The following is the first e-mail message I sent to Brian Harner and the third message of our conversation. This was sent on August 25 2020.
I will split my response into two parts. This is part one. For clarity, read the last couple of sentences first.
I have run in many footraces in the last 12 years and it is common to hold races for the purpose of fundraising. Many trail ultramarathon events are hosted on a service called Ultrasignup. My initial idea was to hold a race hosted on Ultrasignup. A virtual race can be set up in a relatively short period of time once the details of the event are decided upon: no in-person actions (e.g. creating a racecourse, securing permits) are necessary. Virtual races have potential as an engaging way to raise money: just create an event page which allows people to pay a fee to run a certain distance in a given timeframe (e.g. a certain week or month), record the run using GPS, and upload the GPS data so that their results can be recorded. On the page communicate what the money raised will be used for. That's it, and it tends to work decently. This method of fundraising is typically more effective if some kind of community or group of people connected to an organization is in place. Runners tend to gravitate towards opportunities for an organized, timed run and also to financially support those things that keep them running (e.g. trail maintenance). That leads to the next point.
I was content with only the virtual race idea until I found that running club membership can also be hosted on Ultrasignup. This led to the idea of creating the Arian Technologies Running Club (description is under “Club Concept.”). For now I'll call it the Arian Technologies Association (ATA) instead.
First of all, I should clarify that it is possible for a club or event to accept donations regardless of whether a person signs up. So, much like GoFundMe or Patreon, contribution is open to anyone. One of the biggest downsides is that a credit or debit card must be used: no PayPal and definitely no cryptocurrency. It is possible for a person to proceed to payment as a guest. I do not know whether the personal information provided needs to be legitimate aside from the payment information. I do not think donors need to be concerned about anyone other than the event director (i.e. you and/or me) seeing their name. It is possible to make the list of entrants public, but I don't see a reason to do that and I imagine that most will want to remain anonymous anyway. One thing is, for both you and donors, I do not know what is the inforation that GoFundMe banned you over. I noticed that on their fundraising pages the full name and location of the creator of the page is usually present. Ultrasignup definitely does not demand that of you. The primary thing you have to show to the public is a webpage with relevant details (and the staff at ultrasignup do check this before they approve your event). Many races create a Facebook page for this purpose. Some, especially clubs or race directors who have incorporated, have their own websites. I've figured that I could either make a page hosted on my website or one of us could create a paste on pastebin. I do not think a Facebook page is ideal. It would also be possible to create a small website on a service like Blogger but that would require a larger time investment than a paste or a webpage on my existing website.
A slight pickle is that it is not standard to create a running club without any events. Likewise, running clubs are usually based on a local geographic region as opposed to being international. That detail will have to be communicated on the webpage. I could potentially say, “Once we have gained some membership we are looking at holding a virtual run in the Fall.” Again, that would not be difficult to actually create. It could be as simple as asking people to complete either a 3, 5, or 10-mile run in the month of October and pay $10 to have their results recorded.
Another downside (but not surprise) is that there is a base processing fee of $3.25 on all transactions (paid for by the customer/donor). This may discourage donations smaller than $10. That processing fee does not increase much until the amount paid reaches $50. For transactions larger than that amount, the processing fee is 6-7%: so if I want to donate $100 I must also pay a processing fee of $6.75 along with that, for a total amount paid of $106.75. The event director has the option to pay the processing fee themselves instead of having customers do it, but I have never seen this.
There are two potential approaches to this. One approach is to just set the page up and make it possible to donate. No worries about whether people actually sign up: maybe there even is no membership fee (so it would be listed as free). The other approach is to actually make meaningful membership options. On this basis I have had a major consideration: those who pay/donate at least a certain amount could become eligible to receive a holy grail as a gift when they are ready. If the holy grails were to be distributed exclusively in this manner, as opposed to selling them like a normal product, that might make your life easier in some ways (pre-payment tells you how many you need to produce; you might also dodge certain obstacles?), but I would not know that for sure. It might also limit the number or variety of people who obtain a grail. This gifting process would be much easier to follow through on for donors who use an account instead of signing up as a guest. If someone initially pays a certain amount and then wants to contribute more at a later time, the way they can do that is to click the “STORE” tab (see examples near the end) and select how much more they would like to donate at that time. Again, if the donor uses an account to do this then it is easier to keep track of and verify the total amount they have donated.
All entry fees received through Ultrasignup are deposited in your bank account twice a month. I would guess that one time is in the middle of the month and the other is either at the beginning or the end. So if this event/club is set up before the end of August then hopefully any donations received by then will also be deposited immiently.
The description of the club/association. This should be centered around preserving the environment which makes trail running possible. It is also about furnishing a mindset of community with all life. Here's what it could include:
“The Arian Technologies Association has been formed to combine the interests of the trail running community with means which can preserve those interests for thousands of years, if not eternity.
What are those interests? Trail runners value their physical health and fitness. To make it through races they must prepare thoroughly and always keep their survival needs in mind. They run as a spiritual quest to realize the best versions of themselves and commune with nature in its true, wild form [potentially realizing their place in nature in the process]. The sport is simultaneously a peaceful and a difficult one which requires humility, self-discipline, and knowledge of the human body and of nature. Trail runners also value the community of like-minded individuals who are interested in self-realization and who care about being stewards to a planet which is holistically healthy.
What is Arian Technologies and how will it preserve these interests? Arian Technologies is the outgrowth of one man's mission to liberate humanity from inefficiency, unsustainability, and debt. Funds raised will be used to produce tools which are powered by sound as opposed to electricity. Methods of building are possible which are unmatched by mainstream methods in their precision and ability to endure. The goal of Arian Technologies is to make these superior methods available to all people by providing both proper tooling and the education to use those tools. By supporting Arian Technologies you are making a long-term investment in the health of the planet and by extension the well-being of your descendants and of all humanity.”
An idea is that one day the club could put on in-person races. I'm thinking a serious event like a 100-mile race which coincides with a much shorter race (or a fixed-time one, e.g. 30 hours, so they can progress at any pace of their choosing). This encourages both a true challenge on one hand and on the other hand people who are interested in the path but do not have the fitness nor desire to run that far. The people in the shorter race will have plenty of time to complete their distance at a slow pace and then stay around and talk to each other. The idea is that an in-person race could be a safe way for people dedicated to the path to meet each other. I know there will be concern about “fed boys”/detractors, but since both your message and running are peaceful there is no illegal activity for them to find. Also, I read the new thread where you said that they have backed down. The appeal of this race, for me, is the premise of people taking on this running challenge together and bringing a mindset of brotherhood to the sport rather than one of withdrawn, egotistical competition. The goal, to state it one way, is to run in a divine manner rather than a satanic one. That is the only way to achieve our true potential. There is a good chance the race would also attract entrants who have not necessarily educated themselves on your work. This is normal: people run at charity events regardless of how much they know about the charity organization, because they are interested in the race itself. That is fine because the race serves as an opportunity to educate people about the organization which holds the race: I have learned about a few charity/non-profit organizations that way. This is the same reason why businesses sponsor races: to increase their visibility. Maybe a super-ideal situation is that an in-person race put on by the club would finally give you audience with a group of interested people.
But, let us not get ahead of ourselves. First things first.
Here are a few examples to make this tangible.
https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=75574 A membership page (ATRA). Note the different levels of membership.
https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=75524 A race. If you click on the STORE tab you'll see the options to donate money.
https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=64621 A race. If you click on the WEBSITE tab you'll see that the webpage is a blogpost which contains details about the race. Note that the one page alone suffices: the rest of the website is not about that specific race.
https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=73462 On this page you can see that a written description of the race is not necessary as long as there is a sufficient website to back it up (which there is).
Now, what about that DIRECTIONS tab? Every event and club on Ultrasignup has to have some kind of location. I think it is acceptable to choose a city rather than a specific location (such as a building/your address), especially for clubs. For example, the DIRECTIONS tab on this club brings up the Georgia state capitol in Google Maps: https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=72527 .
If there are no social media pages then the SOCIAL tab will just lead to the little-used forums on Ultrasignup. This is fine.
https://trailsroc.org/virtual-covid-19-miler/ Not on Ultrasignup (I think it was originally), but this is an example of a virtual run that was held to raise funds for local running stores that were closed due to COVID. This particular running community is rather cohesive, and they managed to raise $17,000.
Obviously I want you to finalize the decisions. I know there is a lot of info here. My goal was to lay out the details and options for creating races and/or a running-related organization for the purpose of fundraising.
P.S. Protonmail is the most secure email service I am aware of. https://protonmail.com/