12 Fundraising Tips for Charity Runners

So you signed up for a charity race, and you've got a smart workout training plan to follow. But now, you need a strategy to tackle the fundraising part.

How do you get funds for a charity run if you're not used to asking people for money? Here are some tips to help you reach your fundraising goal.


Pick the Right Charity

charity runner

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Many shorter races already have a charity component. For example, if you sign up for a Race for the Cure event, you'll be raising money for the Susan G. Komen organization to benefit breast cancer research and awareness. But many larger marathons allow you to choose a charity.

In that case, the first step in your fundraising process is choosing a charity to run for. So which charity is the best one? The bottom line is that you should determine a cause that matters to you.

Choosing a Personal Cause

When you choose a cause that has personal relevance, you are far more likely to be invested in the fundraising process—a process that can be exhausting at times.

Also, you will be approaching friends and family for donations. If the cause you choose is close to your heart, it is also likely to be close to theirs. Perhaps a family member was affected by cancer. Maybe a coworker or close friend battled mental or physical illness.

When the people close to you know that a cause has affected you (or affected them), they are more likely to respond well to your request for funds.

Finding a Race

Several online sites can help you find a race. Run For Charity is a website that lists races by cause and by specific race name. You can also use the search feature of Race-Find.com. Simply enter the name of a cause or a charity to get a list of events.

If you've already chosen a race, don't worry. There are charity platforms available that allow you to raise money for any event you decide to run.

For example, if you run the New York City Half Marathon, you can use GoFundMe, NYRR's preferred fundraising platform, to raise money.

Whichever path you choose, be clear about that reason in your mind before you start fundraising. When you can clearly articulate the cause to others, you'll be much more effective in getting donations.


Set Small Goals

You've laid out your running plan. You've probably set mileage goals and organized different types of workouts to achieve your target finish time. Innovative fundraisers apply this same strategy to their fundraising goal.

Determine Fundraising Amount

First, decide on your target fundraising amount. Your chosen race may determine this. Many races require raising a specific amount of money to get a bib number for the event. But you can also set a higher goal than the minimum requirement.

Some fundraisers believe that if potential donors see that you have a low minimum, they may assume you don't need their donation. But if they see you have a lot to raise, they're more likely to donate and give generously.

Break it Down

Once you've set your target, then break down that amount into smaller monthly goals and finally into weekly targets.

Of course, just setting the goals won't make money magically appear. Next, you'll use the tips below to lay out specific strategies (email blasts, social media posts, events) each week or month to help you reach each target.

Your plan will seem more organized and attainable by breaking up your big goal into many different small goals.

Set up your fundraising plan in the same way you set up your training plan for a running race. Break up your big goal into small steps so that the process seems more manageable.


Partner Up

The fundraising process can seem daunting. But you don't have to go it alone. Enlist the help of a friend or family member to help handle some of the work. You can also connect with a training buddy to share tips for success.

Many fundraising organizations already have networks in place to help you connect with others. Perhaps your running group includes other runners training for the same event. You can make the process more fun and successful by connecting with others.


Start Early

As soon as you start your training for your race, start fundraising to reach your goal. The sooner you begin, the more money you'll raise and the less pressure you'll feel. This will also help relieve some pressure to focus on your training.

Also, you'll want to let your potential donors know how your training plan is progressing. Let them know where you're starting from and how hard you will have to train to reach your physical goal—this may inspire them to help you reach your financial goal.


Create a Website

Most charities offer a way to publicize your efforts and collect donations online. This may involve setting up a unique website, but most organizations provide a streamlined system for you to set up a fundraising page for donors to visit.

Make sure you take steps to set it up. Even if you are not web savvy, it's usually a very user-friendly process. People are more likely to donate if there's an easy online process.

The website is also helpful to track your donations and communicate with donors. This can be a great place to post a blog outlining your running journey, display pictures of your training adventures, or even share stories about the important charity to you and your donors.


Get Over Inhibitions

Now that you've got your fundraising ducks in a row—you've established a goal, laid out a donation schedule, and set up a website; it's time to ask for money. For many runners, this is the hardest part.

It may be helpful to remember that almost no one is comfortable asking for donations. But remember why you chose your cause and why that cause matters.

How to Ask

Begin by asking those closest to you. Practice your pitch on close friends and family. You can even ask for feedback and make adjustments to your request.

Then consider writing a fundraising letter explaining what you're doing and email it to more friends, family members, and colleagues. Use the letter to explain the "why" in a concise manner.

Tell potential donors why the cause is meaningful to you. If you don't have a personal connection to the cause, explain how their donation will make a difference. Share articles or videos about the cause or organization to learn more about where their money will go.

Post the letter on your fundraising website, too.


Use Social Media

One of the most effective strategies in your fundraising game will be social media. Posting an effective donation request on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even LinkedIn makes the posts easily shared.

This means that your donation circle can multiply exponentially. But it would help if you were direct, impactful, and specific in your request.

In a paragraph, tell your social circle what you're doing, why the cause matters, and specifically what they can do to help. In addition to asking for money, you can ask followers to share the post with others who might donate.

Include a link to your website and blog so that interested parties can get involved and follow your training.


Get Donations Matched

Corporations are a great source of funds. Many large corporations have matching programs. So, when you donate, they match the amount. The result? You get twice as much money for your cause.

It's wise not only to ask your company to match what you raise but when people donate, find out if their company has a matching gift program. It's a great way to increase funds quickly.


Organize a Fundraising Event

A fundraising event is a great way to connect with (potential) donors face to face. People are often more likely to donate when you ask them in person. And these events can be fun!

Need Ideas?

Events don't need to be fancy. Host a dinner party at your home and ask guests to donate. Or hold a party at a bar or restaurant. Charge admission and/or ask the restaurant to donate a percentage of the proceeds.

When you send out the invitations, make sure you include your fundraising link, so those who can't attend can still donate to your cause.

You might also consider having a bake sale. Sell baked goods at work or your church or community center.

You can also put out a collection jar for those who want to donate money but don't want to buy any sweets. Make sure you also have your fundraising link handy so people who want to make a credit card donation can do so easily.

You might also consider holding a yard sale. Do you have a lot of clutter in your closets and garage? Clean them out and sell any unwanted items on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

If you don't want to organize a sale, try selling your used stuff on craigslist or eBay and donating the proceeds to your charity.



Some of your friends and family members may have every intention of contributing to your fundraising efforts, but they say they'll do it later and then forget about it. Organize your fundraising process to follow up with these essential potential donors.

Send a follow-up email to those you sent your initial email to, let them know how your training is going, and tell them that there's still time to donate.


Don't Forget to Say Thanks

Remember to acknowledge all your donors and thank them for their generosity., regardless of the size of their donation. Each donor is important, and it's important to recognize each gift.

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.