How Can I Raise More Money with My 5K?

The 2016 Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study released this month give us some interesting insights into different types of fundraising events. By studying the benchmarks, we can get insights into achieving greater fundraising success – and the solutions definitely vary depending on the type of event.

A great example is the tale told by this graphic, Where does the money come from?, in which we separate event revenue by online fundraising, online self-donations and registration fees:

P2P Registration Data from the 2016 P2P Fundraising Benchmark

Of the four types of events we study, all but one receive the majority of their revenue through fundraising. In the case of 5Ks (and most short-distance competitive races), 43% of revenue comes from registration fees. The graph suggests there is a lot of room to expand revenue by increasing the focus on participant fundraising. In fact, only 15% of 5K participants are fundraisers. Participants in 5Ks have the potential to be great fundraisers like their peers participating in other programs.

The most common way to grow revenue from a 5K is to raise the registration fee or to expand the size of the field. But if you’ve raised the fee to the level the market will bear and/or if your number of participants is limited by the course you’re running … how then to expand your revenue?

Done indiscriminately, increasing the volume on the fundraising message may alienate the competitive runners who just want to do a 5K. This means we need to focus carefully on runners receptive to this message.

Practical Ways to Raise More Money with Your 5K

1. Ask 5K participants to fundraise.

When Blackbaud asked event participants, why didn’t you fundraise?, 47% of those surveyed responded “no one asked me to.” Maybe we’re so sensitive about using “the F word” that we don’t talk about fundraising enough? With this in mind, make a dispassionate audit of your website, marketing materials and event-related emails.

  • Does messaging imply that the fee covers participation and there’s no need to do more? Make sure it’s clear the fee gets you in the door AND we still want / need you to fundraise.
  • Does your communication focus on mission … or the race? Could you make it clearer that the intent of the event is to raise funds for the mission?

2. Don’t treat all 5K participants the same.

By the nature of the event, we know a lot of participants are there to run more than for the cause. So instead of treating all participants the same, concentrate on expanding relationships with those already fundraising or who are mission connected.

  • Focusing on those most likely to fundraise, and creating a separate communication stream for them, lets us talk more about fundraising to a receptive audience … without alienating those who just want to race.
  • Develop an intensive cultivation plan for the “mission-connected” group, including emails with targeted messages, personal phone calls, and reminders about incentive levels.
  • Make the goal of increasing communication and “direct touches” to increase the average dollars raised by this group of active participants.

3. Identify the likely fundraisers.

Most likely fundraisers include those declaring their mission connection during registration or who self-identify as survivors (by answering your “why do you run?” or similar question on the registration form), previous fundraisers and current, active fundraisers.

  • For the mission-connected, experiment with creating compelling incentives, like a “champions for the cause” club for those who reach an elite fundraising level. Make this an extremely desirable club to join by the special attention you give to members before, during and after race day.
  • For those who don’t fundraise or declare a mission connection, invite them to fundraise and send them mission-related messages, but don’t continue to send fundraising messages if they don’t express an interest by making a self-donation, personalizing their page, or bringing in at least one donation.

Learn more about using peer-to-peer benchmarks to get better results.