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How To Organize A Walkathon

Hosting a walkathon may not be the proverbial “walk in the park,” but it doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare either.

Finding a location, working with the town to organize event details and exceeding fundraising goals can be challenging, but with the right planning and preparation, your organization can see massive success.

Best of all, walkathons only require a small amount of effort to achieve large amounts of fundraising success.

And it starts with choosing the right fundraising platform.

Peer-to-peer fundraising harnesses the power of your community to share your message and raise money on your behalf.

It invites modern donors to be a part of your organization’s mission rather than just donate to it.

And did we mention walkathons are a ton of fun? (Breaking a sweat is optional) Let’s get walking!

Why Do A Walkathon?

A walkathon is an event that can bring large groups of people together, including new donors, all for the sake of bringing awareness to your organization.

They’re fun, active and did we mention that they appeal to a large audience?

For their 45th anniversary, N Street Village, the largest service provider for women experiencing homelessness in the Washington D.C. area, decided to hold a walk that would bring together volunteers, donors, and clients, and encourage new friends to join the Village family to learn about their good work.

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To make the 2018 event even more successful, N Street Village’s Event Manager, Makenzie Delmotte knew that peer-to-peer fundraising was the natural solution.

“For our second year, we wanted to use a software that was more peer-to-peer focused,” explained Delmotte.

After switching to CauseVox and focusing on peer-to-peer fundraising, N Street Village was able to surpass its goal in 2018 raising $52,785 and rallying 384 donors! Adding gifts that were made outside of their platform and onsite at the walkathon, N Street raised over $80,000!

They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Take the first step with CauseVox; we can help you streamline your event and raise more money with less effort, frustration, and perspiration!

How To Set Up And Run A Walkathon

Imagine a large space filled with enthusiastic supporters discussing your cause as they walk laps around the venue. They’ve gathered around to help raise money for a mission they truly care about.

A successful walkathon inspires supporters to fundraise, encourages them to reach their goals, and then finishes the campaign with a fun in-person event that build a large amount of support the day-of and beyond.

To begin with, you’ll need a fundraising platform that makes it easier to raise more money with less effort.

1. Choose The Right Platform

As with any fundraising event, it can be tempting to run straight into the logistical details of the event itself. Choosing the wrong fundraising platform, however, can make or break the event’s overall success.

Clunky outdated software can make fundraising unnecessarily difficult and waste precious time and energy.

The N Street Village team chose to power their campaign with CauseVox because of the team and event fundraising features, and the platform’s ability to share impact-related results with donors in real-time. The best part? Everything is in one place.

Although the first SHERO walk raised an impressive $27,000 and engaged 106 donors, the N Street Village team recognized the power in community-driven fundraising methods such as peer-to-peer and they wanted to test it out for the second time around.

“CauseVox came in big time for us because it got people excited, it gave them ownership over their own fundraising and it also gave them the larger context of the organization they were giving to,” Makenzie says.

2. Start Organizing The Walkathon Details

Pre-Walkathon Checklist

  • Find a location and work with the town to organize event details.
  • File for a permit to block off the roads
  • Obtain city and police approval for the event
  • Include registration forms and waivers on your event page
  • Measure and map your walk route
  • Reserve course equipment, including barriers, timing equipment, and sound system or DJ
  • Figure out race day food and drink options

Two to Three Weeks Before Walkathon

  • Reserve stand-by ambulance and first responders
  • Prepare first aid kits and supplies
  • Reserve portable toilets 
  • Order T-shirts and race bibs
  • Buy race day prizes
  • Create banners, signs and event schedule

Day Before Walkathon

  • Register walkers and assign bibs and T-shirts
  • Print event schedules
  • Print race day registrations for day-of participants  

3. Setting the Right Walkathon Fundraising Goals

With a walkathon, you have a large event area that isn’t prohibited with space constraints, which means you can build a substantial amount of support and fundraising success with a small amount of effort.

You’ll still want to set an ambitious fundraising goal. SHERO walk participants used the power of their networks to raise over $80,000, well past their original $50,000 goal!

Typically with a walk, you’ll have a basic registration fee that covers expenses and can include an item like a t-shirt for every participant to wear.

Encourage participants to set fundraising goals and consider adding prizes to those who achieve different levels of fundraising, like Can Do Canines did with their Can Do Woofaroo one-mile walk.

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Remind your walk participants that they can leverage the power of their friends and family to reach higher fundraising goals, and more enticing prizes.

Tip: It’s very important to focus on Return on Investment when it comes to setting fundraising goals. You’ll need to think about how much it will cost to run the event vs. how many participants you have and the dollar amount you expect them to raise.

Set a goal for the minimum number of participants you’d like to have at your walk. Then, set a goal amount you’d like them to raise. Multiply the number of participants by the individual fundraising goal from each to arrive at your campaign goal.

i.e. 20 participants x $2,000 minimum raise = $40,000 fundraising goal

Cross-check this fundraising goal with the amount you’ve budgeted for the cost to run your event. Also, consider the number of hours it takes to organize the event. Make sure you’re raising enough for your event to be profitable, or you may want to go back and re-evaluate your fundraiser goals so your organization does not lose money.

Walkathon Registration

Many walks also require registration fees as a way to help cover the cost of T-shirts and race day expenses. Decide whether your walkathon will include a registration fee to help cover costs of overhead. 

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If you require your event participants pay a registration fee, CauseVox can help with that too. CauseVox now offers peer-to-peer registration to help seamlessly build registration into your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

Now you have everything you need to effectively run your walkathon fundraiser: you can easily collect registrations, donations and organize participants to fundraise — all in one place.

4. Power Of Storytelling

Storytelling is one of the most impactful tools to attract more donors and empower existing ones to donate more. The reason stories move people is because it’s not just an abstract idea but a real situation with real people. 

It gives supporters a way to form a genuine connection with your cause, which in turn makes them more willing to help.

A deep emotional connection can not only inspire people to donate, but also to become a champion for your brand whether by donating frequently or helping to fundraise on your behalf.

The team at Envision, Cincinnati’s premier provider of services to children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families, leverages the power of telling an “ambassador family” story as part of their walk’s fundraising page.

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The N Street Village team also encourages their fundraisers to use CauseVox’s storytelling features, including the appeal, media uploads and blog features.

“Invest time in making your materials great, including a multimedia video that hooks new donors,” Makenzie noted.

The organization also creates resources to assist fundraisers in their storytelling efforts.

“People can relate to a story or cause in different ways, so we empower people to share their own story about why they get involved,” she added.

Rally your donors around your organization’s story and give them a chance to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, they’re more likely to donate as a result.

5. Engaging Your Community In Your Walkathon

Makenzie reiterated that organizations do not need an event to build community and that it’s important to engage your community first to help drive fundraising and get people excited about your event.

Think about how you might engage your community to participate in the walk. How will you get the word out? How can you engage community partners to become sponsors?

“One thing you should do is find your allies and really lean on them a lot. Whether it’s a board member, a consistent volunteer or a high-level fundraiser, have these champions own your fundraiser like it’s their own and rally their communities,” Makenzie says.

One way the N Street Village team does this is through team fundraising.

Many SHERO participants fundraise and walk on teams and groups, and N Street Village wanted a platform that could handle the intricacies of event and team fundraising without adding extra work on the back-end.

CauseVox gives organizations easy-to-use interfaces where groups of fundraisers can build team-based pages and encourage friendly competition.

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And then to encourage liberal sharing, CauseVox embeds social sharing links on all fundraising websites.

“Sharing is almost more important than giving because it serves a dual purpose. You’re sharing it with new people who didn’t know about the walk and inviting them to become a part of your organization’s family,” Makenzie added.

6. Impact Reporting & Tracking Data for Increased Results

Often people feel that if they’re unable to donate large sums of money to their favorite organization that they wouldn’t really be making an impact.

CauseVox helps donors and other participants focus less on the transaction and more about the story and impact through the CauseVox impact meter.

The N Street Village team appreciated that the software allowed them to add an increment to their fundraising page so donors could see that their donation went to X number of meals for women in the shelter. People are more likely to give when they can see how their gifts get your organization to its goal.

“We heard a lot of feedback from new donors who came on as team members of friends that the impact meter was a big driver for them. They were able to see that their $4 donation made a real impact on the overall fundraiser,” MaKenzie noted.

Organize Your Walkathon With CauseVox

Declutter your walk. Streamline your event and raise more with one seamless process to take registration fees and create personal fundraising pages.

Hit the pavement and sign up today to get started.

Learn more about running your peer-to-peer fundraising event on CauseVox.

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