Build a Budget, Find Sponsors, Promote Your Race

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Build a Budget

Rule of thumb: Typically, a road race will cost the amount of money you are charging participants to register. So if you're only charging entry fee without sponsors, you will break even.

And don't forget about Rule No. 2: Don't Lose Money. "What you have to do is build a budget. Your budget is going to tell you whether or not it's going to make sense to put on the event," said McGillivray. "Porto Johns, police, T-shirts, you have to put amounts next to each of these. Look at your costs. And don't forget about the timing, scoring, tents, cones, signage, website design, labor–you gotta pay people to help you do things."

So by the time you pay for all the things associated with event, it will cost you the money you are charging for entry fee. So if you are spending all the money you are charging people to participate, how do you raise money for a charity? There are two things you can do:

  • You can ask for additional donations for charity.
  • Or you get sponsorship. The sponsor will pay for the money for the event and the money you have left over can go toward the charity.

Now is when you might ask: "How do I find a sponsor? Don't you to be a well-known non-profit or race to get a sponsor?"

Find Your Sponsor

When you're first starting out, sponsorship details can get overwhelming. It takes years to refine the art of signing on world-class sponsors and getting donations. For your first race, you may not get anyone to fork over a big sum of money, but they may be happy to donate cool stuff for participants. Click here to learn more about race fundraising software.

"For our first race, we sent out a bunch of emails trying to get people to donate things—like sports drinks and power bars—so we would have cool stuff at the event," Hiner recalled. "Word spreads fast—particularly online—and the rest of the sponsors contacted us through the website." Here are a few tricks of the trade that Hiner recommends:

Talk to people you already know. You never know who may want to advertise their product or service or donate money to your cause.

  • Go to networking events to meet people. Find out what they do—it might be relevant to your race, i.e.: chiropractors, personal trainers, nutritionists, etc.
  • Hand out flyers when you're out and about. Promote your event to potential participants and sponsors at the same time.
  • Visit local businesses and see if they want to donate money, have presence at your event to promote their company, or donate stuff for the race/goodie bag.
  • If you advertise your race well enough, sometimes sponsors will seek you out.
  • Offer free or discounted booth space to sponsors that supply samples at the race or for the goody bags.
  • Send an email asking people and businesses to bring stuff to the event.
  • If you notice teams signing up for the event, approach them and see if they have a company that would like to participate in being a sponsor.
  • Post a sponsorship packet on your website

Promote Your Race

"Putting on a road race is like putting on a party," said Camire. "What do you do for a party? You send out invitations. What do you do for a race? You invite people. The main difference between a birthday party and a road race? You don't know how many people will show up."

Gone are the days where newsletter ads are your No. 1 factor for getting people to an event. The Internet will be your No. 1 medium to promote your race.

"The Internet is the way to promote your event," said McGillivray. "Everything else seems to be more of a supportive approach." McGillivray recommends spreading the word with these tactics:

  • Your website
  • Email blasts
  • Advertising in local running industry publications and local newspapers
  • Go to other local races a month or two before your event and ask permission to hand stuff out and spread the word about your event.

Next that you understand how to budget and promote your event, here are some tips for>> Day of the Race