For cash-strapped nonprofits, there are lots of ways it can pay to hold local races.
They are an opportunity to combine something serious with something fun for supporters. They offer the chance to capitalize on the longstanding fitness-challenge craze, while providing a day for families to celebrate causes they believe in.
And, of course, the biggest reason of all – they offer the ability to raise a lot of charitable funds with very little overhead.
“We began [our run] because some women came up to me and said we want to do a road race and give the proceeds [to you],” said Kate Fentress, executive director of the Women’s Fund, a New Bedford-based nonprofit that works to advance “the educational attainment and economic security” of women in southeastern Massachusetts.
The popularity of large-scale walks and races for charity is undeniable.
The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, the Walk for Hunger, and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk to support breast-cancer research and awareness are among the most well-known.
Those are large-scale, national events that regularly attract loads of media attention and for which support and participation are easy to attract.
But making a similar concept successful at a much smaller, local level seems to be equally attainable, even if it takes a comparable amount of planning and manpower.
The 7th annual Women’s Fund Tiara 5K, walk and fun run, took place on Mother’s Day this year, May 12.
The 2012 event raised more than $56,000 for the organization with more than 1,100 participants. That, Fentress said, is a substantial growth from the first year when there were 350 participants and $10,000 raised.
“Our race is a nice hybrid of both the serious and the wonderful family event,” she said. “It’s become a … go-to event on Mother’s Day.”
Like many nonprofits, the Women’s Fund counts its annual 5K as its signature fundraising event, save for its annual appeal.
The Phoenix Houses of New England, an Exeter-based nonprofit that supports those trying to overcome addiction, held its fifth annual Phoenix House Run! Walk! Ride! – for the Health of It! in late April. Participants had the choice of a 3K walk, a 5K run or a 20-plus-mile bicycle ride through southern Rhode Island.