This article offers four tips for engaging your charity running community.

Running for a Cause: 4 Tips to Engage Your Running Community

Marathons, 5Ks, and walkathons have become popular community-building projects because they make supporters feel good physically and mentally. Not only do participants enjoy being active, but they also feel satisfied that their efforts are going toward a worthy cause.

The best part? Participants can connect with a community of passionate runners leading up to and during the event. Employees and new supporters can bond over their shared investment in a cause they feel passionate about supporting.

To build a strong community, consider these strategies:

Pro tip: to increase your charity run engagement, start a running club before your event to boost attendance rates and let participants get to know one another before the big race. Schedule your running paths and times and invite your coworkers or volunteers to set training goals to make the most of the upcoming charity race.

With this in mind, let’s explore these strategies in more detail.

Set Clear Goals

Before you kick off your charity race preparations, you need to set clear goals to understand what you’d like to achieve and how to track your progress.

Keep in mind that when you identify goals, it also keeps all your participants on the same page so they understand your organization’s specific objectives. For example, a small business might use the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) model to set its charity race goals to increase employee engagement:

  • Specific: Strengthen employee engagement and team building leading up to and during the charity race event.
  • Measurable: Conduct post-run surveys to track participation and satisfaction rates to identify key contributors.
  • Achievable: Plan pre-event team-building activities and fundraising resources to achieve X revenue goal collectively.
  • Relevant: Use the charity run to boost morale, get to know new team members, and further a positive work environment.
  • Time-bound: Achieve X% participation rate from employees.

You can also use SMART goals for brand awareness goals, customer engagement, fundraising tracking, and much more, depending on what your organization wants to achieve. You might also consider using campaign tracking tools like a thermometer to visualize your team’s fitness or fundraising progress leading up to and following the race.

Maximize Your Support

Once you nail down your goals, you might consider ways you can maximize your social good efforts to leave a lasting impact. You might decide, for example, to unite your team by choosing to support a nonprofit. To make your charity race that much more impactful, consider raising additional support through:

  • Matching gift program. Spread awareness about matching gifts and communicate how to participate in these programs. Use an automation tool to help participants quickly identify their employer’s eligibility. Then, watch to see your fundraising efforts doubled.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising: Educate participants on how to set up fundraising pages and share them with their networks. Provide them with peer-to-peer resources like templates and past examples to help them get started.
  • Get paid to recycle sneakers: Partner with an athletic shoe recycling provider like Sneakers4Good and collect gently worn, new and used sneakers from your participants. From there, you can use pre-paid shipping bags to ship the athletic shoes to the provider and receive a check for your efforts!
  • Crowdfunding: Set up a crowdfunding campaign with a compelling page that explains the cause, the impact of funds raised, and how the race furthers that impact. Encourage participants to share the campaign via social media, email, and other communication channels.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your crowdfunding campaigns. Research previous crowdfunding examples for inspiration and find a platform that works for your organization. For example, you might use a platform like Kwala to design campaign T-shirts, generate more awareness, and unite your running community.

Build a Supportive Online Presence

Consider implementing online strategies to keep your momentum going and enrich your running community. With more registrations and donations occurring in the digital space, you want to optimize your communications to keep participants engaged and recruit new ones.

For an active online running community and to market your upcoming race, Getting Attention suggests leveraging the following channels:

  • Your website. Post a dedicated charity race landing page on your website where participants can find more information and register. Keep your race information updated, and use straightforward navigation to help participants sign-up quickly.
  • Email. Send email updates leading up to your event. Let participants know how much they’ve collectively raised and thank them for their support.
  • Social media. Encourage participants to post user-generated content about their training experiences, motivational anecdotes, and other running tips.

Depending on your participant pool, some online social media channels will work better than others for digital marketing. For instance, a nonprofit might use Instagram and TikTik to engage younger Gen Z runners. At the same time, a small business of middle-aged employees might chronicle its charity race journey using LinkedIn.

Provide a Meaningful Experience

Engaging your running community is about more than just persuading them to participate on race day. To build a lasting community, offer multiple ways for them to engage leading up to and following your race.

Many runners might be hesitant to run solo or are new to running altogether, so give them confidence by providing accessible running resources and a welcoming environment. To make the most of your running community, consider the following:

  • Hosting training sessions. Go for group runs or look for a discounted, group-rate gym membership pass to prepare for the upcoming race.
  • Posting running-related content on your blog. Stretching, hydration, and running shoe tips are all great topics to cover that will keep your participants informed.
  • Celebrating milestones. Encourage participants to keep track of their progress and celebrate their improved performance with social media shoutouts.
  • Hosting informal fun runs. Make running more fun with obstacle courses, mud runs, or themed runs to keep your runners excited and engaged.

Your organization could also encourage healthy competition with leaderboard scores and team prizes. Reward the participants who raised the most money, had the best running times, and created the best team-building experience.

Charity-run participants will appreciate the extra effort your organization puts into providing a memorable experience for them. This will motivate them to get more involved in future events and create a lasting positive brand perception.