Fundraising Advice for Everyone Running on a Charity Team


A bit of a random post today, but since it’s that time of year again when you can start applying to run the Boston Marathon with a charity team (more info on the BAA’s website HERE if you want to pursue that), I thought it’d be fitting. The post really applies to anyone fundraising for anything though.

You might recall I had a fairly–ok, extremely–tough time with the fundraising part of running the marathon this year. I was required to raise $7,500 for MABVI in order to get a bib and while I did reach the goal, I had 7,500 emotional meltdowns along the way. I was in a constant state of stress and didn’t feel like myself for months (that sounds dramatic but seriously everything was off–I was like a Bizzaro World Nicole). It was worth it in the end and I had an amazing race day but to be perfectly honest I wouldn’t do it again (the fundraising anyway–I’d run another marathon). 

I don’t mean to scare you off though because it doesn’t have to be that way! I went about it all wrong, learned a lot, and while I won’t be doing it again, I also wouldn’t discourage others from giving it a go. If you’re like me and really uncomfortable with fundraising but feeling like this is your year to run Boston (or any marathon on a charity team) I’ve got some advice for you …

Fundraising Advice from a Person Who Sucked at It

Find a personal connection to the charity with which you’re running. Immediately.

It may be obvious. Your mother passed away from breast cancer and you’re running for Dana-Farber. But it doesn’t have to be–something it took me months to fully understand when I ran last year. When I heard Team With A Vision members talking about the struggles that come with visual impairment–joblessness, depression, isolation, loss of independence–that’s when the personal connection clicked for me. I didn’t have any visually impaired family members or close friends, but did connect to those ancillary issues that can come as a result.  Remember, all charity causes are your cause because of our bigger, shared human experience.

Asking for money can be uncomfortable, but when that personal connection is there for you, it becomes a lot easier to do. You don’t just know the money goes to a worthy cause–you feel it and understand it.

Still feel uncomfortable asking for money? Make this your daily mantra: This is not a pyramid scheme. I am not selling age-defying skin serums or supplements on Facebook.

A major issue I faced was mentally grouping myself in with all the people relentlessly promoting Beachbody, Isagenix, You Name It on Facebook. I was reluctant to post about my fundraiser because I felt like a salesperson and that everyone would be annoyed by me. Asking people to donate to charity is completely different from asking people to buy something that then fattens your personal paycheck. Don’t even entertain the notion that there are similarities.

Find out if your company has a donation match policy.

Some companies (especially larger corporations) will match charitable donations you make (or at least a percentage of them). That’s huge! Just be clear on the policies. Usually it’s a match of donations you personally make, not the funds you raise. If this is the case, you can have friends and family donate directly to YOU rather than your charity so that YOU write one, big check for the combined sum, which your company may then match. Or maybe that’s shady? Your call (haha). Reach out to HR and ask about this.

Start early. Start with events.

Organizing events–charity fitness classes, happy hours, etc.–is an awesome way to fundraise because the donor is getting something in return (in addition to the obvious fulfillment they’ll feel from supporting a worthy cause). They’d be spending $30 on a boutique fitness class anyway, so why not have that money go to charity? I recommend doing these early on in your fundraising because they can take a lot of time and energy to organize. If you’re putting together an event at the same time you’re dedicating three hours each Saturday morning to your final long training runs, it can get overwhelming.

Some tips for fitness events:

  • If you’re going the fitness class route, reach out to spin studios or other high-capacity fitness centers. Depending on class size, you can raise upwards of $2,000 from just one charity fitness event! Definitely don’t discount smaller studios, but if you’re working full-time, training and fundraising, I get that it can be desirable to hit your goal in as few events as possible.
  • Think about incorporating refreshments and raffle prizes so that you can increase the suggested donation per attendee. You’d be amazed at the value-add free booze brings (haha). Most liquor stores would be happy to donate to the event. Offer a cocktail mixed with fresh juice after the workout to turn it from a normal class to a special event. Also think about reaching out to local vendors for product/service donations to be raffled. Even if a company isn’t willing to donate money, they may be able to contribute a hard product (dinner for two at a restaurant, retail gift card, etc.). At the end of the workout, as everyone sips on a cocktail, draw names for the raffle prizes you’ve collected. Everyone loves winning free stuff! If a spin class is normally $28 at the studio (going on Boston prices here), you can charge upwards of $50 for the event if you include refreshments and raffle prizes along with it.

If you’re a local reader running for charity this year–holler at me! I’d love to teach a group fitness class to help you hit your fundraising goal. ← seriously, don’t be shy. I want to help. (I just don’t want to do the fundraising myself. Ever. Again. LOL).

Send an email to family members and friends a day or two before the big day.

Often it’s not that your loved ones don’t want to donate; it’s just that they forget or put it off. I know I’m guilty of it! I see a friend post about a fundraiser on their Facebook page and I think “That’s awesome! I’m going to donate to that tomorrow when my paycheck comes through.” Then I forget. If you’re worried about pestering people who haven’t yet donated, wait until a couple days before the race to reach out again. The immediacy of the event will get people excited and they’ll typically donate on the spot. The email I sent out to friends and family the day before the race brought in over $1,500 in donations!

Tips for composing the email:

  • Be heartfelt but brief–get to the point. With the exception of your grandma, no one reads these days–we’re a culture of skimmers. That being said, try to touch upon the following …

Update on how the training has been + why the charity is important to both you and the people whom it supports + how to donate + sincere thank you

  • Make it easy to donate. Include a link to your online fundraising page as well as all the info needed if they’d prefer to donate via check. If you’re a twenty-something reading this you might be thinking Check? What’s a check? But some people understandably don’t feel comfortable entering their credit card info online. Don’t assume everyone will donate via webpage.
  • Add a picture! Embed a picture of you training along with the email, or if you’ve already picked up your bib number, a picture of you holding it with a big smile on your face. Family and friends will love it. Well, your college buddies might tease you, but your extended family will love it. 😉

Don’t think of the money as a price to be paid for running.

If you’re a few months into fundraising, stressing the F out and thinking this is not worth a bib, you’ve got to change your mindset. If you can focus on the good you’re doing for others, you’re going to get way more out of the experience anyway–not just the opportunity to race, but that feel-good fulfillment that comes from being of service to those in need. It might sound cheesy but charitable activities really do benefit the person doing them as much as they benefit the people for which they’re being done.

If you’re a blogger and plan to use your site for fundraising, do it the *legal* way.

How could fundraising for charity possibly be ILLEGAL?? I guess I was naive thinking that when I decided to host some kickass giveaway for my fundraising on the blog. I got some of the brands I work with to donate awesome products and services and figured I’d have people make a small donation in exchange for giveaway entries. Wrong. The intentions may be good, but it’s the way in which you go about it that gets a little hairy. Asking people to pay money (even if it’s a donation to a non-profit) in exchange for an entry into a giveaway is technically a form of gambling.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage your online platform! Ashley shared with me an awesome charity auction she did on her blog that would be a perfect option. Because only the highest bidder/winner makes the donation, it takes the “gambling” aspect out of it. You’re not paying for anything unless you get it.

Know that it WILL be worth it.

I can’t speak for other races, but holy shit is running Boston worth it. If you’re still overwhelmed and regretting your commitment to fundraising, know that this negative feeling will be completely obliterated to a distance memory come race day. I promise. Running the Boston Marathon and crossing that finish line is one of the biggest highs I’ve had. Don’t believe me? Reread my recap.

If you have any advice to add, leave a comment!


A Stay at Watermark Seaport & 10-Minute Guided Stretching Routine for Runners

10-Minute Guided Stretching Routine for Runners (or anyone with tight hips!) -- video included

I recently was invited to spend the night at the Watermark Seaport and shoot some content for the blog while there. I love fun projects like this around Boston!

Today’s post is a long one, but a good one. First I’m going to give you a little visual tour of the beautiful new residential building and then we’ll get to a guided stretching routine that’s perfect for runners (or really anyone with tight hips!).

Watermark Seaport

Watermark Seaport is a collection of luxury rental high-rise apartments and modern lofts in–you guessed it–Boston’s Seaport District. This neighborhood is exploding with development; I swear every time I venture over there’s a new building being constructed or a new retailer setting up shop. In addition to the residential expansion, you have GE moving its headquarters nearby, a laundry list of other corporations, and national retailers, restaurants (By Chloe!!) and fitness studios/gyms all in the works. It’s an exciting time for the Seaport! 

Watermark Seaport Watermark Seaport

Watermark has a prime location as one of the few buildings on its side of Seaport Blvd that has unobstructed views of the water. I got to tour one of the unoccupied Penthouse units … ummmm WOW. Not for those of us ballin’ on a budget, but talk about hashtag apartment goals. There are studio units on the more affordable end of the spectrum (still priced accordingly to the luxury building keep in mind) which are also gorgeous. Think hardwood floors, modern appliances and lots of sunlight. They invited me to stay in one of their one-bedroom guest suites and I may or may not have cried at the sight of an in-unit washer-dryer (Joe’s gym clothes smell like dead bodies so this is my #1 priority in my next apartment haha).

Watermark Seaport Watermark Seaport Watermark Seaport

The amenities available to residents of Watermark are pretty flipping amazing. The second floor common areas offer lots of seating, wi-fi, coffee station, pool table, televisions, dining area for group events and get-togethers, and floor-to-ceiling windows streaming in natural light. During my visit, I spent the afternoon doing work here.

Watermark Seaport Common Areas Watermark Seaport Common Areas Watermark Seaport Common Areas Watermark Seaport Common Areas

With an emphasis on wellness, Watermark Seaport also offers a full gym of equipment, machines and free weights as well as a separate room for yoga, stretching and small group classes. It opens out onto a patio with big glass doors that allow sunlight to stream into the room. On nice days, you can open up the doors for an awesome outdoor experience indoors. The television in this room has Fitness On Demand services so that you can browse through all sorts of workout videos. 

Watermark Seaport Watermark Seaport Watermark Seaportwatermark-yoga-room-1watermark-yoga-room-2

I took advantage of this peaceful, sunny room to shoot a guided stretching video for you. It’s great for anyone but especially if you run frequently (lots of hip work!). For more pictures of Watermark Seaport check out their Instagram.

10-Minute Guided Stretching Routine for Runners

10-Minute Guided Stretching Routine for Runners (or anyone with tight hips!) -- video included

Stretching and mobility work is so important for injury prevention and all-around fitness, but if you’re like me, you often rush through it after a workout. When I was training for the marathon, I knew it was vital that I take the time to foam roll and stretch after a run but–especially on those long days–I was mentally done with working out when I got home and found myself quickly rolling out and “stretching” with a half-assed effort. I just wanted to get on with the day!

Regular yoga classes and videos were helpful because it was like guided stretching. I was forced to hold stretches and dedicate the time to mobility. If you’re a runner in Boston, I highly recommend Cara Gilman’s yoga classes. She’s a runner herself and I found the majority of her classes to be designed with running in mind–so clutch!

This 10-minute video I put together will stretch the general areas that are typically tight and overworked if you run frequently. That being said, everyone’s muscle imbalances are different, so this routine is far from comprehensive. I think of it as a compilation of the stretches I personally make sure to do when I don’t feel like stretching. Ughhh I just want to be done with this workout, but I’ll take 10 minutes to hit the necessities. I’m not a yoga instructor, so while there’s a little bit of flow from one stretch to another, the focus is on the static holds.

Ideally, foam roll before doing these static stretches.

We’ll stay on each stretch for about 30 seconds. If you want to hold them longer and take your time moving through them, check out the pictorial below and go through the stretches on your own.

In the video we do a bit of flowing from one stretch to the other. I’m not a yoga instructor (by any means haha)–it’s more just to create smooth transitions from one stretch to the next. I’m also a big fan of adding in a little active stretching after the 30-second static hold. If it feels good to sway a little bit in forward fold, go for it! If it feels good to lift and lower the back knee in kneeling hip flexor stretch (we’ll do this in the video), do it!

10-Minute Guided Stretching Routine for Runners (or anyone with tight hips!) -- video included

WEARING | tank c/o Puppies Make Me Happy // leggings c/o Cory Vines (<– I love these, they have grips on the bottom of the foot stirrup!)

Big thanks to Watermark Seaport for having me–I had a wonderful mini staycation! You can check their site out HERE and their Instagram HERE.

Runners–what are some of your favorite stretches to do after a run? Leave a comment!


Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Watermark Seaport. While I was compensated for my time, all opinions–as always!–are my own. I appreciate your support of the brands that make this blog possible! 🙂

What I Wore Running the Marathon

2016 Boston Marathon Race Recap

I got some questions about what I wore when I ran the marathon so I figured I throw up a quick post with the details. Heads up–most of the links in this post are affiliate.

TWAV Singlet

Nike High Impact Sports Bra | Nothing fancy, but I love this thing because it pancakes your boobs so tightly to your body, nothing even has the remote chance of jiggling (I can not handle boob bounce when I work out!).

Lululemon Speed Track Short | I bought these the weekend of the marathon and LOVE them. They’re high-waisted with a thick, comfortable waistband and are long enough to stay in place without riding up and giving you a perma-wedgie. I hate having to constantly pull down my shorts when I’m running and I didn’t have to do that once on marathon day. Highly recommend! They have ruched pockets on the sides which are kinda weird for everyday wear (not too flattering), but proved really practical for race day. I kept a couple gel packs in each!

Under Armour Play Up Shorts | Usually I’m all for as few waistbands as possible, but the team singlet wasn’t very long so I knew I’d feel more comfortable with a loose pair of shorts over my Lululemons. This UA pair is super lightweight with a looser waistband so I didn’t even notice they were on.

Nike Free Distance | People actually laugh in my face when I say I run distance in Nike Frees. It’s usually a laugh followed by “Ouch.” Hate on haters. Frees SAVED my achilles tendonitis a few years ago and I haven’t found another running sneaker that’s worked for me as well since. The new(ish) distance version of the Free line is awesome.

Flipbelt | I bought one of these at the Marathon Expo after hearing Heather talk about hers. Since I already had two pairs of shorts on, it was a little overkill to have a third object around my waist, but it ended up being surprisingly comfortable and I was thankful for the extra storage space.

Not pictured:

Quay Sunglasses (old but similar look here) | I felt like a total bro wearing reflective sunglasses, but the lightweight rubber material of the frame is perfect for running (even though that’s definitely not what they’re intended for).

Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Handheld Water BottleThis was another pre-race purchase. I don’t normally like to hold something while I run (for training runs I’d leave a water bottle by a bench along the Charles River and just sip out of it every time I looped by), but with the weather forecast looking so warm, I thought it better safe than sorry. I was happy to have it so that I didn’t have to deal with the chaos of water stations as often.

Thorlo CoolMax Padded SocksI love these socks–especially the added pads to the balls of the feet and heels. Because I run in a lightweight sneakers with less cushion than other more supportive styles, I appreciate any extra padding I can get.

What are your race day go-to’s?

Happy Friday! Enjoy your weekend.