I work for a non-profit organization that has been the charitable partner for The Color Run for two years now. This is how it works: The Color Run will designate a certain block of race tickets (usually 50-150) for our organization to sell on our own at whatever cost they want and keep all of that money. We have used these as exclusive pre-sale tickets OR last minute tickets. The next part is the volunteering. The Color Run pays our organization $40 for each volunteer we recruit who completes a 4 hour shift. But, here's the sketchy part - the fact that The Color Run operates almost the entire event using volunteer labor. For the past two years I have worked check-in - this is the day runners pick up their packets and can visit The Color Run Store to buy merchandise. At these events, roughly 85% of the labor is made up of volunteers. For race day, The Color Run recruits dozens if not hundreds of volunteers to set-up, manage parking, manage the crowd, perform, offer entertainment, throw color, and clean up. The event in our city usually attracts 5,000 to 7,500 runners. The Color Run has about 20 staff members for the whole weekend - the rest of the labor is made up of volunteers. And only a portion of them are recruited by our organization to get our $40. For last year's event, we received a little over $10,000 in the form of a donation from The Color Run. The race had over 7,000 runners, paying $30-$50 each. This company is making $200,000 to $300,000 just off registrations for our city. The merchandise brings in another $15,000 to $25,000 for each event. So, out of that quarter of a million dollars, they are giving our organization $10,000 after we provided 1,000+ hours of volunteer labor. Not to mention, they're a pain in the ass to volunteer for. Their staff are rude, they act like you're inconveniencing them, they give you the worst jobs, and they stand around talking or hanging out in the break room the whole time. I'm not a fan.
A small portion goes to a local charity. The vast portion will go to the organization that own The Color Run. 90% goes to the color run while only 10% goes to charity. Think of giving $ 100 to a orphanage and % 10 goes to the orphanage. This really is misleading to people.
The Color Run website states that they make a "donation" to their charity partner based on the level of involvement/volunteers the charity provides. Essentially, it's easier for them to find quality labor to host each event by partnering with a local charitable organization rather than posting an ad on craigslist. Information gleaned from their website indicates they've hosted at least 520 events since 2012 and donated over $3 million. That comes out to something north of $5770 per event. In 2012, they had over 600,000 participants. If $30 of each participant's registration fee went to charity, they would have raised over $18 million in that year alone.
MOST color runs donate only 2-5% of total money earned to charitys. While this might not seem bad, the rest of their operating expenses are about 20%. That leaves 75% of the total money FOR PROFIT. It wouldn't even be bad IF they didn't ASK for volunteers for a "charity sponsored" event. Im not against companies earning a profit, or people volunteering, but volunteering for SUCH A LARGE corporate event in which they have 75% profits? I think not. They falsely imply they are giving a large sum to charity when it is small pittance compared to their bottom line.
If they support charities like they say they do, then they wouldn't have donated just 3.3% as is estimated at the run in Anchorage that I have heard about. They are a for profit organization and in no way, shape, or form a charitable organization! Think twice about this. If you really want to help, go with a local race, or run a free race and make a personal donation to the charity of your choosing!
The local charities are only given the opportunity to encourage people to fundraise, they do not get a cent from color run. I think its a great fun even but calling it a charity event it simply wrong, a fun run is closer to the truth all charity benefit is up to the individual runner
Color runs may be a bit extreme in that people are sprayed with color during the event. However, most runs support good causes. If anything, charity runs have infiltrated American society so much, there is probably a run on every single weekend of the year. Runs are there to raise money with plenty of participants and volunteers for the myriads of causes that have foundations supporting the hundreds of diseases and maladies in today's world.
They seem legit to me, at least as much as other charities. It is never known for sure how much a charity actually gives to support a cause. It is a grey area and if you are thinking about donating to a charity you should spend a lot of time researching that charity.