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Is Your Nonprofit Running Away From Your 5K Runners?: Part 2
By Eric Jacobson, Vice President, Media Development
Last week, I suggested ways to reach your organization’s 5K participants before the race. Of the 22 5K’s I ran last year, only a handful were effective in reaching out to me — whether they wanted me as a future donor or volunteer.
Audience engagement is the lifeblood of your organization, but many nonprofits fall short when it comes to events such as an annual run. How many 5K participants truly know about your company? Piggybacking off of your run is the perfect time to educate them.
Don’t miss your chance to reach hundreds — perhaps even thousands — of 5K participants. Use these suggestions to beef up your communication game plan for your next run:
During your run/walk
• Mission sharing and thank you: Using the speaker system near the start line, thank your runners and take a few minutes to explain your nonprofit — the mission and how the money raised at the run is benefiting your organization.
Tell your runners how much money was raised. They’ll be impressed with how the entry fees (typically $20 to $35 per runner) can really add up, and they’ll be happy to know most of entry fee money is being put to good use.
Sharing your mission and your story right before the race starts can be deeply inspiring to your participants.
• Printed materials: Have plenty of your brochures, flyers or copies of your annual report on a table for runners to take home after the event. Place these pieces near the tables with the bagels, bananas, oranges and water.
• Board members and staff: Have extra Board members and staff mingle among the runners before the starting gun and after runners cross the finish line to thank them and remind them to watch for race results on your website and Facebook page.
Perhaps hand out business cards that list your website, Twitter and Facebook URLs; logo; and mission. These easily fit into running shorts pockets.
• Recruitment sign-up sheet: Have a clipboard sign-up sheet where run participants can request to be contacted after the run to learn more about how to volunteer for your organization. Include a place for runners to sign-up to receive your print or electronic newsletter.
After your run/walk
• Thank you email: Send a thank you email to run participants within 24 hours after the run. Thank them for participating. Remind them how much money was raised and how the money will be used. Include links and ways to sign-up for your eNewsletter. Provide a link to the run results, and to your Facebook and Twitter pages.
• Pictures: Post pictures from your run on your Facebook page and website. Encourage runners to “like” the photos and share them. Include the photos in your upcoming eNewsletter.
• Future events and volunteering: For everyone who has opted-in to receive communication from you via either email or mail, be sure to stay in contact with them throughout the year. Share with them news about other fundraising events. Tell them how they can volunteer for your organization. Communicate with them regularly.
• Donations: Wherever you communicate with your run participants, clearly explain how to make donations to your organization. Some runners will have left your event truly inspired by what your organization does and will be ready to engage with you financially in a greater way.
Yes, doing any or all of these suggestions is extra work. But it will be worth it. And, yes, these suggestions may also seem like no-brainers, but remember: Fewer than a handful of the 22 nonprofits for which I ran last year did even a few of what you see listed above.
Whatever you do, don’t run away from your 5K runners. Don’t communicate with your hundreds to thousands of runners (and walkers) only once a year. Engage them fully.