Nonprofit organizations and school groups have long favored walk-a-thons, Fun Runs, and other similar events where donations and pledges are collected to raise money for a charitable cause. These peer-to-peer fundraising events offer great opportunities for raising money and spreading the word about your organization, without high overhead costs. Best of all, they are fun events that everyone will look forward to and want to participate in. Great, but are you wondering how to organize a walkathon?
If you’ve been tasked with organizing a walkathon, you may feel overwhelmed. You’re not alone! There are many moving parts to coordinate and DoJiggy is here to help get you started. We’ve outlined some basic steps below that are designed to keep the walkathon planning process on track. For detailed information about each of the topics and much more, download our free guide below: How to Organize a Walkathon: Your Complete Guide to Hosting a Walkathon. Good luck getting your walk-a-thon fundraiser going, and remember, big results are entirely possible with careful planning and execution.
Step 1: Assemble a Walkathon Leadership Team
Successful walk-a-thon and Fun Run fundraising events hinge on the recruitment and action of a strong leadership team. Ideally, your team should be comprised of individuals with diverse skills and talents that share a common interest in the organization’s success. In addition, working smart at this stage of the game requires delegation. Consider assigning a person (or team of people, if possible) to the following project areas:
- Legal/Logistics: this person should be someone responsible for obtaining permits and handling logistics, such as parking, traffic control, and event insurance.
- Corporate Sponsorship and Donations: someone with experience in sales and building partnerships to solicit sponsorship and manage a sponsor expo area for local businesses and donors.
- Marketing & Public Relations: someone with a communications background to write press releases, pitch story ideas to media, create print and promotional materials, and recruit celebrity event participation.
- Hospitality & Communications: this is the event cheerleader! He or she sends periodic coaching cards to participants, organizes pre- and post-event meals and activities, and coordinates entertainment.
- Walk-a-thon website creation and management – the more tech-savvy the better.
Step 2: Determine Walkathon Logistics & Financial Goals
This one is pretty straight forward. Your leadership team will need to determine the date and location of your fundraising walkathon as soon as possible in the planning process. To ensure the success of your fundraising run/walk, be sure to give yourselves enough time to manage all of the logistics. You generally want to have at least 6 months to plan a walkathon, and many successful walks start planning a year in advance.
Don’t forget to determine financial goals and create a fundraising budget to help you get there.
- Determine the date and time for the walk.
- Where will the racecourse be located? A closed-loop course is best, when available.
- What are your fundraising goals?
- Is there a special theme? Themes such as Color Runs can increase interest in your walk.
Step 3: Implement Walkathon Software
Peer-to-peer Crowdfunding software is a must for walkathons. Our Crowdfunding software platform is designed specifically for walk-a-thons, bowl-a-thons, golf marathons, 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 their personal fundraising page and invites friends and family to support your organization through secure, online donations. Administrators configure registration types, prizes for top fundraisers, and much more.
- Provide walkers with Personal Fundraising Pages to customize and promote your fundraiser
- Fundraising Thermometers and Leaderboards display Top Team & Individual fundraisers and promote competition, so you raise more
- Embedded Social Media Share links encourage walkers to share the event w/ friends and family
- Personal Control Panel allows fundraisers to manage their personal and team pages, email friends and family, and add check donations
- Easily enter checks and off-line donations at no additional cost
Sign up for free and see how DoJiggy can help your organization more effectively run your walkathon.
DoJiggy is the Industry Leader in Walk-a-thon Software
Step 4: Recruit Walkers and Sponsors for the Walk
Start with your network: When it comes time to recruit participants and volunteers, nothing will be more important than your network and your leadership branch. These people are often well established in the community and will not only participate but will ask associates, friends, and family members to participate as well. Encourage this! Don’t forget your Sponsors. Often, companies value opportunities to engage their workforce in community activities. Therefore, it is important to ask companies not only for sponsorship to help offset the event costs, but also for their participation. Team registrations offer a fun and easy way for companies to participate.
Business and community sponsors fulfill a critical role in any successful walk-a-thon. We are not talking about donors here, but businesses that offer a significant amount of money or in-kind contributions (drinks, snacks, entertainment) to be listed as an event sponsor. Most importantly, your race sponsors create a financial backbone for your fundraiser. When organizations successfully recruit sponsors, each walk-a-thon donation can go further because sponsorships help to immediately offset event costs. Also, sponsorships often increase community exposure, which is helpful when it is time to attract the attention of the local media and recruit volunteers.
Understanding and articulating the ways in which prospective sponsors benefit from working with your organization is crucial. Everyone likes to help out a great cause; however, companies are looking for a win-win relationship. Be able to articulate exactly what your event will do for the companies that you seek sponsorship from before you speak with them. When speaking with potential sponsors, stay open to possible benefits you may have missed and look for opportunities to create more value.
Promote Your Walkathon Fundraiser Widely. Marketing and promotion will serve an important purpose in raising awareness, drawing participants and donors, and cultivating action. Most organizations utilize a variety of media for getting the word out including branding the event and creating print and promotional materials to help spread the word (i.e. walk-a-thon flyers, signage, brochures, stickers). You’ll also want to develop a Social Media and Public Relations Campaign to create a “buzz” within your local community.
Step 5: Manage Donations and Pledges Online
One of the most important considerations when planning a walkathon is how to successfully manage donations and pledges. After all, isn’t raising money your primary task? Organizers will need a secure and easy way to track and manage the numerous donations collected from your walk-a-thon participants.
DoJiggy P2P Crowdfunding software is a complete registration and donation management system designed specifically for walk-a-thons and peer-to-peer events where individual and team participants solicit and track donations and pledges for a charitable cause. Streamline your donation collection and reporting with us. Many organizations report raising two to three times more money by taking their walk-a-thon online and extending the reach of the fundraiser.
Step 6: Follow-Up & Walk Evaluation
Nearly as important as proper planning, is the final evaluation of the successes and failures once your walkathon event is complete. This task goes far beyond determining how much money you raised, though be sure to figure this! Within a week of the walk-a-thon, while the event is still very fresh in the memories of your planning team, schedule a meeting to go over the details of the walk, in order to decide what worked, and more importantly, what did not. Write down your recommendations for future walk-a-thon events and put the notes into the file for next year’s planning committee.
Don’t forget to thank everyone involved in the event’s success! A simple card or e-mail acknowledging the efforts of your volunteers, sponsors, and participants is your best insurance for a continuing supply of help and participation in future fundraising events.
As you can see, organizing a successful Walk/Run/Ride event begins and ends with careful planning. Make an investment of time before the event for thorough and thoughtful planning, and leave plenty of time in the end for an honest evaluation of your event. This is in effect, the pre-planning stage for next year’s walk after all. With careful planning, you can develop a solid fundraising backbone to support your entire mission.
Organizing a School Walkathon
We host hundreds of walkathon fundraisers for schools. Organizing a school walkathon is very similar to organizing a community walkathon, but there are some key differences. With school walks, you don’t need to spend time finding walkers – they are your students. But, you still need to motivate them to raise money! Kids love prizes and they will work very hard for even a small prize, such as a pencil. We have built several keys to student encouragement and privacy into our school walkathon software, including:
- Administrators have the ability to import participants. This feature creates a personal page for all students, without the need for them to register online.
- Or, activate our easy school registration page, which requires only basic information. Register students on a one-page form with no fees and no address needed.
- Enable privacy settings, so that search engines cannot index student pages. Also, only students’ first names and last initial will appear online.
- Use a single email address to register multiple children.
- Utilize the prize management feature to encourage students to raise money.
More Walk-a-thon Fundraising Resources
DoJiggy is the leader in free walk-a-thon and Fun Run resources and templates. Visit our walk-a-thon fundraiser resources for additional information and sample documents including walk-a-thon flyers, walk-a-thon pledge forms, and much more. We also offer great information for School Walk-a-thons and Fun Runs.