Charitable Efforts of 21 Popular U.S. Runs

This is an archived post. Channel Signal has transitioned into a product review monitoring platform to better serve our customers. If you are a brand, manufacturer or retailer, check us out at www.channelsignal.com.

running events for charity

The running event season is at our doorstep. As you make your selection for which races to run this summer, we’d like to help you start to understand the charitable giving (or lack thereof) for some of America’s most popular running races and events. Which running events support which charities? Which are purely for profit? Which brands and sponsors are affiliated? We give you the -kinny in this handy-dandy outline.

Charity walks and runs have come a long way since the first one in Bismark, ND back in 1969. People enjoy running for charity because it’s a win-win. They have something to train and get in shape for, and they get to support a good cause to boot.

Charity Running Controversies

But is running for charity worth it? On one side of the fence, folks are asking whether charity runs are worth the effort due to the massive expense. It’s not uncommon for a charity to receive just 50 cents of each dollar earned. And then of course, there are trust issues with the charities themselves, like 2013’s Wounded Warrior scandal. Many of the popular runs today are managed by for-profits who simply facilitate participants’ fundraising. Often, the charity specifics are vague and almost feel like an afterthought.

While we’ll choose to leave the validity of charity running up for debate, we do encourage runners to be more savvy of the charitable affiliations of their favorite races. If you think you’re running for a cause, learn about exactly how your funds will be used. Push the race holders to reveal specifics. Use the below guide as a starting point.

Note: The ordering is based on the volume of social media conversations Channel Signal picked up about each one from December 2013 through February 2014. If you’re interested in a report to understand your outdoor company’s online brand engagement, don’t hesitate to contact us.

21 Runs & The Charities They Support

The Color Run

Type: For Profit
Location: 100+ Cities
Length: 5K
Primary Sponsor: Shout, Kind Snacks
Charity Affiliations: Global Poverty Project
From the Website: Color Runners can join the Global Citizen movement in two ways: sign up and take action on Global Citizen or sign up to fundraise for one of five amazing nonprofits that are working to end extreme poverty. Color Run also works with local organizations and has donated over $3 million to charities.

Boston Marathon

Type: Non-Profit
Location: Boston, MA
Length: Full: 26.2 miles, Half 13.1 miles
Primary Sponsor: John Hancock
Charity Affiliations: At Least 30 Charities a Year
From the Website: The B.A.A.’s Official Charity Program for the Boston Marathon raises more than $12 million annually, and serves areas of need within Greater Boston.

Tough Mudder

Type: For Profit
Location: 50+ Cities
Length: 10-12 miles + obstacles
Primary Sponsor: U.S. Army, Wheaties, Bic, Under Armour, Dos Equis, Met-Rx
Charity Affiliations: Wounded Warrior Project
From the Website: To date, Mudder Nation has raised over $6 million to support thousands of warriors returning from the battlefield.

Spartan Race

Type: For Profit
Location: 50+ Cities
Length: 10 miles + obstacles
Primary Sponsor: Reebok
Charity Affiliations: Homes for our Troops, Help for Heroes,
From the Website: Since 2004 this organization has build 100 homes for injured veterans. They have recently launched their initiative to build the next 100 homes and we’re hoping that you’ll join us to help in their mission.

Ragnar

Type: For Profit
Location: 15 Cities
Length: 200-mile relay
Primary Sponsor: Clif, Petzl, Peace Tea, Nuun, Sweat Vac, Scott James Jewelry
Charity Affiliations: Variety of charities including Adirondack Mountain Club, Back on My Feet, Bolder Options, Special Olympics Massachusetts, Clothes Pin, Girls on the Run, It Ain’t Chemo, Climb for Five, Outward Bound, Park City Education Foundation, Running With Ed, Soles 4 Souls, SOS Outreach, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training, Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN)
From the Website: The mission of the Ragnar Extra Mile Program is to provide Ragnar and the Ragnarian Family an opportunity to give back to the host communities that contribute to the success of our events.

L.A. Marathon

Type: For Profit
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Length: Full: 26.2 miles, Half 13.1 miles
Primary Sponsor: Asics
Charity Affiliations: Variety of charities including St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Lupus LA, Team to End AIDS, World Vision, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Think Cure!, Arc, Beit T’Shuvah, Concern Foundation, Corazon de Vida Foundation, Fulfillment Fund, Hirshberg, Kitten Rescue, Students off and Running, Dream Center, Train 4 Autism
From the Website: Join the ASICS LA Marathon as they strive to raise over $4 million dollars and make your 26.2 miles more meaningful.

Warrior Dash

Type: For Profit
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Length: Full: 26.2 miles, Half 13.1 miles
Primary Sponsor: Asics
Charity Affiliations: Variety of charities including St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Lupus LA, Team to End AIDS, World Vision, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Think Cure!, Arc, Beit T’Shuvah, Concern Foundation, Corazon de Vida Foundation, Fulfillment Fund, Hirshberg, Kitten Rescue, Students off and Running, Dream Center, Train 4 Autism
From the Website: Join the ASICS LA Marathon as they strive to raise over $4 million dollars and make your 26.2 miles more meaningful.

Goruck

Type: For Profit
Location: 800+ Cities
Length: Variety of events and distances
Primary Sponsor: Goruck Gear
Charity Affiliations: Green Beret Foundation
From the Website: GORUCK donates time, cash ($450,000 donated since April 2013), gear, and infrastructure to the Green Beret Foundation, which provides unconventional support to wounded Green Berets, their families, and Gold Star family members.

NYC Marathon

Type: For Profit
Location: New York, NY
Length: Full: 26.2 miles, Half 13.1 miles
Primary Sponsor: Tata Consultancy Services
Charity Affiliations: Facilitates a variety of charities like Team for Kids, Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Fred’s Team and NYRR’s Champion’s Circle
From the Website: Receive guaranteed entry and add meaning to your miles! Running for a charity not only provides you with guaranteed entry to the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon; it also gives you the opportunity to change lives and give back to your community.

Disney Marathon

Type: For Profit
Location: Orlando, FL
Length: Varies from Kids Run to Full Marathon
Primary Sponsor: Disney
Charity Affiliations: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
From the Website: LLS uses theWalt Disney World® Marathon Weekend as both a platform to create awareness of this life saving cause and to raise much needed funds for research.

Rugged Maniac

Type: For Profit
Location: 20 Cities
Length: 5K + Obstacles
Primary Sponsor: Harpoon Brewery, Mens Journal
Charity Affiliations: United Service Organizations (USO)
From the Website: Rugged Maniac encourages all participants to raise money for the USO.  When you register for a Rugged Maniac event you will receive an email within 24 hours that includes a link to your TEAM USO personal fundraising page.

Foam Fest

Type: For Profit
Location: 50+ Cities
Length: 5K + Obstacles
Primary Sponsor: Mike’s Hard Lemonade
Charity Affiliations: A Child’s Hope Foundation
From the Website: We are pledging a portion of every race entry to go towards building a new orphanage. We hope that you will join us in supporting this stellar organization and exemplar cause!

Dance Marathon

Type: Non-Profit
Location: Multi-city
Length: 12-24 hours
Primary Sponsor: None
Charity Affiliations: Children’s Miracle Network Hospital
From the Website: Each event is entirely student run and all donate 100% of the funds raised directly to their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Last year alone, college dance marathons raised more than $8 million.

Marine Corps Marathon

Type: Non-Profit
Location: Arlington, VA
Length: Full: 26.2 miles, Half 13.1 miles and other distances
Primary Sponsor: GE, Brooks, Walmart
Charity Affiliations: Facilitates a variety of charities
From the Website: Through these charities, thousands of individuals have the opportunity to run “The People’s Marathon” while raising funds in support of a personal cause, training and finding the shared inspiration to go 26.2.

Chicago Marathon & Shamrock Shuffle

Type: For Profit
Location: Chicago, IL
Length: Full: 26.2 miles, Half 13.1 miles
Primary Sponsor: Bank of America
Charity Affiliations: Facilitates a variety of charities like American Red Cross and Ronald McDonald House
From the Website: The Bank of America Chicago Marathon hosts thousands of runners who choose to make their Chicago Marathon experience more meaningful by running on behalf of a charity. In 2013, over 10,000 charity runners participated in the Chicago Marathon on behalf of more than 140 local, national and global causes. For the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, participants will be able to opt out of the public lottery from March 19 – April 7 by choosing to fundraise a minimum of $1,000 for any of the charities that are part of the Official Charity Program.

Iron Man

Type: For Profit
Location: 140+ Cities
Length: Varies
Primary Sponsor: Timex, Sugoi, Newton Running
Charity Affiliations: Facilitates a variety of charities
From the Website: Through purchasing a slot with an IRONMAN Foundation charity partner, you are not only obtaining an entry into IRONMAN Boulder, but are also making a charitable contribution to a worthy cause.

Honolulu Marathon

Type: For Profit
Location: Honolulu, HI
Length: Full: 26.2 miles, Half 13.1 miles
Primary Sponsor: None found
Charity Affiliations: Facilitates a variety of charities
From the Website: No info provided

Philadelphia Marathon

Type: For Profit
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Length: Full: 26.2 miles, Half 13.1 miles, 8K
Primary Sponsor: Gore-Tex
Charity Affiliations: Facilitates a variety of charities
From the Website: The GORE-TEX® Philadelphia Marathon is pleased to partner with many wonderful and worthwhile programs that support local initiatives and benefit people from right here in the Philadelphia region, nationally and around the world.

Relay for Life

Type: Non-Profit
Location: Multi-city
Length: Full: 26.2 miles, Half 13.1 miles
Primary Sponsor: None found
Charity Affiliations: American Cancer Society
From the Website: The Relay For Life movement has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, raising nearly $5 billion to fight cancer.

Color Me Rad

Type: For Profit
Location: Multi-city
Length: 5K
Primary Sponsor: Smart Car, Larabar
Charity Affiliations: Varies by city
From the Website: Color Me Rad is a for-profit event. Each city has a local charity partner which will receive a portion of the proceeds. The amount is based on the size of the event and the involvement of the charity. The charity recruits volunteers whose time is compensated directly to the charity. We also provide extra donation opportunities, and we aim to generate awareness of the charity in the community. We have great relationships with our charity partners. Please contact your local charity if you have further questions.

The Biggest Loser RunWalk

Type: For Profit
Location: Multi-city
Length: 13.1 miles, 15K, 10K, 5K
Primary Sponsor: The Biggest Loser
Charity Affiliations: Varies by city
From the Website: In an effort to help fund community programs and development, RunWalk works with local charities in each community that we visit.

All logos are property of their respective owners. Information subject to change. Visit race website for up-to-date information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Fresh Signals Blog

Point of Pain

Since the pandemic, online research and buying by the consumer has skyrocketed. This has brought about a shopping cart abandonment problem. Only 30% of consumers who fill a shopping cart…