Fundraising; Friendship/Fun and Fear

By Bennett Napier, CAE

One of our association management company’s clients, is a 501 c3 organization, the Foundation for Dental Laboratory Technology.

The group’s mission is to ( advance the profession of dental laboratory technology by developing educational curriculum and programs that will be relevant and accessible to dental technicians and other members of the dental team.

The Foundation like most charitable organizations generates most of its revenue from traditional sources, these include:

Corporate donors; individual donors; scholarship fundraising drives; raffle programs
and in kind sponsorships.

002During one of the board meetings several years ago, the idea was floated to host a 5k race in conjunction with an industry tradeshow and continuing education event. The brainchild came from a few dedicated suppliers to the industry who saw this as a win win idea, promoting wellness and raising money.

That sounded good at the time. However, after initial research it was determined that putting on a race of your own has a lot of logistical, financial and liability  issues. If you are game for that endeavor, a good link is

After some time the race concept resurfaced. This time, the idea was001 to partner up or piggyback with an existing race. However it was not a 5k this time. The bright idea was participate in a triathlon! Only a few of the committee volunteers had ever participated in any level of triathlon. Fear and “nausea” set in for a few of us.  🙂

Due diligence commenced and ultimately, the idea was confirmed by the Foundation board. Staff worked with a planning committee and created an action plan to partner with the ITU in Chicago, ( which was held in June 2014. The event was dubbed “Race for the Future.”

Fourteen participants, including me, raced for the Foundation in the inaugural event. We also had a number of cheerleaders on hand. The race was a great experience! It was overwhelming on race weekend as the ITU Chicago brings in over 6,000 total participants over two days.

In the first year, revenue goals were conservative and $20,000.00 was set as the initial goal. The Foundation offered sponsorships and created marketing kits for racers to elicit support of friends, family and industry peers to contribute in their name. One racer, the Foundation past Chair, even did bake sales at her business and she personally raised over $6,000.00.

The final outcome for 2014 was just under $38,000.00 raised.

In addition to blowing the roof on the revenue goal, there were other benefits from this inaugural event.

003Although most of the racers knew each other from the industry, the nature of training for and participating in a race of this nature has taken friendships to a different level. Another by product of the race is that a number of individuals have kept up a training regimen and we have collectively lost over 100 lbs.

If once was not crazy enough, the Foundation is hosting Race for the Future 2.0 this July in Nashville.

Over $25,000.00 in sponsorship has already been raised and the number of racers has increased by nearly 50%. It is expected that this year’s event will raise over $40,000.00.

If you are looking at an out of the box way to engage a different 004group of people in your Foundation’s fundraising efforts give this idea a review. Triathlons come in all levels, and most even have a Relay option to allow one individual to swim, bike or run rather than do all three.

Feel free to use some of the materials we have available at


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