Infographic: Putting Endurance Superstars on your team.

Fundraiser Profiles October 15, 2015 By Kevin Wolfe

This article and infographic complete our series on Fundraising Superstars. (We've also covered some fascinating stats on DIY Superstars and Event Superstars.)  

For many organizations, endurance events have become a key part of their fundraising. As an example, recently DonorDrive clients raised over $1.25 million in the 2015 Chicago Marathon. Some of our clients have built complete third-party programs and run their own supporter teams in big marathons and big cycling events. Others have taken a more modest approach, encouraging their supporters to use a DIY campaign to fundraise around the endurance events they compete in. Whichever, this is a revenue stream we've watched grow substantially.

The high cost of endurance fundraising.

Endurance fundraising can be expensive for the organization. Hosting your own endurance event is usually way more costly than a walk. Flying a team to (and putting them up for) a major commercial event can drive the cost for each participant to well over $1,000. But even with fundraising minimums, many participants may just be breaking even for the organization when expense and donations are tallied. But all the Endurance Superstars in our sample group (mostly marathoners) raised over $10,000. Each of these can be the net equivalent of five to 10 of your average endurance fundraisers. It's easy to see how valuable Endurance Superstars can be to your program.

They spend more time training, less time fundraising.

The big difference between Endurance Superstars and Event Superstars or non-athletic DIY Superstars is that fundraising hits at the busiest time for them: while they're training. Time is at a premium, but these are your fundraising athletes and they still manage to keep up the pace. Our Endurance Superstars raised $14,885 on average.

They pace their fundraising.

We noticed a curious correlation between their fundraising and running a marathon or riding a century. Endurance Superstars pace themselves and raise 21% in their first week while our DIY Superstars sprint and raise 51% in their first week. It's not that Endurance Superstars are any less avid about it, they just have an inborn sense of pacing their performance to win.

They raise 59% slower than our DIY Superstars, but they raise 28% more

We typically see DIY Superstars raise most of their donations in a quick burst of enthusiasm and then let the donations trickle in over a long campaign. On the other hand, Endurance Superstars see a more steady stream of donations. The average fundraising campaign for an Endurance Superstar lasted 81 days while the average campaigns for a DIY Superstar was longer at 119 days. But again, it's a matter of discipline. Endurance Superstars see a need to get it done and move on. So once the marathon is run, they may already be focused on fundraising for the next one.

A little too busy to handle the details?

While more likely to tend to the details of their fundraising page than the average event participant, Endurance Superstars lagged compared to DIY Superstars and Event Superstars: 

42% told their story on their fundraising page
13% added a photo
52% added an avatar

While these are all proven to have a positive effect on fundraising, our Event Superstars still managed to raise over $10,000 each in shorter campaigns.

Still team players.

We were surprised that there were so many marathoners on fundraising teams since running is not considered a team-oriented sport.

39% are on a team
50% are captains

What's really fascinating is that those who were on teams were about 14% more likely to be captain than our Event Superstars were. And as with Event Superstars, Endurance Superstars are dedicated to pulling their weight, raising 36% of their team's total.

They're back for more.

One advantage of having an endurance program is that runners and riders are 12% more likely to return next year than even Event Superstars are.

39% are returning participants

This is because they're likely to run in the same race year after year, while Event participants may skip a year. And even if Endurance Superstars skip a race, there's a good chance they'll run in another city during the same year and fundraise on behalf of your organization.

Despite being busy training, they have time for social media.

Endurance Superstars are just as likely to fundraise through social media as Event Superstars. 

 64% fundraised with social media

It appears that Endurance Superstars don't spend much time on social media as most people. While they're active as posters, they don't tend to be as active as commenters, since training eats up hours of their day before a race. They tell their network they need their help and then quickly get on with their training. 

Why Superstars are are so important to fundraising today.

Our research across Superstars in DIY campaigns, 'thon events and endurance events shows that these participants have been replacing dwindling board dollars for some organizations and helping to replace lagging signature event donations for others. But there's another factor that ultimately could be more important: Their advocacy is introducing new donors to your organization. 

An Endurance Superstar brings in 10X more donors

Dollars aside, a Superstar's ten-fold strength at introduction presents you with so many more new supporters to build a relationship with than the average event participant.

Check out the infographic.

Want to get a better picture of the Endurance Superstar? We have these numbers laid out in a cool infographic.

We hope you've enjoyed this series. Our Superstar data will be incorporated into a white paper on motivating participants soon.