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Future Of Philanthropy

This Charity Race To End All Charity Races Is Going To Lap The Earth Three Times (Metaphorically)

It's a mere 74,706 total miles. But don't worry—you can get help.

This Charity Race To End All Charity Races Is Going To Lap The Earth Three Times (Metaphorically)

[Photo: blyjak/iStock]

Blackbaud, the software company for nonprofits, has opened registration for a new kind of charity race that’s more like a never-ending relay. Rather than promote a single-day run benefiting one organization, they’ve created a month-long event. Once registered, participants can choose to jog daily, tracking their overall mileage via activity trackers, while each effort goes toward a larger, collective goal: Running enough to cover three laps around the world. That’s 74,706 total miles.

The event is called "If Girls Ran The World." While it’s open to both women and men, Blackbaud is hoping that in addition to exercising, runners will raise a combined $1 million in support pledges to empower women of all ages around the world. Like most races, much of that money may still come from participants hitting up their friends, officemates, or extended social network for donations. In this case, though, the runner isn't locked into funneling their cash to a predetermined charity; she (or he) can select from one of nine partners including Girls Inc., Global Fund for Women, Women’s Refugee Commission, and Girls in Tech. Or suggest a different group, although it must be a registered 501c3 and ideally focused on female empowerment.

To track both race logs and the money trail, the campaign itself is running on Blackbaud’s everydayhero, a cloud-based platform that allows people to create their own pledge pages, and syncs with exercise apps like MapMyRun and Strava. People can also track their own miles and manually upload them after each run. On the back end, Blackbaud pre-approves charities and routes donor money there directly to avoid any transactional hassles or complications. Groups of all size and ambition can use the service, but because the money only routes to vetted organizations, it won’t work for, say, bankrolling people in trouble like GoFundMe.

Everydayhero started in Australia and debuted in the U.S. in 2014. So far, it’s helped Blackbaud raise more than $350 million for global causes. In recent years, the tech’s main selling point has been less about visualizing massive-multi-day events than giving people options about where the money they are raising might go. After all, people who identify more closely with a cause are probably more likely to become strong advocates for it.

During the 2016 LA Marathon, roughly 1,000 people used everydayhero to raise about $900,000 for 59 separate charities. Since April 2015 Spartan has used the service as an add-on, letting people who want to pick a charity and goal for their competition. So far, more than $305,000 for 370 charities has been raised. The Ragnar Relay Series just launched a similar initiative called the Extra Mile Program.

In this case, If Girls Ran The World’s mission aligns closely with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to end poverty, inequality, and violence against women and girls. It remains to be seen how much money will be raised, but the distance goal seems pretty achievable: If 6,000 people really do sign up, each person could run just a half-mile a day to easily crack the cumulative distance. At the same time, seeing how that happens should be empowering. Unlike in traditional races, everyone here will help get the win. Every mile completed, no matter what the pace, will be counted.

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