How to Host a Successful Virtual 5k for Charity and Raise Funds

A 5k run is a popular fundraising event for many nonprofits. These events are an excellent way to raise funds with donations, registration fees, vendors, and sponsorships. The fact that nonprofits can promote their organization to a new audience is another benefit of this event. Since the Covid 19 pandemic, many 5k events have moved…

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How to Host a Successful Virtual 5k for Charity and Raise Funds

virtual 5k

A 5k run is a popular fundraising event for many nonprofits. These events are an excellent way to raise funds with donations, registration fees, vendors, and sponsorships. The fact that nonprofits can promote their organization to a new audience is another benefit of this event.

Since the Covid 19 pandemic, many 5k events have moved online. In this article, we’ll share more about these changes and the steps you can take to ensure your virtual 5k event’s success.

  1. What is a Virtual 5k?
  2. 9 Steps to Run a Virtual 5k Fundraiser
  3. 4 Simple Ways to Encourage & Support Your Virtual 5K Participants

What is a Virtual 5k?

A virtual 5k is not entirely different from your regular 5k runs, however, it lets attendees participate from anywhere and anytime. These participants further raise money with peer-to-peer fundraising to help the nonprofit.

Organizations must give attendees a specific day or multiple days to run and ask them to set up a personalized fundraising page to collect pledges and donations. The control and flexibility virtual 5K runs give participants can encourage more to join and fundraise for your organization.

In the below example, you can see one such participant raising money for the Golestan Foundation’s virtual 5k. The below page is created using Donorbox Peer-to-Peer which lets you easily create a peer-to-peer fundraising page and invite supporters to create their own and fundraise.

virtual 5k - peer to peer

Start a Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaign

If you’re still in the favor of in-person 5k runs, you have the option to turn it into a hybrid event. Hybrid 5k runs allow participants to attend the event in person and raise funds online.

Attendees participating in this hybrid event will share the organization’s mission, goals, and programs online with social media posts to encourage their community to give. In turn, you can help them create a fundraising page like the one above to accept donations.

9 Steps to Run a Virtual 5k Fundraiser

1. Determine your fundraising goals

From the beginning, your nonprofit must determine your event’s fundraising goals. The first and most obvious goal is how much you want to raise.

If you’ve held 5k events in the past, this step is as easy as researching how much you raised. Virtual events are different, so you must look at how you raised money and see where you may lose funds and where you can replace that amount.

For example, if you raised $4,000 with sponsorships and vendors at past events, a virtual event could limit these options. On the other hand, if done right, nonprofits can develop online sponsorships and send targeted appeals to businesses that primarily market online.

Peer-to-peer fundraising may also increase funds collected by participants and replace the loss of sponsorship funds.

Besides your event’s fundraising goal, you’ll also want to develop a few KPIs to monitor your event’s participation, online activity, and external interest.

Pro tip: Add your fundraising goal to your online fundraising page. For your fundraisers, set individual goals and ask them to add these to their respective fundraising pages. This can be achieved using donation thermometers, as shown in the example below.

how to host a virtual 5k

2. Build a fundraising team

In the beginning, you must ensure that you aren’t the only one running this event. The best way to do this is with an event volunteer team.

Virtual events are a bit different from others. Most of your 5k fundraising will take place online, so your fundraising team must be comfortable online and preferably have a large online following.

A virtual 5k depends on fundraising volunteers. You’ll want your fundraising team to include board members and other community leaders who can convince sponsors, vendors, and major donors to join.

3. Finalize race logistics

The first role of your event team is to finalize the 5k event logistics. If your event is entirely virtual, these logistics include a date or a few dates for participants to run and fundraise. Other than that, they’ll be responsible for training volunteer fundraisers on how to raise funds.

Nonprofits that hold hybrid 5k events need to finalize logistics for the in-person and online fundraisers. It’s best to create two separate teams, in this case, to ensure both sides of your 5k run smoothly.

4. Choose the right software

Once you have your 5k event logistics finalized, you want to ensure you’ve chosen the right technology. Virtual events require communication via emails and social media, online donation pages and event registration, peer-to-peer and crowdfunding campaign pages, and other donation options for supporters.

Donorbox gives nonprofits of all sizes an affordable opportunity for all of these. You can start a crowdfunding campaign, turn it into a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, or simply create an online fundraising page to raise money. Alternatively, you can also create an event page online and sell tickets to your virtual 5k. Here’s an example of such an online event page for a hybrid 5k event.

virtual 5k fundraiser

Create a Nonprofit Event on Donorbox

5. Find sponsors

Virtual fundraisers open new sponsorship opportunities for companies and supporters. Most in-person events offer sponsors logo placement at the event and in marketing pieces. They also may include the chance to have a tent at the event.

Virtual 5k sponsorships are entirely online. Nonprofits can promote sponsors on their social media pages and each event participants’ fundraising page.

Businesses can create and share videos targeted toward the event’s specific audience. They can also hold raffles or sell products to gain more attention.

Here’s an example of a virtual 5k fundraising page that lists sponsorship opportunities on its donation form. You can create such a page dedicatedly for your potential sponsors and add the link to sponsorship request letters to make it easy for them to make a decision. However, it is advisable to add benefit details for each sponsorship level on the fundraising page to encourage more participation.

virtual 5k for charity

6. Design and print race products

Another way nonprofits raise money during 5ks is with product sales. 5k participants are used to receiving racing bibs to wear during the race.

Nonprofits that hold virtual 5k runs can give people personalized digital bibs when they register. They can also sell t-shirts and other products online to help participants feel connected to the organization and other volunteers. Here’s how the Warm Ears, Warm Hearts Foundation does it for their virtual 5k.

virtual 5k for charity

Create a Customized Fundraising Page

7. Find participants

We’ve already discussed the importance of having a fundraising team and encouraging them to create their own fundraising pages. But also, your event volunteers must help you recruit more volunteers to help raise funds for this event.

There are several places you can find volunteer fundraisers. The first spot is with people who’ve already signed up to run. If this is an annual event, you should have a host of individuals who understand how to fundraise and have previously solicited donors.

If you’re new to 5k events, in addition to board members and your event fundraising team, you can look at your current donor base and see who has a solid online following.

You’ll want to train these individuals and event participants on how to raise funds online.

8. Promote the event online

Before and during your virtual 5k, you’ll need to promote the event via emails, social media posts, and on your website.

Your fundraisers will also share the event on their own fundraising pages and their social media posts. You’ll be highly dependent on them for fundraising during this event. Hence, ask them to spread the word as much as possible. Raising money and getting more participation from their immediate networks such as friends and families shouldn’t be tough.

Additionally, you may want to create paid ads on Facebook and Instagram. They don’t cost very much and can easily help you reach a wider audience online.

You may also want to create a hashtag for your event to target a new online audience. Another option is with runner websites. Websites like Active and Race Mob provide lists of nationwide 5k races for those who love to run.

9. Thank donors and volunteers

Your communication with donors and fundraisers doesn’t end at the end of your event. Nonprofits must send online receipts for registration fees and donations.

You’ll also want to send personalized acknowledgment letters to all donors and event participants. Nonprofits must use these letters to build and strengthen relationships with donors.

Since this is a 5k, you’ll also want to award prizes for the best fundraisers and runners. Most virtual 5k events provide awards and recognition for the top 5 fundraisers and runners who covered the most distance or finished fastest.

4 Simple Ways to Encourage & Support Virtual 5k Participants

Your virtual 5K is only as successful as your fundraisers. Nonprofits must take the time and effort to support their supporters and fundraisers in as many ways as possible.

1. Provide training on fundraising and marketing

From the beginning, your fundraising team must create a training toolkit to help online fundraisers. This toolkit must include:

  • Training on how to set up an online fundraising page.
  • Email and social media templates.
  • Information on the race.
  • Information on your nonprofit, including mission, vision, and programs.
  • Fundraising scripts.
  • Brand guidelines, including images, colors, text, and logos.

Donorbox Peer-to-Peer makes it simple for fundraisers to sign up and create their fundraising pages. After they receive email invitations, they’ll be guided to create and even customize their pages as per your branding needs and goals, etc. Any person who is not invited and wants to fundraise for your organization can also do so easily by clicking a button at the top of your peer-to-peer fundraising page. The whole process is largely automated and needs little training on your part.

However, you’ll still need to provide them with marketing materials and guidance regarding how to best promote and fundraise for your nonprofit. You may yourself want to check out these expert tips and best practices on virtual fundraising from Donorbox to be able to train your participants better –

Need more help? Here’s a free course on boosting your fundraising with peer-to-peer.

2. Give shoutouts and offer incentives

Shoutouts and incentives are excellent ways to encourage more participation. Nonprofits can develop contests for their fundraisers and offer financial incentives or prizes for the winners. Nonprofits must also regularly recognize all participants as they raise funds.

Give social media shoutouts every now and then across platforms and tag your fundraisers. Add any important story or achievements. Now with everything having moved online, even appreciation when given online matters more to people.

As your fundraisers share these with their networks, more and more people get to know about your organization and the virtual 5k.

3. Send program and campaign updates to fundraisers

The best way to encourage fundraisers to promote your virtual 5k event is by providing regular campaign and program updates. The more content you send to your fundraisers, the more likely they are to share.

Remember to keep this content exciting and applicable to participants and donors. These updates will also help them keep their own networks posted on the impact of their donations. This helps you gain the trust of new people and some of them can even turn into regular donors to your organization.

4. Encourage runners to share their race updates on social media

In addition to sharing content on their fundraising pages, you’ll want to encourage participants to share updates on how they’re doing during the race.

Ask runners to take pictures of themselves and where they’re running. You can also encourage them to post how far they ran, how quickly, and how much they raised to encourage competition.

You may need to reach out personally to a few fundraisers to start sharing first. More posts will follow once people see a few people sharing on your page.

All these updates must go on social media. Tell your runners to tag your accounts while posting and use the relevant hashtags. You can also create a Facebook group in advance to boost participation and online posting through this community.

Final Thoughts

5k runs are a fun way to raise funds and promote your nonprofit to a new audience. Adding a 5k event to your fundraising calendar can entice younger as well as older donors to learn about and support your organization.

If your nonprofit is planning a virtual 5k run, check out Donorbox for peer-to-peer fundraising, crowdfunding, selling tickets, or other fundraising or donor management needs. Our features are free to get started with and simple to use. Your donors will have a plethora of payment options on our forms and they can even log in to manage their donation plans and receipts later. Sign up for free and get started in just about 15 minutes from now.

Donorbox Premium is a success package to help take your fundraising to new heights with expert coaching services and powerful tools. You get priority tech support and your dedicated account manager will always be there for anything you need. Pricing is personalized for each nonprofit. Book your demo today!

Explore insightful blogs on fundraising and donor management, get tips on nonprofit management, and find various free resources on the Donorbox Nonprofit Blog. Our monthly newsletter includes a collection of the best Donorbox resources such as guides, podcast episodes, webinars, product updates, and more. Subscribe to receive it in your inbox.

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Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.

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