How to Succeed in Fundraisers with Pennant CrossFit


This year, Pennant CrossFit is hosting the third year of its event, “24 Heroes in 24 Hours.” Jeff Norton, the head of marketing and client development at the gym, and Rob Seymour, a coach of the Box, shared how it has evolved and what the 2018 event looks like.

BP: How has it evolved over the years?

RS: This event has evolved significantly since the first year. The event in 2016 was organized very quickly and our ability to raise funding was limited to a couple of streams: T-shirt sales, donations and raffle ticket sales. The event raised approximately $5,000. For this year, we have added an “in-house” challenge to Pennant members to raise money on their own with prizes for the top two fundraisers. In addition, we are providing an opportunity for companies/individuals to sponsor individual WODs – $250 to $500 depending on the WOD. Finally, we are very proud to be partnering with Concept 2 who will be giving away a rower, bike or SkiErg to the Box that raises the most money for the charity. We have been reaching out to Boxes and the response has been very positive. Finally, event participation has grown each year and we are anticipating a very large turnout this year with over 180 people apart of our Facebook event page.

BP: How have you kept the fundraiser new and fresh each year?

RS: In addition to changing up the WODs each year, we try to add some new concepts/opportunities to keep folks engaged, especially during the overnight/early morning hours. During one WOD last year, an athlete brought in several boxes of “gourmet” doughnuts from Kane’s Donuts as a reward for attending an early morning WOD. In fact, I made a cheeseburger but used the doughnut as the bun – it was life changing. We have raffle prizes/giveaways after some WODs, but only those who participated in the respective WOD are eligible. We also did a “Moment of Silence” WOD for the 6:00 a.m. which meant no music, no talking, no cheering. Athletes were encouraged to focus on the hero, their service, their family. It was really quite amazing to witness/coach.

In addition, we had a couple of “floater” WODs to raise money courtesy of sponsors. One challenge was max calories on an Airdyne in one minute – men and women separately. The donors gave a dollar per calorie based on the scores for each winner. This year they are doing that same challenge but upping the dollar amount to $3 per calorie.

Also, we have had a different keynote speaker each year. This year’s speaker will be David Whipple, father of Spc. Blake Whipple who was killed in Afghanistan. David will be joined by his wife, Kim, and son, Sean. The first Hero WOD we will be doing is “Whip” in memory of Spc. Whipple. It will be very humbling to hear from a Gold Star Father and to be able to do the WOD to honor his son.

BP: How do you get the community/members involved?

JN: We have been very clear where the funding is going – Veterans Inc. – as well as their mission and the breadth of services they provide. With active duty and reserve service members among our ranks, supporting veterans hits close to home. I know I am biased but the Pennant community is incredible. They are extremely generous, caring and civic minded.

It is also important we support a local charity so the Pennant community has a more personal connection based on proximity. We have used Facebook to post videos about the event, raffle prizes, sponsorship publicity and WOD announcements. In addition, to promote involvement by other Boxes, we have undertaken a comprehensive outreach plan.

The marketing being done is a combination of social media and word-of-mouth with the main objectives of 1) raising as much money in donations as possible and 2) to drive traffic to our Facebook event page which we ask people to mark as going or interested to keep participants up-to-date with what is happening with the event. We share our website link which lists more information and is how we collect donations, as well as give people the opportunity to pre-order T-shirts. All proceeds of these also go to Veterans Inc.

BP: Why are fundraisers like this important for Boxes to be involved in?

RS: We feel strongly that it is important to have a charitable mission and to give back to the community we want to serve. More broadly speaking, it puts a very positive light on CrossFit. People believe that all CrossFitters want to do is slam bars and try to get really fit, when in actuality we care about serving our community through more than just fitness. At our foundation, CrossFit is a community who wants to help the larger community.

BP: What tips/advice do you have for others hosting fundraisers like this?

JN: Start small and focused. We had a bunch of ideas our first year but focused only on what we knew we could accomplish. We wanted to be sure we did not spread ourselves thin by trying to take on too much. Each year, we have taken on a bit more based on the prior year’s success. This year we expanded our organizational committee and outlined clear roles and responsibilities since our activities have expanded. Coordination of effort has been really critical to our success.

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at