Planning Your Walk-A-Thon
THE NEWBIES WALK-A-THON GUIDE
Congratulations, you’ve just pledged yourself to a really noble cause. Now it’s time to figure out how you’re going to pull it off and do it spectacularly! A walk-a-thon is a popular way to raise funds for charity minus the big overhead costs. Whether you’re planning for a huge turnout or just looking for a way to develop a sense of camaraderie within a corporation, start your walk-a-thon journey down the right path.
THE LEADERSHIP SQUAD
You may start as an army of one but as you develop excitement for the cause, you will meet people that have expertise in areas that are critical to victory. Interview volunteers to see if they have hidden talents that can be applied in areas of tactical management.
PERMIT ACQUISITION AND POLICE DEPARTMENT NOTIFICATION
When picking a location for your walk-a-thon, obtaining a special event permit and insurance may be mandatory. The official government website for your city should provide details including how much advance notice will be required. When choosing your route, think about where you want the walk-a-thon to end. A public park with established amenities is an excellent choice. Additionally, the open space can serve as a secondary venue for raising funds with bake sale items and mementos.
Your bake sale can be an extraordinary resource to boost the amount of funds raised. Ask your Martha Stewarts and Betty Crockers to be adventurous in their sweet concoctions. Nothing sells better than treats that are visually appealing so layer on the sprinkles and confetti. Don’t forget to provide peanut and gluten free choices. Recipe.com offers some great bake sale ideas here.
GETTING CRAFTY WITH THE NAME
The name of your walk should reflect the cause or charity and even the location or venue. You can also include the length of the walk. A catchy phrase and inspirational branding can increase the prospects for a successful event. If you’re not the creative type, crowd source it within your group of volunteers or outsource to a copy writer for as little as $25 at www.freelancer.com.
INVESTIGATE PLEDGE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
Handling registrations, pledges and donations should be the least of your worries with many options for online management. DoJiggy Pledge offers a web based system specifically for walk-a-thon events with no required hosting or hardware. They also offer a slew of additional resources here. Really simple solutions are PayPal, Google Checkout and Eventbrite. If you’re a registered non-profit, you can enjoy reduced fees for many services. A detailed article on tools for event registration is located here.
A liability waiver releasing you from legal recourse should anyone sustain an injury at the event is advisable. A basic first-aid kit should be on site. Ask for volunteers from your local hospitable to attend the walk-a-thon in case of emergencies.
EVENT HOOPLA, BALLYHOO & PROMOTION
It’s almost unheard of these days to promote anything without a website. Platforms like Weebly and Wix offer free and low cost, easy solutions. Now is the time to envision the big picture so you can integrate all the functionality you want for the event.
Your own circle of friends, nearby schools and business associates can spark the flame for your promotion. Meetup.com has groups of avid walkers already identified for you. Check out some of the established walking groups and invite the organizer to spread the word about the cause. Create a page on Facebook specifically for the event and invite your friends to “Like” the page. Don’t be shy to explicitly ask them to invite their friends as well. The “word of mouth” reach on Facebook can extend your circle to thousands of people.
To create a “buzz” for your walk-a-thon, get listed on local event sites. Do a Google search for “submit events in [Your City Name].” Typically you will get results for community websites that accept event submissions. Each will have its own criteria for submission so get started early
PIGGY BACK WITH OTHER SOCIAL EVENTS OR HIGHLY FREQUENTED OUTLETS
Ask fellow event organizers to allow you to hand out flyers or make an announcement at their next event. Be aware that distributing flyers on private property is often off limits. Ask local merchants with a lot of foot traffic if you may leave a stack of flyers by the register. Think about the size of the flyer with this approach. Merchants are more likely to accept if it doesn’t take up all the real estate by the cash register.
Old fashioned media outreach can be fruitful too. Contact advertising directors or PSA directors at local radio, newspaper and television stations. Prep yourself with a ready pitch that explains the value of your cause and why it’s useful to the community. Brevity and clarity of purpose is crucial.
PETITION FOR MATCHING CORPORATE FUNDS
Have connections at local corporations? It doesn’t hurt to appeal for a contribution. You can pitch the idea as a great publicity opportunity for the business and a larger media footprint will help bring more attention to your cause.
SWAY WITH SWAG
To build a sense of unity, walk-a-thon organizers typically have custom t-shirts, water bottles, totes and other swag produced. www.DesignAShirt.com offers exceptionally low prices and fast shipping on all custom t-shirt orders. Plus we give an extra special discount on orders where the messaging and/or graphics on the t-shirt are clearly meant to support a charitable cause. Need a logo to galvanize the giving? www.Designcontest.com is a resource that allows you to create unique contests where designers compete to produce custom logos and you only pay for the winning design of your choice. Keep color complexity in mind when defining instructions for the artists because full color printing is typically more costly to reproduce.
THIRST QUENCHERS AND MUNCHIES
Without a doubt, you will need to provide some hydration for your walkers, before, during and after the walk. Munchies can be provided at your discretion as it may conflict with your post-walk bake sale. Take a crack at acquiring supplies through donations from local grocery stores and merchants. When soliciting donations, identifying the right person beforehand will save a lot of time. If it’s a big company, ask to speak to the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility. At smaller businesses, involvement will be a choice of the manager or owner. Prepare your story and tell them how their donation can benefit them. Be ready to include them as a sponsor on t-shirts, banners, flyers and of course, offer your undying loyalty to their brand.
Have someone to manage a tally of funds raised throughout the event. An announcement of the sum total raised at the post-walk rallying point should be the finale to your event allowing everyone involved to celebrate the achievement of a shared goal. Your announcer should be the most energetic and social person in your volunteer crew. Bubble blowing kits, ribbon streamers or pinwheels can really ramp up the party vibe at the closing celebration. Finally, remember to formally thank all of the people that helped make your walk-a-thon a spectacular success!