How Do Marathons Raise Money? Top 4 Ways

How do marathons raise money?

Organizing and hosting a marathon costs a lot of money. To find out how do marathons raise money, read on.

Marathons are typically associated with fundraising and people rising above their mental and physical limitations. But, how do marathons raise enough money to cover all costs? Well, apart from fundraising and registration fees — which can be quite hefty depending on the marathon — marathon organizers make money through corporate sponsorships and the sale of merchandise.

What Are Typical Marathon Costs?

Organizing a marathon comes with a lot of logistics and administrative costs. First, the organizers need to get the necessary permits from the relevant city so that they are allowed to use the public spaces and also possible private spaces, such as parking lots. Once the organizers have obtained the permits, they need to advertise the event, which may include online advertising and also print and radio.

On the race day, the organizers need to supply hydration stations, sound systems, portable toilets, medical facilities, and security staff, amongst other things. In addition, race timing systems must be provided, which are typically attached to each runner’s bib.

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How To Raise Money For A Marathon?

Marathons can be lucrative events. Apart from raising money for charities, marathons also benefit businesses in the area.

These events attract a lot of feet. Runners, their friends and families, and other spectators dine in restaurants, go shopping, and often stay over for a night or two.

It’s estimated that the Boston Marathon has an economic impact of around $200 million when the gains of local hotels, retailers, restaurants, and other businesses are considered. But how do marathons generate money?

1. Registration Fees

How do marathons raise money? Registration Fees
To enter prestigious and popular marathons, however, participants can expect to pay more

Registration fees are a major source of income. The amount that participants pay varies depending on the marathon. In general, participants pay around $100 to register for a marathon. 

To enter prestigious and popular marathons, however, participants can expect to pay more. The 2022 Boston Marathon registration fee, for instance, was $205 for U.S residents and $255 for international competitors. The New York City Marathon is even more expensive, with registration fees in 2022 ranging from $255 to $295.

Some marathon runners may feel disgruntled with such high registration fees. When one considers that there's no shortage of participants in all major marathons, however, it’s obvious that most runners are willing to pay the high registration fees.

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2. Corporate Sponsorships

Another major source of income for marathons is corporate sponsorships. Companies are often willing to donate large amounts of money to have their name and logo advertised during a marathon event. Apart from the exposure, which also involves the press, companies like to sponsor marathon events since they may be eligible for a tax deduction.

The London Marathon, for instance, often has a title sponsorship, meaning that the sponsoring company earns the right to name the marathon during a specified period. The race was sponsored by Virgin Money for many years, during which time it was called the Virgin Money London Marathon.

Sponsorships are beneficial for both parties. Besides the money that sponsorship provides, being associated with a successful and popular brand can significantly increase the value of a marathon event.

3. Fundraising

As mentioned before, an important aspect of many marathons is raising funds for selected charities. These funds are typically raised by the runners.

Runners who don’t have a Boston Marathon qualifying time can receive an invitation by participating on behalf of a member of the marathon's official charity program. In such an instance, the runner is required to raise a minimum of $5,000. Qualifying runners are also welcome to raise funds for a member of the charity program.

There are various ways in which runners can raise the necessary funds. The simplest way is to ask people for donations by creating an online fundraising page or leveraging social media networks. Runners can also ask friends and family for pledges, which sometimes involves asking them to donate a certain amount of dollars per mile.

Another way to raise money is to sell fundraising products, such as candy bars or cookie dough.

4. Selling Merchandise

A marathon’s revenue is also typically boosted through the sale of merchandise. Apart from increasing revenue, selling merchandise is a great way to advertise an event. Buyers who wear the marathon's logo on a hat or a t-shirt, for instance, will be walking billboards of the event.

Merchandise can also indirectly be sold to runners. For instance, marathon organizers can prepare and offer runners participant packages, which may consist of items like a t-shirt, a key ring, and a certificate. Or, they can offer a more high-end package, which can include products from sponsors and overnight accommodation.

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