtual Strides partners with charities across the United States to market virtual run opportunities that anyone can sign up for. Participants receive medals, bibs, t-shirts or other takeaways. Charities receive 100% of the proceeds minus a partnership fee for Virtual Strides.

They boast that they have helped raise more than $600,000 from these partnerships! The model makes marketing and organizing participants both very simple for the charity.

3. Virtual Run Events Model

Virtual Run Events is an online platform whose business model is to design unique race challenges and pull revenues from groups or individuals. Participants receive medals and sometimes t-shirts depending on the promotion. Designs are fun and interesting, such as ‘Embrace your inner unicorn’ and ‘Running rings around Saturn’. Registration fees are only around $20 as well, so it is an affordable model for everyone. They give at least 15% of proceeds from each running program to a specific charity.

4. Virtual Runner UK

Just like the Virtual Run Events model, but based in the United Kingdom. Virtual Runner has more varied entry fee options and gives higher percentages to charities.

5. Brake’s Virtual Run

Brake is a United Kingdom charity that is trying to bring awareness to the high number of deaths from automobile accidents. The model, in 2018, was to run 1753 kilometers for the 1753 people that die annually in traffic accidents.

Participants registered for only 5 British Pounds. Upon registration, they received a t-shirt and fundraising pack. They customized their own race pages, with targets and dates. They received gifts for raising amounts as little as 10 Pounds. Runners could run ‘in memory’ of a friend or relative that died in a traffic accident as well, for additional awareness raising. This is a great model for any type of memorial run or walk.

6. Virtual Run Challenge

Virtual Run Challenge’s goal is to get people moving more, by giving a wide range of options for registering in different race challenges.  Participants simply pick an event, register, share the event with at least one friend, and log miles.

Also read: 100+ Fundraising Ideas!

The Earth Day Challenge attempts to log 24,901 miles, the length of the equator. What is different about this model is that it is free to sign up. Participants pay for medals, t-shirts, and other giveaways if they choose.

The site does also host charity events, such as the Hope Strength Love virtual 5K for breast cancer research and awareness. Registration fees for charity events help the cause.

All of these are great models for virtual marathons, races, and walks! No matter the size of your charity or cause, you can easily put together a virtual marathon for fundraising this year.

Have fun and race away!

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