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Virtual Races: A Fundraising Guide

Races are a great way to fundraise for your nonprofit. Whether you already do one each year, or you are looking to add one into the mix, technology can enable these events to go on even in light of social distancing.


Everyone from Oberlin Choristers to Disney is hosting virtual races, and we’ve found some hidden benefits to this format. If you’re thinking of hosting your own, here’s everything you need to know to get started.

What is a virtual race?

A virtual race is a 5K, 10K, half marathon or any distance of your choosing that can be completed from any location in the world (even inside). You can set parameters around the completion timeframe, modalities, and other eligibility requirements based on your event goals.

When do they take place?

Select your completion timeframe for anything from one day to one month (or more). There are no limits, but you’ll want to think about what is going to serve your event goals and communicate it clearly to participants. You may even consider setting up reminders as the completion timeframe nears the end.

How do I get started?

The level of complexity is entirely up to you. Getting started can be as simple as:

  • Decide on your completion timeframe

  • Choose software for registrations

  • Spread the word through your communications channels

  • Set up a social media hashtag for participants to report back

How do I set up registration?

There are a variety of ways you can manage registration. If you already have event registration or online donation capabilities on your website, you can easily utilize it for people to register for the race.

You can also use third-party form software that has e-commerce functionality such as Wufoo or JotForm. If you are looking for something more powerful, there are specialized software solutions for races like RunSignup and RaceRoster.

Add-Ons and Upgrades

Consider these optional add-ons to create a more true-to-form experience:

  • Send out t-shirts, medals, and race bibs.

  • Increase revenue for your organization through corporate sponsors, registration fees, or pledges.

  • Integrate with fitness tracking apps like Apple Watch, FitBit, Map My Run, or Strava.

  • Encourage participants to post times for a chance to compete and win prizes, using a finisher page on your website that aggregates posts using your social media hashtag.

Virtual races are showing added benefits over traditional race formats. In addition to avoiding 6AM report times, long lines for the bathroom, and the threat of inclement weather, they are proving more inclusive, wide-reaching, and less expensive to organize.


Drop us a line through our contact form to share your experiences hosting a virtual race.

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