CHICAGO: The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has launched its first digital fundraising effort, which will raise money for 22 charities.
Starting September 1, visitors to www.chicagomarathon.com/footprint can customize the sole of a digital running shoe with a personal message. The charitable organization also appearing on that sole will receive a $1 donation from Bank of America for every message, up to a maximum of $50,000. The organization receiving the most submissions will receive an additional $10,000. The program lasts through October 9; the marathon is on October 11. Participating charities include Susan G. Komen for the Cure and The Chicago Diabetes Project.
Overall, runners participating in the event traditionally raise $10 million for more than 120 charities in the US and around the world.
“Obviously as the economy has become more severe, that has put a lot more pressure on our charitable partners to raise funds and meet demands for their services,” said Joseph Goode, SVP of global media relations at Bank of America. “Our ability to leverage the marathon to enhance giving and support of the charities we partner with comes at a critical time.”
To promote the initiative, Bank of America and the Chicago Marathon Twitter and Facebook pages will feature information about the program. Participating charities will also engage their members for the program. Bank of America and its PR AOR for sports marketing, Ketchum, will conduct traditional media outreach, including outreach to international running publications. There is also an advertising campaign.
This is the second year that Bank of America has been the title sponsor of the Chicago Marathon. The bank assumed that sponsorship role following the acquisition of the previous sponsor, LaSalle Bank. It introduced a new name and logo for the 2008 event.
Citing “the local economic development” that the event generates and the money raised for local and international charities, Goode said the event is “very much in line with the role that banks should be playing in their community.”
Last year, competitor Citigroup faced controversy regarding a separate sponsorship, the New York Mets ball field, after the bank received billions of dollars in government money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
Although Bank of America, too, has received $45 billion in relief money, Goode said that taxpayer money has not been used in its Chicago marathon sponsorship activities.
“This event is largely funded through the sales of sponsorships and through participant registration,” he said. “There isn't any TARP money or taxpayer money that's invested in this.”