Rain or shine, dogs are always enthused about going for a walk. Why not please your dogs with a fundraising dog walk or run, get some exercise, and give back to your community? Dog Walks are fun peer-to-peer crowdfunding events for charity and are usually 5K or less in length. They are organized in a similar fashion to regular walkathons, though there are some extra considerations as well as fundraising opportunities that come into play.
Dog walkathons are on the rise, as they are a fun and appealing way to gather your community for a nonprofit crowdfunding event. Dog Walks can be held by all types of nonprofit organizations. They are not relegated to animal shelters and services that love and support animals, yet such organizations are a clear fit for dog walk fundraising.
Planning a dog walk follows many of the same steps of charity walk-a-thon planning. However, specific needs exist for accommodating both your human and canine friends. Let’s take a look at the steps to organizing a successful dog walk-a-thon.
Dog Walk Logistics
Logistics make for a large piece of the planning for any walk-a-thon; throwing animals in the mix only adds to this responsibility. One of the first and most essential steps in planning a dog walk-a-thon is to learn what permit or licensing needs exist from your local government. Next, choose a location that includes ample space for lots of dogs. Dogs are pack animals, and generally, get along. However, a location that offers options for separating dogs is essential in the event that an animal shows aggression. If managing a large event, consider organizing your participants in flights. By keeping the number of dogs in one area at a manageable level, you reduce the chances that the environment will become overwhelming for the animals, owners, and volunteers. Flights may be organized by animal size, breed, or by allowing the participants to choose a time that works for them. In addition, take time to consider the features of the course you select. It is best to keep the course relatively short. Typical distances range from 2 to 2 ½ miles. With this distance, the course can easily be designed as a loop with the same start and finish line, or as a linear course with different start and endpoints, and parking along a midpoint in between.
Dog Walk Safety Considerations
First Aid and emergency resources are essential for ensuring the health and safety of your two and four-legged walkers. In addition to traditional first aid items, make sure to keep a supply of emergency items for pets. You may want to consult a local veterinarian for suggestions. In addition, bring a supply of extra collars, leashes, and make sure that food and water are accessible in a pinch.
Pet-Centered Prizes and Swag
Everyone loves walkathon prizes and free swag! Be strategic in the items that you provide in your goody bags. Include both things that your participants will enjoy and use, but also items that will help facilitate a great event. Include one item that can be recreated annually as a collectible. Often, with dog walk-a-thons, organizers select a bandana or custom engraved dog tag with the organization logo for this purpose. Consider putting items your participants will use while walking in the bag, such as sunscreen and pooper-scooper type supplies. Check out these great pet product ideas that can be customized with your organization’s logo.
Create contests and awards that can be won by participants. Lots of potential for awards exist. For example, awards may be given for:
Best course completion time
Good citizenship or sportsmanship
Best dog costume
Best groomed dog
Utilize Walk-a-thon Software
Peer-to-peer Crowdfunding software is a must for Dog Walks. Our P2P crowdfunding platform is designed specifically for walk-a-thons, School Fun Runs, Dog Walks and any other type of event where individual and team participants solicit and track donations and pledges. Each of your event participants creates and manages a personal fundraising page and invites friends and family to support your organization through secure, online donations. Our platform for dog walks:
Provide walkers with Personal Fundraising Pages to customize and promote your fundraiser – people love adding pictures of their dogs!
Gamification tools such as fundraising thermometers and Leaderboards display top team and individual fundraisers and promote competition, so you raise more
Embedded Social Media Share links encourage walkers to share the event with friends and family
A post-party or social hour following your event is a wonderful way to extend your walk and allow for community engagement and networking. Consider selecting a location that can easily support a BBQ or ice cream social following your walk. Not only does this build connection among your supporters, but it also offers a nice and memorable way to end the day. Awards can also be presented at this time.Be sure to give recognition to your fundraisers. This can be done on your walkathon website, in your organization’s newsletter, and at the celebration event. You want them to know that they are appreciated and that you would love to see them again for next year’s event.
More Dog Fundraising Ideas
More and more, organizations opt to put a furry spin on their annual walk-a-thon by expanding their participant audience to our favorite four-legged friends. Dog Walks can be exciting and fun events with costume contests, photo booths, food, and before and after-parties. Here are some more ideas to add fun and excitement to your dog walks.
Plan a Dog & Car Wash
Why not host a unique fundraising event which allows people to get their car and dog cleaned at the same time? With a car wash and pet groomers on hand, it’s a double win. Ask a groomer to set up adjacent to the car wash and see if they’ll offer their services for free or at a discount to support your doggy walk. Ask your volunteers to help with the cleaning and raise money to support your dog walk in a fun fashion.
Set Up a Photo Booth
A photo booth at a dog walk is bound to be entertaining! The benefits aside from your guests having a great time are found in marketing and promoting your dog walk. Nothing shares the energy of a charity fundraising event more than great photos. Pictures of dogs and their owners having fun are sure to attract new donors and participants for next year.
Host a Dog Happy Hour
Crowdfunding teams meeting for drinks or a wine tasting event for extra fundraising has a few benefits. Everyone loves happy hour, and bars are a great place to recruit participants for a dog walk. Bring your dog-loving friends together and meet new friends who may wish to become participants in your doggy walk. Friendships and passion for the event are deepened among the dog walk participants who have already signed on.
Include a Dog Costume Contest
A dog walk is a perfect opportunity to hold a dog costume contest. There are online vendors who sell dog costumes ranging from political figures to superheroes. If your walkathon is close to Halloween, creating a costume no one else has done before is a hit. Sell tickets to enter the contest and advertise prizes on your walkathon website.
Sell Walk-a-thon Vendor Booths
Sell vendor booths during the post-party and along the walkathon route. Ask that each vendor promote the dog walk on their social media platforms to help spread the word. These vendors can assist with in-kind donations for the costume contest prizes or dog paraphernalia raffle items.
Recruit Dog Walk Sponsors
Pet-centered events make natural inroads with pet-centered companies for sponsorship. Consider partnering with local veterinarians, doggie daycare centers, pet supply stores, or other retailers for goody bag items, or expo booths. Sell Poodle Sponsor Packages (or Border Collie or any dog breed package) and include a company logo on all marketing materials for the event. Companies who purchase this sponsor package shall receive a booth, and promotion on the doggy walk crowdfunding website. Offer each company promotion via social media platforms and complimentary dog walk-a-thon entries. See our article on how to get sponsors to support a walk-a-thon for more information.
Find a Dog-Friendly Cafe
Cafés with outdoor seating often allow dogs and even provide dishes of water for them. Perhaps a pet fashion show at a local café would be the perfect start to a beautiful partnership and your Dog Walk kick-off. Sell tickets to supplement your dog walk revenues. Offer the café a vendor booth at the walkathon to further your relationship and provide great coffee for the walkathon participants.
Sell Dog Themed Art
Sponsor an art sale with an animal theme. See if a local art gallery in your community will donate space for the event. Ask students and community artists to enter paintings and objects of arts to sell at the event. Invite the artists involved in your dog walk and ask if they would sell their work and donate the money to your cause. This is an idea for a silent auction or an art contest as well to supplement a dog walk.
Host Pet Parties
Gather your crowdfunding teams for parties and invite their dogs. How about a little party or picnic in the park to drum up new participants and raise the anticipation level for the event to come?
Cook Up a Dog Walk Bake Sale
Supplement your dog walk and recruit participants by holding a Saturday bake sale at a community center or school. Gather a team of bakers and plan the most delightful treats to sell. Make special treats for dogs! Sell them at the sale and offer them on your dog walk website.
Walkathon Dog Sitting
Offer a pet sitting area at your dog walk to bring in extra cash and control the hounds. Take special care to keep dogs and humans safe with separate areas for some, and a playground for all. This service may be offered on your dog walk website.
Host a Doggy Raffle
A raffle is a fun fundraising idea to add to a dog walk. Sell raffle tickets on your website and at registration. Ask your local pet shops and larger retail vendors for donations. Branch out and raffle grooming packages or pet spa or boarding packages from local groomers and boarders. Perhaps they’ll offer packages to your organization at half-price to draw more business to their shop.
Make a dog quilt as a grand raffle item. Form a team of quilters and ask your friends and family to decorate each fabric square with an animal protection message. Perhaps a local crafts store would like to donate the fabric.
Sell Dog and Pet Calendars
With an annual dog walk, photos for a calendar will be aplenty. Offer a prize for the best dog photos 3 months prior to the charity event. This gets donors and participants involved in crowdfunding and they’ll share their excitement with friends.
Add information about your nonprofit mission, and facts that educate donors and supporters about your cause. Sell the calendars in your community and on your nonprofit eCommerce store. They’ll present a great way to brand your nonprofit throughout the year.
More Walkathon & Dog Walk Resources
We’ve outlined some basic steps and fundraising ideas designed to keep the dog walk planning process on track. Remember, big results are entirely possible with careful planning and execution.
Maureen has been writing and marketing for DoJiggy for 8 years, and has a strong background in nonprofit fundraising. While with The Nature Conservancy for 7 years prior, she learned the inner workings of marketing to the State of California within the external affairs department. Her heart is in her writing as she believes in the power of change through nonprofit organizations.