In April 2013, The Pride of Broken Arrow (OK) hosted their first 5K fundraiser. They had great success, especially considering it was their first 5K event! Here are a few tips you can take away from their experience.
Leave plenty of time to secure sponsors
Sponsorship could account for over half of your profit. Make sure you leave plenty of time to contact potential sponsors and give them enough time to make a decision. The earlier the decision is made, the sooner you can begin to include them on promotional materials, and the bigger the bang for their sponsorship buck. Big bang = happy (returning) sponsor!
Plan around other local events, especially other 5Ks
This could make a huge difference in the success of your event. If you schedule your 5K the same day as two other local running events, your pool of potential participants has just been cut by 2/3. It pays (literally!) to check and double-check the calendar!
Partner with a pro
Look for a local professional timing company to work with. They are experts at setting up events like 5Ks and have every incentive to make sure your event is a success. Take advantage of their advice, experience, and resources like checklists.
Choose your route carefully
You'll need to make sure that your route is approved by everyone who has a stake in it. Make sure to check with your school district, your local municipality, police, neighbors and anyone else who may be affected on race day.
Make it special
It's important to differentiate your event from other similar events. FOr example, Broken Arrow offered an exclusive opportunity to run with the band. They also has a killer tee shirt design, and their trophies were one-of-a-kind. Give your donors something they can't get anywhere else.
Take advantage of social media
Use your group's website, Twitter & Facebook pages to keep everyone up to date on your event. Just designed the tee shirt? Post a picture of the exclusive design...or better yet, post an extreme close-up, and keep them guessing! Just register your 100th or 500th participant? Let everyone know! Offer your followers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at your event, and it'll help build buzz.
Think about logistics
Mentally walk through the events of the day from the point of view of each participant: runners, walkers, parents with strollers, students, spectators, and so on. Make sure that everything they'll need at every point in the day will be available to them: water stations, porta-potties & diaper changing facilities, orange cones and other equipment, etc. Will you have a registration packet pick up scheduled the week before the event, or only onsite the day of the event? Will any performers need microphones and speakers? Have you considered parking?
Ask for a hand
For an event of this magnitude, you'll need volunteers. Start matching talented volunteers with ideal assignments wherever you can. A happy volunteer makes for happy participants!
Popsicles make everything better!
This goes without saying. Also, exceeding participants' expectations is always a good idea! They'll be back next year for sure.