The Walkathon Guide

The Walkathon GuideHello Friends,

After three months of writing, editing, cross checking, and rewriting, The Walkathon Guide, Edition 1.0, is ready.   It’s an e-book all about how to organize a walkathon.

Learn more here.

You have a cause you are passionate about

Whether it’s your school, church, or an important charity, this is something worth funding and it’s up to you to figure out how.  How can you really do justice to your cause?  Are there other goals on top of fundraising?  How can you make the most money, create a great atmosphere of fun and community building, and keep it all organized and positive?

Would you like a walkathon planning mentor?

If you are organizing your walkathon on behalf of a school, church, or nonprofit group, this book is here to help.  It offers  what I learned by organizing and participating in twelve different walkathons.    The goal is to help you avoid the risks and stress of trial and error by laying out all the planning details for you.

What’s in The Walkathon Guide

The Walkathon Guide is 102 pages long.  It’s about 5% wisdom and 95% timelines, checklists, and materials that you can copy for walkathon publicity, registration, soliciting sponsors, and getting volunteers.

It has a chapter about early decisions and what to do right away, as soon as you decide to hold your event, followed by a list of committees needed, their start times, and how many volunteers per committee.  Then there are chapters with goals, dependencies, timelines, and notes for each individual committee.  There are seperate files you can hand to committee chairs to keep everyone in sync.  There is a long appendix with copy-able files, in MS Word format where you can actually cut and paste, for publicity, registration, donor letters, and volunteer recruitment.  There’s another appendix listing technology ideas and options for using the latest tools for your walkathon.

I set the price very low so you don’t have to think too hard about price, at $14.95 including all the extra files.  You can download it and have it right away.

Learn more here.

I would really appreciate it if you would help spread the word about this book by telling anyone who might be interested.  Thank you!

Yours,

Lee

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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.

Online Fundraising Tools For Walkathons

online fundraising for walkathonsWhen organizing a walkathon you will be well served by good online fundraising and organizing software.  I’ve been scouring the web for the best online fundraising tools.  I still have more research to do.  However I’d like to tell you about a few options in the mean time, in case you are already deep into your walkathon planning.

This is worth doing because of time savings in collecting pledges, and also may well increase your total fundraising income by making it easier for those who prefer paying online to writing checks.

Whatever you choose, you’ll need a dedicated volunteer with strong technical aptitude, and time, to set up your system.  As the walkathon chair you should not also handle the software unless you are very comfortable with online projects because this is a big job in itself.  Instead let someone from the group be in charge of just online fundraising.

1.  One of DoJiggy’s products, DoJiggy Pledge, is specifically designed for pledge driven events so that your walkers can build their own pages and then collect donations online.   It has a whole set of features ideal for walkathons.  It is reasonably priced.

Also, DoJiggy has a great new resource page.  It includes walkathon checklists and also a sample participation waiver.

I played with  DoJiggy and was impressed with how much was included and also the frequent follow up from the company.  I haven’t used it for an actual event so would appreciate comments from you if you have.

2. Here is a useful article that gives you a good start in looking at other technology options; “A Few Good Tools for Online Distributed Fundraising” by Stella Hernandez from Idealware, March 24, 2009.  She covers about a dozen options and gives a framework for choosing.

tg logo3. Finally, if your group is doing more than just a walkathon and online fundraising, and needs more generalized tools for group communication and organization, you might want to try the groupery.   It’s free. They give you a nice online community building platform and also a supportive group for leaders of active volunteer organizations.  It collects payments from group members, and organizes volunteer shifts, and has a host of other features.  I used to work there.   They are very dedicated to making you successful.

Learn more about The Walkathon Guide book.

Learn more about Lap Cards.

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.

Five Things to Do Six Months Before Your Walkathon

starting pathHave you decided to plan a walkathon a season or two from now?

Here’s a checklist for what to do  to set the stage.

1. Get your core team: at least one leader and ideally two or three.

2. Pick your date and location and get them approved by the powers that be:  local police and fire, the person who manages the location, your principal and PTA (or PTO)  Board if you’re a school.

3. If this is a community wide event, present the idea to your town council to keep them informed and gain their support.

4. Inform people who will be affected, such as sports leagues who play during that time, so they can plan for busy players.

5. If you are planning this walkathon for your children’s school, schedule two or three planning sessions over the coming month. Ask your principal to start thinking about a very specific, visible item(s) the money will buy (such as playground equipment).

I recommend that you continue to read the next article, a detailed list of key volunteer positions.

Learn more about The Walkathon Guide book.

Why Plan a Walkathon?

Picture of Steven proudly walking.

Are you considering the idea?  Mull these over… six reasons to plan a walkathon:

  1. They are an easy way to socialize.  A lot of people (like me) find it easier to make friends while they are moving.  The conversation comes more naturally than at a party.
  2. They are healthy.  Everyone gets out and moves.
  3. They are fun.  It’s basically a big theme party out doors.
  4. They appeal to all ages.  There’s plenty to do for children, and the calmer set can sit and watch the walkers go by.
  5. They can be a catalyst for a lot of publicity for your cause.
  6. They can be very lucrative.

Yes, it’s a lot of work.  However, a Walkathon can bring in good money and at the same time, provide a friendly, healthy, and fun event for your community.  I say plan well, but go for it!