What's Running Got to Do with It?

I’m a runner. There…I’ve said it. I run marathons, I run 5Ks and 10Ks, I do Zombie runs and Warrior runs, even relays…if you can run it, I’ll do it.

What does this have to do with fundraising?

I’ve come to learn that there are a number of similarities between runners and fundraisers. Fundraisers are always focused. You are planning the next appeal while working through the responses from the last appeal much the same way runners are training for the next race while reviewing their past performance. You use the results of the last campaign to make changes for the next campaign. Runners use the results of their past runs to adjust training schedules and plans. Both runners and fundraisers have to carefully plan how they will roll out their training and campaigns to ensure enough training happens without overtraining leading to injuries (for runners) and messages are on target and in time (and not arriving during a time when they won’t get read) for fundraisers to make a campaign as effective as it can be.

Runners and fundraisers both tend to be outgoing when it comes to their passion. Running events, like fundraising, are largely social activities. We both develop fellowship and relationships with other like-minded people. We also like to meet new people and get to know them and their interests. But every now and again while you are out and about, if you are like me at all, you meet a person and have a moment where you are an itty bit afraid of admitting who and what you are. For runners, this is because we know we are going to hear about how we’re destroying our knees or that we’re headed for an unrecoverable injury. Or that we’re simply crazy. For fundraisers, it may be that people regale you with the few high profile cases of mismanagement or how nonprofits should all act more like businesses. (Or that you are simply crazy.*grin*) For both runners and fundraisers, hearing these comments can be disheartening, because we know these situations to be the exceptions, not the rule. And this brings me to the reason for writing this post. The people who make these comments are also the exceptions, even if it doesn’t feel like it right after such an encounter.

Each day, we get the opportunity to meet new friends, and isn’t it wonderful when we meet people who are interested in who we are and what we do…and they are interested in joining us on our mission (whether the mission is as silly as running a 200 mile relay race or as mind-bendingly amazing as finding a cure for cancer). And for you fundraisers who continually strive to think of new ways to meet new people interested in the same things you are (and continue your relationships with the ones you already know!), here are a few great ideas I’ve recently seen and heard from others to help you get your creative juices flowing:

  • Have a city tour (How many of us haven’t done a tour of our own city to see it from the same perspective as visitors?)
  • Hold a happy hour
  • Sponsor a day at the ball game (Does your community have a minor league or semi-pro team?)
  • Have an ice cream social

Have you recently done something you’d like to share? Or, if you’re going to be in Rochester, and just want to go for a run, let me know that, too!