Girls on the Run Bay Area II

Spring-Summer 2020
Project Type
Fast track
Project Focus
Market Analysis
Organization Type
Children, Youth & Families


Founded in 2002, Girls on the Run Bay Area (GOTRBA) is an independent affiliate of Girls on the Run International. Its mission is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. GOTRBA serves over 2,000 third to eighth grade girls every year in five Bay Area counties in about 150 schools and sites. GOTRBA offers its 10-week program each fall and spring (culminating with the Girls on the Run 5K in Golden Gate Park in December and Quarry Lakes in May), serving over 21,000 girls since 2002.


GOTRBA has been trying to shift its revenue mix to be more toward earned income, e.g. through Tier A schools that could afford to pay the full program fees. While revenue from Tier A schools has increased year over year, it hasn’t met budgeted expectations. As a result, the organization needs to rely on contributed income, for which it doesn’t have a fundraising strategy. Moreover, and prior to COVID-19 lockdowns, GOTRBA has experienced dramatic changes in foundation grants, having lost a number of grant funders including The Lesher Foundation (terminal grant) and the Metta Fund (shift in strategic focus to senior citizens). In total, GOTRBA will potentially lose over $100,000 in grant money, and has a very small number of candidates in its new donor pipeline.

GOTRBA hoped to shift to corporate sponsors, but it is proving very difficult to secure corporate funds. GOTRBA has met with women’s groups in tech companies, and while there has been tremendous interest, interest has not translated into significant funding. The organization’s current list of about 20 corporations is solely based on its board’s “brainstorming” suggestions as opposed to companies that have undergone preliminary vetting and are determined to be synergistic with the GOTRBA mission. In addition, individual donations have remained stagnant.

Project Objectives

The ACT team’s goal was to determine how to create a capital raising practice to establish a financial foundation in contributed income, so as to enable consistent delivery of its community services.  Importantly, the ACT team sought to create a fund raising program that is achievable for GOTR Bay Area (GOTRBA) within its available resources.   Additionally, ACT set-out to develop a fund raising program that could be immediately implemented through more active utilization of GOTRBA’s national and regional sister councils, current paid and volunteer staff, external donor search data bases, and its primary and auxiliary Board of Directors.

Project Overview

Project Overview: ACT researched and was able obtain perspective on GOTRBA’s standing relative to approximately nineteen comparable GOTR councils in regard to total annual contributions, and the categories of key interest to GOTRBA (corporate sponsors, foundations/grants, and individual donations). ACT analyzed the information and created a target list of organizations for the purpose of conducting donor surveys/interviews. Additionally, ACT prepared a list of key information topics that would be covered in each interview, and each topic was designed to be appropriate depending on the donor type (i.e. corporate, foundation, sister council, comparable non-profit, individuals). The target list of survey candidates, and ACT’s suggested interview topics, were vetted with GOTRBA staff for refinement and capture of information that GOTRBA believed to be of the greatest interest. ACT conducted the interviews plus database analyses, and applied its members’ career experiences to create a short list of suggested fund raising models and measurement tools that were presented by ACT in its final recommendations.

Key Recommendations

GOTRBA’s mission of inspiring girls to enjoy and experience healthy emotional and physical development has historically resonated with donors. ACT developed recommendations utilizing GOTRBA’s appealing mission and applying them in a focused manner to available donor sources:

-Establish funding GOTRBA’s mission as top priority for Executive Director, Board of Directors, and the rest of organization.

  • Network extensively by
  1. Leveraging existing community/relationships/resources (BOD, coaches, other councils, GOTR HQ, participants’ parents, prior & existing donors)
  2. Seeking and participating in new opportunities (events, speaking engagements, conferences, groups)
  • Focus fundraising: seek larger fund sources and request larger donations rather than numerous, small fund sources

-Develop rigorous process for identifying, reaching out to, and managing corporate sponsors with measureable actions at each phase.

  • Introductions by board members, GOTRBA coaches and volunteers, networking groups, and participants’ parents are critical
  • Research corporations, with focus on mid-sized or local offices of large corporations, in GOTRBA’s communities that have the same philanthropy mission and/or similar people served as GOTRBA
  • Maintain relationships with funding decision-maker at least quarterly by phone calls, notes, or emails that emphasize GOTRBA’s achievements and activities

-For foundations/grantors, also utilize a rigorous process for identifying, reaching out to, and managing grantors with measureable actions at each phase (similar to process for corporate sponsorships).

  • High-level process steps
  1. Each calendar quarter, identify and research 10-15 grantors/foundations as targets and look for potential connectors
  2. Have connectors introduce you so that application goes to the top of the pile
  3. Apply per deadlines and ensure communicated mission of serving girls aligns with grant’s requirements (nuance of the mission description will vary by grant)
  4. Use Board of Directors/others to help with grant application

-For individual donors, focus on one event and/or one campaign that will have broader reach with single work stream and have both greater fundraising and PR/marketing impact by sharing actual participants’ stories.

  • Rather than organize a gala with complex logistics, organize shorter events with same number of invitees and have GOTRBA girls present an inspirational appeal based on their experiences.