The nonprofit TD Beach to Beacon 10K has become wildly popular as Maine’s largest road race. Registration for Saturday’s event, which drew more than 6,300 runners, filled in less than four minutes.
But while Beach to Beacon’s revenues have more than tripled over the past 15 years, its charitable contributions have declined as a percentage, according to an analysis by the Maine Sunday Telegram.
Beach to Beacon also paid more to race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson than it gave to charity in both 2013 and 2014, federal tax records show.
The race selects a different nonprofit youth organization each year to receive a $30,000 donation that is provided by the charitable arm of TD Bank. That amount has remained unchanged since 2000, even though race revenues jumped from $242,099 in 2000 to $926,967 in 2014, the most recent year of its tax filings.
Race officials emphasize that as the field has grown – there were almost twice as many runners Saturday as in 2000 – so has the expense of putting on the event. They add that the impact of Beach to Beacon cannot be measured by its annual donations alone.
“I think this race gives back more than any other race I’ve been associated with,” said race director Dave McGillivray. “The dollars may not be as big, but it shouldn’t always be about the money. It’s goodwill.”
Nonprofits are not required by federal law to give to charity, but many nonprofits that stage road races do. The 4 on the Fourth in Bridgton donated more than half of its revenue to charity in 2014. The Maine Track Club, which puts on the Maine Marathon and other races, gave 24 percent of its revenue to charity that year. The Falmouth Road Race in Massachusetts – an event that, like Beach to Beacon, features elite professional runners from all over the globe – gave 18 percent of its revenue to charity in 2014.
Even with TD’s beneficiary donation included, Beach to Beacon gave less than 4 percent of its revenue to charity in 2014 – compared to nearly 11 percent in 2002.
In 2014, TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K Inc. dispensed $5,462 in charitable grants while paying $55,500 in compensation to board directors – including $50,000 to Samuelson. If the gift of $30,000 is included, the total charity given that year by Beach to Beacon was $35,462.
Beach to Beacon’s “Mission of Race,” as shown on a fact sheet on its website, is that it “supports a different Maine charity each year by providing a $30,000 donation from the TD Charitable Foundation.”
However, when asked what the Beach to Beacon’s purpose is, race president Mike Stone said: “Charitable support has always been an important part of the race, but it’s really the secondary goal of the event. Our primary mission is to put on a world-class road race.”
Samuelson is the chairwoman of Beach to Beacon’s 12-member board of directors. For most runners and spectators, the Cape Elizabeth native and 1984 Olympic marathon gold medalist is the embodiment of the annual race. She began receiving a salary from the race in 2013.
“All I can say is it’s a labor of love,” Samuelson said. “It’s part of my livelihood.”
According to board member David Weatherbie, the race president from 1998 to 2013, Samuelson was paid by the race sponsor before 2013. Samuelson was a paid spokeswoman for Peoples Heritage Bank, the original race sponsor. TD Bank stopped using celebrity representatives in 2012, according to Judith Schmidt, its vice president/head of corporate media relations.
“From the race’s perspective, Joanie plays such a key role in the TD Beach to Beacon,” Weatherbie said. “She’s the face of the race. When you put that together with her stature as a worldwide running icon, and how her involvement is vital to maintain sponsorships and drawing elite athletes, her value to the race is far more than the compensation she receives.”
Often referred to as “Joanie’s Race,” Beach to Beacon is supported by loyal runners who return year after year, approximately 850 volunteers and over 50 companies. The race lists 10 major “corporate sponsors” and also has categories for prize sponsors, race sponsors and corporate race supporters. The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram is a corporate race supporter.
In 2014, 34.4 percent of the race’s revenue came from entry fees ($319,240) and 64.4 percent ($597,537) from contributions and gifts, including $206,800 worth of donated food, beverages, medical supplies, T-shirts and gift cards. The remaining 1.1 percent ($10,190) came from “other receipts.” The value of donated goods are also credited to the race’s expense ledger, which totaled $881,422 in 2014.
Other board directors who receive compensation are secretary and volunteer coordinator Maya Cohen ($4,000) and registration coordinator Angela Best ($1,500).
McGillivray, the race director, was paid a $58,000 management fee in 2014 as an on-site consultant. His company, DMSE, handles logistics for races around the world, including the Boston Marathon. DMSE also received $79,697 from Beach to Beacon.
BENEFIT TO CHARITIES
One key charitable component to the Beach to Beacon is its practice of allowing past race beneficiaries to purchase up to 25 race registration bibs as fundraising tools for their own organizations. The current year’s beneficiary is given 25 bibs free of charge, and can buy up to 25more.
Money raised by those charities is not factored into Beach to Beacon’s financial statement.
The 2016 beneficiary is Westbrook-based nonprofit My Place Teen Center, which provides after-school assistance for over 550 at-risk youths. MPTC receives the $30,000 gift from the TD Charitable Foundation.
Donna Dwyer, the president and CEO of My Place Teen Center, said her organization expects to raise an additional $20,000 this year and will take advantage of the race bib program next year. Dwyer said she was “proud, honored and grateful” to be associated with Beach to Beacon.
“The TD Beach to Beacon family embraces our family and they say, ‘Yes, yes, we will help,’ ” Dwyer said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine was the race’s first beneficiary in 1998. It takes advantage of the race entry program to raise an average of $10,000 per year.
“We try to have 20 bibs and we ask our volunteers to raise at least $500, which does always help with our bottom line,” said Sue Rowan, the development director at Big Brothers Big Sisters. “It costs us a little over $1,000 for every match that we have between an adult and a child. We’re helping at least 10 children a year to improve their lives by having a positive adult mentor.”
In 2012, Beach to Beacon conducted a survey of its past beneficiaries to determine continued fundraising. The survey showed beneficiaries combined to raise $134,300 in 2012 and $116,750 in 2011, with most coming from the bib-number program. Those figures have likely grown since each year a new Maine-based charity is added to the beneficiary list.
“If the race goes away, that all goes away, too,” McGillivray said. “Maybe the race itself isn’t writing a bunch of big checks, but because of the race a lot of groups benefit.”
The New Balance Falmouth Road Race in Falmouth, Massachusetts, is older (now in its 44th year), longer (7 miles) and larger (12,800 runners) than Beach to Beacon.
In many other ways the two prestigious New England races are comparable.
Both are run by 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, have courses with oceanside views, major corporate sponsorship and August race dates. They both offer significant prize money for elite athletes ($10,000 to the first-place man and woman). They also have sold-out fields and McGillivray as the race director.
None of Falmouth’s seven board directors are paid, but the race does have salaried staff members. McGillivray’s DMSE was paid $269,323 for race management in 2014.
The biggest distinction between the races is that Falmouth Road Race actively pursues a policy of raising money for multiple local charities.
“And, we’re putting on an elite-level road race,” said Scott Ghelfi, president of the Falmouth Road Race.
In 2014 the Falmouth Road Race donated $271,352, or 18.4 percent of its reported revenue of $1,477,382. That represented a significant increase over its 2012 charitable donation of $65,607.
“We hired a sponsorship coordinator to go out and sell sponsorships and she did a great job and we expanded our Numbers for Nonprofits program,” Ghelfi said.
Falmouth now sells numbers at a premium price of $175 to about 100 nonprofits. This year 2,505 charity bibs were sold for the Aug. 21 race, generating $275,550, said Jennifer Edwards, the race’s general manager. The participating nonprofits’ fundraising is separate from the race’s finances. In 2015, nonprofits affiliated with Falmouth reported raising a combined $3.4 million.
In 2014, Beach to Beacon donated $5,462, or 0.59 percent, of its $926,967 total revenue. Those funds come from voluntary fees paid by runners who chose to make an additional donation at the time of entry. Neither the $30,000 annual grant from the TD Charitable Foundation nor any money raised by present or past beneficiaries through the race number program is part of Beach to Beacon’s financial statement.
Stone, the race’s president, was asked if Beach to Beacon is ready to look at ways to increase its charitable contribution.
“I think it’s something that we are certainly willing to take a look at, possibly discussing,” he said.
AN EXPENSIVE BEACON
For many runners, Beach to Beacon has become a destination road race.
“It’s the best race, the most fun, the one I look forward to each year,” said Cathy Brophy, 56, of Stratham, New Hampshire, who finished her fourth Beach to Beacon on Saturday. “It’s because you’re running the route that Joanie Samuelson ran, the whole community comes out. It becomes something to put on your calendar.”
But it costs money to put on an event like Beach to Beacon. In 2014 the race had expenses of $881,422, for a net gain of $45,545. In 2013, the race claimed a loss of $16,905.
“It’s important to note that a significant portion of the increased revenues are used to offset our expenses and over time our expenses have risen because the race has grown,” Stone said.
He said infrastructure costs for items such as equipment rental, supplies and “simple things like portable toilets” have increased. For example, the 2014 equipment rental fee of $157,677 was $110,000 more than it was in 2002. Other 2014 expenses that were at least twice as much as in 2002 included celebrations for volunteers and sponsors, travel costs (primarily for elite athletes), and security and parking. Since 2011, the race has paid a $25,000 user’s fee to Fort Williams Park, site of the finish and post-race activities.
Another relatively new cost is a consulting fee to help increase the race’s sustainability.
“There is a huge emphasis on ‘greening’ the race,” Stone said. “That has become an important part. (In 2014) we achieved Gold status from the Council for Responsible Sport. This year we’re looking at a goal of the highest level of Evergreen status.”
Race weekend includes a kids’ fun run and, new this year, a mile race for Maine high school runners. As those features grow, so do their associated costs.
“For our volunteer recognition we used to do a little cookout after the race. Now it’s a full-blown volunteer recognition and our volunteers have doubled,” Weatherbie said.
Stone said is important for Beach to Beacon to stay true to putting on a “world-class” race.
“That’s the important function that we have maintained,” Stone said. “It’s a premier event for the state of Maine, for the community. That’s our primary goal.”