Tag: 5K race

Leader’s should never take themselves too seriously

I don’t think nonprofit leaders should go out of their way to make themselves look foolish by any means, but I think providing a little levity can also be a good thing. Those who work in the nonprofit sector know how hard our staff and our volunteers work. Many of us are surrounded by people who we become quite close to going through hardship, stress or illness. Our own leaders train our staff how to personally cope with this stress while still remaining effective, supportive and empathetic. Many nonprofit staff are familiar with trying to solve the worlds problems with limited and scarce resources. Our fundraisers would tell you how hard they work to raise much needed revenue so that we can fulfill our important missions.

This all sounds pretty grim- but the reality is most days most of our staff would tell you how great it actually is. With that said I personally feel that a leader should never take themselves too seriously and occasionally they should be willing to do something that puts them at risk of seeming a little foolish. Clearly they should not do this just to look foolish, but of course they should be willing to do this to further the mandate of their organization or its ability to remain sustainable.With all that said, last month I decided to take my own advice and not take myself too seriously. The video below was taken on parascope last month and is a point of view video of me running our Rock the House Run in Ronald McDonald’s shoes- enjoy


Using Periscope to promote your Fundraising Events

Periscope was launched at the end of March this year. Shortly after Twitter acquired the app and re-released it in May. So it is safe to say that it is a pretty new platform. I am not sure a lot of charities will be jumping on the periscope band wagon right away but I think the platform does have some unique offerings for the sector. Incidentally when twitter bought the platform it was for a rumored $100 million. So the folks who run Twitter must have seen a lot of potential in the platform. When the app and platform launched a lot of the press was about the ability to live stream to the world. That sounds pretty impressive, but I am not sure if the whole world is paying attention to my “scopes” as periscopers call them. I have a decent twitter following so the platform was immediately interesting to me as you can automatically tweet out a link to your periscope broadcasts. For an organization like ours where we do a lot of events in the Houses for our families- it does give you the ability to broadcast what you are doing in real time. The thing I like about the format is scopes are in real time, so viewers are a little more accepting of rough or unedited content. Sometimes overly produced video gives the impression to stakeholders that you are spending a lot of money – probably donated money. The link below is a scope I did yesterday. I am going to warn you-shot this with my phone and seemed to have some kind of gunk on the lens- so this one is really rough. However I wanted to be able something unique or special to my twitter and periscope followers. All in all in promotes one of our biggest fundraising events. But if you follow my social media and watch the broadcast- you get something special- a discount on registration. By the way if you click the link you will see something else I love about periscope. The app will automatically download to your photos file on your iPhone or iPad. Periscope broadcasts disappear within 24 hours but with this feature you can load the videos you want to keep to your you tube (or your charities you tube) channel.


Team Ronald

I am not sure that organizational leaders for a charity should take themselves too seriously. We do quite serious work, but the ability to have a little bit of fun and even take a little bit of personal embarrassment can be character building. One of our MarComm staff members said to me recently “when you dyed your hair pink and shaved it bald to raise money for the House and the local chapter of Make a Wish-we knew we could probably get you to do almost anything.”  Subsequently I was a willing participant in a fundraising stunt where I had to have a 5 km race with Ronald McDonald at our annual Rock the House Run. Both Ronald and I both raised pledges and the challenge was mainly geared at drawing attention and awareness to our new version of our peer to peer fundraising pledge pages. The stunt was a success as we did raise a little more incremental revenue for the event, but mostly because our pledge fundraisers were able to help us double the ROI for the event. The pledges also become the biggest source of fundraising for this event. In the past our sponsorships and our registrations had made up the majority of the revenue. Both sponsorships and registration went up that year but pledge donations still became the largest source of revenue.

Locally right now the price of oil is down, oil and gas is a major driver in our local economy. When the economy is depressed charitable organizations need to think creatively and be willing to try new things. For leaders of these organizations this is really a good time to personally use your influence to try newer and more innovative fundraising approaches. At this year’s Rock the House run I suppose I couldn’t just race Ronald again, watch the video below to find out what my team has cooked up for me this year.

Promoting Peer to Peer Fundraising with Social Media: An Experiment



          We had a belief that Peer to Peer fundraising could make our signature fundraising events more profitable and increase their return on investment. We decided to try a social media stunt to see if we could raise some pledges and create a little more interest in our pledge fundraising pages for our Rock the House Run. The appeal was” Larry versus Ronald”. Our communication team came up with the concept that Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta’s Executive Director was challenged by Ronald McDonald to run the 5 kilometer race. The Executive Director challenged Ronald back that each would create a fundraising page and raise money for Ronald McDonald House. The communications team designed a promotional plan that would live only on the charities social media platforms. The charity would purchase no advertising and would not utilize traditional marketing efforts to promote the peer to peer element of the fundraiser. The charity created a low budget you tube video called “Pledge me maybe” to promote the challenge


            Additionally I was encouraged by our communications staff to use my personal social media channels (twitter and instagram @larrymathieson ) to chronicle my training progress and encourage followers to pledge and set up their own pledge pages to support the event. The appeal was an unexpected success, as 148,000 impressions were made on twitter with 1,200 comments were made using the hash tags #RocktheHouseRun, #teamRonald or #teamLarry. Although certainly not viral by You Tube standards the “Pledge me Maybe” video set a record for the house of 700 views over a two month period. The appeal did not end up being a pure social media experiment as some of the local radio and television personalities who follow the charities social media began promoting the challenge on traditional media channels.

            The pledge revenue had consistently increased over the years however with the social media appeal the revenues jumped from $30,592 in 2011 to $64,500 in 2012. In addition the Presenting Sponsor was so impressed with the community’s engagement in the appeal that on the morning of the run the company announced that in addition to the amount they had paid for their sponsorship that they would make a matching donation of $63,217 (the total pledges received by the charity the morning of the race). The increase in total revenue generated by peer to peer pledges as well as the matching donation significantly changed both the gross and net results for the charity. Registration revenue did increase for the event between 2010 and 2012 but not in a way that was transformational to the total event revenues. It should also be noted that sponsorship revenue also increased significantly between 2010 and 2012 and was also an important factor in the events overall profitability. Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta’s pledge or peer to peer fundraising for the event continued to grow in 2013 to the point where pledge donations alone reached the level of pledges combined with the presenting sponsor match in the 2012 event.So in essence the pledge revenue doubled once again.

           The example above illustrates how on-line peer to peer fundraising efforts can improve the overall revenue picture for a small nonprofit organization’s events and how social media can be utilized to impact total numbers of donations and total revenue. The Rock the House Run has been an event that has created additional visibility and has raised funds for the House, however there are certainly Road Races locally or nationally that raise a lot more money.  However as a smaller local charity the total amount raised is not as important to us as what the return on investment from the event is. Clearly it appears that peer to peer fundraising combined with the usage of social media does improve an event like RTHR’s return on investment.      

If you’d like to read my last post on peer to peer fundraising check  out this link: