A Fundraising Road Less Traveled: Old Bill’s Fun Run
By Wapiti Wire Staff
For Jackson Hole Chapter volunteers, the annual Old Bill’s Fun Run in Jackson, Wyoming, isn’t just an entertaining way to spend a September Saturday. It’s also an effective way to fundraise for elk country. Since its inception in 1997, the event has raised more than $133 million dollars for local nonprofits, and similar events have popped up around the country. In 2016, 3,774 donors gave more than $12,150,600 as part of the event.
The race was established 20 years ago when an anonymous couple—known only as Mr. and Mrs. Old Bill—decided to create a collaborative event that would support local nonprofits while providing both competition and entertainment, according to the race’s website. Local non-profits that operate in Teton County, Wyoming, campaign for community donations via the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole during the six-week donation period from August 1 to the Friday after race day. That money is partially matched by funds the Community Foundation raises from individuals, businesses and organizations, known as Co-Challengers and Friends of the Match. Mr. and Mrs. Old Bill provide the first $500,000 in matching funds.
Race day includes a 2K or 5K fun run and a 5K or 10K competitive race. There’s also a free breakfast, and participating non-profits host informational booths. The race itself isn’t tied to fundraising, but it serves as a visible celebration and lets the Jackson community learn about local nonprofits.
The RMEF Jackson Hole Chapter participates each year, and the proceeds they raise benefit conservation work in Teton County. Last year the more than $17,000 the chapter raised from the race helped purchase the Coco Belle Van Meerendonk Public Access Site in western Teton County. The 44-acre site is now public land owned and managed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and directly improves access to 6,400 acres of adjacent Bureau of Land Management and National Forest land along the Teton Range.
Each year representatives from the chapter attend a kick off meeting for Old Bill’s Fun Run. Then Wyoming Senior Reginal Director Jill Tonn and a couple of volunteers work through the online application process, which includes showcasing how the previous year’s donations were spent. Every non-profit in Teton County, Wyoming, goes through this process if they wish to participate. The Jackson Hole Chapter qualifies to participate in the fundraiser because they are a Teton County-based chapter of a national organization with their own advisory board—the chapter committee—comprised of local residents.
Once the applications are approved, the donation window opens up. People can go to the website and choose the non-profits they want to support. About a week after the run, the donations are totaled and the match pool is divvied up according to the amount of money the non-profits raised themselves. The dollars have to be spent in Teton County. The non-profits must also have a representative at the awards party in order to receive the match dollars. The funding earned by the Jackson Hole Chapter is then given to the RMEF state Project Advisory Committee who decides how the money should be allocated to lands and conservation projects within Teton County.
In 2016, donations to the RMEF Jackson Hole Chapter for Old Bill’s Fun Run were made in memory of Alex Razzolini. The son of Ron and Debbie Razzolini of the RMEF Albuquerque Chapter, Alex lost his life in a tragic rafting accident near Jackson. Rob and Debbie asked that donations made in their son’s honor support the conservation work of the Jackson Hole Chapter.
The 2017 giving period opens up August 1 and runs until September 15. Old Bill’s Fun Run takes place on September 9, 2017 in Jackson, Wyoming.