How to Organize a Charity Fitness Event


There’s a lot happening in the fitness industry these days.  Michelle Obama is encouraging people with “Let’s Move,” and May 1st is World Fitness Day.  Perhaps it’s inspired you to do something in your community but you have no idea how to begin.  Here’s a roundup of tips and articles from the web to help you get started.

There are a few general rules of thumb you should follow before embarking on such an adventure.

  1. Be passionate about your cause.  You will get mired down in details and frustrated by red tape and things not going as planned.  When this happens, your passion for the cause will help you stay focused on the end goal, helping people.
  2. Participate in other events.  If you want to set up a 5K road race you better be familiar with how they work.  Sign up for a couple of local events in your area to get the lay of the land.  Did you like how they ran event registration?  What type of marketing did they use?  Take the best ideas and adapt them for your event.
  3. Build a volunteer network first.  You’re going to need people to help you pull this off.  Bring together a group of folks as passionate as you and get them to commit to the idea before you begin scouting event venues.
  4. Work with your local municipality.  Every town has it’s own set of guidelines for how to put on an event.  Police and fire departments may or may not need to be involved.  Make nice with your local town hall and figure out what you need to do before you commit to dates and venues.

Here’s some details on your specific sporting event:

Road Races. A great article on the basics from  Handy tips include how to establish a budget. Road races can be logistical nightmares. 5Ks are by far the easiest to attract runners to.  Think of scenic routes that would attract a crowd, no one wants to run through an industrial park.  Cool T-shirts help too.

Golf Tournament.  As you might expect from a well-funded sport, there are businesses that will run the entire tournament for you.   But if you want to do it yourself, this quick checklist will give you an idea of what’s involved.  As you can see, planning a golf tournament is probably one of the trickier events to pull off.  My family is involved in a charity golf tournament every year and I can tell you it takes months of planning.  That being said, once you find a golf course to work with, they are all well-versed in running tournaments and you can rely on the Course Director to guide you through the process.

Bowling Tournament.  I found a great Squidoo post about all the basics for setting up a bowling tournament.  As bowling is the number one participation sport in the US, this might be a great way to dip your toe into the charity pool.  It’s easier to get participants, too, as it’s not a big time commitment or physical feat for the participants.

Basketball Tournament.  There’s not a lot out there on how to organize a basketball event.  This article had some good tips though.  Similar to a bowling tournament, it’s fairly easy to get participants and you can work with the facilities to provide most if not all of the equipment needed.  This is also a good winter option if you’re looking to do something when the weather is poor.

Bike Ride. There’s not a ton of information out there, but I did find this little snippet from Bicycling Magazine.   (Hint: hey guys, happy to do a story for you on that!)  I would suggest using the general guidelines for organizing a road race but keep in mind that bike rides are usually much longer and frequently cross through more than one town.  You’ll have to plan your route and work with each municipality to ensure things run smoothly.

Let me know if you hold an event and how it worked for you.  Working on charity events is a great way to get involved with your community, help people, and have an amazingly good time.

For a little inspiration, here’s a great post about a woman beating the running shorts off the guys.