Getting Started

The easiest and fastest way to reach your RUN FOR AUTISM fundraising goal is by personalizing your easy to use, online fundraising page. The most successful fundraising campaigns are ones where RUN team members have shared pictures and stories on their donation pages. When people see you get excited about your goals, they will be excited to donate. 

What to include on your donation page:

  • Include pictures of yourself or of who is motivating you to RUN FOR AUTISM.  Pictures make a huge impact on people visiting your donation page.  Putting a face to your fundraising efforts can make all the difference.
  • Tell a personal story about why you joined the RUN FOR AUTISM team.  Are you running in honor of your son or daughter with autism?  Do you work with individuals on the spectrum? Did you want the make your miles meaningful by fundraising for a great cause?  We would love to know and so would your supporters!
  • Set a fundraising goal!  Challenge yourself and don’t be afraid to be ambitious. Break down the amount to think of it in less daunting terms, such as, a reasonable goal of $2,500 is just 100 donations of $25 or 50 donations of $50. Your race may have a minimum but your goal can be much higher! Remember the OAR RUN staff is always available to help you reach any goal.
  • Share some facts about autism and the Organization for Autism Research to inform your supporters where their donations are going. Here is an example of what information you could include:

WHY RUN FOR AUTISM?
1 in 68 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism. By joining the RUN FOR AUTISM team, you’re supporting OAR’s mission to fund research and resources that help people with autism and their families today.

Here are some of the ways that OAR uses the funds raised by the RUN FOR AUTISM team:

Here are a few examples of great fundraising pages created by your fellow teammates:

*Note that fundraising pages are on two different platforms. The fundraising platform is designated by races. Please contact the OAR RUN staff if you have questions about which platform you are using for your race. 

Any Questions?

If you are having any problems while setting up your fundraising page email your questions to the RUN FOR AUTISM staff at run@researchautism.org.  

 

Making A Game Plan

Similar to your training, it’s easier to reach your goal if you start early, plan ahead, and track your progress.  As the race day approaches, we want you focused on celebrating your accomplishments, not worrying about a looming deadline. With a fundraising game plan you can keep that pesky procrastination bug at bay and easily reach your fundraising goal well before race day! 

Set An Overall Goal

You should have set a fundraising goal while personalizing your fundraising page but if you didn’t now is the time!  Challenge yourself and don’t be afraid of being ambitious. Your race may have a minimum but your goal can be much higher! Having a solid game plan can help you reach any goal you set.

Set Mini Goals

Breaking your overall fundraising goal into mini ‘bite size’ goals can help make fundraising seem less daunting and help you to reach your goal sooner!   Is your overall goal $1000 and you have 10 weeks until race day?  Set mini goals of raising $100 a week.  

A mini weekly or monthly goal is an easy target to track and can be promoted to help encourage donations from your network.  

“I am halfway to this week’s goal of raising $100 for Organization for Autism Research! Donate $25 to help me reach my goal today: (insert fundraising link)”
Brainstorm Fundraising Events

Hosting a fundraising event can be one of the fastest ways to fundraise, a great way to raise awareness for OAR, and a fun ways to bring your friends and family out in support of you.  Figure out one or two of your least busy weeks (not the week of your longest training run!) and plan on hosting a fundraising event.  There are a ton of different event idea out there from Bake Sales and Restaurant Fundraisers to Corn Hole Tournaments and Spin-a-thons.  

The RUN staff is currently putting together a list of hundreds of event ideas.  If you are having a hard time brainstorming ideas, keep a lookout for that list in an upcoming team email. 

List Out Your Contacts

Anybody and everybody you know could help you reach your fundraising goals, but only if you ask!  Think of the people you know in all your different social circles- family, school, business, gym, religious, etc. Oftentimes these people will be some of your biggest supporters and with encouragement could reach out to their networks on your behalf!   Making a list of these contacts is the easiest way to insure nobody is left out and keep track of who you have reached out to.

Communication Strategy

There are many different ways to reach out to your contacts; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, phone, in person, mailing, etc.  It is important to plan out your communication strategy so that you are reaching out to all of your contacts at least once but aren’t overloading your friends and family with multiple donation requests in a short period of time. 

Each RUN FOR AUTISM team member’s communication strategy is going to look different depending on their network and preferred method of communication.  We recommend starting your fundraising with an email and social media blast announcing your fundraising efforts then planning 1-2 social media posts per week and 1-2 emails per month promoting your fundraiser.

On your list of contacts, keep track of who has donated to your campaign, the amount, and the date they donated.  Take those friends and family members off your fundraising email list and make sure to send them a personalized thank you note.      

The First Ask

So, you have your fundraising page looking amazing and have a winning game plan all drawn out? Great!  Now it is time to start letting people know about your commitment to race in support of autism research.  

For some people, the ‘first ask’ can be nerve racking but it doesn’t have to be! Here are a few reasons to calm your nerves:

  • You are raising money for a great cause.
    • There are 75 million people world wide on the autism spectrum, chances are high that most of your contacts have a connection to autism.  
    • Organization for Autism Research impacts countless families, educators, and self advocates by offering FREE resources geared toward making day to day life easier for individuals on the spectrum throughout their lives.
  • You are accomplishing something amazing.
    • Whether you are running your first marathon (or 8th!), conquering a Tough Mudder, pushing for a 5k PR, or peddling towards an IRONMAN finish line, you are making your miles meaningful by raising money for autism research.  Really, who wouldn’t want to support you?!
  • You have a game plan and are starting early.
    • If this first ask isn’t as successful as you were hoping, that’s okay. That is why you have a game plan! Hosting an event or posting pictures from your training might lead to more donations from your friends and family but you won’t know this until after your first ask. 
  • You have the support of all the RUN FOR AUTISM team members and staff.
    • Have any questions, pop over to Facebook and reach out to past and present RUN FOR AUTISM team members.  
    • Don’t forget to take advantage of the RUN staff!  We are here to answer any questions you have or give advice. 

Now that those nerves are out of your system lets talk about how to best make that first ask.  

Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are great tools to use during your fundraising journey.  Announcing your fundraising efforts on social media is an easy and causal way to reach your broad network of friends, family, and contacts.  Here are are a few examples of posts you could use to announce your fundraising:

“Oops, I did it again!  I am running the Marine Corps Marathon this October on the #RUNFORAUTISM team in support of Organization for Autism Reseach.  My goal is to raise $2000 for autism research! Please help me reach this goal and donate today: (insert fundraising link)”

“In two months I will be crossing the finish line of the @Chimarathon! I am making my miles meaningful by raising money for autism research. Click the link in my bio to me reach my goal of $3000!”

“Running the #BerlinMarathon with @RUN_for_AUTISM help me raise $3000 for #AutismResearch! Donate now: (insert fundraising link)”  Use Google URL Shortener for a shorter fundraising link

“I just signed up to run my first half marathon with @RUN FOR AUTISM in honor of my son John, who is on the spectrum.  Help me reach my goal of raising $1000 for autism research: (insert fundraising link)”

Email

Emailing is a great way to reach out individually and announce your fundraising in a more direct and personal way.  Make it easier on yourself by creating a basic draft of the email body with your personal story of why you decided to #RUNFORAUTISM.  Include your fundraising link and only personalize the greeting and closing of each email.  Here is an example of an email you might send out: 

“Hey Jane,  

I am really excited to announce that I will be racing IRONMAN Wisconsin this September to raise money for Organization for Autism Research.  This is my first full IRONMAN, which is why I wanted to RUN FOR AUTISM in honor of my sister, Mary, who is on the spectrum.  My goal is to raise $1406 for autism research, that’s $10 per mile I’ll be racing over this September!  

Organization for Autism Research is a 4 star nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of everyone affected by autism by supporting research that produces meaningful and practical results.  They also provide free, evidence-based resources and information to families, educators, self-advocates, and professionals geared towards making day to day life easy for those affected by autism.  My family took advantage of free resources like A Guide for Transition to Adulthood and Guidelines for College Success  when my sister was graduating high school.  

I would be extremely grateful if you helped me reach my goal and donated to my fundraising efforts.  All donations are tax deductible and go towards a great cause! Here is the link to my online fundraising campaign: (insert fundraising link)  

Every bit makes a difference, no matter how big or small. 

Thank you in advance for your support. 

Sincerely,

Stacy”

In-Person 

In person announcements are a great way to gauge the potential for donations with acquaintances that you might not feel comfortable sending an email to, such as business contacts, neighbors, or doctors.  By bringing up your race training and fundraising in a casual conversation you can see how interested people are in donating to your fundraising campaign.   You may be surprised by the number of people you might not have expected that are eager to help you reach your goal and donate to a worth while cause.  Here are some examples of how you might bring up the fundraising in casual conversation:

What are you doing this weekend? 

I have a 14 mile training run scheduled this weekend.  After that I’ll probable relax and re-hydrate.    

14 miles?  In this heat?!

Yeah. I’m training for the New York City Marathon this November.  I’m running to raise money for autism research. My goal is to raise $5000 in honor of my nephew Ben.

Wow that’s amazing!

If you would like to donated I can email you the link to my fundraising campaign. “

Matching Gifts

Many of our most successful RUN FOR AUTISM team members have used matching gifts to boost their fundraising. In a Matching Gift program, employers match contributions made by employees.  Therefore if any of your donors’ employers offer Matching Gift programs their donation can often be matched dollar for dollar, doubling your fundraising power.

 

Here’s how you, your family, friends, and coworkers can take advantage of charitable matching gift programs:

Check to see which companies offer Matching Gift Programs.

Matching Gift Database

If you do not see your company, you can contact the Human Resources department to see if it offers a matching gift program. The database may not be totally up-to-date or offer a complete list of smaller companies.

Request donation guidelines and a list of eligible charities if the company does offer a matching gift program.

Donate and fill out the appropriate forms to ensure that the donation is matched.

  • The company might need the following information from OAR:
    • Tax ID number (also known as EIN) – 54-2062167
    • Nonprofit name – Organization for Autism Research
    • Nonprofit address – 2000 North 14th Street, Suite 240, Arlington VA 22201
    • Nonprofit contact information – Kristen Essex, 703-243-9717

Tell us about your matching gift, and pass along the donor and company names so that we can look out for your donation.  We will typically get a notification from the company but feel free to reach out as well.  Once we confirm the matching donation, we will credit those funds to your donation page.

Share the news and be sure to highlight any donors when you give your fundraising updates. Don’t forget to include companies that provide matching gifts; they’re donors, too!

 

Tips to Maximize Matching Gifts Contributions:

  • Check the Matching Gifts Database whenever you receive a donation. If the donor’s employer has Matching Gifts program, send that information to your donor when you send them a thank you email.
  • Add an Employer column to your Contacts List. Then search for those employers in the Matching Gifts Database before making your first ask. If you find a contact whose employer has a Matching Gifts program, include that information when you send them your initial ask or thank you email.
  • If you receive a donation from a couple, and one of them works for a company that has a Matching Gifts program and the other does not, the donation can still be matched by the company that has a Matching Gifts program.

 
Example of Matching Gift Email:

“Dear James,

Thank you so much for the very generous donation of $150 to my RUN FOR AUTISM Berlin Marathon fundraising campaign.  I am running in honor of my sister’s son Kevin so your donation to Organization for Autism Research means a lot to me.

Did you know that your employer, Neiman Marcus, has a matching gifts program? They will match your donation two:one if you complete the form below and send me a confirmation! . That’s all you have to do to turn your donation from $150 to $450! Here is the information:

Company: Neiman Marcus Group, Inc.

Contact: Kevin Hurst

E-mail: Kevin_Hurst@neimanmarcus.com

Matching Gift Form URL: https://www.nmgbenefits.com/

Minimum amount matched: $25.00

Maximum amount matched: $2,000.00

Gift ratio: 2:1

Thanks again for your donation. I hope you will take a minute to submit the matching gift request and forward the confirmation to me so that I can get closer to achieving my fundraising goal of $3,000!”

Using Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest and best tools for fundraising.  More than 58% of adults in the United States check Facebook every single day. So sharing your fundraising campaign and appearing on your contact’s News Feed is an extremely beneficial way to encourage people to support your fundraising efforts.  Below are a few examples of how to utilize your social media accounts to further your fundraising.

Power of a Picture

Our apologizes for being cheesy but… a picture is worth a thousand words.  Using pictures on your social media posts is the best way to draw attention to your fundraising posts. On Facebook, posts with photos have 120% more engagement than the average post.

Training Photos Examples 

Selfie Before Long Run

“I am heading out for my longest training run yet, 16 miles!  I am nervous because I have never ran this far before but know every mile is for autism research. Help me push through this long run by donating $16 dollars to my #RUNFORAUTISM fundraising campaign. Let’s see how many donations I can get before finishing 16 miles! (insert fundraising link)”

 Recovery Day Photo

“While training for an IRONMAN rest days are as important as my long bike rides or runs.  They also allow me to work on my #RUNFORAUTISM fundraising.  Today I am emailing my favorite local businesses asking for gift card donations I can use as a ‘Thank You’ to my largest donors.  Want one?  Click the link in my bio and donate today!”

Photo From Training Run

“Beautiful day to run 14 miles and to raise money for #AutismResearch! Donate now: (insert fundraising link)”  Use Google URL Shortener for a shorter fundraising link

Motivation Photos

 Photo of RUN FOR AUTISM Gear

“Katie and I spent the weekend decorating my #RUNFORAUTISM race singlet for Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Half Marathon next month!  I am running in her honor and for other children on the autism spectrum.  Help me reach my goal of raising $1000 for @OrganizationforAutismResearch ->(insert fundraising link)”

 Photo From Past Race

“After finishing my 5th half marathon in March I decided it was time to take the leap and #RUNFORAUTISM in a full marathon. I will be crossing the @NYCmarathon finish line this October having ran my first full marathon and raised over $3000 for #autismresearch! Help me meet that goal by clicking the link in my bio and donating today!”

 Photo With Autism Connecting

“When those long miles start to hurt I think of Doug & keep running. Donate to my #RUNFORAUTISM campaign to fund #AutismResearch (insert fundraising link)”  Use Google URL Shortener for a shorter fundraising link

 
Social Media Toolkit

Feel free to use any of the following images as tools to help boost your RUN FOR AUTISM fundraising efforts and promote Organization for Autism Research’s resources and programs. Remember to us the hashtag #RUNFORAUTISM in all your posts and tag us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter!

Social Media Toolkit

Email Campaigns 

Most successful fundraising campaigns are, in part, the result of continued communication with your network of possible donors. Sending out emails to your friends, family, coworkers, etc. with donation requests, reminders and updates is a great way to reach and surpass your goals.  Here are some tips and samples of possible emails: 

  • Send out emails to donors and possible donors once a month at first, then once a week in the last weeks leading up the race with training and fundraising updates. These emails can thank people who have already donated while reminding people who have yet to donate.
  • Ask your network to pass along information about you fundraising to their friends and family.  Autism touches the lives of so many, you might be surprised by the generosity of total strangers when the cause is a worthy one.  
  • Add your fundraising information to your email signature. By adding a short description to your email signature you can reach every single person who you email, even some you might not feel comfortable sending a fundraising specific email to.  
Announce Your Fundraising

First time RUN FOR AUTISM Team Member

RUN FOR AUTISM Alumni

Donation Reminder

Direct Donation Reminder

Training Update With Donation Reminder

Offer Help With Donation Reminder

Matching Gift

Matching Gift Information Before Donation

Matching Gift Information After Donation

Hosting An Event

Hosting a social events to raise money is an oldie but goodie!  A successful event can be a fun and easy to raise a large chunk of your fundraising goal AND raise awareness for Organization for Autism Research at the same time.  Your event does not have to be elaborate, just well planned.  Below are a few tips and examples to get you started planning your very own event.  

What kind of event do you want to host?

There are hundreds of different events you could host to raise money for autism research.  When choosing an event start by thinking about what kind of an event your friends and family might want to attend.  Narrow it down by the amount of upfront investment of time and money you are willing to put in.  Then select the event you are the most excited about!

Here are a handful of events you could organize:  

Silent Auction

Bake Sale

Trivia Night

Yard Sale

Car Wash

Chili Cook-Off

Ice Cream Social

Community Run

Wine Swap

Golf Tournament 

Chores For Donations

Promote your event:

Get the word out far and wide!  Create an event on Facebook, email your friends and family, and talk it up at work.  The more people who you invite the more money you will raise to go towards your fundraising efforts.  In any emails or social media posts about the event include your fundraising page URL letting people know even if they cannot make the event they can still donate. 

Start Planning:

Start planning your event as soon as possible!  If your event requires any supplies such as food, drinks, or prizes contact local businesses for donations of gift cards or products. Don’t take on more than you can handle! Be realistic with the amount of planning and event logistics you want to take on so that you are not overwhelmed as the event approaches.

Most importantly, have fun! 

 

Raise $1,000 in 7 days

Feel like your fundraising efforts are starting out a little slower than you had hoped?  Try this plan for for raising $1,000 in just one week.

  • Day 1: Sponsor yourself – Start the Trend! $50
  • Day 2: Ask 5 family members to donate $75 Each: $375
  • Day 3: Ask 13 friends to donate $25 each: $325
  • Day 4: Take a break (Rest days are important in training & in fundraising!)
  • Day 5: Ask 5 coworkers to donate $20 each: $100
  • Day 6: Ask for a company contribution: $100
  • Day 7: Ask 5 neighbors for $10 each: $50
  • Day 8: Celebrate! 

Make it personal

Put the FUN in fundraising and get your donors more personally involved by offering fun donation incentives or hosting fundraising competitions.  

Run in a Costume

Host a fundraising competition between your friends and family with the grand prize being, running the race (or a long training run) in a costume of the winners choosing.  Motivate your donors to team up to raise money on your behalf and compete against each other to win the honor of making you run as Lady Gaga, a bunch of grapes, Where’s Waldo, whatever they can come up with.   

Donor’s Travel Guide

Traveling for your race?  Let your donors plan your trip for you! Promote that every donor of $75 or more will get to pick a spot for you to visit and get a personalized photo from that spot while you are being a tourist before or after the race.  When you are visiting all the recommended spots, take a quick picture with a token to personalize it for the donor; a sign with their name, picture of them, funny pose, etc.   

Playlist from hell

Liven up your fundraising by giving your friends and family the opportunity to pick the playlist that will accompany you during the race (or a long training run). Challenge your friends to pick the worst songs they can think of, for a donation of $10 per song.  Create a list or Spotify playlist of all the songs to keep your donors up-to-date with the status of the horribleness of the playlist.  Later you can post a recap of how horrible it was to run to certain songs.  Just hope that your friends don’t stumble upon this song!

Put a Name on it

Long time RUN FOR AUTISM runner, Heather Horner promotes that she will carry the name of all her donors on race day by writing the names her RUN FOR AUTISM singlet.   Do the same or tell your donors that if they donate as least $50 to you during a particular time frame (ex. The last month leading up to the race), you will run with their names or that of their loved one with autism with you on race day by writing the names on your singlet or your arms/legs.

Sell your skills 

Can you bake amazing treats?  Do you paint or knit or woodwork?  Good at yard work, taxes, baby sitting, or meal prep?  Sell your skills for donations!  

If you are crafty or a good baker, make a special small item or treat that all of your donors over $25 will receive.  Have a skill like yard work or baby sitting?  Offer up your skill to all donors who donate over $50 to your RUN FOR AUTISM fundraising campaign.  Go bigger by making a one of a kind piece of art, cater a private dinner for two, or offer a photography session to friends and family who donate top dollar!

 

Call The Press

A great way to spread the word about your fundraising efforts and raise awareness for autism research is to contact your local news stations and newspapers.  Local journalists are always on the lookout for stories that highlight the good deeds and inspirational stories of community members. That’s you!

To help with getting started, for the RUN FOR AUTISM press release template.  Use the press release template to tell your story and show why your story should be featured.   Make sure to include the following information:

  • Who are you?
  • Where are you from?
  • What do you do?
  • Why are you taking on this marathon, triathlon or cycling event?
  • Who are you running for?
  • What makes your story stand out?
  • A link to you fundraising page 
  • A photo of yourself (perhaps wearing Organization for Autism Research gear) and/or of the person who you are running for.

Contact the media about two-three weeks before your event.  Newspaper and TV websites usually have good contact information for the news editors.  Write an email or send your press release directly to the editor. The best time to contact them is in the morning.  If you don’t hear back, try to contact them again a week before the race. The media often does not plan coverage until closer to an event. 

 

Here are some examples of great local articles:

Race Day Push

At this point in your training, your friends and family are probably just as excited as you are about your upcoming race. Here are some ways to remind your supporters of all the hard work you’ve put in over the past few months and all the excitement to come:

  • Update your current and potential donors on your training and fundraising progress, and ask them to contribute online or offline.
  • Update your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) 2-3 times per week with posts about race day prep or your fundraising.
    • “Packing for the #LondonMarathon and trying to figure out how to fit all my amazing 103 donors into one checked bag because I wouldn’t have been able to do this without all of their support. They have helped me raise over $8,000 for autism research.  You can help too, donate now: (insert fundraising link)”
  • Change your e-mail signature to include the number of days until the race and the progress of your fundraising efforts. Make sure to direct readers to your fundraising page!
    • “PS. There are only six days until I run the Berlin Marathon for autism research! I have already raised over $3,000 for Organization for Autism Research. Help me reach my goal of $3,500: (insert fundraising link)”
  • Bring up the race in conversation to help spread the word about the cause and your fundraising efforts.
  • Advertise yourself by wearing your OAR tech shirt and race singlet on training runs and on the go.
  • Remind your donors about their employer’s matching gift program. Not sure how corporate matching programs work? Contact your human resources department for help, or e-mail the  for more information.