Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How to plan a 5K Fun Run Fundraiser

Edit:  In 2014 I planned a color run and raffle, raising over $8,000.  For part two of this series, go here.  Part two is how I planned a color run and raffle 5K fundraiser.

Edit:  I have now created an entire website about planning a 5K and also ebook with forms, spreadsheets and sponsor packets.  Go to www.HowtoPlana5K.com to purchase the ebook to have access to the forms we used (including a bonus section about creating color runs)

 A few people have been emailing me asking me how we planned the Driving Jacks 5K this past April, I guess it’s time that time of year to plan a 5K!  Hopefully I can help some of you plan a successful 5K as a fundraiser for your organization to raise lots of money for your cause.  
While I was running my 8 miler on Sunday (training run for my marathon) I was thinking about how great the DJ5K turned out to be and what a big fundraiser it was.  There is a non profit I suggested hosting a 5K to and if they end up doing a 5K as a fundraiser they could raise close to $100K.  The more people and sponsors you have the more money you will raise.  Go get the people.  Build it and they will come (quick, what movie is that from?!)
Here are some steps to follow, but I have also included a F.A.Q. list below.

Step 1.  Pick a date!  Look online for a date that is free and book it.  Active.com is where a lot of runners go to choose their runs. 
Step 2.  Pick a route and get it approved by the city/town you are in.  Permits are a must if you are on the streets. You don’t want a fine!
Step 3.  Book your timing chip company!  It isn’t fun (I know by experience) to choose a date and have the timing chip company you want to use be booked up then you have to change the date or go with another company.  Before you start advertising make sure you have this locked (and your route permit)
Step 4.  Get a website up and running to start advertising.  Advertise on FB and any other social media you can advertise on (for free-tell your friends to spread the word also).  Post weekly updates on your website about the 5K to keep people interested (we used a blog format-see the f.a.q. section below).  Also you can advertise by printing a small flyer and adding it to other running events race packets.  Ask the race director of a few races that are before your event and ask to add a flyer for your event.  You might get a few registrations that way!
Step 5.  Put a sponsor packet together and start getting sponsors
Step 6.  About a month in advance you can order the t-shirts and awards.  Start working with the t-shirt company and getting quotes before then, but don’t place orders until you know how many people will be at the event.
Step 7.  Plan for miscellaneous items to bring to the 5K, plus items that you will need.  If it’s not written down someone will forget it!  Delegate each item to someone.  Some suggestions: walkie talkies, clip boards, extra pens, door prize tickets, cups, bibs, napkins, paper plates, trash bags (you will use more than you think!), cups (average two or three per participant), extension cords, camera, awards, door prizes, laptop, tables, t-shirts, chalk, food, water jugs, serving utensils, ice, water, sponsor banners, money bag (for onsite registrations-keep an eye on this!), goodie bag items, signs, etc.  I am sure there is more, just brainstorm for every scenario.
Step 8.  Have each committee member have a specific duty and give them volunteers.  See F.A.Q. below
Here are some questions that I have been asked about our 5K:
How long did it take to plan the 5K?
I came up with the idea while on a trip back from Nacogdoches with my friend Hector (also a committee member) in September.  We started to really work on it in December, but we were holding bi-weekly conference call meetings since October. Not much was happening until we got our first sponsor in December.
How did you get sponsors?
We created a sponsor packet and each of the committee members were supposed to get at least two sponsors each.  Not everyone got two sponsors, but our goal was to get as many as possible and having everyone individually responsible for two helped a lot.

Edit:  I have now created an entire website about planning a 5K and also ebook with forms, spreadsheets and sponsor packets.  Go to www.HowtoPlana5K.com to purchase the ebook to have access to the forms we used (including a bonus section about creating color runs)
Where did you get the t-shirts and was that a big budget item?
We had two different shirts, purple for the volunteers and white for the participants.  The white shirts were about $4 each and the purple ones were about $6 each, plus you had set up charges and misc fees (we were a nonprofit so we didn’t pay sales tax).  Work with your t-shirt company for the best deal, but you might be able to get them for even cheaper if you add them as a sponsor (offer to put their logo on the back of the shirt).  We used Bull Shirts in Houston and they were wonderful to work with and very professional.  The t-shirts were a big budget item, but necessary. 
Did you use a timing chip system?
We had a timing chip system company drive to Houston to time the event.  There is only one in Nacogdoches and she was busy (there were two other 5K’s in the area that day), so Run Wild Sports Timing drove up (we paid per mile in addition to his per person fee for him to drive up).  Google timing chip companies in your area or you can go to a local 5K and get the timing chip companies phone number and website to call them.
How did you get door prizes?
We got door prizes the same way as we did sponsors, going door to door asking!  Start with family and friends then ask for referrals on Facebook.  If you tell friends what cause you are doing the 5K for, most people will help.
What about the day of the event?  How did you decide who did what?
I am a super freak O.C.D. planner.  I had a spreadsheet with every committee member, what they would be doing at what time, what they needed to bring from home, and what other volunteers they would be assigned.  For instance, Robby was in charge of the timing chips and bibs.  He needed to bring the timing chips, safety pins, and a first aid kit from home.  Anything having to do with the timing chips he was assigned to, from helping set up the timing and p.a. systems to coordinating the awards that were given out to the winners.  By 6:30 am everything needed to be set up and the awards needed to be finalized at 8:30 when they were announced.  I knew that we would start right at 7:30, the winners should be back no later than 7:45ish, and we would be handing out awards no later than 8:30.  We ran on time.  I like schedules, like I said; I am a super control freak planner.  If you have a plan down to every detail, you can work around small hiccups along the way.  If you show up and say ‘well, I wonder what’s going to happen?’  I know what will happen…everything will happen and you will get your butt handed to you, then you will wonder what the heck happened.  Plan ahead! :) 
What about a logo or theme?
We had our logo designed by a graphic designer that actually designed the Driving Jacks logo a few years ago.  Sometimes t-shirt companies offer t-shirt designs as part of the price. 


Did you go to any 5K’s to watch them plan or run one?
I have done a ton of 5K’s (but this was my first to plan), so I knew a bit about 5K’s in general.  I emailed a few different 5K’s in the area and asked them questions like this F.A.Q.  Just go to one in your area and observe how they do things.  Most organizers are happy to help you answer questions, just be patient with them, a lot of them volunteer their time and it might take a few days for them to respond to your questions.
How did you determine the budget?
I knew that our timing chips would cost X amount, and t-shirts would costs X amount so once we determined the participant fee ($20-$25 is average for adults, $10-$15 for kids) we had a base outline.  I tried to keep our expenses to less than half of the registration costs.  If your registration cost is $20, have no more than $10 in expenses so the other $10 will be money raised, but try and aim for about $6 or $7 per participant (or less).  The more participants you have, the cheaper the cost per registrant will be.  Once you cover the costs of the timing chips and misc expenses, all other money raised will be icing on the cake!  I created a spreadsheet with formulas on how much money we had raised between sponsors and participants fees.  I am a spreadsheet nerd.
What about awards?
We had age group awards in 10 year age ranges and also 18 and under.  Male and female two deep.  Next year when we have more registrations we will add more awards.
How did you get people to register for the 5K?
We used active.com for the registration process.  Some timing chip companies offer registrations as part of their timing package, but we just went with active.com.  The fees are minimal on Active and they has a super easy to navigate website for the participants and for the committee, plus you can pass the fee on to the participants.
Did you have any big groups register for the 5K?
Yes!  We held a team registration contest to get more people registered.  As part of the registration on active.com you can add a team and they can recruit their friends as members.  The largest team we had was about 25 people and the smallest team was about 3 people.  When we were making announcements after everyone had finished and were giving out door prizes we announced the winner and had the entire team come up to get their award.  We wanted something everyone could share so we had a cookie cake with their team name on it.  Unhealthy? Yes! :)  Side note on active.com team registrations:  When a person registers with a team they get a small discount (I think 10%) so be sure to include that in your budget calculations.
What about an email address and website?
We purchased a domain name for $12 a year and signed up for a free blog on blogspot.com to forward the domain name to.  Drivingjacks5k.org forwards to drivingjack5k.blogspot.org.  You can easily edit the layout and add pages to customize the look.  I like using a blog format because you can post updates on the site and your participants can easily find new information pertaining to the race.
Email addresses are free on several sites like Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.
Did your 5K committee have meetings?
The DJ5K committee was spread across Texas!  I signed us up on freeconferencecall.com and we called in weekly with updates.  I wrote down everything that happened and sent out meeting minutes as well as a to-do list for each person to finish before the next week.  During the meeting we just went one by one and gave up update as to what we were all doing and what progress we had made for the week. We didn’t see a need to meet face-to-face (and it would have significantly lowered our committee member count!) since you can call in from anywhere.   For the members who weren’t able to attend the meeting that week I just asked that they send me an update by 5 pm and I would give their presentation updates during the meeting for them.

Edit:  I have now created an entire website about planning a 5K and also ebook with forms, spreadsheets and sponsor packets.  Go to www.HowtoPlana5K.com to purchase the ebook to have access to the forms we used (including a bonus section about creating color runs)
What about finish line food and drinks?  What about water stops?
One of our committee members worked at a grocery store part time and she was able to get them to donate water bottles and bananas for the finish line.  Set up a meeting with your local grocery store manager and ask if they will donate anything to the 5K.  If they can’t donate, ask if they can give you a significant discount or the items at cost to save money.  If they give them to you at cost, they aren’t losing anything.  You need to start this process a few months in advance since they will probably need to speak with a higher up for approval.

Water stops-for water stops we had a special water stop sponsor option on the sponsor packet.  They water stop sponsor got to put a banner at the water stop and had the option of volunteering for the event at the water stop in their companies shirts/outfits.  We did end up having two water stop sponsors, but they choose not to work the event but we did have their banners on display.  Make water stops fun with a boom box (do people still call them that?  I am old school. Yo!)  Also, plan for 2-3 cups per person at each water stop and fill them as you go.  If you buy to many cups, use them next year.  It’s better to have too many than not enough.  You don’t want people dying from dehydration on you.
Finish line-we had water bottles, bananas, and misc fruit at the finish line that were all donated.  I wanted kolaches or donuts (Sugar is bad, bad, bad, but yummy, yummy, yummy!) but we couldn’t find a place to donate them in time.

How did you communicate with everyone to make sure they were OK and running on schedule?
We borrowed walkie talkies and each committee member got one plus each water stop.  I couldn’t figure out how to work my stupid walkie talkie so everyone called or texted me on my cell.  It was dead at the end of the day. LOL.

How many participants is an average amount for a first year 5K?
I don’t know the average participants nationwide, but with ours we had about 130.  We were competing with two other 5K’s that same day (one was free and in the parking lot next to us!) for registrations so we had a lower amount.  Our organization is pretty big on campus so we were able to get the word out, but our goal was 250.  We will hit and then exceed that number in years to come!  I would say 100  is a good number to aim for and budget for, but shoot for 250. 
How much money can we expect to make?
We made around $3,000 after expenses, but a sponsor matched what we raised and so we raised $6,000.  We had income from sponsors plus registrations to make the $3,000, of course the more sponsors and participants you have the more money you will make.  Pick a number and start working towards getting more and more registrations.  The numbers below are examples of how much registration fees would bring in, then you add your sponsor amounts, then subtract your expenses.
For example:  # of registrations. 
$10,000.00
500 x $20
$6,000.00
300 x $20
$5,000.00
250 x $20
$4,000.00
200 x $20
$3,000.00
150 x $20
$2,000.00
100 x $20
$1,000.00
50 x $20


Where did you get your bibs?
We got them from an online company called bibnumbers.com, you can customize them to your event with colors, logos, and numbers.  We started them out at #619 because that is how many free rides we gave out the first semester of operations (Driving Jacks is a free designated driver program).
How many people were on the 5K planning committee with you?
There were about 5 alumni members that met via conference call every week, and then we had a committee of Driving Jacks members (about 6 or 7 I think) that would meet every few weeks.  The alumni group would concentrate on timing chips, t-shirts, awards, etc and the DJ Nacogdoches group would do anything we needed to be done in Nacogdoches itself.  For instance, a student must apply for a permit to use the facilities and since we couldn’t drive up there easily apply for the permit, they did it for us. Or they would reserve tables and walkie talkies, put up flyers, hand out sponsor packets to companies in Nacogdoches, etc.   They were our feet on the street since we couldn’t be there.  The alumni members each live about 2.5 hours to 5 hours away from Nacogdoches plus we all worked full time, so it was hard for us to travel to Nacogdoches for little things here and there.  The DJ Nac committee was awesome!
Did you need more volunteers than you thought?
The current members of Driving Jacks were our volunteers and several other people as well.  I would say we had about 30 volunteers plus committee members?  I think it was enough, but we could always have used more.  Mainly the volunteers stood on the course and directed the runners (long story, but there was another 5K in the parking lot next to us that was sort of on the same course as we were so our volunteers stood on the course in lime green shirts directing people-we know that it wasn’t a good idea but we didn’t have a choice!  Like I said, long story.  It worked out though), but some of them were at the registration table, the water stops, and the finish line.
Did the setup take a long time the day before and the day of the event?
I got to Nacogdoches the day before the event around lunch time.    We had some miscellaneous small items to do and some stuff to pick up, but for the most part we had done everything ahead of time.  We did walk the entire route (in the rain!) and decide where to add the signs, where we needed volunteers, and where all the registration/food tables would be set up.
The day of the event we all got there by 5:30 and started setting everything up.  We unloaded the cars and sent a group of about 5 people to put the signs in place (see below about signs).  We set up the registration table with the t-shirts, then the awards table, the food tables, the water stops, and timing chip system.  We were done with everything by 6:45 am and the race started at 7:30 am.  We were done taking things down and cleaning up by 9:15 am.

Edit:  I have now created an entire website about planning a 5K and also ebook with forms, spreadsheets and sponsor packets.  Go to www.HowtoPlana5K.com to purchase the ebook to have access to the forms we used (including a bonus section about creating color runs)
How did you go about getting your route approved?
We used a pre-approved route from the US Track and Field website (Go here and put in the area you want and a list will come up or you can pay them to create you a customized one).  We were staying on the SFASU campus area only so we didn’t have to get the city’s approval, only SFASU’s approval.  In regular cities you would need to talk to the city hall and they will get you a permit.  You might have to call around to a few different places to find the correct office.
How did you mark the course?

We had a committee member walk the entire route and decide what signs we needed (I think there was about 60 of them total) and we had them printed with arrows.  We had these donated (a committee members friend owned a sign company), but you can ask if you can them printed at a discount (offer them to be a sponsor).  We also had volunteers pointing (and cheering) participants in the right direction every so often along the course.
I think that is it!  Hopefully your event will be a success.  Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions that I didn’t cover.  I love hearing your success stories, I am so glad I have been able to help so many people with this post! :)

Edit:  In 2014 I planned a color run and raffle, raising over $8,000.  For part two of this series, go here.  Part two is how I planned a color run and raffle 5K fundraiser.

Edit:  I have now created an entire website about planning a 5K and also ebook with forms, spreadsheets and sponsor packets.  Go to www.HowtoPlana5K.com to purchase the ebook to have access to the forms we used (including a bonus section about creating color runs)

24 comments:

  1. You are so awesome to share this!!!

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  11. This is the most comprehensive set of instructions for organizing a 5k I've been able to find. Thanks for posting!

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  12. This was an excellent post and was very insightful.

    start a fundraiser on www.rallyhero.com fundraising websites

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  13. Were you required to purchase liability insurance?

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    1. It is not required, but helpful to limit the liability on the organization. Active.com has some good suggestions on the topic.

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  14. When doing a color run, do you have volunteers throw the powder or do you use a machine?

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  16. My students and I are hosting a 5k for the very first time. We have chosen a nonprofit and now we need sponsors. You mentioned a sponsor packet. What exactly did this include?

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    1. It depends on what you want to put in it. Some people just write a heart felt letter, others breakdown sponsorship levels. It depends on what you want. I would look at other races to see what they do. I would send you ours, but it is not mine to give out!!

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  17. Great tips and ideas! I am sharing this on Pinterest

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  18. Any tips on how to organize a similar type of fun run but for students? What types of things did you do for prizes? I'm thinking about trying to plan a fun run for our schools only fundraiser and looking for any ideas to help us get away from expensive fun run companies. Thank you

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    1. The same planning process would apply. I am not sure how you would raise money if you aren't wanting to charge the students. Do you mean the timing companies as the expensive fun run companies? I am not sure how to get around that besides having a non-timed themed run like a color run, zombie, or similar type run that wouldn't require a timing company.

      We got our prizes donated from local companies so it depends on what you can find donated. We had door prizes and also trophies for the fastest runners in each age category.

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  19. Don't forget about a standby EMT, or ambulance. It is really important to have standby medical personnel on hand, just in case. A lot can go wrong in a large group of people. Find one in your area, and give them a call. If you live in Idaho, I recommend Injury Care EMS. http://injurycareems.com/

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