Better Business Bureau: Things to keep in mind before joining a 'thon'

May 2, 2013 

Nonprofit organizations survive on grants, contributions and volunteer labor. Sometimes the two combine and take center stage and none shows it better than the "thon."

"The JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes is a fun, happy, healthy, and effective way to show your support for all those living with type 1 diabetes and to raise funds for JDRF," says Stacey Bowen, special events manager.

"The walk is a huge effort in raising money to fight juvenile diabetes," she says. Boise residents are set to participate this Saturday (May 4) in Ann Morrison Park. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, organized in 1970, has contributed billions to cure diabetes.

Education is critical to any cause, she says. An example of this was a visit to Fisher's Document Systems, in Boise.

Haley Grigsby, marketing manager with Fisher's Document Systems, says Bowen opened the employee's eyes as to what they can do for the community and the research.

"It's a special program for us because one of our employees has a family member who suffers from it." She says one reason Fisher's employees rallied, was because of the pitch. "[The employee] was able to educate us, since a lot of us didn't know how hard it is on the children and the parents."

Before you join a "thon" ask these questions.

What charity or charities does the event sponsor? Some events are sponsored by a single charity. Others may involve several different organizations partnering for a shared cause.

What activities or programs do the benefiting charities provide? Don't assume you can tell what the charity does from the name alone. Check out the nature of the charity's program service activities. How is it specifically addressing the problem or need the event is promoting?

How much money is required to participate? This will vary depending on the charity and the event. Some may have no financial requirements. Others may ask participants to sign up donor pledges totaling $2,000 or more in order to participate.

Once I've signed up, can I change my mind? Most events will allow the participants in the race or athletic event to drop out at any time.

What if I don't raise enough money? While each charity will have its own policy on this issue, some will accept any amount you were able to raise. Others may require you to make up any shortfalls for the goal you pledged if you plan to participate in the event.

If the event is physically demanding, will I be able to handle it? Some events are strenuous enough to require training; others, though demanding, do not. If you have any doubts about your ability to stay the course in good health, whatever the exertion required, you may want to check with your doctor before you commit to participating.

How much of the money I collect will go to the benefiting organization? This depends on how the event is organized. Is the charity one among a number of benefiting groups for the event? Did they organize it themselves or hire an outside fundraising firm? Whatever the circumstances, the charity should be able to clearly explain its answers to this question to all participants and donors.

Robb Hicken: 947-2115

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