5 Reasons Why Run, Walk, Ride “Thons” Increase Nonprofit Fundraising and Supporter Engagement
Charities have many nonprofit fundraising and engagement channels at their disposal to effectively increase funds and support for their organizations. I often write about these traditional and online fundraising strategies including social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, email and newsletter marketing programs, video marketing and even grassroots word of mouth efforts. However, one channel that has been on the rise in recent years is the run, walk, and ride ‘thons’ concept.
According to the Run Walk Ride Council, in 2011 the top thirty ‘thons’ raised $1.69 billion for charity, a 2.46% increase over 2010’s results. 23 out of the 30 reporting organizations experienced an increase in 2011 representing the second straight year of growth for this fundraising strategy. This is impressive given that it happened in a year that the Blackbaud Index and other research showed relatively small or no increase in fundraising revenue.
In researching and exploring ‘thons’ further, I realized there are 5 key reasons that make them very attractive and unique in its approach to engaging supporters and successful for fundraising.
Image courtesy of runwalkride.com
- Exercising for Good. The combination of taking the challenge by running, walking or riding while raising funds to support a good cause appeals to a large segment of nonprofit supporters especially for health-based causes. They take on the challenge not only because it’s good for their health, but also because it gives them the opportunity to engage in a social event for the greater good of a cause they hold dear.
- Peer-to-Peer Fundraising. Aside from ‘thons’ being an event exclusive to fundraising, it really promotes and is the catalyst for peer-to-peer fundraising. Participants of a run, walk or ride generally are required to seek support from their online and in-person networks of family, friends and coworkers to sponsor them in their mission to complete the ‘thon’. In doing this, they are bringing awareness of the cause to people who may not otherwise know of it. It’s even more effective for fundraising as non-participants are less likely to decline supporting someone they know especially when they will be putting themselves through a physical challenge.
- Part of a Community. ‘Thons’ by nature bring people with a common goal together. Participants feel like they are part of a cause-community and working together to accomplish their mission. There is power in numbers and participants at ‘thons’ often relate their experience at the event as inspirational, invigorating and empowering as they have shared their ‘thon’ challenge with a community that supports and motivates them.
- Increased Visibility. Often these events require road closures, route markers and other street signs and are highlighted in the local news media and blogs and social media pages of participants and those in attendance. All of this combined with the event marketing plans increase the visibility and hype of the event and, in turn, the cause with the day of the event being the highlight for the nonprofit.
- Cater to any Demographic. “Thons” can be customized to target any demographic. For example, there are now many elementary school children participating in walk-a-thons and dance-a-thons to raise funds for various causes. Not only does this get the children involved in fundraising at an younger age but it also gets them up and moving and gives them a sense of accomplishment so the benefit is multi-fold. Other events that centre on team sports such as basketball, volleyball, golf, polo, ice hockey and ball hockey attracts the harder to reach male donor demographic. According to recent reports, male donors are relatively disengaged in comparison to their female counterparts and these events can balance that our better.
Fundraising ‘thons’ are suitable for both large and small nonprofit organizations wanting to increase nonprofit fundraising and supporter engagement as they can be tailored to appeal to any donor base regardless of size. The overall results are rather impressive along with the other research performed by the ‘Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council’ including the top 10 ‘thons’ from 2011.
Does your nonprofit organize any ‘thons’? If not, is this something you will consider down the road?
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Miratel Solutions is a Toronto call centre, eBusiness, and letter shop mail house specializing in professional fundraising services including telephone fundraising, online fundraising, lottery services, donation caging, donation processing and other donor management services. We are committed to our CSR business values in all contact centre services and mail house operations and advancing the missions of the nonprofits we proudly serve.