• So you want to plan a walkathon…

    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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Nominate a Top Walkathon Volunteer for Cash, Sweat and Tears Award

Cash Sweat and TearsDo you have a walkathon volunteer who stands out in deserving recognition? Check out Run Walk Ride’s “Cash, Sweat and Tears” award opportunity. It’s free to apply, and applications are due tomorrow.

Just by applying you will honor your volunteer. Every nominee will be honored with a Cash, Sweat and Tears Certificate of Merit and recognition on http://www.runwalkride.com. One outstanding nominee will be recognized at the opening dinner of the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Conference. They’ll be honored with a trophy, a $500 donation to the charity of their choice from Blackbaud and a wardrobe of athletic footwear and apparel donated by New Balance.

For Walkathon Publicity, Make One or Two T Shirts Early

Consider creating a stir about your walkathon with a great unveiling of your walkathon logo and T shirt. Create a couple of T Shirts prior to the major shipment, to wear when you speak to the group. Alternatively, you could have your group’s mascot model the shirt. At our school, my co-chair Lynne created an XXXL walkathon shirt for our Bear mascot to model, and the kids were so excited when he made his appearance.  It certainly put the walkathon at front and center  in their minds.

Option A: Print your own

Here is how. You need a color inkjet printer.

1. Purchase cheap T Shirts and iron on transfer(s). You can find them at local drug stores, Target, Walmart. I’ve seen the transfers online as well.

2. Get the finalized T Shirt design (logo and slogan) from the T Shirt Team.

3. Print the T Shirt design onto the iron on transfer, then follow the directions that come with the transfer to iron it onto your shirt.

Option B: Order a single T Shirt from your supplier.

This has the side benefit of letting you see a single shirt prior to ordering mass quantities. Go to my Useful Stuff page for a few good T Shirt suppliers.

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.

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.

Setting Your Walkathon Goals

starting pathWrite down your goals for your walkathon. Then, as you plan you can make sure you are addressing them. If you have a committee, get together and decide which goals apply to you:

  • To make money? If so, how much? If you average that amount out per person, is it a reasonable expectation, or do you need to augment the event via sponsorships, concessions, recycling, a raffle, a silent auction, or other money raising efforts?
  • To build community? If so, what fun ideas can you implement to encourage lots of interaction between people?
  • For health awareness and exercise? If so, how can you give positive reinforcement for the walkers’ efforts?
  • To gain public awareness for your cause? If so, what will you do to draw the maximum amount of attention to your walkathon and the reason you walk?

Brainstorm a bit. Is there anything else you want to be sure to achieve?

Looking for what to read next?  How about “Four Criteria for Pinpointing Your Cause”…

Learn more about The Walkathon Guide book.

Four Criteria for Choosing Your Cause

walkathon-63, originally uploaded by ezekielhouse

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.  Here are four criteria for choosing something within your larger organization:

1. Walkathon participants agree this is a worthwhile need.

2. The organizations leadership agrees this is a priority item for funding.

3. The items are very concrete, and can be purchased, put to use, and then publicized within a few months. This is great if you plan to do another walkathon the following year.

4. There are options for purchasing more or less, or finding partial financing elsewhere, depending upon the amount you end up raising. For example, If you opt for your school library as your cause, you can purchase much needed seating first, then use remaining funds for books. It also works fine to have two causes, such as “site beautification” and “technology center” to give you plenty of wiggle room.

Over the years, your communiy will see the cumulative effects of their walkathons as the organization spends the funds on a growing collection of visible results!

Looking for another article useful for early stage planning?  Try this:  “Start Now for Next Year”.

Learn more about The Walkathon Guide book.

Learn more about our easy, quick, inexpensive website for walkathons.