Head Start

Charity Partnerships

June 21, 2021 Race Directors HQ Episode 6
Head Start
Charity Partnerships
Chapters
Head Start
Charity Partnerships
Jun 21, 2021 Episode 6
Race Directors HQ

Having a charity partner is sometimes a bit of an afterthought for many race directors. And yet, there’s so many benefits to getting a charity involved with your event, from increased participation and volunteer recruitment opportunities to even higher likelihood of closing sponsorship agreements.

Well, today, I’m talking to industry veteran Susan Hurley, Founder of CharityTeams, about how to approach charities, what to expect out of a charity partnership and how to make the most of this underappreciated opportunity for your event.

Things covered in this episode:

  • Why partnering your race can help your race registrations, volunteer recruitment, community buy-in and sponsorship prospects
  • What charity partners expect from your event
  • How to research and do due diligence on potential charity partners
  • How to pitch your event to your shortlisted charity partner candidates
  • How to structure your charity giveback in a way that best aligns your interests with those of your charity partner
  • How to set up a charity program for your race

Links:

Thanks to GiveSignup|RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 21,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use GiveSignup|RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about GiveSignup|RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.

You can find more free resources on planning, promoting and organizing  races on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.

You can also share your questions about charity partnerships and fundraising or anything else in our race directors Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

Show Notes Transcript

Having a charity partner is sometimes a bit of an afterthought for many race directors. And yet, there’s so many benefits to getting a charity involved with your event, from increased participation and volunteer recruitment opportunities to even higher likelihood of closing sponsorship agreements.

Well, today, I’m talking to industry veteran Susan Hurley, Founder of CharityTeams, about how to approach charities, what to expect out of a charity partnership and how to make the most of this underappreciated opportunity for your event.

Things covered in this episode:

  • Why partnering your race can help your race registrations, volunteer recruitment, community buy-in and sponsorship prospects
  • What charity partners expect from your event
  • How to research and do due diligence on potential charity partners
  • How to pitch your event to your shortlisted charity partner candidates
  • How to structure your charity giveback in a way that best aligns your interests with those of your charity partner
  • How to set up a charity program for your race

Links:

Thanks to GiveSignup|RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 21,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use GiveSignup|RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about GiveSignup|RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.

You can find more free resources on planning, promoting and organizing  races on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.

You can also share your questions about charity partnerships and fundraising or anything else in our race directors Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

Panos:

Hi! Welcome to Head Start, the podcast for race directors and the business of putting on races. Having a charity partner is sometimes a bit of an afterthought for many race directors. And yet, theres so many benefits to getting a charity involved with your event, from increased participation and volunteer recruitment opportunities to even higher likelihood of closing sponsorship agreements. Well, today, Im talking to industry veteran Susan Hurley, Founder of CharityTeams, about how to approach charities, what to expect out of a charity partnership and how to make the most of this underappreciated opportunity for your event. Before we go into all that though, a quick shout out to our podcast sponsor, GiveSignup|RunSignup, the leading all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events. More than 21,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use GiveSignup|RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. And well be talking a bit later in the episode to GiveSignup|RunSignups Chris Newcomer about making the most of your charity partnership through technology. Ok, so lets get into this amazing episode! Hey, Susan!

Susan:

Hey, Panos. How are you today?

Panos:

Very well. Thank you. Welcome to the podcast.

Susan:

Thank you for having me.

Panos:

Well, thanks a lot for coming on. You're in lovely North Andover, Massachusetts. Is that right?

Susan:

That's correct.

Panos:

Excellent. And you wear a bunch of very interesting hats - professionally - in this industry. Why don't you tell us a little bit about your day job - or day jobs, I should say?

Susan:

Well, my time right now is actually split. I started a business about 14 years ago, called CharityTeams. I help small nonprofits grow through athletic fundraising opportunities, like races. And, since the pandemic - and all of these races being canceled - I've developed a sort of, a full-time side hustle, as I've been waiting this thing out, like most people, with an app - a mobile app called Charge Running. I got involved with it about four years ago. And, I've been working with it ever since, part-time. And now, since the pandemic, it's been, really, a full-time-- in addition to trying to do some part time work, like most race directors, wondering where this whole thing is going.

Panos:

Yeah, I know Charge. It's definitely one of those topics, maybe, for a future episode. Very, very interesting app. So, today, actually, I think we'll be picking your brain that relates to the whole charity work. And, specifically, what I'd like to discuss today is the whole world around charity partnerships. So, how would a race and a race director work with a charity - get a charity partner on - and get a charity involved with our event? And what that would do for the event? And what that would mean for the charity? Before we even go to that actually, can you give us like-- do you have any sense, in terms of things on the ground, how charities have been faring during the pandemic? And, specifically charities, in conjunction with their work with events, how has the whole world been affected by the pandemic?

Susan:

Yeah, that's a great question - an obvious one, actually. Like most small businesses - which charities are, essentially - there have been a lot of cancellations of events. I'm not just talking races, but I'm talking galas, golf tournaments, and things like that. So, the revenue for charities has been definitely affected. There's also been economic issues surrounding the pandemic - not only with the cancellation of events, but just the economy in general, and people not working. So, you can imagine that donors are probably not donating as much. So, there's been a direct effect on charities because of the pandemic.

Panos:

I know that many people who'd be listening to this - being race directors or, you know, generally being folks in this industry - would mostly associate charities with putting on events or being involved with events. But, really, for a charity, how big is the event side of their fundraising to the total fundraising efforts? So, like events not taking place-- is that like an existential hit for a charity? Or is it more like a second-order, sideshow kind of thing?

Susan:

It really depends on the size of the charity. I actually have some small charities that really rely on events like the Boston Marathon, or New York City Marathon, for much of their revenue and development. So, it depends on the size of the charity, I would say. Obviously, charities, like businesses, cut their revenue into pie and budget - out of that pie - what they can do and what they can't do. So, I would say, that it really depends on the size of the charity. But, a drop in revenue with athletic fundraising-- if you have an opportunity like New York City Marathon, or Boston Marathon, not having those races taking place can be a significant hit to a nonprofit program, that is actually in those races.

Panos:

And, of course, there's charities who put on - very, very capably - their own series of events. So, there's charities who would have to cancel their own principal events during this.

Susan:

Absolutely. I mean, there are a lot of charities that hosts their own 5K events, or their own summer series. Some of them are beneficiaries of these races. And, having that being canceled, obviously, it doesn't help their revenue at all.

Panos:

So, in terms of now-- sort of, like, shifting to the perspective of a race director... Quite a few race directors, obviously, work with charities, and they have charities involved with their events. And, I actually think - I mean, this is completely anecdotal, and my sense on all this - but, I think, actually, in the US more so than other places in the world, that's the case - getting charities involved with events... For the race directors who haven't yet sort of made the leap to getting a charity involved, or hasn't crossed their mind, what would be the top reasons for convincing them to consider getting a charity involved with their races?

Susan:

Yeah. I think the obvious one is goodwill. You want to partner with a charity because you want to have some goodwill in the community. You want to raise some funds, and you want to give back. But, there's other benefits to having a charity in your event. And those directly relate to things like sponsorship. Sponsors are more apt to get involved if they know there's a charity participating in the event, and there's a beneficiary. The marketing aspect charities bring with them - especially hospitals, large organizations, and large national brands - bring with them marketing teams which are really important to events - especially new events that don't have necessarily the infrastructure to have a marketing team or social media team. Then, spectators. I mean, spectators buy merchandise - right? So, if you have spectators at your event, and there's a lot of buzz around spectators, and people watching, that creates-- generates not only revenue, but just enthusiasm around the event. Those spectators may want to do the race next year. Permitting. I mean, you partner with a local community. There might be some benefits to that when it comes to permitting - road closures and things like that - especially if you're partnering things with fire or police departments. Permitting might be a little bit easier there. And then, also, just participation. I mean, as race directors, you're always looking for more participants, especially in new races. And, charities bring with them, that kind of network - people that want to say, "I want to support this race, and this charity that I love so much." So, participation is a big one.

Panos:

Right. So, basically, we're saying there's, sort of, the direct bottom-line benefits, which is, like, registrations, and all of that stuff. But, there's also a ton of goodwill, buy-in from the community, and all that, which then translates to permitting being easier, sponsors, potentially - having an easy discussion with sponsors, etc. And, I'm guessing from all this, we're saying that, having a local charity involved - particularly, if you're a locally focused, smallish or medium-sized event, maybe, even more so starting out - having a local charity involved is that much more important.

Susan:

Absolutely. And, also, don't forget, organizations also bring volunteers. And volunteers can always be difficult to get for race directors. I mean, it can be very difficult to get people to man water stops from 4.30 in the morning till 11 o'clock, and give up their whole day. But, if you're working with a nonprofit, and there is a giveback to the nonprofit, you're more apt to have the nonprofit recruit those volunteers. And that can actually be part of your contract with the nonprofit.

Panos:

Recruit, and I guess, probably, in some cases, even manage - right? Even, sort of, like project manage, because I'm guessing some of the charities have their own army, hierarchies, and structures around getting people to do stuff. Right?

Susan:

Correct. If a charity knows that they're going to benefit from this event, it's only beneficial to them to provide as much support to the event as possible.

Panos:

Okay. So we said, "Local charity - good thing, particularly, if you're starting out." Is there, sort of, like, a sweet spot in terms of how many charities I'd want to have involved with my event? Would I go, sort of, like, with one, and try to deepen that relationship, and be doing more stuff with one charity partner? Or would I look to diversify and look at multiple charities? What's your opinion on that?

Susan:

Yeah. I think my opinion on that, Panos, is really the size of the race. Obviously, if you're a 5K, hoping to get 300 people, it might be more beneficial for you to partner with just one charity, because the proceeds - giving back - are not going to be as significant. However, if you're a large race, you could certainly develop a program where you have a selection process where you pick, like, three or four charities. So, now you have the infrastructure of several charities to tap into. So, depending on the size of the race, I feel, like, that dictates whether you should have one or five. Many of the bigger races - such as a Marine Corps Marathon or New York - they have 60-100 charities. But then, your small local 5K will have one charity, that they're really, sort of, hone in on and nurture that relationship.

Panos:

Okay. And, so, we've touched a little bit-- I think we'll return to this. We've touched a little bit on what's in it for the race director, and what's in it for the race. Basically, we said, "More registrations. More goodwill. Lots of opportunities to get more sponsors and board volunteers, etc." Now, what does the charity-- how does a charity look at the whole thing? What are they after - out of partnering with an event?

Susan:

Well, you'd be really surprised. There's so many charities out there that are, sort of, asking, "How can I get a race director to notice me to be part of their event?" So, I think that charities really look for - number one, the obvious - the donation back. What's that going to look like? So, when you're going into your, sort of, barter agreement with a charity, or your contract with a charity, obviously, they're definitely going to be looking for the financial piece of what they're going to be getting. But, I also think that charities are looking for awareness, just like a race is looking for awareness, and they're looking to get people involved. Charities are also looking for people to get involved in their cause, because that's going to increase their donor base - if they can get people involved. So, those are the two big things. And then, also, obviously, if there's sponsors involved in the race, charities will be able to, sort of, have the sponsors' eyes on them. And that might be attractive for them as well.

Panos:

And, in terms of, sort of, the hard donation component in all this - is there a ballpark amount or structure that a charity would expect, in terms of the giveback they'll receive from the race?

Susan:

Well, again, that depends on how big the charity is you are connecting with. So, some smaller charities are not going to expect much, because a $2,000 or $1,000 donation to a small charity is going to be significant. However, if you partner with a national brand, you are going to find that, their asks are probably going to be more. So, you want to be able to make sure that you expect that. It's nice to partner with a huge national brand. But remember, their ask is going to be a lot bigger when it comes to what they're going to get in return. A lot of national brands have local chapters that you can tap into. But again, because they have that national brand name, they may be looking for more of a return from you, as a race director. There's two things that you can think about when you are putting together a barter agreement with a nonprofit. And one of them is promising a flat donation. So, if your race makes X, they get 10% of that. Or it may be, it's just, "We're going to give you a $2,000 donation" Or maybe it's, "We'll give you-- your entry fee is $40. We'll give you $5 from every single participants entry - a portion of the proceeds." So, no charity is going to expect, most likely, that they're going to get 100% of the profit. I think making sure that you have it in writing of exactly what-- and know exactly what you're going to give them, going into the discussion - or what you're willing to give - it's very important.

Panos:

And you mentioned there the-- some of the larger nationwide charities versus some of the smaller regional ones etc. Would it even make sense for me - if I had a fairly localized event or an event starting out - would it even make sense for me to have the ambition to look towards, like, one of the big nationwide charities?

Susan:

Yeah. You have to do your homework with that. There's many nonprofits that are on the larger side, that have what's called a third-party fundraising program. And that is-- if you're a race director in an area, you could approach one of these organizations, and say, "I want to put on a third-party event. And, in return, I want X, Y, and Z." And, they may be totally open to that, and appreciative of that.

Panos:

And, other than size, and local focus, when I, as a race director, start thinking about getting a charity involved, and I start doing my research, what other aspects of the charity should I be focusing on, in terms of determining what a good charity partner for my race would look like?

Susan:

I think the biggest thing when selecting a nonprofit, first and foremost, obviously, it's reputation. You want to make sure that it's a good nonprofit. And the work they say they are doing, they are actually doing. And you can check that through organizations like Charity Navigator, and GuideStar, that actually give charities rankings. So that's a really good way to do it. The other thing you want to make sure is, they have an infrastructure. Many small nonprofits - and although we love all of them - they're startup - are working out of the back of their house. There's one person wearing many hats. And to add to your race, the infrastructure that you might be looking for, it may not be feasible, it may be a far reach. They're going to want the exposure, because they're growing, and all of that. So, be careful who you choose. And, really, ask a lot of questions about who will be doing what. How many people do they employ? What is it that they can do for your race? And make sure that that's really outlined and discussed ahead of time, because you certainly don't want to get into a situation where you pick a nonprofit because someone in your race or on your team - your race team - is affiliated with a cause. But, that particular cause, it may pull on the heartstrings, but it doesn't have the infrastructure to support exactly what you need to do as a race.

Panos:

Yeah. And I think that's a fantastic point because, often - both in our group and in discussions I've had, like, sort of, offline - you hear, sometimes, of stories where charities go into these things. Sometimes, they don't even-- I suppose, the charge is themselves they won't appreciate the workload and the commitment that has to come from their end. And then race directors sometimes get disappointed. I mean, you can only get so frustrated with a charity. I mean, at the end, they're trying to do great stuff for great causes. But, sometimes, it happens that the infrastructure is not there. The ability to deliver is not there. And then, it's not great for either party, really.

Susan:

Yeah. Do your homework when it comes to selecting a charity. It can make or break your event. I mean, it's always good with how-- you go into these things with good intentions - very good intentions - and very high hopes that you're going to get the support you need. But, if a charity doesn't have the infrastructure to support your goals, and what you want to do, giving them this opportunity - because it is an opportunity for them - then it will be a wasted opportunity.

Panos:

And, you mentioned a couple of places there, where people can use to diligence some of those charities - beyond, I suppose, the obvious - which is dodgy charities... What else should people be on the lookout for, in terms of things that may make a charity not a great partner for a race? Is there a reason why a charity may not be the right kind of charity partner for my race?

Susan:

Yeah. I mean, I think you want to look at the demographic of your race, and, sort of-- and your community. Obviously, picking a controversial charity or a political charity might not be in your best interest, in the community that you live. Although, you may feel as a race director-- race director passionate about this one organization - it may not appeal to everyone. So, usually charities that, sort of, touch people, that are-- cancer charities are great. Everybody's affected by cancer. But, a political organization might not be the best partner for you, because you're going to alienate part of your base. So, really, think carefully. Kids' charities are always wonderful to partner with. So, I really like children's charities. I really like cancer charities - anything medical. But, again, do your homework, pick your charity wisely. This is an opportunity for a nonprofit. It's more you, being in the driver's seat, selecting this nonprofit.

Panos:

When you do find a suitable charity partner to work with for your event, making sure you deliver on your promises to them is going to be key. What does that mean? It means raising as much money as you can for your charity partner and making sure that money reaches your charity partners bank account with as few deductions and headaches as possible. Thats exactly where youd need the help of a robust technology solution, like GiveSingup|RunSignup. So lets hear a little bit about making the most of your fundraising from Chris Newcomer. Chris, thanks for coming on.

Chris:

Hi, Panos. Thanks for letting me join you today.

Panos:

So, lets assume Ive found a charity to work with. How can GiveSignup|RunSignup help me maximise the impact of that relationship?

Chris:

Nonprofits are an integral part of endurance events. We see that upwards of 90% of events have either hosted-- are either hosted by a nonprofit, or work with a nonprofit partner. And, our goal is to make the relationship between races and nonprofits smoother and easier. In fact, if you set up your nonprofit partner as a charity partner on your event, they can control the branding of the nonprofit, and we can pay them the donations directly. They get their money faster, and your accounting gets a whole lot easier.

Panos:

Yes, these direct payments is exactly what we did working with Girls on the Run for our Race Directors Run this past May. And it worked absolutely great. Our partners were getting funds paid into their account without us having to lift a finger. Now, in terms of making sure my event raises as much money as it can for my chosen charity, whats the best way to do that?

Chris:

The most basic way to raise money through an endurance event is by simply making donations an option, during registration. But, if you want to make sure you get donations from the most people, we also recommend having a checkbox donation for a set amount - like a simple $5 or $10 donation at checkout. If someone donates earlier, they won't see that checkbox, but it does give you one last shot at capturing a donation. And, if fundraising is the main focus of the event, and the nonprofit has highly engaged supporters, enabling fundraising is the way to go. Fundraisers are participants who get automated individual fundraising pages that they can customize, and share with friends and family to ask for donations. You can even maximize the results of fundraising, by enabling the free integration with Facebook fundraising. Or, to make fundraising more social and fun, turn on fundraising teams that work together toward a common fundraising goal - it gives a nice sort of social, and maybe a little bit of a competitive element, which really helps increase fundraising.

Panos:

Ah, thats awesome. And whats the cost for all this?

Chris:

As with all the tools in GiveSignup|RunSignup, the technology is free to use. That's why I love this question! There's a flat 4% processing fee on donations, but you can opt to absorb that fee as an organization, pass it on to the donor, or give the donor the option to cover it. And, when you give them the option, most donors will cover the processing fee for you. And, we see-- when you include that into your mathematics, it brings down that 4% to an average of about 2% processing fee that the organization ends up having to cover. Pretty great.

Panos:

Pretty great indeed. Well, thats been super helpful in the context of todays discussion. Its always good to think ahead from the high-level plan to how some of these things work in detail. So, many many thanks for coming on, Chris, and sharing this with us. And, now, lets get back to talking charity partnerships with Susan Hurley... So, let's say I've done my diligence. I have a shortlist. I start ringing up people. I get in front of a few people on the charity front. How do I pitch my event to them? Like, what would they be expecting to see from me and my event ,so that they are convinced that I'm the right event for them to partner with?

Susan:

Obviously, go into any meeting prepared, just like you would in any sponsorship meeting. Almost treat them as if they're a sponsor. "This is what I can do for you, and this is what I'm asking for in return." Have it laid out, simply, in bullet points. Really dig to find out, first, about their nonprofit in their meeting, like we just talked about. But then, structure it with things like, "If we give you $1,000, here's what we're asking in return. We're asking for weekly social media point-- posts. We're asking for 200 volunteers." Things like that. If you can map this out in an agreement with what the giveback is from the charity, I think you're going to be in a better position. And I think the relationship will be happier.

Panos:

Yeah. So, basically, you're saying, "The more business-like, the better for both parties".

Susan:

Yeah. And, don't get caught up in the fact that, "Oh, you know, this is a charity. And, I should be giving back more." And things like that. I think this is where a lot of people make mistakes. Charities, although they are a nonprofit, they're still businesses. Hospitals, that are nonprofits, are businesses. They employ people. So, keep in mind that you're dealing in a business agreement, and I think you'll be safe.

Panos:

And when I, sort of, sit down with a charity, do you advise that I go in with a pretty high bar, in terms of what I ask of them?

Susan:

Yes. Go in high, and negotiate low. Just like in any business agreement, you want to go in a little higher, and have room to come down on. So, make sure that-- hey, who knows? You may ask for 200 volunteers, and they may say, "No problem." And then, you think, "Well, maybe I should have asked for 300." So, you want to make sure that you're making asks that are slightly above. I'm sure you will not scare them away. Most nonprofits look at these things as a great opportunity, and want to be considered, and want to be involved. So, they're going to do their very best to be that beneficiary, and please you, and make sure that their race partnership with you goes on for a long time.

Panos:

Speaking of which, actually - speaking of going on for a long time - in terms of the commitment itself-- I guess, at the first instance, you'd be looking to commit for one race or multiple races, or at least, like, for a season, would you suggest, or is it even the case that people might consider, like, a multi year commitment with a charity?

Susan:

For the first year, I would really just do a one year commitment. And, the reason being is you want to see how you both work together. And then-- I mean, that's the obvious. But, I think after that, if you feel like the partnership was good, and that you as a race director were getting in return what you asked for, or even more than what you expected, then I would try and maybe go into a multi-year deal, so that you can at least keep this as part of your brand - your race brand. And that also helps with sponsorship too, as well. So, if you think about along the lines of, like, "Am I going to be able to keep my sponsors for another two years?" You can build that into your sponsorship agreement, especially if they really liked that charity being involved, and they have a relationship with that charity. I would definitely think about those things - very important.

Panos:

And actually, you often see charities being really intimately involved with the branding of the event. You see almost, like, events taking on a charity and almost, in some cases, cobranding. I mean, I guess this comes at a price, which is fine. But, strategically, is that a good move for a race director to consider or not?

Susan:

Again, it depends on the size of the race. But, I do feel, like, cobranding in a race is not necessarily a bad thing. It just shows more community goodwill. If you just have your race name on there, and you didn't have a charity name affiliated with it, there are drawbacks to that - I guess, there could be - depending on what you're trying to accomplish. But, I like charity names on there. I also like them being a sponsor name, "presented by", "benefiting this". Right? So, you can structure it in any way. I think there's just so many great benefits to having a charity involved in-- and sponsors is one of them. And also, to the other thing, Panos, it's that you could-- if you have a sellout race, and you get a charity involved, one of the things you can do is also build in some bibs for that charity, so that there's fundraising involved on those bibs, such as New York and Marine Corps, and some of the bigger races do that sellout. That is a real enticement to charities to be able to get bibs for these sellout races.

Panos:

Yeah. This is actually-- we're talking charity programs here, which we're gonna go into in a minute, which is a really interesting area. And, one last thing in terms of the negotiations and, sort of, the nitty gritty of hammering out an agreement with a charity. Would it make sense going into this-- I mean, would it make sense for the race, or even for the charity, going into a first year where there's lots of unknowns and uncertainty around performance and registrations even, and all kinds of stuff-- would it make sense or is it sort of, like, bad practice, to peg things to performance? So, maybe you tell the charity that, "If I get 20 registrations from you, you get that much in donations. And, if I get 100, you get that much. And, if you give me anything that may have a question mark around it that I actually structure it in the contract, in a way that I give out to you an amount proportionate to what I get back from you, in terms of benefits."

Susan:

Yeah. Incentivizing is a great way to increase your participation, and motivate that charity. So, incentivizing charities to say-- and building it into your contract, as you say, "If you can get 100 runners, or you can get 200 runners, we'll give you X amount of dollars in return." So, you're providing this wonderful event, that they didn't have, that they couldn't do on their own. Incentivizing is a fantastic way for them to help boost your race, and then they'd also benefit. So, it's definitely reciprocal.

Panos:

Right. And one question, actually, that I had, which also ties in, a little bit, to charity programs, and the charity landscape for larger races - because you're involved with charity teams with lots of the major marathons, and other big races. If I am a race director doing a few races, commercially, with a few hundreds, maybe low-thousands of participants, would I be learning lessons, if I looked at what some of the larger races were doing around charity programs? So, basically, what New York or Boston or Marine Corps or whatever are doing with their charity programs - are there lessons there for me to learn from?

Susan:

Yeah. I think we can learn all the time as race-- people in the race industry. I mean, copying the big charities, and the big races is always beneficial. They're the ones making a lot of money, as we say. So, I think copying those people - at least, learning and educating yourself of how they got there, what their programs look like - and, maybe, even talking to some of the nonprofits involved about their experiences with some of those bigger races - you can learn from that. I think growing a race can be difficult. There's a lot of races. But, I do feel that partnering with charities, learning as much as you can, and watching what some of these bigger races do, can be highly beneficial to your small event.

Panos:

Don't necessarily expect the same paycheck as the larger events. But, there's things to learn there.

Susan:

Absolutely. I mean, see what you can take away. If you can take away just one little thing, that's going to benefit your race.

Panos:

So now, one thing that we've been circling around is charity programs. And this - I should say, from what I understand, but you're the expert here you should tell us about it - is slightly different to the kind of general charity partnership we were talking about, and, as I understand it, requires that you have a larger race selling out or close to selling out. Right?

Susan:

Yeah. So, races that sell out, you obviously have a little bit of an advantage here. It's that supply and demand thing. So, if the town or city that you're in says you can have 30,000 runners, and you can set aside 1,000 of those bibs for a charity program, and then, have an application process for that charity program - which charities actually apply to be in that - and then give them parameters and guidelines that they have to follow, such as using your branding, following different things, like a high fundraising minimum, then, your race can definitely benefit from that. It creates a lot of buzz around your race.

Panos:

Because, basically there, we're talking about a situation where, as a sellout race, I put aside a number of bibs that I then allocate to my preferred charity partner. And, basically, the dynamic there-- because as you're saying, because of supply demand, they have something very valuable, very scarce. And, they can put it out to their own base of donors, and they can, then, get people to sign up for that race - get that coveted place in the race - but, then, also commit to a guaranteed fundraise amount or something for the charity.

Susan:

Exactly. And, that's what a lot of the major marathons do. And, there's actually smaller races too, that do that as well, that have been very successful, like Falmouth Road Race has a fantastic nonprofit program. So, once you get to that point where you do have a sellout race, it can be very beneficial for you to implement a nonprofit or charity program. Set aside a certain amount of bibs. Have an application process for those nonprofits to apply. Give them a fundraising minimum. Because, at the end of the day, you're not only getting the infrastructure of that nonprofit supporting you, all those runners are tweeting, buzzing, twittering, and all those things that they do - promoting your race - because now they're running, and they feel so great that they have this wonderful opportunity that they 'Got into your event.' And then, after the fact, at the end of the day, when all the funds are raised - and you've partnered with a fundraising platform, and all of that - when all the funds are raised, you can go back out and put out a press release in the media saying, "The XYZ race raised X amount of dollars, and put this back into the local community, through these nonprofits." So, there's a lot of goodwill, a lot of great PR you can use, and just to elevate your whole event.

Panos:

Yeah. We should have mentioned that on goodwill. Actually, that, basically, very crucial halo that you get when at the end of the event, you put out the press release, or you put out the post on Facebook, and you say, "We helped raise X thousands of dollars." And then, it's your event having done that. That's really, really important.

Susan:

Exactly. And, there's nothing wrong with that. It's nothing to be that-- you can be really proud of saying, like, "My event helped raise X amount of dollars." I mean, remember, you don't have to have a nonprofit program. These charities don't have to get involved. It's a great opportunity for them to be involved. It's a great opportunity for you to be able to give this opportunity to them. So, it works. It's a win-win-win all the way around. And, I think having a nonprofit affiliated with your race - whether it be just a beneficiary of a small local 5 km, or a large charity program, because you have a sellout event, I think that it's just a win.

Panos:

Yeah. That's super helpful. Thank you very much. So, one thing I wanted to touch on before we wrap up was for some of the people listening in, who are professional race directors. And, I know this has, actually, also come up in discussions. If I wanted to put on a race, like a white-label-type race, for a charity-- so, let's say, like a local cancer charity chapter, I approached them, and I tell them, "Listen. I'm going to put on a race for you." if they don't have any races on. And, we're gonna make this completely branded with your charity. So, it's almost, like, you came up with the idea, but I'm executing. And as a professional race director, I make a little bit of money out of that. Is that something that would make sense from a charity's point of view? Do they actually entertain these kinds of approaches and ideas from race directors?

Susan:

Sure. I mean, I think that's a great approach. I think it's definitely a great approach. I mean, there's a lot of nonprofits out there that, as I was saying, "How do I get involved with a race? Who do I even go to?" And many of them can't do it on their own. And they would be honored to be approached by a race, and to benefit from the race in so many ways. I mean, remember, charities are always looking for new people to be donors, and to get involved. So, you approaching a nonprofit, as a race director, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. It's a great way to expand your race, your participation, and sponsorships, potentially, and things like that. I think one of the things you, kind of, have to think about is - on both sides, from the charity perspective, as well as the race director - is, "Are you a fit for me?" So, from the charity side, "Is your race a fit for me?" And from the race director side is, "Are you a fit for me?" It's not always going to work out. It won't be a beautiful marriage. But, if you really lay it out, and have a good roadmap for people to follow, it should be a great partnership.

Panos:

So, from your experience, actually, speaking of marriages, in this sense, how often do these things break down? If I go into my first year race with a new charity partner, I've done all my diligence, I've ticked all the boxes, we have a fairly clear agreement between us, is it pretty likely that we'll stick with each other, sort of, like, for the second year as well, in years to come?

Susan:

Well, of course, obviously, the first year, you're going to have challenges, just like with your race. You're going to make notes afterwards and say, "What can we do better?" That's a conversation that, after the race, you should definitely meet with your charity and say, "Okay, how did it go? What can we both do better to make this a more profitable race for us and more successful race for us?" So, I think it's-- when a year to year thing-- evaluating afterwards, every year, if you get into a multi year deal, just make sure that there's an out for you, in case things aren't going well and you need to pull out of that. So, just structure everything so that, as a race, you have an opportunity to back out if you're not happy with the opportunity that you're giving to this nonprofit.

Panos:

Okay. Wow. Well, there's been so much wisdom in this so far. Is there anything we've left out, you think?

Susan:

I think we covered everything. I think like any race in, like, any nonprofit, you want to know what you're getting into. And so, charities come from the same perspective. And, if you can just detail out everything, have a clear roadmap, agree to all the terms, make sure that you have a team of people that are making sure these things are all getting done, then you'll have a successful charity program or a successful beneficiary for years to come.

Panos:

Excellent. One very important, last detail - if people want to learn more or, potentially, get some professional advice around building their charity program or charity partnerships, how can they reach you?

Susan:

Yeah. They can reach me at my website. And, that is at CharityTeams.com. And, they can also email me [email protected]

Panos:

Excellent. Well, Susan, thank you very, very much for your time. This has been fantastic, very insightful.

Susan:

Thank you. Thanks to everyone listening in. And, we'll see you next time.

Panos:

I hope you enjoyed this episode on charity partnerships with CharityTeams Founder, Susan Hurley. You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com. You can also share your questions about charity partnerships and fundraising or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub. If you enjoyed this episode dont forget to hit Follow on your favourite player for more content like this. Until our next episode, take care and keep putting on amazing races.