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Walk-a-thons are an excellent opportunity to engage all members of your community to learn more about your cause and raise funds for your organization.
I want to preface that these events can be a lot of work. Having community members walk a mile, or three seems like a simple task. Still, the details and effort to keep your participants safe and engaged, market the event, and capture information and funds can be strenuous on your team, and the ROI may not be there. I recommend before you decide to do a Walk-a-Thon sitting down with your team and looking at what goals you want to accomplish. Does this type of event work for your annual fundraising goals, and do you have the time and workforce to pull off this event?
Walk-a-thons can be successful!
Good things about Walk-a-Thon
- Every size donor should be able to participate
- Brings community awareness
- Low costs for a potential high gain
Before getting started...
- Give yourself time. I recommend 6-12 months, especially when it's your first event.
- Put together a committee and task force for the event.
- Identify date & time & location
- If using public roads, immediately begin talking to your local sheriff's office to talk about accommodations.
Focus on raising money
Before I get into the nitty-gritty dos and don'ts of a Walk-a-thon, I would like to say if you are a fellow fundraiser, don't lose sight of the goal: fundraising.
- Sponsors, sponsors, sponsors (this is your money maker)
- Pick out an online platform that allows walkers to register, donate, build teams, and peer-to-peer fundraise; make sure it's user-friendly and have different levels of competition; encourage walkers and teams to set goals
- Advertise people to donate to the cause first, and then show their support by walking
- Walks should be free, so to bring in revenue at the event - have merchandise for sell, have an auction, have a donate table, 'ring a bell' for every $20 donation
- Corporations like cause marketing opportunities - if you can guarantee exposure for their brand, they may be willing to give a financial donation
- What can you give a sponsor in return? Logo on banners, T-shirts, schwag bags, a table at the event, an announcement, name on PSA, a promo event on their site with media coverage, etc.
- Media sponsors - barter with your local radio stations, TV stations, newspapers, etc. to market the event (see items above)
- Build a social media presence around your event (hashtags, events, sharable items)
- Have a stage and hire a company that can set up a loudspeaker system so that you can talk to a large crowd of people.
- Work with local sheriff offices to block off traffic and close intersections.
- It would help if you also had EMS on-site and officers on the ground in case of an emergency.
- Keep volunteers on the road to help walkers navigate, provide water bottles, and first aid if needed.
- Have a group or individual lead the walk (be sensitive if you are raising funds to fight cancer - perhaps, have a trailer to pull cancer patients who are unable to walk
- Use a marching back or drumline to lead off walk.
- Encourage people to walk in honor of someone.
- Make sure to invite the media day of and have live coverage on social media, hire a photographer, and put thank yous to walkers through media/digital
- Make sure to capture participant info so you can invite them next year