Takeaways from the Run Walk Ride Conference

Anthony Sicola - 03.05.09 Follow me on Twitter

I had the opportunity to attend the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council’s (RWR) 2009 conference in Dallas on March 4th and 5th, which focused on successful strategies and future trends in the world of athletic event fundraising programs.

I want to thank David Hessekiel, Founder and President of the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council and the Cause Marketing Forum for bringing together 90 event fundraisers from small, medium and large organizations in the U.S., Canada and even Russia for two days of practical information that will help organizations raise more money, cut costs while maintaining quality and manage people and technology better. 


I got a lot of insight into what events fundraisers are worried about for the coming year. The discussion at the conference was overwhelmingly focused on three things;

  1. The economy,
  2. Increasing participant and team recruitment & retention, and
  3. Providing individual participants with the tools necessary to raise more funds. 

Listening to these concerns, I am reminded that continuing to apply best practices in online fundraising is one of the simplest ways to help control the outcome of your events.  Many of those best practices were covered in detail by Mark Davis at the NetWits Live conference in Portland, OR in October of last year. His presentation focused on email solicitation, online registration, and increasing participant and donor retention. You can check out Mark’s article in Fundraising Success Magazine for more information and a great set of tips for successful online event fundraising.  If you're interested in  maximizing your reach and revenue with Blackbaud Sphere Events, you can register for a free web seminar on Thursday, March 12, 2009.


The 2008 Run Walk Ride 30 report unveiled at the conference showed strong growth of 7.6% in participant fundraising, which is a good sign, considering the concerns about the state of the economy. The top 30 event programs, encompassing more than 41,000 events, generated in excess of 1.76 billion in gross revenue for charity last year.  Excuse me for the shameless self-promotion, but as a Blackbaudian, it’s interesting to note that 11 of the top 30 events are using Blackbaud software as their solution of choice to manage their online event fundraising programs.


Six of the top 30 organizations were honored at the conference with the first annual Pacesetter Awards designed to recognize the best work in the growing field of event fundraising. Four of these honorees, National Down Syndrome Society, March of Dimes (who won two awards) and Lance Armstrong Foundation use Blackbaud Internet Solutions software. The six honorees were:


It was great meeting and talking with nonprofit event organizers and fundraisers over the past two days. It is always inspiring to be in the presence of people that are so committed to their causes and it makes me happy to be helping nonprofits achieve their goals.

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