Nonprofits and school groups have long favored walk-a-thons, Fun Runs, and similar events where donations and pledges are collected to raise money for a charitable cause. These peer-to-peer fundraising events offer great opportunities to raise money and spread the word about your organization without high overhead costs. Best of all, they are fun events everyone will look forward to and want to participate in. So, are you wondering how to organize a walkathon?
You may feel overwhelmed if you’ve been tasked with organizing a walkathon. There are many moving parts to coordinate. We’ve outlined the steps to organize a walkathon below – designed to keep the walkathon planning process on track. Good luck getting your walk-a-thon fundraiser going. 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. Your team should comprise individuals with diverse skills and talents who share a common interest in the organization’s success. Working smart at this stage of the campaign requires delegation. Consider assigning a person (or team of people, if possible) to the following project areas:
- Legal/Logistics: this person should be 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 this group is, the better.
Step 2: Determine Walkathon Logistics & Financial Goals
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, give yourselves enough time to manage all logistics. You generally want at least six 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 walkathon theme? Themes such as Color Runs can increase interest in your walk.
Step 3: Implement Walkathon Software
Peer-to-peer fundraising software is a must for walkathons. Our p2p crowdfunding platform is designed specifically for walk-a-thons, bowl-a-thons and other events where individual and team participants solicit and track donations and pledges. Each event participant creates and manages their personal fundraising page and invites friends and family members 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 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
- Administrators easily enter checks and off-line donations at no cost
Sign up for free and see how DoJiggy can help your organization effectively run your walkathon.
DoJiggy is the Industry Leader in Walk-a-thon Software
Step 4: Recruit Walkers and Sponsors for the Walk
When recruiting participants and volunteers, nothing will be more important than your network and 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 with them. Encourage this! Don’t forget your event sponsors. Often, companies value opportunities to engage their workforce in community activities. Therefore, it is important to ask companies for sponsorship to help offset the event costs and 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 significant money or in-kind contributions (drinks, snacks, entertainment) to be promoted as event sponsors. 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 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 how prospective sponsors benefit from working with your organization is crucial. Everyone likes to help out a great cause; however, companies look for a win-win relationship. Articulate exactly what your event will do for the companies 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 are essential in raising awareness, drawing participants and donors, and cultivating action. Most organizations utilize a variety of media to get 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, and stickers). You’ll also want to develop a Social Media and Public Relations campaign to create a buzz.
Step 5: Manage Donations and Pledges Online
Managing donations and pledges is one of the most important considerations when planning a walkathon. After all, isn’t raising money your primary task? Organizers need a secure and easy way to track and manage the donations collected from your walk-a-thon participants.
Our P2P crowdfunding software is a 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 fundraiser’s reach.
Step 6: Follow-Up & Walk Evaluation
The final evaluation of successes and failures once your walkathon event is complete is nearly as critical as proper planning. This task goes far beyond determining how much money you raised, but be sure to figure this out! 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, 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 next year’s planning committee file.
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. Invest time before the event for thorough and thoughtful planning, and leave plenty of time at the end for an honest evaluation of your event. This is, in effect, the pre-planning stage for next year’s walk. With careful planning, you can develop a solid fundraising backbone to support your mission.
Organizing a School Walkathon
We host hundreds of walkathon fundraisers for schools. Organizing a school walkathon is 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 will work 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 can 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 simple form with no fees and no address needed.
- Enable privacy settings so search engines cannot index student pages, and only students’ first names and last initials 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, pledge forms, and more.