From the Race Director’s Desk: Charity Fundraising – the Backdoor to Sold Out Events

The Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon sold out last week in nearly record time.

Whenever this happens, the staff and I are inundated with phone calls and emails from people.  Many of them inquire if the headline “HALF MARATHON SOLD OUT” on the front of the event website really means that we have reached capacity (ahem).  All of them inquire as to whether there is another way to get in.

We always point out that there are two ways to get into the event even after it is sold out.  First, they can find another registrant who is undertrained, injured or schedule-conflicted to sell them their entry.  I’m a strong believer that in this age of the Internet and high registration fees, participants should have the ability to resell their entries.  For this reason, we have an automated online system that accommodates transfers through April 30th.

The second, and preferred, option for getting into the event after it sells out is for the individual to join “Run for a Reason,” our charity fundraising program.  This program allows them to quickly and easily set up an online fundraising page that can be sent via email to friends, family and co-workers.  Participants in the program have the option of selecting one of the marathon’s three official charities or simply raising money equally for all three of them (Big Brothers-Big Sisters of NE Wisconsin, Junior Achievement and Unity).  Fundraisers have until May 12th at midnight to raise $300 or more in funds.  Upon doing so, they receive a congratulatory email from Jeff Poppele, our Fundraising Director, letting them know that they can participate free of charge in any individual event.  This INCLUDES sold out events like the half marathon.

The sell out of our distance events in recent years has been a boon for the fundraising program.  The number of runners participating in the fundraising program has jumped from only a couple dozen to the limit of 200 in two out of the past three years.  I wish more runners had a genuine interest in joining our fundraising program but I’m also a realist.  Adding the training required to run a distance event into an already busy work and family schedule is difficult and doesn’t leave much free time for fundraising.

Still, the option is there and I wish more people would embrace it.  Our fundraisers don’t have to worry about the event selling out; don’t have to reach into their own pocket; are able to rally friends, family and co-workers around a common cause that draws on their participation; and cross the finish line knowing that their accomplishment has impacted our local charity partners approximately 5-6 times moreso than the average participant who just pays face value for an entry.  That’s what I call a win-win for everybody involved!

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