Texas 5K race donates little to its charity




Posted on March 3, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 3 at 1:31 PM

AUSTIN -- Whether you do it in costume, covered in paint, or nearly nothing at all, Austin runners love a good race for a good cause.

"It’s important to be involved in the community and give back and help those organizations in need,” Austin runner Chris Rains explained just before running a 5K in February.

An investigation by WFAA sister station KVUE found not all races donate their proceeds in the same way.

Last year, nearly 3,000 runners registered for Color Me Rad in Austin. It’s a 5k road race where participants get doused with colored powder while they run.

Race fliers posted around the city and online showed the University of Texas’ Neighborhood Longhorns Program as its charity partner. It’s an incentive program to help undeserved children in central Texas stay in school.

According to figures from UT, 2,900 runners paid about $45 registration fees to race in Color Me Rad.

That means the race took in at least $130,000 from registration fees.

In an e-mail, UT wrote that Color Me Rad donated $10,115 to its program. That’s seven percent of the total money raised by registration fees.

Long-time Austin Runner Omar Diaz says that’s not enough.

"They're pulling at the heart strings of us runners trying to do a good thing by marketing these charities, but at the end of the day, they’re not even contributing," he said. "I mean, seven percent? That's terrible."

"We were glad to have the $10,000,” said UT Diversity Director Patrick Patterson. To get cash, Patterson said all his department had to do was provide race volunteers.

“So, it was easy money for us; very beneficial,” Patterson said.

Other races give much more to their charities. The Capital 10K is the largest race in Austin. The nonprofit race donated $72,000 last year to charity.

Earlier this month, Side by Side Kids held its second 5K race. It supports after-school programs for children on the east side.

"One-hundred percent of the proceeds go into the organization," said Sly Guzman, Side by Side Kids’ director.

Color Me Rad race director Alex Grow declined interviews for this story. In an e-mail, he wrote "We are a for-profit private company. As such, we do not disclose the details of costs, gross earnings, etc. We have a great relationship with Neighborhood Longhorn Program, and we look forward to working with them again in the future."

Some race organizers we spoke with say events like Color Me Rad do make an impact.

"I think competition is a factor for anyone," said Christy Casey-Moore, the executive director for Austin’s Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Its largest fundraiser is Race for the Cure in October. Over the past few years, it’s seen a decrease in runners. Casey-Moore said competition from other races also raising money for charity can impact their ability to raise money.

"Be smart about which you chose to support, and ask your questions about where your money is going," Casey-Moore said.