Choosing a Location for your Walkathon

Make your walkathon route a loop with many interesting things along the way

Map your walkathon route and site, including water stations, concessions, and even waystations that add to the fun.

Consider the following factors when you choose your walkathon site and route:

  • If you want to support people with varied levels of endurance, choose a route that is a loop.  That way people can duck out at any time.
  • For children, an ideal length for your route is ¼ to ½ mile. For adults it can be longer.
  • Is the area safe?
  • Is there adequate parking?
  • Are there adequate facilities or can you augment appropriately, including restrooms, shade, seating, concessions, and electrical power?
  • Is the neighborhood amenable to having a large event?
  • Do you need one or two professional custodians to assist with cleanup, and if so are these services available?

Reach agreement between your leaders and any outsider who controls the site on the date and exact location, and if necessary, obtain written permission from those responsible. Be sure you inform other groups who would normally use that site, such as sports leagues, that it would be unavailable or shared that day. If you are a community organization in a small town, consider presenting to your town council to obtain moral support and keep them informed.

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Artwork for Fall Walkathons

Go Red for the American Heart Association, a great model for walkathon color and artwork

The American Heart Association's two color "Go Red" campaign - high impact.

If you are planning a walkathon for October or sooner, then it’s time to develop your artwork.  You’ll use it on signs and then t shirts and also put it on your website and registration materials.   If you want to put out yard signs, order them as soon as possible.  Forward this post to your publicity chair person if you’ve got one!

I asked Roy of Roy Rezentes Design what a walkathon planner should think about in creating their art work, assuming

  • no money for design
  • little money for production

He said to choose a very simple and high impact color scheme with just one main color and one accent, then use it everywhere.  The limited colors minimizes cost but can also have greater recognition than a more cluttered approach.  Think Avon Breast Cancer pink with purple, American Heart Association red with white.  With your two colors on flyers, yard signs, a banner or two, a website and Facebook page your words and images will really start to pop.

He also recommends you read “Ten logo design tips from the field”, from Logo Design Love blogger David Airey (click here to see it).   We thought parts were a bit heavy for non-artists but still well worth a look.

For yard signs, I love Build a Sign so much I look for excuses to order yard signs (click here to visit their site).  They are quick and the signs always look great.  I use the online tool, sometimes exclusively and sometimes with artwork that I upload.

For t-shirts, I’ve worked with the same supplier for many years with great success. You get what you want, on schedule and at a great price. Go to the Walkathon Shop for a quote.

Poll: When is your Walkathon?

This is an anonymous poll, just because I am curious…

Thank you for your help.

Let’s Talk about Planning Walkathons!

shoe2Roger Carr, author of Charity Walks Blog, has invited me as his first guest on the Charity Event Success radio show. The interview will take place on Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 2 p.m. Eastern. We will be discussing the topic of Planning for a Successful Walkathon. There are several ways to listen to the conversation:

* Call (347) 850-8340 to listen to the show live

* Listen to the streamed show from the host webpage at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/charity-event-success

* Listen to an archive of the interview will be available immediately following the show at Roger’s blog.

Be sure to leave a comment on the show page when you visit.

Walkathon Waiver Form, Insurance, and Local Government

shoe2Several people have asked about insurance coverage and waiver forms for walkathons.

Most nonprofits have a commercial general liability insurance policy that would extend to a walkathon fundraiser.  The California State PTA, for example, provides coverage for school events if your parent group is part of that organization (I checked in August 2009 – please recheck with your own leadership).  Check with your organizations leaders or legal counsel about liability and whether there are other areas to address. Legal requirements vary based on your location.

If you are holding the walkathon on public property, check with your local police and fire and the person who manages the location, to see what they require such as a use application.  If you control the property where you’ll hold your event, such as a school or church, you can simply keep your director in the loop regarding plans.

In any case you will need a disclaimer for all participants in your event.  Even with the best of intentions, accidents can and do happen. You can help protect your organization by collecting Waiver and Release of Liability from each of your participants before the event.  DoJiggy.com is one of many sites that provide a sample walkathon waiver form that you might opt to use with your registration packet, modified to your needs.  You can find it here.

Plan your Walk-a-thon Celebration Up Front

If you’re just starting to organize a walk-a-thon, it may seem strange to think about how you will celebrate.  But planning now lets you make the celebration more meaningful because you can easily cover the details if you’re aware of them.

Four Ways to Celebrateasnci

  1. Have a slide show.  Line up some photographers for the day of the event, and have them get shots of as many participants as possible.  Check out the inspiring slide show put together as part of the Autism Awareness Walk-a-thon in North Central Indiana.
  2. Have awards for longest distance or most funds raised.  Tell participants ahead of time to get their competitive juices going, and be sure to track the info you’ll need.
  3. Give every walker a certificate of participation that also denotes distance walked.  Line up a volunteer to create the certificates and be sure your organizers have the records available.  That way they will get started right away even if you personally are still recovering from walk-a-thon day.
  4. Publicy thank your volunteers.

Schedule your after -walkathon celebration up front to get it on everyone’s calendars right along with the walkathon itself.  Then when it’s ready, send me a link to your slideshow!  I’ll be celebrating too.

Walkathon Volunteer and Committee List

Courtesy of Yolo County SPCA and basykes

Courtesy of Yolo County SPCA and basykes

When you organize a walkathon, job #1 is to get volunteers.  With a bunch of great teams on board, walkathon planning falls into place naturally.  Start getting volunteers months before the walkathon.  Focus on team leaders but the more you can fill the teams, the easier it will be to get those leaders.  Put out signup sheets everywhere you can.

Here is a table showing typical volunteer roles.  If your walkathon has other volunteers, please add them by commenting (click on “comment”, below).   This is based on a walkathon with about 300 walkers, from 8:30 AM – 4 PM, so you can adjust accordingly.

Committee Size (incl. Leader) Description
Walkathon Chair 1  – 3 people Recruits team leaders and helps fill teams with volunteers.   Determines specific cause.  Provides backup to all team leaders.  Manages overall timeline.
Insurance and legal liaison 1 Addresses city government, police and insurance issues.
T Shirts 3 Creates, sells, and distributes T Shirts
Publicity 2 Creates slogan and logo.  Creates  flyers, emails, newsletter articles.  If necessary, works with the press, maintains blog.
Technology 1 Selects and sets up online fundraising system.  Works closely with Registration and Treasurer.  Sets up blog for publicity chair if necessary.
Registration 15 Makes sure everyone has registered at the beginning, checked out at the end.  Creates registration forms, punch cards or bead lanyards, etc.
Treasurer 2 Handles all finances.  Collects money from all walkers.
Concessions 26 Plans food, purchases food, prepares, sells and serves throughout event.   Prepares orange slices prior to event.
Entertainment 2 Organizes any music, dancing, etc, and gets necessary furniture and equipment for entertainment
Course Volunteers 41 Organizes all course volunteers (hole punchers for punch cards to count laps, awards at key milestones, squirters if it’s hot), keeps water and orange slice tables stocked.  Purchases supplies for course related activities like awards, hole puncher tools, lanyards for punch cards, etc.
Sponsors 1 Get sponsors who pay for T Shirts, possibly pay for more.  Publicize sponsor names.
Course layout, setup and cleanup 4 Design the course.  Set it up prior to event.  Take down yellow tape after event.
Site layout, setup and cleanup 8 Map the rest of the site – where to place check in tables, food, music, etc.  Then set up to start, take down at end.
Photography 20 Try to get a photo of every participant.  Create slide show.
First Aide 1 Provide basic first aide.  Be CPR certified and available the entire day of the event.
Pinch Hitters 4 Pick up anything that falls through the cracks.
Crazy Hair 1 Give wacky hair styles.
Certificates and awards event 2 Arrange for slide show, create certificates for all participants including miles walked, put on assembly, recognize top walkers, announce money earned
Group financial chairperson 1 This person handles finances for your group in events outside of this walkathon.  He/She should verify count for all payments collected by the Walkathon Treasurer, and make deposits.

Ready to read some more? Here’s the secret to recruiting volunteers.

Learn more about The Walkathon Guide book.