The COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable impact on in-person fundraising events, with many having to make the tough decision to pause or re-schedule. So, when the Great North Run announced that their 2020 event was cancelled, it was disappointing but understandable news.
However, the organisers didn’t miss a beat and have launched innovative virtual plans for the year ahead instead. They joined us for a special webinar, which you can watch on-demand here, where they shared an update on their plans plus how charities can still fundraise and engage with their runners through new virtual options.
Introducing The Great North Run Reimagined
The Great North Run organisers have created two amazing virtual options that charities and fundraisers can choose to get involved in through their new campaign – The Great North Run Reimagined.
The Great North Run Reimagined is a virtual running campaign to ensure runners and charities can still mark the occasion. The first option that the campaign features is Great North Run Solo, a challenge to complete 40 runs of any distance between 28 June and 13 September (a run for each year of the Great North Run!).
Alternatively, or in addition to depending on how many miles someone’s legs can handle, there’s The Virtual Great North Run. It’s an official 13.1 mile virtual race taking place on 13th September 2020 (the same date the Great North Run was due to be held). The entries for the official virtual race open from 3rd August and runners will be able to download an app for the day which allows them to run to the traditional sounds of the Great North Run.
How can you encourage your supporters to go virtual?
Virtual events are great alternatives for your supporters to ensure all their hard work and training does not go to waste, so we’ve put together some top tips for promoting an event that has pivoted to be virtual.
Create an event landing page
Arguably, when an event goes virtual, the need for a sense of community increases with the loss of the “on-the-day” experience. A simple and quick way to tackle this is to create a Campaign Page. The shared total and leaderboards will help fundraisers to feel part of something bigger whilst also promoting some friendly competition. Also, if you’re dealing with a reduced staff, a Campaign Page is also a great way to keep track of top line fundraising for an event without having to jump into your more detailed reports.
When creating your Campaign on JustGiving make sure to take advantage of the feature to pre-populate the picture and story on Fundraising Pages. We recommend making the image specific to that event as the picture is automatically shown every time your Campaign, or a Fundraising Page connected to your Campaign, is shared on social media, making it a great way to promote an event through your fundraisers.
Promote your bespoke link
We’re working with Great North Run to make it easy as possible for participants to start fundraising. We recommend charities use our personalised event links (also known as ‘deeplinks’) on any comms you’re using to recruit fundraisers. When a potential fundraiser clicks on a deeplink, it means your organisation and the event are pre-populated, making it even easier to create a Fundraising Page and raising money online. Here’s some more detail on where to find yours.
Re-engage existing runners
The first, and most obvious, place to start when recruiting runners for an event that has become virtual is to reach out to those who were signed up for the original event. We’ve extended all pages originally created for the Great North Run to allow fundraisers to keep raising funds into next year, but there’s nothing to say they can’t use one of these virtual events to top-up their fundraising in the meantime!
Appeal to other audiences
The Official Virtual Great North Run is open to all, even if you didn’t have a place in this year’s Great North Run, and it’s completely free to enter! With little barrier to entry, consider other supporters you could also promote this to. For example, do you have other fundraisers whose event has been cancelled this year, or any supporters who’ve taken part in Great North Run previously who would like to relive the experience? Do you have any corporate supporters who are looking for free alternative ways to raise employee engagement? If yes, why not encourage them to register and set up a team page.
Make the most of new virtual tools
Take advantage of the tools that Great Run have created to help you promote this event and engage participants by including incentives in your messaging. For example, you could highlight this tracker for Great North Run Solo, or the unique app experience.
There’s also the option for fundraisers to link their JustGiving Fundraising Page to their Strava account, which is an easy way for fundraisers to show their friends and family what they’re up to, plus it helps keep their page updates fresh and compelling.
If you have any more questions about the Great North Run Reimagined then have a listen to our chat with the organisers through our on-demand webinar here. You can also keep on eye on the Great North Run website for updates, plus the organisers have created the Great North Run Virtual Charity Toolkit which contains lots of helpful information and marketing tools, such as social media images and copy that you can use for free.
Do you want to give your supporters that extra bit of encouragement? We’ve created a Great North Run page just for fundraisers that you can share or direct people to. It’s an area where supporters can learn more about the event, sign up, start their Fundraising Page and even read fundraising tips.