A History of Giving

Going the Distance Foundation

A Statement of Purpose

The Portland Marathon is an Oregon non-profit corporation that is proud of its long tradition of helping charities raise money through the event or by one of its other charitable programs offered through the event. The Portland Marathon is likewise a charitable organization under the law and is registered as a 501(c)(3) non profit organization with the Internal Revenue Service. In addition, the Portland Marathon has a long tradition of making direct contributions designed to help local charities, non-profits, services clubs, athletic teams and other worthy causes.

For information on becoming an Official and Affiliate Charity and to receive an application, please contact Mamie Wheeler at mamie@portlandmarathon.org.

History of Giving

A Tradition of Giving and Helping Charities

The marathon is proud of its long tradition of helping charities raise money through the events or by one of its other charitable programs offered through the events. In addition, the Portland Marathon has a long tradition of making direct contributions designed to help local charities, non-profits, services clubs, athletic teams and other worthy causes.


After its 10th year the Portland Marathon was reorganized. The event started the tradition of giving all of the proceeds from its Pasta Party to the charity or charities which helped with that event. It also began to look for other ways to help the community and charitable groups.


The Portland Marathon had selected three charities (MS, Easter Seals, and Oregon Special Olympics) and solicited those individuals who signed up to run the marathon to contribute or pledge to one or all of those charities. The Portland Marathon actually helped the charities with the collection of the countless pledges that were made by those who ran or walked and those that, in turn supported them. This was a time consuming and difficult process. There were no examples to look to at that time, and ours was a small event.


The Portland Marathon tried other charitable connections to help with the raising of funds. In particular the Marathon tried an umbrella program where charity events were asked to become part of the marathon weekend.

  • Megan’s Run, a 24 hour individual run around the Lincoln High School track, was designed to raise money for the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) charity. Enthusiastic runners would start the 24 hour run at 8 am on the Saturday morning before the Portland Marathon. These runners would run all day and night with a few of them coming over to the starting line of the marathon for a 26.2 mile capper.
  • Northwest Medical Team fundraiser is another little remembered charity event under the Portland Marathon’s umbrella. A Bed Race was undertaken for the group of doctors, nurses and other volunteers who travel all over the world to provide medical relief in emergencies and disasters. The Bed Race was adopted after a similar successful event in Honolulu known as the Great Bed Race wherein four participants push a bed for one mile in a time trial.
  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Societies Saturday evening walk was a fundraising event under the umbrella of the event.
  • Cascade AIDS Society used the Portland Marathon’s Mayors Walk as its fundraising event.
  • The Oregon Special Olympics for many years hosted a run for that was tied to the Portland Marathon Kids MaraFun Run.


Through the 2000′s the charity program has continued to evolve as charity models have emerged with running teams of their own, fundraising programs and organized constituent programs in the model of Team In Training. The Portland Marathon provides charities an opportunity to use the existing marathon vehicle as part of its fundraising tool in place of the expense of putting on a run or walk itself.


The Portland Marathon selected four charities to participate in a new program. This was not a program where constituents of the actual charity were the heart of the program. Instead, the marathon offered emails, incentives and other forms of encouragement to these charities with out constituent runners. Participants of the marathon, or one of its related events, were offered and opportunity during registration to make a decision as to which one of the official charities they wish to support through a direct donation. In this way, the charities could appeal to the mass of the participants in order to gain donations and new supporters. The charities were provided with a special page to explain their cause to the participants in a special section provided on the Portland Marathon’s webpage. Various amounts were raised and contributed to the charities in each year through this program.


Along with encouraging the involvement of charities with constituent programs, in 2007 five charities were selected to participate in the registration donation program. The general range of the total amount collected by all of these charities was between $125,000 and $150,000. One charity raised nearly $30,000 using this program.


Our present official charity program is comprehensive and encourages charities large and small to participate. The event provides exposure for all charities in association with the event to solicit donations from all event participants in the donation format.

A comprehensive donation and fundraising program is also offered to all official charities and provided to the charity by the event, if needed. The Portland Marathon, has contractual agreements with all official charities to assure a clear understanding of the charity responsibilities and expectations. What is significant is that under these agreements the charities have so many opportunities that they can use to help themselves raise funds. And, with the help of the event their efforts are extremely successful.

Direct Giving Program by the Portland Marathon

Through the Direct Giving Program, many direct donations are given to our volunteer groups from schools, clubs, and other nonprofit groups. Learn more by going to the Direct Giving page.

The Charity Corporate Team Connection

Yet another charity program of the Portland Marathon is designed to get corporations involved with charity giving. Corporations can support a charity and at the same time support a health, wellness and fitness program for their employees. While working with the Portland Marathon, the corporations are offered a variety of ways to encourage their employees as well as support the charity of their choosing. These two elements are natural combinations.

One level of this program is offered directly through the Team Program of The Portland Marathon. A higher level of the program with a larger minimum donation requirement is administered for the event by active network. The two levels provide a model for small and large corporations to benefit by their relationship with the Portland Marathon year round.

In Summary

Why does the Portland Marathon charity program’s work? Why are the events programs evolving with so many patterns?

A marathon and the events around a marathon generally are populated and supported by a high demographic group. The lifestyle and general socio-economic views of those who run and walk all fit to make a perfect climate for charity participation. The event creates an atmosphere where the support of and giving to the charities comes somewhat naturally. Charities continue to evolve and grow their own models for fundraising and increasing numbers are incorporating constituent running programs. It is natural that charities and marathons would evolve together.The Portland Marathon specifically, and its related events, are in a great NW destination location, held at an ideal time of the year weather wise. It is an event where every runner, walker, spectator and volunteer can participate, watch, or just have fun. Participants like it, the volunteers like it, the sponsors like it, the city likes it and of course the all volunteer Marathon Committee likes it as well. In an effort to continue to support our official charities, we have continued to update our programs to meet their needs and encourage the greatest amount of participant involvement as possible.

"Best Race in October" - Runner's World