13 Fundraising Tips for Charity Runners

charity running fundraising tips
My kids raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by selling ice pops and candy to runners during our long run in a park.

Fundraising can be a daunting, intimidating process. As a charity runner coach, I’ve actually talked to a lot of runners who were way more nervous about raising the minimum amount than actually running the race. Here are some tips to help achieve fundraising success:

1. Start early.
Get going with your fundraising as soon as you can. If you start early, you’ll be able to reach your minimum sooner and not stress about it. An added bonus is an increased motivation to train, since you’ll feel more committed to your race.

2. Create a fundraising website.
Many people prefer the convenience of making online donations, and most charities offer personalized websites. Make sure you take the steps to set it up and personalize it. Share your personal connection to the cause, why donations are so critical, and how the money is used.

3. Set your goal for higher than your minimum.
If you have a minimum fundraising amount that you need to hit in order to get a race entry or other incentive, set your goal for higher than that amount. If donors see you have a lot to raise, they’re more likely to donate and give generously.

4. Write a fundraising letter.
One of the quickest and easiest way to raise money is to ask everyone you know to donate. Write a fundraising letter explaining what you’re doing and email it to your contacts, everyone from friends and family members to co-workers and members of clubs you belong to. You’ll be surprised at who donates. Some people you may not know very well may have a close connection to the cause you’re supporting.

5. Customize your letter.
The charity may give you same sample fundraising letters, but don’t use a template word-for-word. Make it your own by sharing your reasons for why you care about the particular charity and why you’re doing the race. Include information about the charity (statistics, articles, and videos, for example) so your potential donors can find out how their money can make a difference. Don’t forget to include how people can donate!

6. Form a team.
Fundraising as a team can be more effective – and fun!  Recruit co-workers or friends to join your team. You can support and encourage each other’s running and fundraising efforts, and plan fundraising events together.

7. Use social media.
Post your fundraising website link on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to get your message out. Ask donors if it’s OK to acknowledge their donation and thank them publicly on Facebook or other social media. Seeing you thank donors publicly may inspire or remind other friends to make a donation.

8. Use email.
After you send out your initial email, send a follow-up one a few weeks later with an update on your progress. Send another reminder email to your list a couple weeks after that. Finally, send an update email after your race, thanking those who donated and encouraging those who haven’t to make a donation. Put reminders on your calendar to send out the emails, so you don’t forget. Add the URL for your fundraising website to your email signature, as a reminder to anyone you email that you’re still raising money.

9. Plan a fundraising event.
You don’t need to host a huge gala to raise money. A fundraising event could be as simple as hosting a dinner party or wine tasting event at your home and asking guests to donate. See if a local restaurant will offer a percentage of its sales for a certain night to your cause. Get friends and local business to donate items so you can do a raffle at your event. When you send out your invitations, don’t forget to include your fundraising link, so those who can’t attend can still donate to your cause.

10. Hold a yard sale.
Do you have a lot of clutter in your closets and garage? Clean them out and sell any unwanted items at a yard sale. If you don’t want to organize a sale, try selling your used stuff on craigslist, eBay, or through social media.

11. Get donations matched.
Find out if your company will match all the donations that you raise. When people donate, find out if their company has a matching gift program. For many companies, the matching gift process is as simple as filling out a form.

12. Have a bake sale.
Sell baked goods at work, at your yard sale or fundraising event. Do it outside a local store, if they allow it. You can put out a collection jar for those who want to donate money, but don’t what to buy any sweets. Make sure you also have your fundraising link handy so people who want to make a credit card donation can do so easily.

13. Keep asking.
Don’t be shy or embarrassed to remind people to donate. Some of your friends and family members may have every intention of contributing to your fundraising, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

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