Readathon Opportunity

Raise a Reader ProgramWe’re going to deviate from walkathons and talk about readathons.   A readathon  (or read a thon) is geared to kids ranging from the earliest readers all the way through high school.  Readers gather pledges based on how many minutes they read, much like walkathon-ers gather pledges for laps they walk.

Schools and other groups wishing to to host a readathon should definitely take advantage of the Raise a Reader Program, sponsored by the International Reading Association, Parents magazine, and Parents.com.  While technically not designed specifically for readathons, the program happens to be ideal.  Benefits:

  • The program allows students to log their reading minutes as they devour books throughout the spring, using a free service provided by BigTent.
  • Students who log reading minutes will be entered for individual prizes
  • The free program includes a personalized school page where you, your students, and parents can watch your school’s progress
  • One winning school with the most logged minutes per student will receive a $5,000 library grant.

Click here to get more info and sign up before February 28. The reading begins on March 8.  Raise funds, raise readers, raise school spirit all at once.

One Kid, One Bike, Big Success

Check this out from today’s ABC News:

“A young British schoolboy has raised more than 100,000 pounds ($160,000) Monday for Haiti’s relief effort by cycling round his local park.”

Two thoughts for even the smallest walkathons (or bikeathons):

  1. Yes, you can do this!
  2. He took donations via a web page.  Go online to maximize your fundraising and also so your walkathon can catch on “virally”, where friends tell friends who tell friends.

Read more…  UK 7-Year-Old Raises Tens of Thousands for Haiti – ABC News.

DoJiggy Grant Applications Due Nov 15

Here is a great opportunity for extra funds for your group.  Since walkathons are one of DoJiggy’s specialties, I think that if you’re planning a walkathon you may stand a good chance at winning one of their grants.   Application are due Nov. 15.    From their press release:

Boulder, CO (Oct. 27, 2009) – Online fundraising software services provider, DoJiggy, today announced a call for grant proposals for their DoJiggy Giving™ program. DoJiggy Giving supports nonprofits and community organizations through the donation of in-kind software services as well as a percentage of the company’s annual profits. This year the company plans to award five or more organizations with cash grants in the amount of $500 – $1,000.

For more info from DoJiggy, plus the application form…

Just for disclosure, I am not an affiliate of DoJiggy but took a look at their software.  It could be a nice tool for you to organize your event, worth a look.  For more info on software, see my older post, Online Fundraising Tools for Walkathons.

Go for it!  Somebody has to win so it might as well be you, right?

The Big Picture – Seven Tips for Planning a Walkathon

Autumn PathLet’s take a break from all the walkathon details, and take a  look at the big picture for walkathon planning.   Here are seven thoughts to help you still be aware of  the trees but yet be in control of the whole  walkathon forest.  (I hope you like my metaphorest).


1. Focus on getting volunteers, and everything else goes more smoothly

As chair of the event, your first inclination may be to jump in and start taking care of the details.  But remember, your role is to keep an eye on the big picture and support the many others who help make the event a success. Be relentless about recruiting volunteers starting day 1 and throughout the walkathon planning cycle.   Put a lot of thought into clearly defining walkathon volunteer roles.  Unencumbered by details, you can be available as a sounding board and cheering section for your team while they tackle their respective areas of responsibility.

2. Pinpoint a specific cause within your overall goals

Most walkathons already have a larger cause like the school, animal shelter, or another charity.   However if you have the option, be more specific by pinpointing tangible and visible items to be purchased.  That way your community can see the results of their efforts.

3. Be aware of interdependencies
Work with your committee chairs to create a  walkathon planning timeline and chart of all of your planning activities, and identify areas where one committee needs deliverables from another.  Make sure everyone is aware of these important timing needs.

4. Leverage technology
Take advantage of one of the great software tools out there to speed recruiting volunteers and allowing them to select their roles and time slots.  In addition, if you have a few helpers with a strong technical aptitude, consider using an online tool for collecting donations or setting up a blog to publicize your event.

5. Don’t reinvent the wheel

You will need to hand out walkathon registration forms, sponsor letters, publicity flyers and instruction sheets.  There are plenty of well done examples as close as your Internet connection, and twenty pages of them in the back of my e-book ready to copy, paste, edit and go.  Use those!

6. Have a pinch hitter team
Even with the best of planning, you’ll find a few things falling through the cracks in the last few days before your event and on walkathon day itself.  Have a few trusty volunteers ready to catch them, so that you can remain sane during the most hectic part of your planning process.

7. Celebrate success at every step
During the planning process, walkathon day, and when the final funds have been counted, how and what will you celebrate?  Be sure to point out great jobs done by your planning team all along the way.  Then decide ahead of time what milestones you’ll recognize for your walkers, whether it’s number of laps or miles walked or amount of funds raised.  During the event, consider having special prizes at each distance milestone, such as jelly bracelets or showy beads on a necklace.  After the event, a slide show may be in order.   Don’t let the opportunity to revel in success slip by.  For one, you’ll add enthusiasm for next year’s walkathon.  But more importantly, everyone deserves the fun of recognizing a job well done.

If you’re new here, take a look around this blog and check out The Walkathon Guide e-book, which you can purchase and download in about three minutes.  There are plenty of details here!  But remember to stay on top of the big picture and delegate those details, to end up with an awesome, well organized walkathon and a very calm and happy walkathon chair (that being you!).

Learn more about The Walkathon Guide book.

Learn more about Lap Cards.

Great Walk-a-thon Publicity by Booksin Elementary

Booksin's Amazing RaceHere is a nice, inexpensive publicity idea.  Booksin Elementary has set up a very professional looking blog  (click here to see it). It uses WordPress, which I can attest to as being easy and fun.  They’ve purchased their own web address, which costs just $15.

Notice how they use the right column to give their sponsors extra publicity.

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