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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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Walkathon Volunteer Pinch Hitter

Designate a few pinch hitters for the most hectic days of your walkathon - just before and walkathon day.

William J. Bradley, Toronto, from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

In the final days before your walkathon, when you wish you could clone yourself because there’s too much to do, your pinch hitters become that clone and  jump in with whatever unexpected, unplanned job that arises.

Be sure to recruit one or two walkathon pinch hitters among your key volunteers.

The ideal pinch hitter either has chaired a walkathon before, or plans to do so next year.  Otherwise, get people who are generally competent, energetic, and versatile.

Set expectations that you’ll need several hours of help during the last days before and the day of your walkathon.

My pinch hitter story had to do with orange slices – several crates of them.  It was the day before our walkathon.  The oranges had fallen between the cracks, belonging neither to concessions or the course setup team, and neither were ready to take on another big job. Meanwhile, I predicted six hours of slicing needed to be done and the crates of oranges sat in my van!  There would have been no joy in …  But enter Allison and Donna.  Donna  sliced two crates herself and Allison found buddies and divvied up the remaining crates.  Home run.

 

Walkathon Volunteers

Here’s a quick tip on how to get volunteers for your biggest walkathon planner and organizer jobs.

Create a list of the walkathon jobs you need to fill. Then for each job, create a list of at least three candidates. Then just get on the phone (or email or Facebook) and start asking. The minute you get a “no”, move on to the next person in line. Tick through your lists until you get a “yes” for each job.

The key here is not to pause when someone says no but rather to immediately move on to your next candidate.

If you don’t know what you need for volunteers, use my walkathon volunteer list as a starting point.

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Newsletter:  Free Ideas to Make Your Walkathon the Best Ever

Sign up here to get my free Walkathon Guide newsletter by email.  You’ll receive updates whenever I post here. You address will never be shared beyond Walkathonguide staff and you can opt-out immediately any time.

1. Type the date of your walkathon in the box below.  Approximate is OK.

2. Tell us about your walkathon (optional).

3. Click “Submit” below the box.

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.

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.

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.