Chapter Seventeen

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The concept of naming a recipient of some of the proceeds from a road race has become so widespread that we are often asked what the Race benefits. The answer is that more people will do a race just to contribute to non-profit groups (including boy and girl scout troops; running clubs; church, school and youth groups; and organizations such as the Optimists and Rotary Clubs) to help them earn money from their involvement in the race.

These organizations become involved in various aspects of the event from sign holding, to course marshaling, to lunch distribution. This not only provides some funding for their activities but, in effect, gives them some "ownership" in the race.

The management of the Race needs to decide whether to name a single beneficiary for the event or several.

Regrettably, it seems that often, when a charity becomes the sole beneficiary of an event, it begins to demand more money every year. And, perhaps even more damaging, it tries to gain increasing control over the event itself. Several major races across the country in the 1980s folded as a result of these factors. Two others wrested control back from the beneficiary by dropping the charitable organization entirely. One of these races now names a different recipient each year.

This represents a question that each race must decide on having a race name a single beneficiary. There are some pros.

What a Named Beneficiary Can Do for A Race

  • The initial motivations for races naming a donations recipient was to tie the event to a "cause." The thinking seemed to be that this would add some "legitimacy" to the race. But the primary intent was to increase the size of the field by attracting persons who were loyal to the charitable or health-related organization. Initially this seems to succeed.
  • Another benefit of naming a not-for-profit organization to receive some race proceeds is that the race should be able to receive in return some volunteers to help with the event.
  • Having a named beneficiary also sets up the possibility of making the race a "pledge event." Instead of just relying on sponsorship dollars and entry fees, a race can request that its participants seek pledges as additional donations. At the least a line can be added to fee section of the entry form asking the entrant to pay an additional amount that will be earmarked as a donation to the beneficiary. These two techniques often result in the amount of the donation reaching an impressive amount.


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