Thursday, July 10, 2014

How to Plan a Charity 5K

We recently posted about the work involved in planning a charity picnic. Kicking off the start of the Suamico Firefighters Volunteer Association picnic was a charity run: the Stop, Drop and Run 5K. Using our experience from planning the 5K, we have some tips to help you plan a successful charity run. 

The first and most important thing to cross off your to-do list is to get full cooperation from the city. You will need to get the city’s approval and a parade permit in order to close off any roads that your run will go through. Without having traffic blocked, your participants will not be able to run in a safe and protected environment, so make sure this detail is taken care of right away. Because charity runs are becoming popular in the fundraising world, this first step of planning should take place about six months to one year in advance so your event is not competing with other area fundraisers. This time frame also allows for the proper amount of planning time.

Once your event is cleared by the city, your next focus should be promoting it. The channels of promotion that gained the most attention for the Stop, Drop and Run 5K were radio advertising and paid Facebook ads. After the run started gaining some traction, we found many people also found out from friends and family, so make sure your volunteers and event staff spread the word!

Two things to make sure to have for the participants are t-shirts and water. People like to have t-shirts as a fun souvenir of something participated in and completed. If your run is paired with a bigger event, such as a picnic, you can sell any extra shirts to other attendees for additional profit. T-shirts are also a good way to advertise your sponsors by listing them on the back. Providing water stations for your runners is the best way you can ensure they stay properly hydrated. Remember, it is better to have too many water bottles than to have your participants experiencing dehydration. 
One of the runners crossing the finish line
If you are looking for a way to get more involvement, we suggest including a Kids Run. Parents are always looking for fun and inexpensive activities to keep their children healthy and active. Including a Kids Run is a great way for parents and their children to have an experience together, whether the parent runs alongside their child or separately in the 5K. A children’s portion is also a fun way to make your event stand out from other events. Our children’s run featured firefighters running with the kids, fire trucks and a mascot dog greeting the runners at the end of the race. Parents and children alike loved the interaction and it provided some good photo opportunities.

Two of Suamico's fire trucks 
Rocket congratulates a runner as she crosses the finish line.

Running next to a firefighter was a huge hit!

Kids loved getting their picture taken with Rocket!

What successes have you had in planning a charity run? Share your tips or experiences below in the comments!