Maximizing digital tools to fundraise from home: How the Ottawa Hospital Foundation raised the largest total dollars during Ottawa Race Weekend 2020

Like most things in 2020, Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend looked a little different this year, with runners joining remotely from all over the city (and beyond). For the Ottawa Hospital Foundation, this was their 22nd year participating as part of their Run For A Reason initiative. They made the most of this year’s virtual format, raising the largest total dollars in this year’s run—$141,543.37—and winning first place in that category in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge

For the first time, participants had the opportunity to complete their run or walk anywhere at any time. The foundation had fun with this, with runners participating in whichever ways they could whether it was in their neighbourhoods or at their cottages, on treadmills or trails.   As the foundation’s Senior Marketing Officer Shelley McLean says, “while we couldn’t be together to celebrate with them in 2020, it was exciting to see the creative ways our Run for a Reason participants got involved and where they did it!” 


While they were running apart, virtual tools kept them connected. The foundation encouraged their runners to make the most of social tools to engage the community by providing all participants with a digital fundraising toolkit including pre-populated emails, graphics, and social media content to make online fundraising easier. 

This toolkit was just one of the ways the foundation leveraged digital tools to help fundraising efforts: “The Ottawa Hospital Foundation updated our regular fundraising ideas to adhere to physical distancing but we still tried to create unique ways for raising funds. We suggested Zoom, Teams or FaceTime get-togethers to promote fundraising efforts and share their stories. This still allowed participants to make that personal connection even if they couldn’t host fundraising events in person.” Shelley said. 

“We are truly inspired by the many different reasons why people choose Run for a Reason to support The Ottawa Hospital. Sometimes it’s former patients wanting to say thank you, other times it’s family members running in memory of a loved one. There are also those in our community who just want to ensure we have the most advanced equipment and tools to care for the most challenging healthcare cases in the city.”

Robert Hardy

With Ottawa Race Weekend offering a virtual format moving forward, Shelley offers one more tip for fundraising online: “Never forget the power of social media. Share your personal story about why you’re involved in supporting The Ottawa Hospital and you never know who may reach out and support your run. Always remember to share your fundraising link – that’s how people can check out what you’re doing and how close you are to your goal.”

New this year: the Bytown Team Challenge in support of the Ottawa Hospital! Create a team with your colleagues and/or friends and Run for a Reason in May 2021!