If you want catch up on all the sessions from last week’s Virtual Symposium, it’s not too late to do that. But we also wanted to take a minute to dive a little deeper into the key takeaways from a few of our favorite sessions focused on endurance events.
The main message: it’s time to get excited for endurance events, again!
Bob and Allison provided an analysis of the current state of recovery for the endurance and fundraising events industry, alongside a look at upcoming technology products. Highlights included:
- Growth and new technology. The GiveSignup | RunSignup team has increased employee capacity 29% so far this year. While some of that will be focused on enhanced technology for nonprofits, it’s not at the expense of endurance events. As the chart below shows, the majority of development time in 2021 has been spent on platform infrastructure that benefits both nonprofits and endurance events, while the teams focused on RunSignup and RaceDay continue to be incredibly productive.
- Live events are back. As the events industry recovers, live events are roaring back, making up a full 82% of registrations in June – up from just 37% in November, 2020. While we expect virtual to retain more of the market than the mere 2% they made up in 2019, it’s clear that live events are rocking.
- RunSignup updates in the last year have largely centered around adaptations to the current environment (like the Challenge Platform in 2020 and now a new Voucher feature to help clean up participant management issues). But there’s big new RaceDay technology, too, including Photos 2.0, On-Site Registration, a new CheckIn App, and big RaceDay Scoring updates for Cross Country and Teams.
- Payment Processing Migration isn’t the most exciting topic, and does require that some organizations submit additional documentation to meet updated Financial Banking Regulations…but processing money for our customers is our most important function. Look for new and improved reporting, soon!
- GiveSignup updates for nonprofits include a new wizards for Tickets and Fundraising Campaigns, a Website Builder, a new Ticket CheckIn App, and Fundraiser Notifications. Want to connect your data to your CRM or DMS?
- What’s Coming in 2021 and 2022?
- Website builder pages and menus for better website organization
- Single Sign-On for RunSignup.com, GiveSignup.org, and all custom domains
- Next Generation email marketing for races, ticket events, donations, and fundraising, with new templates, flexible contact lists, and better reporting.
- Improved Ticket Reports with search and filter options
- A standalone Ticket Store with the ability to manage inventory across multiple ticket events
- Fundraising Milestones & Badges with a trophy case and milestone notifications
- Auction and Raffle (only for nonpfrofits with licenses) products
- Sponsor Management improvements
- DIY Fundraising enhancements
- Membership platform overhaul for running clubs, nonprofit and more
Cam and Johanna took a birdseye view of some of the creative, innovative events we’ve seen around the world – and the history of the relationship between run/walk/ride events and nonprofits.
- Charity and Endurance Events. Fundraising and nonprofits started to intertwine all the way back in the 60’s and 70’s with the large fundraising walks. Combine that with the running boom of the 70’s and the introduction of Team in Training’s Charity Bib program in the 80’s, and you get us to a modern endurance industry where 95% of events support a nonprofit in some way.
Why care about fundraising when you talk about events?
- For Nonprofits, the benefits of endurance events is clear: it’s an opportunity to widen your reach, create personal memories for your strongest supporters, and bring in extra money.
- For Timers and Race Management Companies, most customers will be nonprofits (or for-profit races with a Charity Partner). Helping your customers reach their fundraising goal makes them loyal customers for years to come.
- For-Profit Run/Walk/Rides should still care about fundraising. Most for-profit events work with one or more charity partner. A strong relationship with your charity partner(s) can be a mutually beneficial, as you raise money for the nonprofit and the nonprofit gives their supporters a reason to join your event.
Events to Look Up To
- Endurance events built to succeed in a challenging environment, including the extended Humana Kentucky Derby Festival mini & Marathon, the hyper-hybrid Gold Nugget Triathlon, and the fundraising focused The Ride.
- Adaptable Ticket Events include a focus on outdoors and socialization, including the return of festivals with the Chicago Craft Beer Festival, a team-based outdoor outing from The Heartland Austism Society Golf Tournament, an unexpectedly fun, pirate-themed SWA 4R Scavenger Hunt, and a membership-driven Isle Society Summer BBQ.
- Virtual events built for any year, including the extended engagement of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Challenge by Clif Bar and the sponsor-celebrating Downtown Runaround.
The keys to a successful Fundraising Event?
- Make it EASY, from registration through event day.
- Make if FUN, with teams, photo opportunities, and social media.
- RAISE MORE, with the cause front-and-center and donations built into the event.
Facebook has been a huge advertising option for events for years – but changes to Apple’s policies are impacting Facebook Ads. Jenn and Andrew from our development team joined to talk you through what you can do to adjust your advertising plan.
- What’s Changed? Apple iOS14’s privacy settings make it easier for people to opt out of tracking, and harder for Facebook to target people precisely. Additionally, Facebook limits each domain to 8 conversion events, so customers without a custom domain will not be able to get accurate reporting from a Facebook Pixel.
- Workarounds Outside of Facebook: RaceInsights, built into your race dashboard, tracks the source of every click, registration and donation. Use Custom Source Tracking to monitor the ROI of your Facebook ads within RunSignup.
- Workarounds Within Facebook: To continue to use Facebook reporting on conversion codes, you will need to use your own custom domain and to verify your domain in Facebook Business Manager.
Matt brought us this brand new session focused on an often-overlooked aspect of race directing: providing better participant communications to save you time.
- Add an FAQ Page provides the perfect option to build a single hub for the answers to all your most common participant questions.
- Email Communications reiterate and reinforce your key messages. Use Confirmation emails, Giveaway Details, Registration Follow-Up emails, and additional pre-scheduled emails to stay ahead of race day questions.
- Let us do the work by using participant resources and how-to’s we have built to help educate your participants. This is particularly powerful for self-serve participant management options.
Matt continued his rockstar presenting with a deep dive into Teams. Teams may seem simple – people register together – but they can be one of your most powerful marketing tools, and the choices you make impact your success.
- Why Teams? Teams make race day more fun, and there’s no better marketing tool than fun.
- There are 3 main team categories, Groups/Teams, Fundraising Teams, and Corporate Teams. Corporate Teams are powerful but complicated, and only appropriate in specific events. Fundraising Teams are ideal when the event is very cause-driven, but should not be combined with Groups/Teams.
- Groups/Teams can be social or competitive, including relays. Talk to your timer before setting up any teams to be competitive.
- Team Pricing can be a great incentive for participants to share your event. But make sure you decide on your pricing strategy in advance and clearly communicate it with your participants.
85% of timers offer services beyond race timing. Crisp took our Timer Track through strategies for using RunSignup technology to expand your offerings and upsell your services. Opportunities for timers to do (and earn) more include:
- Goods such as sourcing and/or fulfilling shirts, awards, or rental equpiment
- Marketing/Promotion Services such as optimizing a Referral Rewards program and managing Email Marketing.
- Race Day Enhancements like finisher certificates, searchable results, live text/email results, and RaceJoy.
- Packet Pickup Management via the CheckIn App
- Hybrid Race Support with virtual results setup, RaceJoy Race Anywhere options, and digital bibs.
Not a timer? Ask your timer what additional services they can offer to enhance your race and save you time.
How do you raise more while making your event more fun? Steve shares the best ways to create super-supporters and reward them for their efforts.
- Why fundraising? Besides the obvious (raising money), fundraising gives your strongest supporters a reason to share your event and expand your reach. On average, a fundraiser solicits 5-10 donations – which is 5-10 people who may not have been familiar with your organization before.
- First: Just turn on donations. It sounds obvious, but integrating donations into registration can bring in significant money.
- Fundraising Made Fun with rewards for reaching fundraising minimums, fundraising milestones and rewards, and fundraiser notifications.
- Fundraising made social via fundraising teams and Facebook Fundraising.
With postonement and cancellations (and sometimes multiples of each) over the last year, handling outstanding participant management options like deferrals and transfers can be overwhelming. Natallie calmly walks through your best options for creating a clean slate in 2020.
- Refunds. If you still have refunds to process, make sure you have money in the refund reserve, and that the registrations aren’t over a year old – then move onto bulk or manual refunds.
- Self-serve participant management can save you time by making it easier for participants who registered a year ago to update their own information around shirt size, shipping address, and emergency contact info.
- Self-serve participant management can go a step further, too, by making it easy for participants to take actions like deferring, transfering bibs, or transfering races.
- Bulk Tools for refunds, deletions, transfers, deferrals, and deferral fee refunds can help you take action on large numbers of participants quickly and efficiently.
- Follow-up on the Participant Decision (Postpone and Cancel) tool – no action was taken automatically if you used it to collect participant decisions last year.
- Options for deferred participants includes an import of transfer, coupon codes for deferrals, reserved entry links, and the defer via race transfer feature. Evaluate the pros and cons to decide what’s best for your race.
An efficient race day has always been the goal, but with COVID, reducing lines and crowding feels more important than ever. Crisp walks through best practices with the CheckIn App, and how you can create a better race day for your volunteers and participants.
- Keep registration open (and ditch the paper). Allowing late registrations maximizes participation, and technology allows your volunteers to see a registration that just happened and get that participant checked in.
- CheckIn App Setup is easy – just add you settings pre-event to ensure that volunteers and participants are prepared.
- Train volunteers, and get going. Your settings will automatically apply to volunteers with password protection. Dynamic bib assignment is a breeze (but pre-assigned bibs will work, too)
- Advanced features like waiver requirements, corral names, and reporting ensure that you’ve checked every box and filed every bit of paperwork.
We sat down with CEO and Founder Bob Bickel and Sales Lead Bryan Jenkins to talk through some of the burning questions we’ve seen from our customers. The discussions included:
- Why so much nonprofit focus? We touched on this above, but the short answer: it’s a way to make our current customers happy and provide opportunity for growth without letting our endurance customers down.
- Best (non-referrals) free marketing tool?
- Bryan recommends looking for local calendars through local media sources
- Bob raves about the power of teams and team incentives to motivate social joining
- Why On-Site Registration instead of Kiosk Mode? Kiosk mode does not allow us to comply with sales state task laws. On-site registration is comprable in many ways, and in an increasing number of events we see races opting for QR codes and phone registrations, anyway.
- Will volunteers make mistakes with Dynamic Bib Assignment? Maybe. But mistakes can always happen, and you can’t beat the efficiency and money-savings of dynamic bib assignment, and it does not increase your chances of someone making a mistake.
- Will you integrate with Zapier? Integrations are too expensive. You may want to listen to the full answer here (18 minutes in), but the short answer: Zapier integration would have some issues to begin with, and because we have real-time data, working through Zapier would actually be significantly more expensive. RegForward provides a relatively inexpensive option, with support.
- What can we do for better email templates? You can use HTML from another template builder (like MailChimp) for a custom template. That being said, it’s important to always test those emails on your laptop and a phone. We will have improved templates with our next email release, but our free email service will never match the robust functionality of a MailChimp. Our focus is all about your participants getting the information they need.
- Is fall overcrowding going to be a huge issue? We don’t think so. As we shared in our recent RaceTrends update, there will be an increase in the number of large, premier events, but that only makes up ~6% of the market. Most races should be OK, and benefit from enthusiasm to get back to in-person events.
- Is it worth it to pay for Facebook Advertising? How much should I spend? Quite honestly, who knows?! Some of our large customers who invested heavily in learning Facebook Ads rely significantly on it, but it’s much harder to measure on small scales. If you’re going to make an investment, make it material and measure the impacts.
- What recommendations do you have for a part-time race director to keep up with the industry?
- Endurance Sportswire to keep a pulse on the industry
- Race Directors Hub FB Group for an interactive, supportive community
- Head Start Podcast for detailed industy discussions
- Our blog! for technology releases and best practices.