How to Organize a Fun Run in 10 Steps

How to Organize a Fun Run in 10 Steps

If you have been tasked with organizing a fun run fundraiser, prepare yourself for a big adventure. Planning and executing any peer to peer fundraising event is hard work. The good news is that when you invest sufficient preparation and energy, a fun run can generate huge financial and public-relations windfalls for your organization. Knowing how to organize a fun run and planning far enough in advance is the key.

As you consider a fun run fundraiser, know that the secret to phenomenal success comes as the result of planning. Not only must you plan for the huge success we’re sure your event will be, but you must also plan and prepare for all the things that could go wrong.

We’ve put together 10 steps to help your organization plan and pull off a fun run fundraiser successfully.

Establish a Reliable Fun Run Planning Team

Don’t try to go it alone! You’ll need a Fun Run planning committee to manage all of the details.

fun run planning teams

There is an old adage that twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of the work. Be sure your planning team includes individuals who are among that golden 20 percent who will show up. For your event to be a success, you must be able to depend upon your Fun Run volunteers. It’s better to have fewer team members that will work hard, than a large committee that is not very committed.

Find a Great Location for the Fun Run

fun run location is important

Several important factors need to be considered when it comes to selecting the venue for your run.

Enlist the help of community officials. Not only can your city provide the necessary permits for your event, but it can also commit security and crowd control resources. It is also important that you plan for sufficient parking spaces for spectators, volunteers, and runners at the start/finish line.

Schools have it made here – as school fun runs are usually held on the school grounds. Often a local high school makes the ideal location to launch your runners for nonprofit organizations too, as well as a built-in volunteer base. Contact the school district for special permission and to see if there is a Key Club or other service organization that wants to get involved.

Consider the Event Timing

The outcome of your fun run fundraiser will depend in large part upon the publicity you are able to generate, so give your team enough time to promote the event. Most successful events start planning six months in advance.

Chances are your organization doesn’t have the resources to buy display ads in local newspapers and on the regional television news. Try to leverage your event timing by using outside sources with deeper pockets. For example, organize a fun run for heart health awareness around the American Heart Association’s activities in February for Heart Month. With such scheduling, half your publicity battle is already won by the national organization’s media buys and awareness efforts. Approach media with your request to tag, or donut on a larger organization’s ads with information about your own event. (A donut advertisement is one that comes with a blank space in the middle where you can insert your event information.)

Once the date and location for your fun run fundraiser have been established, assign planning team members to oversee the following key facets of the event.

Engage Media and Publicity for the Fun Run

Fundraising Planning Team

Promoting your event on Social media channels and getting your supporters to promote your event via their Social media networks is key to your success. Having a catchy theme for the fun run can really help with this, as people like to share fun things.

Traditional media outlets are also in play. Write an informational press release and distribute it to all local media. (Keep these contact names in your database for next year’s event). Contact local papers, online calendars, radio, and TV stations. Don’t re-invent the wheel – check our examples to get you started. Remember also that the Federal Communications Commission requires radio and television stations to commit a percentage of their air time to free public service announcements. Be sure to inquire about those PSAs when you meet with local media reps.

Fun run flyers are always key to promoting your event at local cafes, coffee houses, and popular hangouts. Check with a local printer to see if you can get a deal on printing, then use team members to distribute flyers.

Recruit and Motivate Fun Run Participants

fun run participants

Recruiting and engaging your event participants to raise money is one of the most important pieces of your planning process. Here again, school fun runs may seem to have it made as they have their student base – but engaging them is still hugely important.

Recognition and incentives are key. Give a small incentive for getting registered and offer rewards such as extra recess, one week of not wearing uniforms to school, movie night, or a pizza party to the top fundraising classrooms. Read more on awarding prizes for school fun runs and jog-a-thons.

Use your organization’s CRM to contact those who have donated or participated in previous fundraising events. Visit local sports stores to post flyers for your run. As you go about organizing a fun run, collect email addresses from runners and volunteers anywhere you can find them. Once this information is entered into your database, you’ll have a great starting list for your fun run fundraiser.

Utilize a P2P Website for Crowdfunding Events

fun run websites

Let’s Get Started

Peer-to-peer software is essential for Fun Runs and walkathon fundraisers. Using a P2P crowdfunding platform allows your organization to handle event registration, sponsorship promotion and sales, and donation management online. Each of your participants creates and manages their personalized fundraising page and invites friends and family to support your organization through secure, online donations to their page. This extends the reach of your fundraiser and many organizations report raising two to three times more funds with the DoJiggy Crowdfunding system.

Another reason that fundraising websites help you to raise more money is that they encourage competition between your runners and teams. Our websites include leaderboards, thermometers, and badges for the top fundraisers. When one classroom sees that another class in their grade level has raised more money, they will be motivated to get more donations for your school.

Recruit Fun Run Volunteers

As you probably already know, your volunteers are your organization’s lifeblood. Those who don’t necessarily qualify as part of the golden 20% may still have some time to donate. Tap them for less critical jobs like directing traffic and parking, collecting entry forms and donations the day of the event, or stuffing goodie bags.

Parent volunteers for PTO Fundraising

Here are two key volunteer positions to fill for race day:

  • Volunteer Coordinator – As you organize a fun run, make one person on your planning committee responsible for managing volunteers on race day. This position is critical, so choose someone who can handle the pressure. As volunteers arrive, the coordinator makes assignments and gives instructions to those who will help with:
    • Participant Check-in
    • Safety and First Aid
    • Lap counters or timers
    • Food and water for your runners
  • Equipment Manager – Somebody must be responsible to locate, pick up, and ultimately return things like stopwatches and timing equipment. (Check with the football or track coach at a local high school for these.) You will likely need a public address system, tables, chairs, and myriad other things that can be found at churches, schools, community centers, or for rent at event planning organizations. This same committee member may be the one to arrange for commercial portable toilets. When it comes to obtaining the equipment and other necessary resources, don’t forget to ask first that they are donated or discounted in return for a mention on your printed materials and website. Sometimes you have to pay, but it never hurts to ask for in-kind donations first.

Seek Fun Run Event Sponsors

How to Organize a Fun Run: Find fundraising sponsors for charity fun runs

Many local businesses will be happy to sponsor or participate in your fun run. Done well, your title and other large sponsors can assist in covering a large portion of the event costs. Smaller sponsors can offer merchandise or gift certificates for door prizes or raffles. Keep careful track of even small donations so that you can thank each sponsor when the event is over. Also, sponsors should be acknowledged on your event website as well as on printed materials such as flyers and posters, and if possible, on bibs, banners, and t-shirts.

After the dust settles, there is still work to do!

Fun Run Clean Up

This is the most often forgotten step; don’t imagine event clean-up will take care of itself. Always assign a committee to clean up after the event, including:

  • Clean up along the course and at the start and finish line
  • Returning equipment
  • Accounting duties

Wrap Up the Fun Run and Evaluate Your Success

Always say thanks to race sponsors

A simple card or e-mail acknowledging the efforts of your volunteers, sponsors, and participants is your best insurance for help and participation in future events. A sincere thank-you is never wasted and always necessary.

Nearly as important as proper planning, is the final evaluation of the successes and failures once your event is complete. This task goes far beyond determining how much money you raised with the fun run fundraiser, though be sure to figure this out! Utilizing good event planning software will greatly help keep these books in line.

While the event is still fresh in the memories of your planning team, schedule a meeting to go over the details of the event. Decide together what worked, and more importantly, what did not. Write down your recommendations for future events and put the notes into the file for next year’s planning committee.

A successful Fun Run fundraising event begins and ends with careful planning. Make an investment of time before the event for thorough and thoughtful planning, and leave plenty of time at the end for an honest evaluation of your event. This is in effect, the pre-planning stage for next year’s Fun Run after all. With careful planning, you can develop a solid fundraising backbone to support your mission.

Bonus: Planning a Virtual Fun Run

Many organizations are having success with virtual fun runs, during COVID. Virtual fun runs can be held on a single day or over a longer period and provide many of the same benefits of traditional fun runs. Our virtual fundraising platform can help with live streaming, Text to donate, and more features for online and mobile giving campaigns. Read more on planning a virtual run/walk event.

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Lisa Bennett

About Lisa Bennett

Lisa is the Sales Director at DoJiggy. She joined DoJiggy in 2006 and loves her job. Prior to working with DoJiggy, she worked at several non-profits and managed special event fundraising.

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