Run, Walk, Ride Post-Pandemic: 6 Must-Have Strategies

We recently surveyed 1,026 Social Donors in the U.S. to explore how giving has evolved during the pandemic and what lessons we’ve learned from the virtual fundraising pivot.

The report is broken down by the giving experience of those who gave at Events, Runs/Walks/Rides, Challenges, Giving Days, and Occasions.

This blog outlines actionable tips to help you engage your Run, Walk, Ride donors with 6 sure fire fundraising strategies. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1.   Who are Run, Walk, Ride Donors
  2.   How they hear about giving opportunities
  3.   How they rated the virtual experience
  4.   Do they prefer in-person or virtual?
  5.   The most important factors for Run, Walk,Ride events
  6.   How to make it easy

Who Are Run, Walk, Ride Donors?

Run, Walk, Ride Donors include anyone who donated to a nonprofit by sponsoring someone or participating in a fundraising event like a run, walk, or ride in the last 12 months. Because this time period fell within the pandemic, some of the run, walks, and rides that these donors participated in or sponsored were virtual while others were in person.

Interestingly, the Giving Experience Study found that Run, Walk, Ride (RWR) events attract every generation. According to the study, of these types of Social Donors, majority were Millennials, followed by Boomers/Matures, Gen X, and Gen Z.

When we take a look at who is donating to Run, Walk, Ride events, here are some quick facts:

  • Most important factors include ease, mission, and impact.
  • Forty-seven percent rated their virtual Run, Walk, Ride experience as excellent.
  • Only 37% found setting up their fundraising page to be very easy.
  • Top engagement levers are matching donations and impact.
  • The average donation of these social donors is $181.

For nonprofits, there is an opportunity to examine your own RWR supporters to better understand the trends, motivators, and behaviors of those participating in your campaigns.

Tailoring your giving experience to the demographic needs of your supporter base will improve engagement and increase the likelihood of reaching your fundraising goal.

How They Hear About Giving Opportunities

Social Donors hear about events and campaigns from, you guessed it, their social networks. When asked how donors who participated in a Run, Walk, or Ride heard about the giving opportunity, here’s what we heard:

  • Through a friend, family member, or colleague – 68%
  • The nonprofit or charity reached out to me directly – 21%
  • I saw or heard an advertisement – 19%
  • Through my work – 14%
  • From a celebrity or influencer – 8%

The best part about these types of Social Donors is the network they surround themselves with. This means that your strongest marketing resources are free – your supporters!

One strategy to fully leverage Social Donors is to incorporate Ambassador Fundraising into your event or campaign. Ambassador Fundraising takes your most involved supporters and turns them into active fundraisers.

If you’re hosting a RWR, appoint Ambassadors to act as the faces of your fundraising. These Ambassadors can help promote registrations to your event, find and onboard sponsors, advertise giving opportunities, and recruit Social Donors from their own networks, all helping to build momentum and fundraise leading up to and before your event.

With a well thought out Ambassador Fundraising strategy, your nonprofit can:

  • Engage top supporters before, during, and after your event.
  • Connect your event to a larger social audience.
  • Add gamification, excitement, and competition.
  • Create new engagement and revenue streams before your event even starts
  • Tap into the giving motivators of Social Donors – their social circles and networks.

To ensure they’re empowered to be great ambassadors, arm them with the right resources and peer-to-peer fundraising software, including:

  • Sample email templates
  • Promotional materials
  • Social media recruitment posts
  • Social integration from your peer-to-peer technology
  • Donation talk tracks or donation solicitation emails
  • Automated notifications when a new participant joins the campaign or their team

Majority of Social Donors who participated in a Run, Walk, or Ride gave through website donation (47%). Mobile, social media, and text donations are on the rise – so be sure to evaluate the giving experience through mobile devices and the full experience for those giving directly on social media platforms.

How They Rated the Virtual Experience

When it comes to the virtual experience, 39% of RWR Social Donors rated theirs as excellent. The majority (55%) rated it as good.

If you have or will be hosting a virtual run, walk, or ride, it’s important to analyze each aspect of the event to ensure a seamless experience. Look through the eyes of your supporters and examine your:

  • Pre-event communications
  • Event registration
  • Fundraising page setup
  • Social media integration
  • Personal progress tracking
  • Team progress tracking
  • Engagement strategies
  • Follow ups and thank you’s

According to the data, an advantage of the virtual format is that they remove cost and geographic barriers for potential donors. Incorporating a “participate from home” or “participate on your own time” allows nonprofits to expand your reach to donors who are unable or uncomfortable participating in-person.

Here are a few ideas to reach and engage your at-home participants:

  • Customize your registration: Consider a simplified registration process with different registration types to join in-person or at-home.
  • Tap into gamification: Think leaderboards, activity and progress tracking, weekly challenges, head-to-head competitions, and rewards – donors want an experience that is social, mobile, and FUN!
  • Give recognition: A simple shoutout on your nonprofit’s social media channels goes a long way. Be sure to include the impact that their fundraising progress will make.
  • Set milestone fundraising goals: Use interim goals to keep the momentum high when you have a large fundraising goal and/or a campaign that spans a number of months. And celebrate when your participants help you reach them!
  • Use rewards: Highlight your Social Donors when they hit campaign milestones and reward them with branded t-shirts or other cool swag. You can also use badges and digital achievements to recognize virtual fundraising and social reach.

With the right peer-to-peer software, you can set up triggered messages and badges to encourage and thank participants as they reach new levels of achievement. Be sure the technology you’re using makes it easy to engage your donors, whether they’re in-person or at-home!

Do They Prefer In-Person or Virtual?

Donors who participated in and/or sponsored both a virtual and in-person Run, Walk, Ride have a strong preference for in-person events, more than 3 times than virtual. This doesn’t come as a surprise! Since the pandemic, people are craving:

  • Socialization
  • Connection
  • Out-of-home activities.

Despite the preference for in-person RWR events, virtual fundraising still has an important place post-pandemic. Supporters do like the flexibility and convenience of the online format.

According to those who attended both and in-person and virtual event, here’s what they enjoyed about each:

While things are changing and evolving, it’s important to offer options that make your donors feel safe, engaged, and connected to your mission. Offering both an in-person or at-home options is a smart strategy for diversifying your fundraising options and meeting supporters where they are.

Even better – ask your donors in your next email communication what their preference is or add it as a question to your donation form.

If you decide to move forward with a “dual experience” format, it’s important to think through the size, goals, and fundraising processes for your event, ensuring both your in-person and remote attendees receive a seamless experience.

Remember that some things may remain the same (fundraising challenges, progress updates, and rewards) while others change (pre-event communication, registration fees, and fitness tracking).

The Most Important Factors for Run, Walk, Ride Events

Social Donors involved in RWR events must be wooed like any other donor. But they have a specific factors that are most important to them when determining whether to participate in a run, walk, or ride that nonprofits need to know about and cultivate.

For these donors, the most important factors include donating is easy, the organization highlights its mission, and the organization communicates impact.

Ease, mission, and impact. Let’s break it down to see how you can tap into these factors in your next event.

  • Ease: Simplify your donation process. With the right fundraising technology, nonprofits can create intuitive, fast, and flexible giving experience for their donors. Ask yourself these questions:
    • Is the donation button easy to locate?
    • Is the process mobile optimized?
    • Can the donor easily cover transactional costs to offset expenses?
  • Mission: All nonprofits have a worthy mission – but it’s how you communicate that mission that will help your organization stand out.
    • Find your ‘wow’ factor – something unique about your mission that would grab your Social Donors’ attention instantly.
    • Then, focus on how you deliver your mission in a way that pulls them in and keeps them engaged. (One of our favorite ideas is using video!)
  • Impact: Storytelling is essential for demonstrating impact, connecting with your audience, and inviting people to take action.
    • Use stories to share the impact that your organization has on your community.
    • Be sure to tell them everywhere, in your donor communications, impact statements, on social media, in your nonprofit event marketing, and especially in your event programming.

Remember to tap into these factors to maximize your nonprofit’s efforts! Other factors that RWR Social Donors found important were that it’s clear how their donations make a difference, it’s an easy-to-use online platform, and that they hear directly from beneficiaries.

How to Make it Easy

Did you know? Ease is the number one factor when deciding to participate or sponsor someone in a walk, run, or ride. While more than three-fourths of donors said it was easy to give to these types of events, there was a significant drop off when it came to ease in other parts of the Run, Walk, Ride giving experience.

A little more than half found registering for the event and tracking progress very easy. Participant fundraising activities such as setting up a personal fundraising page, soliciting donations online, and sharing information about the fundraiser are the areas in need of the most improvement.

Here are a few recommendations to help ensure your Social Donor’s giving experience is easy:

  • Setting up a personal fundraising page:
    • Take a look at your participant page set- up process.
    • Make sure it’s easy for participants to personalize their fundraising page.
    • Incorporate email and social media promotion.
    • View individual progress and team progress.
    • An easy participant page setup process lays the foundation for continued engagement and retention throughout your event. Make it a strong foundation!
  • Soliciting donations online:
    • You can help make soliciting donations online easier by making it easy to:
    • Solicit donations through multiple channels (social media, text, email).
    • Providing default messages they can add a personalized touch to.
    • Giving them compelling reasons to share on social media to create buzz.
  • Sharing information about the fundraiser:
    • Create a toolkit on your campaign site to arm your Social Donors with the resources they need! Include:
    • Information about your mission
    • Event details
    • Impact statements
    • Frequently asked questions
    • Social media graphics
    • Social media and email templates

Significant fundraising barriers can prevent Social Donors from reaching their overall fundraising goal. Before launch, have a mix of people (a top donor, board member, and volunteer) go through the process and call out anything that isn’t intuitive or easy. That way you get ahead of any issues that may arise!

Armed with actionable tips, powerful strategies, and the latest Social Donor data, you’re ready to engage your Run, Walk, Ride Social Donors.

Wrapping Up!

More fundraising resources are just a click away.