Wednesday, February 1, 2012

TNT and Local vs. Destination Events

In some of the comments I have read proclaiming Team in Training to be a scam, there were a number that essentially made this point: it is probably OK for people to do TNT if the race is local, but not if the participant is going to get a trip out of it. The objections are that some of the donated money is paying significant travel expenses if the participant chooses a destination event - for example someone on the East Coast who runs the San Diego Marathon. As I pointed out in my last post about fundraising, all non-profits have costs for fundraising, and LLS's fundraising expenses of about 17 or 18% are not extreme. It just so happens that some of those fundraising expenses are travel expenses for race participants, as opposed to paying a bunch of money to telemarketers. But what about the point that local events would be a better use of donated money because expenses are less?

There is nothing wrong with local events, and in fact, I have seen LLS promoting these more and more in the seven years since I first did TNT. The fundraising minimum is really low - about $500 to $700 - and the only cost to LLS is the participant's race entry, which is probably about $35. An example of this for my team would be the Monument Avenue 10K. Another type of local event would be one where the participant must drive to and stay a couple of nights, for example, the Marine Corps Marathon for the Richmond Team. For these events, we must raise $1,250 to $2,000. The expenses that LLS would pay are two nights in a hotel (sharing a room), the race fee, and two dinners. You could expect the expenses for this type of event to be in the $300 - $400 range for each person.

Contrast this with a destintation event, where the participant has a kind of adventure and travels to a far away place. For me, every one of my five events has been this kind. The fundraising minimum is much higher because the covered expenses are higher. These would include airfare, three nights in a shared hotel room, two dinners, and the race entry: all of which can easily reach $800 to $1,200. In return, we are raising $3,500 to $5,500 - which we are personally responsible for after we recommit. Frankly, it is a lot of work and stress to raise that kind of money. People might stroke a check for thousands of dollars if you are running for president, but no one I know can do that for someone raising money for a non-profit.

So would it be better if TNT just did local events? That way, less of the donated money goes to the travel expenses, but the participants are raising less money, so there is a lot less to go to the mission. For example:

Local event: Revenue $500, Cost $35, Net to LLS $465
Semi-local event: Revenue $1,500, Cost $350, Net to LLS $1,150
Destination event: Revenue $4,000, Cost $900, Net to LLS $3,100

So while it may seem like participants are wasting money that LLS could use for the mission to travel to a destination event, in actuality, I believe they tend to raise more money when they sign up for an exciting marathon or triathlon, and as a result, the net to LLS's mission is going to be much higher. Which is better - for LLS to spend $900 to send someone to Arizona for a race, knowing that they will have an additional $3,100 for their mission? Or for them to spend $35 for a participant to participate in a local 10K, with the person raising an additional $465 for the mission? I maintain the first choice is better for LLS - if that is what the person wants to do.

Exciting destination events are a major way to attract people to do Team in Training. Just as any non-profit has fundraising expenses, so does LLS. When a person is doing an event for TNT, some of those fundraising expenses will be part of their travel costs. There is nothing in this that scams people or uses money inappropriately in my view. Others may have a different opinion, of course. In my next post, I'll discuss comments I have seen about other ways people should raise the money they do, and whether or not these methods would be as effective or efficient.

1 comment:

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