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    Welcome to Walkathon Guide, all about how to plan a walkathon (aka walk-a-thon), to build your confidence and make it easier to get volunteers and make them successful.
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How to Plan a Walkathon Fundraiser

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New to Walkathon Planning?

Walkathon Planning - Where to StartHere are some posts to read when you are just starting out.  Each of these five articles link to the next in the sequence.  Like a treasure hunt for walkathon planning.

1. Setting Walkathon Goals

2. Four Criteria for  Pinpointing Your Walkathon Cause

3. Start Now for Next Year

4. Walkathon Volunteer List

5. Tips on Recruiting Walkathon (or any) Volunteers

You can do this!

Fourteen Ideas to Make Your Walkathon Fun for Kids

Happy Walkathon WalkerHow will you keep your walkers entertained, especially if most of them are kids?  A few walkathon entertainment ideas:

  1. Do things ahead of time to get the walkers engaged in what’s to come.  For example, if you will have special event T Shirts, get your principal, pastor or another beloved figure to show up wearing the shirt a few weeks before the event, then give a speech about the event.
  2. Have special awards for milestones reached during the walk.  The kids can collect them.  For example, we’ve used colored ribbons for each mile walked, and we’ve also used very thin, rubber band-like jelly bracelets.  The kids love to compare collections.
  3. If your route isn’t a loop you could design something similar based on other milestones.  The kids love to look at how many holes they have punched in their cards.
  4. Set up a PA system and have a DJ.  Play music and use the system for announcements.
  5. Have Karaoke.
  6. Have an orange slice station – a table stocked with orange slices and water.
  7. Have little fun things to do along the route, like “kick a soccer goal”, etc.
  8. If it’s hot, have volunteers stationed with misting sprayers (about $1 from Target), who also help keep an eye on things
  9. Set up a “mist tent” right on the course, with misting hoses attached.
  10. Have a photographer.
  11. Have a raffle.
  12. Have a live band.
  13. Have a “pocket lady” – a nice mom or grandma figure who wears an apron covered with pockets.   Each pocket holds a different trinket.  Walkers can pay 25 cents to choose a pocket and get a surprise.
  14. Have concessions.  You can often get food donations in exchange for publicity for the donor.  Give away one free item per walker, such as a popsicle or hot dog.

Learn more about The Walkathon Guide book.

And Now, A Word about Walkathon Sponsors

Use the back of the walkathon t shirt as a way to give your sponsors valuable publicity

There’s gold in the backs of your walkathon t shirts.

Think about the lifespan of a t shirt.  People will wear those shirts for years.  For some kids they become the main items in their wardrobes.

This translates to a nice revenue opportunity for your walkathon.

T shirts offer high visibility for sponsors. There’s still more advertising value in your website, banners, yard signs, press releases, and registration materials. All these items combined represent a good investment opportunity for companies who need local brand awareness and want to support their community.

For upcoming walkathons, approach sponsors at the very beginning of your planning efforts so that you can include their names in all of your publicity materials.

Start with a list of potential sponsors.  Local merchants and services are ideal, as well as the companies where your walkers work.  Don’t forget anyone who sponsored last year, to avoid hurt feelings! Then make a list of all the places you intend to publicize your sponsors.  Determine cost of sponsorship.  Typically you would offer tiered levels to accommodate varying abilities to contribute (such as Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze).  Platinum sponsors would then get the biggest logo on your signs, etc.  Write a sponsor letter and send it to all of your targets.  There is a sample letter you can copy in the Walkathon Guide e-book.  Follow up with a phone call.  With those who commit, set aside time to collect the checks, or  encourage them to pay online via your website.

Sponsorships can add significantly to your fund raising results.  Take advantage of this great opportunity.

Walkathon Pitstops and Watering Holes: Keeping Your Walkers Fuelled

A note from Lee: Thanks to our guest blogger, Lisa Sanderson, for this post. Lisa is a a freelance writer and nutritionist covering topics as diverse as the latest in health research, green food production, family nutrition and health, living with conditions and health education.
Planning a walkathon can be great fun, but with lots of things to take into consideration, it can be easy to forget some of the most important factors. Like cars whizzing around a track, your walkers will need to refuel to keep their engines running. This might involve sending everyone a message via the Facebook event page a couple of days before the event to remind them to bring some drinks and a few snacks, getting walkathon volunteers to man water stations along the route or even spotting another fundraising opportunity when it’s staring you in the face.

Free water stations

When big organizations host marathons and other running events, at every mile or so there will be huge tables covered with bottles and lined with lots of cheerful and encouraging volunteers holding out water and energy drinks to the runners as they pass. If your walkathon is attracting a lot of attention, it might be worth getting in touch with some big beverage companies or your local store to ask for a donation of bottles of water or energy drinks. It’s great publicity for them and it means you don’t have to spend any of your budget on making sure your walkathon participants stay hydrated.
Unfortunately, these companies can’t give out free drinks for everyone – if they did, they wouldn’t make any money – so you may have to provide water yourself. The cheapest way to do this is buying some plastic cups and big bottles of water, and getting a crowd of happy helpers to pour them out ahead of the walkers’ arrivals. A local school or other organization may be able to lend you some tables to put up along the way.

Free food stations

While it is necessary to provide free water for walkathon participants, providing free food is a choice that you can make for yourself. Giving walkers a little energy boost at various points along the walk or perhaps a treat at the end will give everyone a great feeling about the event, and will ensure that they all have enough energy to get around no matter what they had for breakfast. If you do decide to provide free snacks, there are ways to provide it while keeping costs down.
One of the first things to remember about providing food is that for some walkers, the walkathon is not just about raising money but it’s a way for them to get fit, too. This means that there may be a lot of health conscious people who know that, as Licensed Prescriptions states, regular exercise does not mean that you can eat what you like. On the other hand, there will be those who will love free sweet treats on their walk. Try to provide a selection of food that will cater to almost everyone. Avoid foods that can spark severe allergic reactions in some people, such as nuts. To keep costs down, try to stick to just two or three different foods and order them in bulk to get a discount. Dried fruit is a great healthy option that’s packed with energy, while a slightly less healthy option could be bowls of candy. Chocolate bars make a good snack to give to walkers when they reach the end of their walk.

Fundraising opportunities

The advantage of putting on a big fundraising event is that everyone likes to get involved and wants to pitch in. If there is an area like a park, field or even a backyard where people can congregate before and/or after the walkathon, it gives a great opportunity to set up a few stands to sell homemade cakes, cookies and muffins to raise a little bit of extra money for your cause. There are some great ideas online to give you some guidance on the traditional bestsellers at a bake sale, and you can choose the ones that are most likely to go down well after a good day’s walk.
What food you provide depends on the time of year and the resources available. If you have an electricity supply available, the choice of foods you can provide will be greater. For example, ice cream and popsicles could sell extremely well on a hot summer’s day, while hot cups of soup or chowder could be perfect for a chilly winter’s walk.
No matter what the scale of your walkathon, there are plenty of options for what food and drink to provide to keep your walkers walking and make your day a great success.