Charity poker runs have been becoming more and more popular, attracting the attention of both large and small non-profits. They are a highly visible, fun, and profitable way to raise money for your chosen cause, but what are these events and how hard are they to organize?
A poker run is an event where motorcyclists and biking enthusiasts can take new routes in an area, seeing parts of a region they might not normally get to see while raising funds for charity. They are often organized in support of a cause familiar to those taking part, such as American Bikers Aimed Toward Education or a similar charity.
Participants are sent on a route through a region and given a playing card, between five and seven stops along the way before returning to starting point, where whoever has managed to put together the best poker hand from the cards they were dealt wins a prize. Though that is the event in its most simple form, there is lots of scale to grow them by hosting a reception party at the end location or hosting smaller events along the route for people to take part in.
One of the basics of a poker run is understanding the poker hand rankings. Participants will need to know if they have a good hand, but that should be easy to learn and, if they struggle, you’ll always have someone at the finish line to help out.
The first thing you’ll need to do when organizing your own poker run is to pick a route for participants to go around. A good rule of thumb is to keep the run between 50 and 75 miles so it can be done at a leisurely pace across an afternoon. Go around the route yourself to scout good places for cards to be dealt to participants and to make sure that it is safe and scenic.
Once you have your route chosen, you’ll need to start recruiting volunteers to man the stations as well as to help with other aspects of the day, such as taking participants details, passing out safety information, and securing entry fees. We have a wealth of information to help you provide a great volunteer experience.
You’ll need prizes to encourage people to take part, which will mean approaching local businesses for donations that they can provide. Be ready to offer them publicity in exchange for their generosity.
Organize your home station, preferably at a bar or restaurant that is friendly and familiar to the local biker community. Work with the owners to set up a party for when everyone has returned. They will be able to help advertise to their regulars who are likely to be your participants as well. Building and nurturing this relationship will make everything else on the day much smoother.
Beyond the entry fees for participants, there are plenty of ways to raise money for your chosen charity. You could run a raffle for an additional set of prizes donated by sponsors (though none of these should be as good as the grand prize for the winner) or ask the venue for a cut of the bar or food takings from the evening party. You could sell t-shirts or other merchandise for those who want something to remember the day or have a photographer selling pictures of the event to those who take part.
The important thing is that your poker run is a fun, safe, and profitable event that allows you to energize the local biker community while raising some much needed funds for a cause you are passionate about.