How Much “Fun Run” Money Actually Goes to Schools?

NBC 7 Investigates looks into Apex, a for-profit company that organizes fundraising runs and leadership classes

When you pledge money to support a family or friend running laps for a good cause, do you know where the money goes?

Local company Apex organizes “Fun Runs” and leadership classes for San Diego schools to raise money, and it is a for-profit organization, collecting a portion of the proceeds for itself.

“We’re really putting a model out there to get kids back into exercise and fitness and helping the environment and also making more money for those schools than any other fundraiser,” said Jeremy Barnhart, Vice President of Franchise Development for Apex.

According to Barnhart, a “Fun Run” beats peddling cookie dough, pizza or candy bars to raise money.

NBC 7 Investigates wanted to know how much money a school receives after participating in one. When asked, Apex would not provide specific numbers for any schools, citing privacy agreements.

But the PTA for Kumeyaay Elementary School in Tierrasanta provided NBC 7 Investigates with numbers from its recent “Fun Run.”

According to the school, $35,000 was pledged. Apex received $17,000, minus expenses. The school received $18,000, about 51 percent.

“I think that’s not great, but we’ve seen worse,” said Sandra Miniutti from Charity Navigator, who added the charity evaluator organization likes to see a 75 percent return to schools.

Barnhart said while all schools receive at least half the amount of cash pledged, there is a bigger return on their investments in terms of services provided.

Some of the Apex “Fun Runs” provide two-week long leadership classes where students get race jerseys, leadership bracelets and prizes for raising the most money.

“Between cash, product and service we are actually putting over 80 percent back in the schools,” Barnhart said.

Faith Boninger with the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado said if a school district wants to provide leadership classes, they should find classes that have been evaluated. She said the leadership classes provided by Apex are an “add-on” to a fundraising effort where raising money is the goal.

Barnhart said, “because of the leadership and fitness curriculum we are teaching them, it’s going to benefit them for a life time; whereas with cookie dough, once it’s eaten, it’s gone forever.”

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