Let’s Talk Marathons

A few weeks ago, I read a blog post about why marathon runners are effective fundraisers.  As someone who used to manage a marathon program for a non-profit organization, I thought a very important point was left out.  Marathoners are effective fundraisers because they have to be, they need to raise a certain amount to participate.

After thinking more about the blog post, I wondered…am I only one who thinks this?  What are the intangibles when it comes to runners?  Are they motivated because they need a slot in a popular sold out race or is the cause driving their participation?  I think it’s a little of both, but I wanted to find more.

So, I emailed a bunch of my friends who all used to manage successful marathon and triathlon programs.   My friend Jessica was the first to respond.  She’s an avid runner and not only managed marathon programs, but she’s also run several marathons and raised thousands of dollars by asking her friends for support.  My original plan was to share several comments from my friends, but plans change.  After reading Jessica’s email, I couldn’t pull out just one comment.  Keep reading and you’ll see why.  I’ll continue to share more comments from my friends and I hope you’ll share yours.

Hey Amy,

I think that overall, marathoners tend to be very passionate people with a competitive spirit. If you sign up to run a marathon or half marathon, you have a competitive drive that sets you apart. Even if you aren’t running for a specific time, you have to be wired to push yourself if you are undertaking this kind of a physical challenge.  And you have to be passionate, because a marathon requires determination, patience and consistency when it comes to training. Passion and competition are what make for successful fundraising. If you are passionate, it means you are more likely to communicate the importance of the mission passionately, and paint a more vivid picture of why funds are needed. This will be more inspiring to your donors. Also, you are more likely to reach out to a wider net of people, when you share your asks.  And being competitive means you won’t settle for just the fundraising minimum – you will strive to raise as much money as you can – again, reaching out to more people, and continuing to ask until the gifts are secured.

I also think that people give more to their marathon-ing friends than those “just doing a walk” because a marathon (half marathon, century ride, triathlon, whatever endurance sport it is), seems much more impressive and daunting then a 3 mile casual walk. Donors to marathoners are either unable to fathom completing such an event, and give a larger gift, or they are endurance athletes themselves, so they “respect the distance” and give a bigger gift.

And finally, statistically people competing in endurance charity events tend to have higher incomes, and more money that they can spend on “leisure”. Race gear (especially for cyclists and triathletes) is expensive. To be an athlete, you have to be able to afford running shoes, a bike, gear, etc. And with higher earnings comes more money available to donate to charity.  People making more tend to associate with people making more, so their donor pool is filled with people able to give more. While this is not always the case, I do know that back from my TNT days, studies were indicating these trends.  I doubt they have changed.

End of day, when a charity athlete commits to training for their event, they are locked in, and will do everything they can to succeed — in their event and in their fundraising.

Hope this helps!