In case you don’t have a running countdown, there are 21 days until Marathon Monday. Fitting (and coincidental) that I should choose today to write about it while sitting in my room at #Mile21! In any case, last night I was talking to a friend who’s training for the Boston Marathon about his decision to run and his process of training and getting set up for the big day. One thing that he said that really surprised me was that he said it was competitive and difficult to be accepted by a charity to run the Marathon for them. He applied to 4 different charities and was accepted to run for Michael Lisnow Respite Center to help support children and adults with disabilities. It’s a great cause, and if anyone would like to support the cause and Dan Cunningham’s fundraising efforts, I’m happy to put you in touch with him to make a donation. In any case, I was confused that you had to work so hard to be given the chance to give money to a cause, but after a little bit of research, I understood that in order to get a charity bib to enter the race, he had to apply and raise at least, on average, $5,000 for your charity.
$5,000 is a lot of money, and I think people are often more reluctant to donate when just directly asked as opposed to when incentivized by activities or interactions with the runner and/or cause. Things like selling things and donating proceeds or silent auctions are classics that always work, and though I have never run or fundraised for a marathon, I’ve seen some really creative and fun ways that others have fundraised for their causes recently and I wanted to bring some attention to them.
March Madness Brackets
The reason I bring up this specific example is because this is Dan’s fundraiser of choice. He organized a large bracket competition where you pay to compete, and while the winner does get a sizable cut of the money, the majority goes towards Dan’s fundraising for the marathon. This one effort has raised over $800 for the cause and has proven to be a great way to get college kids on a budget to participate in the fundraising efforts. On my end at least, I can rest easy knowing that the $10 I spent and will definitely not win back will be going to support a friend supporting a good cause.
Needless to say, it’s entertaining to watch your friends make fools of themselves. While there are ample opportunities to do it without profit, if you can do so in a way that makes money, you’d really have a business. As I read in this interesting article about different ways that people have raised money, one man offered to sing and/or dance to any song for a $10 donation and would then post the videos his YouTube channel. Because of his less-than-professional singing abilities, the videos were funny to his friends and turned into a great way to raise money for his cause. One of the best things about this tactic is the potential for virality and attention growth. As @mariaknoerr recently wrote about in the context of the Ice Bucket Challenge and our most recent lecture, giving people the opportunity to interact and get involved with a cause directly encourages them to participate and donate.
Parties of Pretty Much Any Kind
One of the most popular fundraising techniques I’ve seen is hosting a party. I’ve seen lots of friends post about parties in which the drinks are marked up and the proceeds go to their charity, which in and of itself is a great way to incentivize people. While searching online, however, I also came across some other creative ideas that I thought could be fun to incorporate in the fundraising efforts:
- Red cup party — Host a party and have participants buy red Solo cups at the door, at a wildly inflated price to be donated to your cause.
- Paddle race —Host a standup paddleboard contest and let beach bystanders place bets on the winners.
- World record attempt party — Give guests a list of “highly attainable world records” they can attempt to break at your event.
- Beer run — Like a pub-crawl, but with more urgency. Participants stop at bars along the route who’ve hopefully agreed to donate their proceeds for a good cause.
These are all just silly ideas that stood out to me as fun and unique. While you can have a very successful fundraising party without any campy themes or gimmicks, I know that I would definitely be motivated by some of these things.
People have become very creative, and thanks to the Internet and friends of mine, I’ve been able to see some of the exciting ways people can do good work. I’m glad that there are so many outlets to raise awareness, involvement, and support for some of the great causes out there. Until I muster up the will power and athleticism to run my own marathon, I’m proud to support others racing for a cause, especially if I get to have fun while doing so!