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.

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