4imprint, LLC

| Updated: March 25, 2021

Run/walk season is fast approaching. Charity runs (and walks) can increase fundraising dollars, raise awareness for your cause, and help recruit new supporters and sponsors. One survey found fun runs/walks were the “best events” for mid-sized to large nonprofits in terms of profitability and ease of planning.

Whether you’re looking to add a fun run to your nonprofit’s fundraising mix or seeking new ideas to amp up your annual 5K, we’ve got some tips for you. As a bonus, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite promotional items for runners. Hand out these giveaways at your next run/walk so everyone leaves a winner!

5 tips plus 5K giveaway ideas for a first-place charity run

Make registration a walk in the park

Registration should be straightforward and simple—no account setup or multiple forms required. Include a button on your registration page where those who sign up can easily invite others. Promote on all your social channels, and use an official event hashtag to generate buzz. Finally, encourage participants to register early with a giveaway for people who sign up before a certain date. Drawstring sportpacks and water bottles are great 5K giveaway ideas.

Cheer on fundraising

When it comes to 5Ks, 43 percent of revenue comes directly from the registration fee—only 15 percent of participants actively fundraise. You can boost your proceeds by raising your registration fee, but that may deter some people from participating. Another idea is to encourage participants to fundraise. Ask each runner or walker to set a goal. Make it easy for them to meet their goal by providing a generic email or social media post that participants can share with their family and friends to ask for support. Set up a fundraising page for them to take donations online. And reward those who meet their goals by entering them into a prize draw. Walking companion packs or LED running belts are perfect promotional items for runners.

Choose a theme

Don’t forget the “fun” in your fun run. Themes aren’t just enjoyable; they can actually contribute to your event’s success. According to an Active Network article, “the more participants are incentivized to prepare prior to the event, the more buzz the event creates and the more success it sees.” There are countless themes to choose from—a simple Google® search will turn up bubble runs, glow runs, costume runs and more. The list is endless. Offer theme-related promotional items for runners and walkers. Bubble necklaces or glow bracelets are popular options.

Quench your participants’ thirst (and hunger)

Runners and walkers need fuel to power through your event. Depending on the length of your race, make sure there are plenty of aid stations Stock them with lots of water and electrolyte beverages. Best practice would be to have one set up about every 3 kilometres. Although hydrating them is a must, you don’t want to let runners leave hungry. Partner with a food sponsor, such as your local pizzeria or sub shop, for a plentiful post-race spread. Your runners will thank you!

Reward them at the finish

Everyone likes to be rewarded at the finish line. What you choose to hand out as your incentive is up to you. You may choose to award medals  to top racers. Finisher T-shirts are a great reward for everyone else. Plus, this well-liked item has the ability to promote your cause long after race day.


A charity run/walk is a great way to drum up funds for your organization. Try one or all of these tips (and some cool promotional items for runners) to raise awareness and generate buzz about your event. On your marks, get set…GO!