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Chicago Area Runners Association Talks Membership and Referral Programs

Bryan Ganek, Road Race Services & Volunteer Manager for CARA, knows running. He came to the Chicago Area Runners Association after 4 years at Adrenaline Sport Management. He has been with CARA for 3 years.

The Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to expanding, motivating, supporting and celebrating the running community of Chicagoland. CARA connects runners to resources that enable them to run—farther, faster, better, for life.

CARA uses Virtual Race Bags to send out a monthly membership bag to all of their members. They are also the #1 referrer in our referral program. We sat down with Bryan to learn more.

Q. You send out a monthly membership race bag. What has been your member and sponsor reaction to the monthly VRB?

A. This idea came to fruition because we wanted to do something a little more special for our members (8,000+). Using the ability to immediately interact our members with our sponsors, partners and local races has given them a new membership benefit that has never been possible. Our members have been extremely pleased with the Monthly Virtual Goody Bag and the organization of this program has allowed us to open new windows of sponsorship for our partners.

Q. Tell us how you reach out to others about our referral Program:

A. I reach out to 100+ Race Directors in the first couple weeks of each year and I use our referral link to give them information about our partnership with VRB….Another way CARA gets RD’s interested in VRB is through our Green Race Program. We highlight Virtual Race Bags as an option to qualify to become a CARA Certified Green Race. If they use VRB’s product they receive points towards their certification.

Q. Do you have any tips for other race directors?
A. After using VRB a couple of times for CARA’s events and now for our Monthly Membership Bag, I will never go back to a normal goody bag. I fully believe this product helps bridge the gap between sponsor/partner and user (participant/member). It’s much more valuable to your sponsors than having them put a tangible product/brochure into a bag with other pieces of paper. Your sponsors can get very creative with what they offer and in return might be able to put together something your users will be very happy about receiving. Another great aspect of VRB is how they put all statistics in a report that can be used both by the race/organization and by the sponsor.The stats can be sorted by gender, age, location, etc. and are crucial pieces of information for your sponsors.

Q. Anything else you would like to tell our readers?
A. The price of using VRB is completely worth it when you look at the following factors:
– Labor needed to stuff goody bags
– Cost of bags
– Printing costs for sponsors/partners
– Delivery costs if goody bags are mailed to participants
– Labor needed to mail bags to participants

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