School Fun Runs and School Walkathons

Looking for an easy, healthy fundraising idea for your school? School Fun Runs® and walkathons are the perfect school fundraiser!

DoJiggy has the tools your school needs to succeed with a school walk-a-thon. Students and classrooms have personal fundraising pages with a custom URL to share via email and social media. Secure donations flow directly to your school’s bank account. Try our simple school Fun Run and walkathon software, and let us help your school or Parent Teacher Organization succeed in raising (and keeping) more money this year. 

School Walkathons & School Fun Runs

How Do School Fun Runs Raise Money?

Fun runs are all about building the school community and having fun, but your PTO’s goal remains to raise money. So, how do you raise money with a school fun run? Here are the top ideas for fundraising with a school fun run.

Peer-to-peer Fundraising

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Participants get friends and family to support their school on personal fundraising pages by collecting pledges per lap or accepting flat-rate donations. Family members love this, as they can donate right to their favorite student.

Registration Fees

Registration Fees

Some schools charge entry fees to participate in the fun run. These fees can be considered minimum donations or waived if students raise money. While registration fees are common for community fun runs, most schools waive student entry fees.

Community Sponsors

Community Sponsors

Local businesses can support the run as community sponsors, adding an extra layer of community involvement. Be sure to offer sponsors promotional opportunities on your website and at the event.

Food Trucks and Concessions Stands

Food Trucks and Concessions Stands

Selling snacks and drinks after the run keeps everyone fueled and adds to the funds raised. This is an opportunity for your sponsors to show up, and top fundraisers can win tickets for free food and drinks.

Event Apparel and Swag

Event Apparel and Swag

School spirit wear, like hats, t-shirts, and hoodies, is always in style. Selling walk-a-thon themed school merchandise keeps the fun alive after the run and builds excitement for the event from year to year.

After-Party Activities

After-Party Activities

Fun run after parties are a must! This is a great way to get the school family involved and can include raffles and door prizes, a spaghetti dinner, or another fundraiser to wrap up the day and raise additional funds.

How to Organize a School Fun Run or Walk

We have helped hundreds of schools successfully raise money with fun run events. With a dedicated Fun Run team, you can do it, too. Here are the basic steps to successfully organize a school walk-a-thon or fun run fundraiser. And yes, you can even host a virtual fun run with our websites.

School Fun Run Leadership Team

Step 1: Assemble a Fun Run Leadership Team

Don’t even try to go it alone. Successful school walk-a-thon and Fun Run events hinge on the recruitment and action of a strong leadership team with a drive to succeed. Your team should be comprised of teachers, staff, and parents – individuals with diverse skills and talents who share a common interest in the event’s success.

Step 2: Determine Fun Run/Walkathon Logistics and Financial Goals

Your team will determine the date and location of your event early in the planning process. Allow plenty of time to manage logistics to ensure the success of your school fundraising run/walk. You generally want four to six months to plan a school walkathon, though we’ve seen many pulled off in two to three months. Determine financial goals and create a fundraising budget to help you get there.

  • Determine the date and time for the School fun run/walk. The Back to School season is the most popular time of year for Fun Runs.
  • Where will the Fun Run be located? The school is the best option if you have an appropriate space.
  • What are your overall fundraising goals? Will you have student and classroom goals?
  • Is there a special walk-a-thon theme? Creating fun run themes such as Disney Runs or Color Runs can increase excitement and participation in your fundraiser.
Fun Run/Walkathon Logistics & Financial Goals
Utilize School Fun Run and Walk-a-thon Software

Step 3: Utilize School Fun Run and Walk-a-thon Software

Peer-to-peer crowdfunding software allows students to easily raise funds online for their school via their network of family and friends. No more going door to door or counting stacks of money.

Features of our School Fun Run platform include:

  • Participants have a fundraising page where friends and family make donations and view fundraising progress
  • Classrooms or grade levels have fundraising pages that include all participants’ combined fundraising progress
  • Gamification elements such as fundraising thermometers, leaderboards, and top fundraisers are tracked and displayed on your website (if desired) to promote competition and help you raise more
  • Privacy features are enabled so that last names do not show on your walk website, and student pages are not indexed in Google
  • Off-line donations and checks are easily tracked and entered from a walkathon pledge form to the software (at no cost)
  • Administrators can import a list of students or enable easy, free registration for schools
  • Per unit of effort pledges can be accepted for laps or other specified units (miles, kilometers, obstacles)

Keep More Money with DoJiggy

Crowdfunding Software for School Fun Runs & School Walk-a-thons

Try our FREE peer-to-peer software for Run/Walk/Ride fundraisers today.

Step 4: Don’t Forget the Prizes and Incentives

The success of your event will be determined by how motivated your students are to fundraise. Kids love prizes of all kinds and will work hard to earn even small incentives. We recommend that Fun Run prizes are structured in this way to reach your fundraising goal while encouraging everyone to participate:

  • Participation – Students receive a small prize (i.e., a pencil, wristband, or choice from a treasure box of small items) for registering as a walker on your crowdfunding website.
  • $100 or Other Attainable Level – When they reach this level of fundraising, students receive a free fun run t-shirt, hat, or other memorabilia or school spirit award. Some schools also include a raffle option; anyone reaching the goal is entered into a raffle for prizes.
  • Top Student Fundraisers – The top three school fundraisers receive large prizes, like $50 and $100 gift cards.
  • Classroom with 100% Participation – When everyone in the classroom has registered or collected at least one donation, students receive extra recess or dress-down day. These are free prizes that do not cost your school any money but are very popular with kids.
  • Top Fundraising Classrooms – Students receive a pizza party or similar luncheon event for the top one or two fundraising classrooms.
Prizes & Incentives for school jog-a-thons and fun runs
Finding Parents and Volunteers for the Race Day

Step 5: Recruit Volunteers for the Race Day

Parental buy-in is another key to the success of your fun run. You’ll need parents to help students register, get donations, and volunteer on event day. Clearly state your fundraising goals and objectives to get parents excited and see the value of your event.

As you organize a fun run, make one person on the planning committee responsible for managing volunteers at the Run. This Volunteer Coordinator is critical, so choose someone who can handle the pressure. As volunteers arrive, the coordinator makes assignments and gives instructions to those who will help with crucial volunteer positions:

  • Safety and first aid
  • Lap counters or timers
  • Food and water for your runners
  • Distributing prizes
  • Clean up crew

How Much Money Can Fun Run and School Walk-a-thon Fundraisers Make?

School fun runs can be lucrative events when peer-to-peer fundraising is successfully used. Each of your students and classrooms taps into their network to support the school. Create a fundraising goal for students and get them excited about the event. Kids love prizes, so incentivize them with awards and watch the money flow in! And unlike product sales or other popular fundraisers for schools, with walk-a-thons, there are very few upfront costs, so most of the money raised goes to your school.

Click on these top schools and see how much money they raised with their school fun runs using the DoJiggy platform.

Montclair Elementary

Montclair Elementary raised $218,836

Liberty Bible Academy

Liberty Bible Academy raised $106,974

Rutland Elementary School

Rutland Elementary School raised $105,605

St. Thomas More Catholic School

St. Thomas More Catholic School raised $85,815

Palisades Charter Elementary School

Palisades Charter Elementary raised $85,425

St. Paul's Episcopal School

St. Paul’s Episcopal School raised $84,843

Walk-a-thon Themes Add to the Fun

Adding a theme to your school walk-a-thon or Fun Run can make the event more engaging and fun for your participants. Create a signature fundraising event that students will look forward to each year, with a walk-a-thon theme!

Dog Walks

Dog Walks

Dog walkathons can add a lot of fun to your event. Students bring their canine companions (on leashes!) and walk with them. Make sure that everyone is safe and feels comfortable, you have plenty of water for the humans and dogs, and your course is pet-friendly. A dog walk is a perfect theme when raising funds for animal shelters and advocacy groups for animals. 

Color Walks

Color Runs

Color Runs make great school crowdfunding events. The Fun Run is done by adding packets of colorful powders at registration and for spectators. The students wear white to start and enjoy the day with bursts of colors they can do with what they wish. Learn more about organizing one with this Fundraising with a Color Run article.

Pajama Walks

Pajama Walks

Another fun walk idea to consider is a pajama walk or onesie run. The kids gear up in their pajamas before the event begins. Onesies have recently made a comeback in style and can be a fun idea for young ones and adults together. A more easily accessible outfit can be pajamas. Event names like Pajama Jamboree or Pajama Jog roll with the theme well.

Night Light Walks

Night Light Walks

Consider this idea as a high school party that happens to be on a run to the finish line. The event typically has a DJ playing high-energy music, and participants are given glow sticks to use and enjoy on their walk. Participation in this event draws camaraderie by costume, where walkers can upgrade their outfits for extra pizzazz with glow-in-the-dark socks, shoelaces, body paint, and clothing. 

Turkey Trots

Turkey Trots

You guessed it! These are school walks that take place on or around the Thanksgiving holiday. This is the time of year when everyone wants to give back and connect with others. Turkey Trots are fun community events, and let’s face it, we can all use a little extra exercise around Thanksgiving. Turkey Trots can be successfully incorporated with #GivingTuesday fundraising campaign kick-offs.

TV Show-Themed or Movie-Themed Fun Runs

TV or Movie-Themed Fun Runs

Another great option for school walk-a-thon themes is to design an event after a TV show or movie. With the ever-growing popularity of shows like Game of Thrones or Star Wars, why not let people don their best Daenerys wig or Princess Leia buns? Start the enthusiasm with your themed walkathon website to get participants excited. Include costume contests with prizes for the best dressed kids.

Disney-Themed Walks

Disney-Themed Walks

A fun walk fundraiser for the younger crowd and elementary school fundraising is a Disney-Themed walk-a-thon. Parents and kids can get their best Elsa or Aladdin costumes and run with the enthusiasm of Moana singing out at sea. Disney attire is certainly not limited to princesses or new movies but can also involve the classics, like Mickey Mouse or Minnie Mouse’s ears.

Santa-Themed Walks

Santa-Themed Walks

Should you need a fundraising walk or run during the wintertime, it’s only natural to make it a holiday-themed event. Everyone can get into the holiday spirit! A famous walk in New York City is called SantaCon, where participants join in costume as Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, or elves and Santa helpers. You can also do a Jingle Bell Jog, where everything from holiday sweaters to Christmas-themed costumes counts as an outfit.

Water Walks

Water Walks

Late spring walkathons can get pretty hot. Why not add a cooling aspect to the run/walk with water guns? Include a small water gun with registration so everyone can join in the fun. What’s great here is that the event can have added activities, like water slides, water balloon tosses, and water sprinklers on the side or at the after-party, for participants and spectators alike to join in the water fun.

Halloween Costume Walkathons

Halloween Costume Walkathons

Halloween walk-a-thons can be good, spooky fun! If your school fundraiser is happening around Halloween, why not go with the flow of the theme and make it a costume walk? Everyone will get in the spirit. Hosting the best costume contest for participants is a great way to end the walk. School fun runs and walks are often held in the fall, making this a great school fundraising option.

Zombie Lurch

Zombie Lurch

Zombies are everywhere, from shows like Walking Dead and iZombie to movies like Dawn of the Dead. Then there’s the ever-classic music video, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Becoming a zombie can be a fun idea for your walkathon fundraising effort. School staff will also enjoy this one! Sell related items and offer games supporting the theme, especially around Halloween.

Walk for a Cure

Walk for a Cure Events

Walk for a Cure events aim to raise funds for breast cancer research and awareness. This is a great event for students to learn about philanthropy and being part of a community. Select a charitable organization that works with breast cancer survivors to receive part of the funds raised. Provide pink ribbons for all and sell pink accessories at the walk and on your online store.

School Walk-a-thon Timeline and Planner

The school walk timeline is usually shorter than community events, as some logistics are easier to manage. Still, having a fun run timeline and planner and staying on track is key to your event’s success.

4-6 Months Before the Event

  • Designate an event chairperson or co-chairs.
  • Begin recruiting your leadership team and forming committees.
  • Determine high-level walk-a-thon objectives.
  • Select the event’s date, time, location, walk distance, and course.
  • Start a walk-a-thon file where you will store all relevant walk-a-thon data for future reference.

3-4 Months Before the Walk

  • Brand your event; design a theme, logo, and slogan.
  • Build your free DoJiggy walk-a-thon website.
  • Set fundraising and participation goals.
  • Determine prizes for top fundraisers.
  • Create a community sponsorship packet and begin approaching prospective sponsors.
  • Determine a rain day plan (or set a ‘rain or shine’ policy).
  • If needed, apply for permits through local city/county/campus governing bodies.
  • Determine liability and insurance needs.
  • Determine schematics of event day registration and after-party or expo area.
Start with the plan
Promote your event

2-3 Months Before Your Event

  • Continue soliciting community sponsorships.
  • Ask for in-kind donations for goody bags and prizes.
  • Find vendors for food and drinks.
  • Produce promotional flyers and print media.
  • Finalize event course, pit stops, insurance needs, and permits.

1-2 Months Before the Walk-a-thon

  • Announce the campaign widely to your students.
  • Start taking online registrations and donations.
  • Start posting signs and distributing print material.
  • Determine logistics for registration, event set up and break down.
  • Assign volunteer roles and responsibilities.
  • Plan for first-aid needs.
  • Submit a community calendar announcement on your website and social media channels.

2-3 Weeks Before Your Event

  • Assemble goody bags and information packets for participants.
  • Repost flyers and print media for the event (be sure to include any additional sponsors).
  • Send confirmation emails to participants, including logistical information for the Fun Run day. 
  • Confirm the participation of sponsors, vendors, and volunteers.
  • Secure communication resources (such as walkie-talkies) for race day and any materials needed, such as traffic cones and/or tape.

One Week Before the Walk

  • Send campaign emails to students. Report fundraising leaders to excite last-minute fundraising.
  • Complete a final check-in with volunteers to make sure all assignments are covered.
  • Ensure all emergency items, such as water, snacks, camera, and first aid, are on hand.
Event logistic
Organize a wrap-up meeting

Show Time: Event Day

  • Arrive early for event set up. Delegate responsibility among the leadership team.
  • Thank and recognize all participants and contest winners.
  • Make sure that all sponsors are thanked and recognized publicly.
  • Document the event with photos and memorable quotes. Designate photographers who are not assigned other tasks.

Immediately Following the Walk or Fun Run

  • Organize a wrap-up meeting with the leadership team to critique the event and update your files with suggestions for next year’s event. This should be done within a week of the event so that everything is fresh in mind.
  • Complete all Run financials – determine actual monies raised, charge per lap or mile donors, make final payments on open invoices, etc.
  • Send thank-you acknowledgments to all event sponsors and volunteers. Detail the amount raised and how this money will make a difference.
  • Update your DoJiggy website with event pictures, thank yous to your sponsors, and total funds raised.

Why Do So Many PTOs Choose School Fun Runs and School Walk-a-thons?

As parents and educators, we are interested in teaching children how physical activity and a healthy lifestyle can contribute to overall self-esteem, productivity, and enjoyment of life. There is a tendency for children to make unhealthy choices like eating fast food, playing video games, and not getting enough exercise. This is a constant topic in the news and a concern for educational institutions and parents. Educators and parents are looking for opportunities that convey the importance of building an overall healthy lifestyle. Cookie dough, chocolate bar, and candy fundraisers don’t do that, but Fun Runs can.

What's So Great About School Jog-a-thons, Fun Runs, School Walk-a-thons?

This is one reason why school walk-a-thons and Fun Runs have become so popular. Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO or PTA) and administrators choose walkathons for fundraising events for many other reasons. Not only do walkathons and Fun Runs combine exercise (whether running, walking, skipping, or rolling) and fun for all participants, but they also provide the opportunity to generate significant income without high overhead costs. School Fun Runs are great for sports teams and elementary school fundraising, as they support health and wellness, school spirit, and encourage teamwork.

A school walkathon or School Fun Run fundraiser can unite the community. Local businesses can sponsor the race and set up information booths at the after-party. Parents and volunteers donate their time to solicit in-kind donations, set up the race day pit stops, and host the kick-off and post-event celebration. If your event is a family or community event, don’t forget to include extra opportunities to raise money for your school – maybe a fundraising raffle, charity auction, or bake sale.

Fun Run and Walk-a-thon Alternatives Are Popular School Fundraising Events

Color Runs are popular for school events

Are you looking for something like a school walk-a-thon for your group but hoping to make it a unique student experience? We have some unique fundraising ideas for you. These fundraisers can all be run as school crowdfunding campaigns, where your students raise money via personal fundraising pages.

  • Incorporate an obstacle course fundraiser with a fun run for middle school fundraising events.
  • Dance marathons or all-night dance parties are fun high school fundraising events where donors can pledge for the amount of time danced.
  • School service projects or serve-a-thons raise money while offering service to the community. These can be organized with a local nonprofit partner.
  • Bike-a-thons or stationary spin-a-thons are great, fast-paced school fundraisers.
  • Read-a-thons and reading fundraisers teach literacy and a love of learning while raising much-needed school funds.

More Walkathon and School Fundraising Resources

Fun Runs® is a registered trademark of DoJiggy LLC.