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How To

How to Set Up a Successful Donation-Based Fitness Class

Build fellowship and loyalty for your fitness business with donation-based fitness and yoga classes! Read our simple tips to host a successful fitness fundraiser.

November 21, 2019

As the holidays fast approach, there’s a heightened spirit of gratitude and generosity. We say, embrace it!  This is the perfect time to offer your community a fun, healthy way to give with a donation-based class.

Donation-based fitness and yoga classes are one of the strongest ways to build fellowship and loyalty for your fitness business while providing you with an opportunity to do good and strengthen bonds to your local community. 

We know that this time of year can get hectic, so we’ve rounded up some simple tips and tools to help you set up and host a successful fitness fundraiser. 

Pick a Passion

First, choose a cause that truly touches your heart. You’re more likely to be energized by a charitable mission that moves you, and your passion will shine through when you share about it online and with your students. You know your local area best, and a donation-based class can be your opportunity to support smaller nonprofits in your neighborhood that could really use a helping hand. 

Alternatively, there are a wide variety of established charities whose mission is to provide those in need with opportunities for health and fitness. Shape Magazine recently published a list that includes:

Girls on the Run, an after-school program that teaches confidence and life skills through twice-weekly team building and running games (we love them here at Punchpass);

Feeding America, a food bank that serves meals to those who lacking reliable access to nutrition;

Achilles International, started after founder Dick Traum, an above-the-knee amputee, found support at his local YMCA and became the first amputee to run a marathon;

Back On My Feet, an early morning running program for the homeless, created with the belief that the first step toward securing jobs, homes, and new opportunities is to restore confidence and self-esteem through fitness. 

For you yogis, the Give Back Yoga Foundation is well worth supporting. The organization provides small grants and supplies to yoga programs for military veterans, prison populations, and others in need, and has a history of supporting healing for eating disorders. You can read more about their stories of service here

Most charities will partner with you in promoting, and even running, your event by providing handouts, images and links to inspiring stories for social media, sharing your event with their email and social contacts, and providing representatives to speak about their cause for the day of your event. St Jude’s Children’s Hospital, for example, has worked with runners, group fitness instructors, martial arts and yoga studios to co-create successful fitness donation-based classes and events. You can click a button on the organization’s website to “create a fundraiser,” and an expert will reach out to help you with the whole process. 

Be sure to vet your charity of choice through a watchdog site like Charity Navigator, GuideStar or CharityWatch

Create a Fun, Engaging Class Theme

Next, pick the format for your event. No matter your specialty, just about any class type can be turned into a buzz-worthy fitness fundraiser.

How about: An early morning dance party or bootcamp-style HIIT workout, an afternoon zumba-thon, a kettle ball competition, a candlelit yoga glass, or a weekend fun run?

We love “work-the-turkey-off” classes, scheduled the morning after Thanksgiving. Often students will bring extended family; a great opportunity to share the love of a healthy lifestyle, and generate new, beginner members for your business.

Looking for something even more creative? How about a fitness fashion show featuring local designers, or a food drive capped off with a VIP dinner event at a healthy neighborhood restaurant? 

If you still need inspiration on how to get creative with your fundraiser (or you’re doubting your ability to make an impact), take a few minutes to read the inspiring stories – especially the ones about kids – on CNN’s Impact Your World page. From two sisters who raised money through their lemonade stand to buy 108 turkeys for hungry families, to the 9 year-old girl who’s collected over 7,000 plastic bottles to help pay for cleft-palette surgeries, these stories are procrastination blasters. We dare you to read them without tearing up (we did!). 

Set Up Your Donation Tool & Promote Your Event

With the right studio management software, you can easily set up a one-time class or event and link it to a pricing option to enable donations. In Punchpass, for example, you can set up a prepaid class with your suggested donation amount so folks can book online & donate before the event. You can continue collecting donations as folks arrive on the day of the event too.

You can also boost online donations before and after your event by using Facebook’s free donation collection tool, or a fundraising site like GoFundMe, Fundly, or FlipGive

Be sure to share your donation page link in an email to your instructors (see how to send emails using Punchpass’s built-in email feature), most regular customers, and across your social media channels. People are 3x more likely to give to something their friends have shared, so this is such a powerful way to make an impact before your class starts, according to Nicole Cardoza, the founder and Executive Director of Yoga Foster, a national nonprofit that empowers educators with yoga and mindfulness resources for the classroom.

Amplify buzz for your donation-based fitness class with a hashtag, send it to your community with photos and a brief description they can share to their social networks. Be sure to include a link to your donation page or class sign up page. 

If you’re a pro at live events on Instagram or Facebook, set one up to talk about your event and why you’re passionate about your cause. Live Chat drives 45 percent more giving, according to NonProfit Source

Set Your Event Up for Financial Success

While you can set up a free class and collect cash donations on the day of the event, it’s best not to pass-the-hat or set a bucket out, say experts. 

“Set your class up for financial success by setting a ticket price, or strongly suggested donation, instead of just hoping for the best,” says Cardoza. “A class with a mandatory donation is likely to raise four times the funds than a free, donation-based yoga class.”

On the day of your class, have a representative from your chosen charity, and if possible, a beneficiary of that charity’s efforts, present at your event to tell a personal story of the impact the organization has had on them. 

Put your money where your mouth is and drive larger gifts by issuing a donation challenge. Offer your community the opportunity to match your gift by the end of the event to double their giving!

Have a stack of receipts printed and ready for customers who give. This a great reminder that their contributions are a tax write off. Also, if you take donations through your studio management software, make sure to let your accountant know about your activity for tax purposes. You don’t want to accidentally show the donations taken in as taxable revenue. 

Lastly, have fun and share your joy. We’d love to see what amazing work you’re up to in your communities. Tag us on Facebook and Instagram (@punchpass).