How to Plan Your Own School Fun Run
Hosting a Fun Run at your school is a great way to get your community involved in raising money for your organization while having fun at the same time. In a traditional Fun Run, students find sponsors to pay them for each lap they are able to run, and students who raise the most money or run the most laps can win prizes for their performance. With the help of your school community, there’s no need to hire an expensive company to coordinate your event. The best part about enlisting help from local volunteers is that your organization will see more of the event’s profits. You’ll also have the freedom to make necessary last minute adjustments without violating any legal agreements or contracts.
Moran Prairie’s TREK Event
The Parent Teacher Group at Moran Prairie Elementary School in Spokane, Washington, has hosted a successful school Fun Run named TREK for 14 years. Over the years, the actual event has evolved to include a DJ, a concessions stand, a mobile pizza booth and a silent auction, generating substantial returns for the organization. The TREK Committee chairs oversee every part of the event and volunteers report directly to them. Planning an event of this scale is a tremendous job for everyone involved, but the amount of money your organization could earn is well worth the time and effort. From sparking community interest to depositing their profit, here’s how they did it:
Marketing and Preparing for the Event
In recent years, the Moran Prairie PTG tapped into the artistic talents of the elementary school students and asked them to create the design for their promotional t-shirts. After choosing the winning design, they worked with t-shirt vendors to place an order for affordable shirts to sell as they promoted the Fun Run. They also offered free t-shirts to students who raised $50 or more in donations.
With the help of members and volunteers, the PTG's TREK Committee canvassed their community and found people willing to provide food donations for their concession stand, prizes for student participants, and free items to sell for profit at their silent auction. One of the teachers fills in as a DJ for the event every year, and the TREK Committee makes sure one of their volunteers is available to assist him before and during the event.
The entire TREK Committee works closely with the group’s treasurer to make sure that everyone is on the same page about how the money is handled, organized, and deposited. The PTO TREK Committee has found that delegating separate components of the event to different teams, or sub-committees, reduces the overall stress on the group and ensures that the Fun Run and additional events run smoothly.
A new addition in 2011, the TREK Committee has launched a blog and Facebook page to stay in touch and build momentum with everyone who is involved in the event. (Editor's note: Anyone can set up a blog for their fundraiser using a free blogging service such as www.blogspot.com.)
The Fun Run and Other Activities
Since the PTG holds this annual event on a Friday immediately after school lets out, they are able to handle all of the set-up and last minute changes during the school day. One team organizes the Fun Run ensuring that race tags are purchased and available for distribution to the students and that prizes are in place for student participants top finishers, top pledge earners, etc. Another team collects donations, tallies tee shirt orders, and then processes that entire order. Other teams coordinate the music and concessions stand, where the sixth grade students participate by selling items to hungry attendees.
One team oversees and coordinates all of the volunteers that are needed on the day of the event. Roughly 60 volunteers are recruited to make this day happen and fill spots as lap markers, water station attendants, pizza booth helpers, silent auction monitors, concessions helpers, race check-out helpers, set-up, tear-down and clean-up helpers. There are even teams that help two days prior to the event to sort and distribute the tee shirt orders as well as process the food donations that come in for the concession stand.
Another team coordinates the silent auction by arranging the donated items, organizing and monitoring the bid sheets, and pacing the auctioning of items. While the success of the auction largely depends on the quality of the donated items, some of their best-selling items are actually nontraditional. Last year, they sold a coveted reserved parking space for $300 by increasing the bidding time.
When bidders pay special interest to a certain item, the auction team extends the bidding time to allow several people to bid on the same item, resulting in higher bids. When the team is flexible with the pacing, parents have fun with the bidding process and raise even more money for the group. By advertising big ticket items ahead of time, the TREK Committee has been able to increase their attendance and promote the event. In recent years, they’ve even supplemented the auction with a raffle featuring popular items.
(Editor’s Note: The TREK event features a silent auction, but for those interested in conducting a live auction, enlisting a volunteer with auction experience can add a fun and professional tone to the event. Can’t find a professional auctioneer? A local celebrity or comedian could give your auction a lighthearted feel that will entertain participants and generate media interest.)"
Moran Prairie’s annual TREK event has been a community fixture for over a decade, and families look forward to spending time together in such a warm and welcoming environment. With careful planning, strong communication, and community support, your organization can host a similar event and raise money for your cause.