A fund raising event that has raised more than $2.1 million for local charities and schools in the last five years has been suspended.
The board of directors of Reach Out Rocky Mount has announced that its primary fund raising event, Fun Run for Charities, will not be held at least in the coming year.
Board chairwoman Virginia Brewer said it has been becoming increasingly more difficult to solicit matching funds for the charity event.
For local charities, the allure of the event has been the matching dollars they receive in addition to those raised by supporters of the nonprofit organizations who participate in a charity run in May.
Brewer said the Reach Out Rocky Mount’s board just decided to go in a new direction and will continue to look for ways to help local charities and nonprofit organizations.
“We wanted to go out while everything was positive,” she said. “Trying to get donors has been a continual problem for the match. Of course, the nonprofits still can go out and raise the money.”
In July, checks totaling $447,371 raised from this year’s Reach Out Rocky Mount Fun Run for Charities event were handed out at the Booker T. Theater to 65 nonprofit causes, everything from church summer school programs for low-income children to scholarships at Nash Community College.
Meredith Holland, executive director of My Sister’s House, which offers shelter and support for victims of family violence, said she was “devastated” to learn about the suspension of the Fun Run.
She said the organization received about $20,000 from the charity event this past year, which was critical to paying its bills.
“During the summer, we don’t get our state grants at all,” she said. “They don’t come in.
This was money that has helped us get through the summer.”
Holland said she understands Reach Out Rocky Mount’s logic for making the decision to suspend the run.
“I just wished they would have reached out to the community first,” she said. “I understand why they felt they were backed into a corner.
But I have a feeling people would have stepped up to plate if they would have known what was going on.”
In 2008, Reach Out Rocky Mount was formed after several long time local philanthropists visited and participated in the successful Old Bill’s Fun Run for Charities in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Brewer said the Reach Out Rocky Mount’s board has plans to meet to determine the organization’s future fundraising efforts, which could take the form of education and grant writing opportunities for area nonprofit groups.
The endowment fund established by Reach Out Rocky Mount has been administered by the N.C. Community Foundation, which will continue to support local initiatives in the Rocky Mount area, according to Kelly Lee, the foundation’s regional associate.
“This is not the end of Reach Out Rocky Mount. … There will be more (fundraising efforts) in the future,” Lee said. “Fun Run for Charities was a wonderful event.
Brewer said Reach Out Rocky Mount’s volunteer board welcomes ideas about how the organization can continue to serve the local nonprofit community.
She said many people don’t realize how time consuming it has been for volunteers to organize the race and fundraising effort.
“It was a huge undertaking,” she said. “It was hard to be able to keep it going. People are stressed so thin nowadays with their time.”
Lige Daughtridge, board member and past chairman of Reach Out Rocky Mount, said there is a life cycle to any event, especially when it is run entirely by volunteers.
“With the small community we have, there is certainly donor fatigue, especially with the matching fund,” he said. “Reach Out Rocky Mount is still a viable organization.
It doesn’t mean we’ll never bring (Fun Run) back. We’ll weigh options. Don’t forget we raised over $2.1 million in five years.”
Kelvin Yarrell, parks and recreation director for the city of Rocky Mount who also serves on Reach Out Rocky Mount’s board, said he was saddened by the suspension of the run.
“I do understand when you work with a group of volunteers, it’s tough to maintain something like that for five years.”