How To Plan a Color Run

On your marks, get set, COLOR! But before you rush to the starting line, there are some simple steps to make sure your color run is a wild success. Don’t worry; we’ll help you cover your bases. (Yes, we know it’s not baseball, it’s a color run. Got it.) Color runs are great ways to raise money for important causes and charities, fundraisers for schools, or just have a blast with a ton of people. If you’ve never planned a color run, or even if you have, we have some tips to make sure this color run doesn’t turn into kaleidoscopic chaos. 


What is a Color Run, Anyway?

Before we get into the tips, you might be wondering, “What is a color run, anyway?” Every color race event is a little bit different, and we want yours to be unique, but generally it’s formatted like a “fun run” where participants sign up to run (or walk, or dance, or galavant) a predesignated course. Volunteers are then stationed along the route and the finish line to throw colored powder at the participants. Chameleon Colors provides bulk premium color powder in a variety of colors to make this unbelievably awesome and cost effective. We can even provide custom colors! Hello, best end-of-school-year activity ever. 


How do I Plan a Color Run?

Whether you’re trying to raise money for charity, want to celebrate a special occasion, or just enjoy running, organizing a color race can be exhilarating. So, if you’re trying to put together a rainbow Olympiad here are a few things to keep in mind before you stretching out your calves.

  • Check Local Laws. First of all, make sure that you work closely with local authorities. They can help you learn about the rules and regulations your municipality might have for races and other large events. They often can help you with determining a location and a date, because the last thing you want is to find out the road you want to use is already being used for the mayor’s lengthy entourage. Depending on where you live, you may also have to get official approval for your race.
  • Plan the route.  Before you begin registration and advertising, you should plan the race route. This step goes hand-in-hand with working with local authorities. Plan the route on safe streets so local traffic can be diverted. Look to see if there are convenient places for checkpoints, cheering bystanders, and color-throwing volunteers.
  • Volunteers are key. If you’re going to pull off an amazing event, you’re going to need equally amazing volunteers to help you out. So call your friends, family, neighbors, overbearing telemarketersyou name itto help you out. You’ll need volunteers for registration, especially if you offer same-day registration; volunteers for set-up and take-down; and volunteers for the color-throwing extravaganza.
  • Registration. Registration. Registration. We said it three times, so it must be important. You want to be sure that you have a good registration system in place. People are more likely to sign up if you offer online registration. However, nobody wants to get to the race and find out that their registration has been lost, so make sure it’s a reliable system. (Or your race may start to resemble the Running of the Bulls.) Test it out before you make it public. If you’re going to offer same-day registration, make sure that you have enough staff so that they won’t be overwhelmed. Also, decide on a registration fee; you don’t want it to be so high that people are discouraged from signing up, but you do want it to cover your costs (and make extra money, if you’re hosting a fundraiser).

  • Be Unique. What will make your race special? Is it geared towards children? Does it have a holiday theme? Will you have 99 llamas splashed in Chameleon Colors prancing down the street? You probably won’t need the last one with the color run you’re planning. Your participants will be sprayed, sprinkled, and splashed with a variety of brilliant colored powders or even liquid color! Turn the vibrance up a notch and throw an effervescent color run fiesta by having a nighttime color run with our UV color powders that glow in blacklight! Or, divide your participants into teams and color coordinate the color powder to match teams and let the battle of the color begin! You could be the boss you always dreamed of being and have a corporate color run with your organization’s colors. The possibilities are endless! And if you want help planning an event or finding the right supplies, feel free to contact us here at Chameleon Colors.

How do I Organize a Color Run?

Now that you know how to start planning a color run, we can get to the fun part: organizing the color run! First, you’ll need to decide the goal of your color run. Are you fundraising for your school? Are you raising proceeds to go to a local charity? Do you just want to have some fun with your city? Once you have your goal, you can scroll to the section that best meets your needs. 


How to Fundraise with a Color Run

There are two main ways to raise money as part of the color run: donation-based fundraisers and entry fee-based fundraisers. Both options are great ways to raise money for your cause. Donation-based fundraisers often will help you make more profits, but entry fee-based fundraisers can be a simpler process. We have a break down of both models so that you can decide which works best for you.


  • Donation-based fundraisers often have “tier” formats. Participants ask their friends, family, and neighbors to donate to their fundraiser. Each participant is working to raise funds to reach different tiers that have unique incentives and prizes based on the amount of money they’re able to raise. For example, a base level could be $20.00. If a participant raises $20.00, they get 70-gram packet of powders. Pretty cool, but if they raise $40.00, they get a 1-pound bag of powders and some colorful sunglasses! Get the idea? The internet is also full of ideas of awesome incentives and tiers

Here are the key takeaways for donation-based fundraisers: 

  1. Set a goal for how much money you want to raise.
  2. Decide how many tiers or levels you would like to have.
  3. Choose the dollar amount participants will need to raise to reach each tier. 
  4. Use stupendously amazing incentives to motivate participants. 
  5. Keep track of the participant’s progress so that you’re prepared on the day of your color run with each participant's prizes. 


  • Entry-fee based fundraisers have a simpler and more streamlined process, but a lot of it is the same as a donation-based fundraiser. You’ll still want to set a goal of how much money you want to raise and at least estimate how many participants will sign up for your color run. The difference between donation-based fundraisers and entry-fee based fundraisers is instead of participants raising money for the color run through donations, you’ll decide on an entry price. We’ve created this handy calculator tool to help you figure out these details for your specific color run. (Since we know you want to throw color, not do math equations. Cowabunga!) 




Another way to boost fundraising during an entry fee-based fundraiser is to sell our color powder! That’s right, you can buy our Chameleon Color’s premium and affordable color powder in bulk and re-sell it directly to your participants. You know what they say about color powder: the more color powder; the merrier the participants! So you’re probably wondering: How much color powder will I need for my event? We’ll answer that next, don’t worry, but here are the key takeaways for entry-fee based fundraisers.

  1. Set a goal for how much money you want to raise. 
  2. Estimate how many participants will sign up. 
  3. Use our calculator tool to decide on the entry price for each participant. 
  4. Figure out how much color powder you’ll need for your spectacular. You can resell our color powder too! Keep reading for color powder instructions. 
  • Sponsorships are not usually used to fundraise, but they can help with the overall cost of the color run. This helps you keep more of the funds that you raise for your special cause. For example, you can reach out to local businesses and ask if they’d be willing to sponsor signs along the color run, “start” and “finish” banners, water bottles, t-shirts, etc. in exchange for advertising. 

  • How Much Color Powder Will I Need for a Color Run?


    Help! I’m organizing a colorful jubilee and have no idea how much color powder to order! 

    Don’t worry, we have you covered, literally. Knowing how much color powder to order may seem like a big stress, but it’s actually pretty simple. We recommend that each participant has roughly .6 pounds of color powder for events like a color run. There are variations that you may need more color powder for, however, so let’s go over those. 


    Calculating how much color you’ll need depends a little on how you’re organizing your race and your color-throwing volunteers. Will the participants be the ones throwing color powder? Will your volunteers primarily throw the color powder in color stations? Color stations are areas where participants and volunteers can pick up color powder to use, are usually designated by color (though you can certainly have more than one color per station!), and they’re not the same as a water station.  Here’s a helpful table to use if you plan on using color stations: 

    Number of Stations

    Color Powder per Participant (in lbs)








    Something else to keep in mind is how to throw the color powder. While using your hands is fun, it makes it hard to throw longer distances, and you’ll end up losing a lot of color powder between your fingers. You’ll need to plan for more color powder if you’re using your hands. Many groups use paper cups to store and throw the color powder, but we recommend our squeeze bottles to fill and spray your participants with color powder! The spray bottle will have a longer, more accurate reach; you won’t need to refill them as often as a paper cup; and they can be filled ahead of time. 


    Let’s draw up an example: You have 100 runners and you’re hosting a 5K Color Run.  You want to have five different color stations equally separate along the course. You would order at least 100 pounds of color powder because of how many stations and runners you have.  


    Now, if you’re going to re-sell the color powder, you may want to increase how much color powder you’re planning per person. If you’re going to have the participants buy the color powder before, during, or after the color run, you’ll definitely want to have extra color powder on hand so that you don’t run short.


    One more thing to consider is if you want to have a big splash at the end of your race. There’s nothing better than running a color run and having an explosion of color fun waiting at the finishing line! (Your participants deserve a party, after all.) Many color runs have additional powder available at the end or the beginning of the race to enjoy. This would be a good place to fundraising using our color powders. 


    We understand that every color run is different, and we can offer customized advice on how much color powder you’ll need over the phone or email. Feel free to give us a call or send us an email if you need help at any stage of the planning process. (And don’t forget that we offer customized colors which are perfect for school color runs!) 


    How do I set up a Color Run?

    It’s the day of the run, and you’re off to the races! The day of the color run can be hectic, so we want to help you have as much of a stress-free experience as possible. Being prepared beforehand helps the color run, well, run smoothly. 


    Have the following checklist items completed before the day of the event: 

    • If you’re offering registration the day of the color run, make sure to have your system ready to go. If you’re doing paper registration, then have the registration sheets printed and organized. If you’re doing electronic organization, test it out to make sure it works. 
    • If you use Chameleon Colors color powder squeeze bottles, you can fill these up 72 hours before the event as long as they are stored in a dry place that won’t be exposed to any moisture. We suggest filling these up outdoors. 
    • Print all signs, banners, and other printed materials. 
    • If you’re offering water stations, make sure you have adequate supplies for your runners. 
    • Walk or drive the race route to make sure the route is clear of any obstacles. 
    • Confirm with local authorities that the time and location of the run, as well as making sure that they will have first aid personal, just in case. 


    On the day of the color run: 

    • Clear the race route with local authorities. 
    • Meet with your volunteers beforehand to go over any last-minute details and instructions. 
    • Set up registration and sign-in tables. 
    • Set up your start and finish lines, as well as any signage along the path of the race. 
    • Set up your color stations or hand out the color powder. 
    • Set up water stations, if you have them, and first aid station. 
    • Play pumping music to get your runners excited! They’re about to have the time of their lives! 


    During the color run: 

    • Lead your participants to the starting line. If you have a lot of runners, you may want to do intervals between different groups of runners so that each person gets equal color powder opportunity during the run. 
    • Check to make sure your color powder stays filled and readily available for your volunteers to throw at the participants. 
    • Take lots of pictures and videos. You can have several volunteers in charge of capturing the vibrant memories. Participants will love to see their colorful experience and share it with their friends and families!  
    • Join in on the fun! This will be a memory you won’t ever forget. 


    After the color run: 

    • Let the participants enjoy their time after the color run! It might be fun to have photo opportunities available to the participants with props, signs, or backgrounds. Unique hashtags are also great ways to help your participants feel like they are a part of a community. (Remind your participants to mention @chameleoncolorsinc since we want to be in on the fun too!) 
    • You might be tired after the color run, especially if you participated. Lucky for you, Chameleon Colors color powder cleans easily! (So you can let your town rest assured that their streets won’t work like Rainbow Road from Mario Kart.)  We recommend sweeping the color powder as much as you need to, and then the rest can easily be sprayed away. Our powders are biodegradable and safe for the environment, so you can go home and relax! 


    Color Run FAQs

    Now, we hope we answered all of your questions, but in case we fell short, here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions. Remember you can always contact us with any questions you have.

    Q: What should I tell the participants to wear to the color run? 

    A: Don’t give in to the dark side—wear white! We know, you probably think we are crazy, but that’s the point! Most people like to wear white so the color powders stand out even more. You can choose to wear anything that you would like, but we like white t-shirts. Or monkey suits. You may want to tell your participants to either bring a change of clothes or a towel if they plan on driving home from the color run. (pic of monkey runner)

    Q: But wait! Don’t the color powders stain clothes, hair, or cars?

    A: Generally speaking, Chameleon Colors color powder will wash out. Here’s more information on cleaning, but sometimes they can stain, so it’s best if you wear something that you don’t mind if it gets upgraded to a colorful memory.

    Q: Are there risks to using Chameleon Colors color powder? 

    A: Color powders from Chameleon Colors are non-toxic, but they can cause irritation if they get in the eyes or if it is inhaled. The best option is to wear some type of eye protection and you could advise your participants to use a bandana or dust mask over the mouth during the color run. Tell your color-powder-throwers to avoid tossing it in participants’ faces where it could get in eyes, nose, or mouth. If a participant complains about color powder in their eyes, advise them to thoroughly rinse their eyes with water. If you know of any participants with asthma, allergies to corn starch, or respiratory issues, it’s probably best to avoid the color powder.

    Q: How do I clean up after a color run? 

    A: Cleanup for an outdoor event is easy with Chameleon Colors color powder! We recommend sweeping the color powder as much as you need to, and then the rest can easily be sprayed away. 

    Please note: We are not responsible for how you produce your event, please follow all governmental regulations.  Never use color powder in an enclosed or congested environment. Never throw in or towards someone’s face. Always recommend safety glasses and dust mask.  Have a MSDS sheet  present during events.  Have a fire extinguisher on hand and NEVER use near an open flame or excessive heat sources.


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