Friday, October 2, 2009

How to raise money for a charity race

Best fundraising tips for 5K, half marathon and marathon runners

I have an embarrassing admission to make. My first race this year was the Peppertree Rescue 5K race at SUNY Albany. Animal rescue is my favorite type of charity; I have fostered kittens for the Humane Society and Italian greyhounds for the IGCA. I told everyone in my office that I was running the race and put a sponsorship form outside of my cubicle. On the race day, I was excited to run, but I had not raised a single dollar for charity because I was too shy and embarrassed to let my friends know how important the issue was to me.

I would like to run a half marathon for charity in 2010, maybe even the ING New York City Half Marathon! Spots for the 2009 race sold out fast, and charity spots were open, but the runner had to raise one thousand dollars to run. I want to be able to raise $1000. That’s 77 friends contributing $13 each.

Are you also considering running a half marathon or marathon for charity but feeling scared that you might not make the donation requirement or too shy to beg your friends for money?

Read on if you would like to learn how to raise money for a charity half marathon race!

I have listed some of the best tips and fundraising ideas I have found, please Twitter me at @kathleenlisson with your ideas!

Cancer survivor and guest blogger Lisa Lynch posts her aversion to ‘wacky’ fundraising and explains how she is turning her birthday party into a fundraiser for a cancer charity.

Could you have a birthday party and ask guests to bring their donations instead of gifts for you?

In the post ‘Revel with a Cause’ my friends Alex and Cati describe what they did to hold a wine tasting at their house for the The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

They did a lot of legwork to make this party a success, but it paid off in a large amount of money collected for charity!

I live in a small apartment in Albany, but I can still fit about a dozen people in my living room for a standing cocktail party. I am thinking of having a food and wine or beer and wine pairing potluck party, and asking guests to bring a beverage AND a donation!

Here is some background information on my past potluck pairing parties, feel free to use the food and wine lists to recreate your own charity half marathon fundraiser!

Valentine’s Day -

Red Wines -

Cabernet Sauvignon -

Belgian Beer -

Beer and Asian Food -

Beer -

UNICEF offers a list of fundraising tips on their website.

I liked the idea of asking the business you work for if they would consider A. matching the contribution B. making a donation and C. allowing you to post information about your fundraising goals in the newsletter.

Asking friends to donate to your cause as a way to observe Lent is another technique that could work in Catholic areas of the country. offers several tips for charity half marathon runners on how to write a good donation page. They are simple, but essential, and include telling your friends why you are running, how you are connected with your charity, sharing the story of how much running this marathon will mean to you and how their support is important, and including photos.

My friend Kerrie from Schenectady ran the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon, Burlington, VT a few years ago for charity. She was kind enough to answer some questions on how to raise money for a race for me.

Why did you run the Marathon?
I'm still trying to figure that out! Haha! Really though, I had always said I wanted to run a marathon and had actually been looking into it for a while when a student of mine mentioned that she was going to train for the marathon and that we should train together. I checked to see if the charity I wanted to raise money for was running this one and they were. It was like all of the stars aligned and the time had come to sign up!

What attracted you to the charity?
I ran with Train To End Stroke with the American Stroke Association. I knew that I wanted to run for a cause and that the cause needed to have some meaning to me. My maternal grandmother had a stroke about 10 years ago--she's still alive, but paralyzed on one side of her body and hasn't walked since. My paternal grandfather also had a stroke...that was a long time ago. He survived the stroke, but was also paralyzed. He died in 1999. So I ran it for them...they were my inspiration. I even pinned pictures of each of them to my singlet.

What are some different ways that you raised money?
I mostly raised money by emails, letters, and word of mouth to family, friends, and colleagues. I also sold paper hearts provided by TTES that people could write their names on or "in honor of ___".

In retrospect, what could you have done differently or done better in your fundraising?
I would have followed up better. I also would have tried a few other things and planned better. I didn't anticipate how much work it would be to fundraise so much money.

Have you heard of any interesting fundraising ideas that you did not try?
There were a ton of ideas that TTES provided for us. I wish I would have tried more. One that I thought was great was asking a local restaurant to donate a portion of their sales on a particular night to your cause. This would be advertised and you would also tell all of your family and friends. It was a win-win for both you and the restaurant--they likely saw an increase in business and you raised money.

Did anyone motivate you to raise money for the charity? Was there a mentor provided?
I was provided with a mentor from TTES. She was great! She would check in to see how both my fundraising and my training were going.

How far ahead did you start raising money?
I think I started raising money about 6 months in advance. I probably should have started sooner though.

Did you meet your goals?
I came pretty close. I ended up making up the difference on my own. I would have reached my goals if I had followed up more and asked those few people who I had avoided asking because sometimes asking for money can be awkward or uncomfortable.

Here is a copy of the email Kerrie sent to her friends asking for donations:


I am sure either you have been, or you are close to someone who has been, affected by stroke. Please help me help to reduce the number of people who can say that!

Dear Friends,

I'm really not kidding. I am training to run a 26.2 mile MARATHON to benefit the American Stroke Association. The marathon is in Burlington, VT on May 25th, 2008!

No, I haven't lost my mind (I don't think anyway!)! By joining the American Stroke Association's Train To End Stroke program, I have a coach, a team, training schedules, clinics, and a reason that makes this more than a personal goal. I am helping to raise funds for stroke research, education, and advocacy programs.

The following are some stroke statistics of which you may not be aware...

Every 45 seconds someone suffers a stroke.
Every 3.1 minutes someone dies of a stroke.
There are 4.4 million stroke survivors.
29% of people who have strokes are under age 65.

Over the course of my training, which officially began on January 22nd, I will run hundreds of miles to prepare. And yes, almost all outside in these ever-so-fun Northeast winters (okay, so maybe I have lost my mind!). But I am doing this for a very personal reason. I am raising money for the American Stroke Association and I'm doing it in honor of my Nanny (my mom's mom who had a stroke almost 9 years ago) and my Pap (my dad's dad who also had a stroke long ago, but has since passed away). They are my inspiration to keep on keeping on, even when it's 6 degrees and hailing at my head.

The reason I am writing to you is to ask for your support in this effort through your positive thoughts and through your generous contribution to the American Stroke Association.

I am very excited and extremely nervous about participating in this event on behalf of many who couldn't even walk it due to a stroke, in particular my Nanny & Pap. Please join me in reaching the finish line of my fundraising goal and helping end stroke. You can do so by clicking on the link below and donating on my website. If you're not comfortable with that, let me know & we can make other arrangements!

Many thanks for your support,

P.S. Your tax-deductible contribution, sent as soon as possible, is greatly appreciated! Every dollar makes a difference toward stroke research and education. If you work for a company that has a matching gift program, please send me the matching gift form along with your check and potentially double your donation!

Follow This Link to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support ASA - NEA - Boston, MA

Find out more about Train To End Stroke Here -


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