Have you ever attended a walkathon before? If so, when thinking about organizing your own, it can come across as intimidating. Thousands of questions may be running in your mind on how do you organize a walkathon.
Let us tell you a secret:
It’s not as hard to organize a walkathon as you may think.
All you need to do is follow this full checklist to organize a walkathon successfully.
Follow these steps in chronological order, and you’ll be on your way to conducting a fantastic event.
1. Assemble Your Team
There are many steps to a walkathon, and it can be a lot of work for one person. Though it may be your idea, you may want first to assemble a small voluntary team of 2-4 people.
This way, you can split your workload out later on and get large amounts completed in a quicker period. At first, it’s good to have a small team, so your decision isn’t overridden, and you can keep track of each person’s responsibilities in the event organization.
A successful walkathon requires planning and covering every meticulous detail so that the event can run efficiently on the big day.
Decide a cause, theme, and name
You’ve decided on organizing a walkathon, was there a motive which sparked this decision? A lot of the time, walkathons are hosted for the greater good. Which means organizers often team up with a charity. The significant funds raised help contribute to the greater good and serve as an appealing reason for people to participate in your event.
Like this, sometimes adding a theme to your event may make it stand out among other walkathons. If you need inspiration regarding themes, check out 17 great theme ideas for your walkathon.
Once you’ve made that decision, decide on a catchy name for your event!
On a further note, if you’ve not decided either, we suggest brainstorming your ideas to compare and discuss it with your team. An excellent and free software to use for brainstorming is Coggle. Here you can map your thoughts and customize them online with colors, saving you space and paper.
Remember, once you’ve decided on the charity, you must contact them to grant you permission to hold the event in their name. Similarly, work with them to find out their fundraising guidelines and your boundaries as the event organizer.
Choose the route, distance, and size
Next up, you need to decide on the type, of course, you’re going hold to for your walkathon. Will you host it near to the beach, in a public park, around the streets, in a forest or virtually? Similarly, how long will it be? Some walkathons cover one specific distance, and some events have a range of lengths available to attract others.
Be careful about the walking distance you select, as walkathons attract people who have different fitness levels. You may want to make it easy enough, so many people can participate. Therefore, we recommend going out to your proposed route and walking it yourself to know if it’s suitable for your walkathon event. We suggest looking out for any hazards such as traffic, ditches, or treacherous terrain that could make you liable as an event organizer.
Moreover, once you’ve decided on the route, you must seek permission from your local council or landowner to hold this event.
If you are still unsure about your distance, you could research your local area and carry out a free survey on Google Forms. This way, you can gain a general idea from a large sample size of the most appealing distance to locals.
Once you’ve decided on these, you need to determine the maximum amount of people your event will hold. You must do this early on, as it will help you manage your budget more efficiently.
3. Set the Rules
Between the team and yourself, you need to plan the rules of the event thoroughly. Before stating the rules, you should state your walkathon’s mission and aim. If you haven’t already, now is an excellent time to decide on this. Once you’ve done that, we’d suggest using these rules as a guideline for your event:
Eligible Age For People to Participate
Walkathon events can be for all; however, it’s good to have a guideline for attendees. If you’re hosting a specific, you may want your age to co-align with your event’s theme. Similarly, if you think the route may be too tricky for particular age groups, it’s essential to put it in the guidelines.
Health Conditions Restricting People From Entering Your Event
Typically, walking is an exercise that does not cause strain to many. However, there may be some participants who could be at risk for this exercise. You may want to consider outlining your rules about walking if the doctor has advised the participant from doing so.
Similarly, if they struggle with shortness of breath or had chest pain leading up to the event. Likewise, review and state other conditions, such as dementia, dizziness, cancer, asthma, etc. We suggest between you and your team, to discuss what health conditions and symptoms to restrict people from participating.
The Entry Fee Required For Your Walkathon Event
In today’s world, most sporting events require an entry fee which works as a deposit. This way, you can still submit money to charity if the participant does not attend and have money to go towards paying for your event resources. It’s good to plan and state what the entry fee is for your walkathon, when it needs to be paid by and how the participant can pay their due.
The Minimum Amount of Money Raised for Sponsorship
If you’re hosting a walkathon in aid of a charity, it would be an excellent suggestion to state a minimum amount of sponsorship money that needs to be raised. This way, your event can still build a good amount of funds. Then if participants decide to raise more, they can.
Information About Refunding or Deferring Entry
Sometimes an event could occur in a participant’s life, making them unable to participate no longer. As a result, they may ask if they can have their entry fee refunded or deferred to the following year. If you’re an organizer, you need to consider what your event regulations will be, if you accept refunds or not. Then state it accordingly in your event rules.
Details About Event Cancelation
Leading up to your event, an external situation could arise, causing your event to be canceled. It may not seem important now, but you must have guidelines that cover you as an organizer.
List of Forbidden Items
You need to make sure about your event; there are clear rules on what to take in. Snacks, drinks, and essentials can be brought in. However, you may want to consider items like alcohol, knives, or anything deemed unsuitable. Once you’ve declared what participants can’t bring in, you should also state a rule of what happens if someone is caught with the items.
If you have a large number of participants signed up to your walkathon. It could be a good idea to assign them to a group based on their registration. Then allow certain groups to set off at different intervals. If you do this, it prevents people from being squished together like cattle on the route and will have ample space to walk.
The Time Limit For Distance To Be Achieved
A walkathon involves many different people taking part in a range of walking styles and fitness abilities. It’s a good idea, to keep this in mind and provide a large window for your event for the participants to complete it in and qualify. That way, you can raise as much money without many having to be disqualified.
Deadline To Submit Sponsorship Money
Once your walkathon has finished, you must set a deadline for participants to submit their sponsorship money. It’s up to you if you want to set it a few weeks or months after. However, consider that attendees will have to go around to each sponsor and get them to pay up; it may take some time.
Similarly, if you can think of any other rules outside of this, it would be great to write them down.
On the day of your walkathon, you want to ensure safety is the number one priority for everyone from volunteers to participants. We suggest you take note and plan the following:
When selecting volunteers, you should have them trained or pick ones who are first aid trained. Similarly, you must have paramedics or medical experts to hand during the walkathon or at the end. A great way to do this is to contact a local health care provider and see if they can book out time to be present or send staff to your event. You must have medical back up on standby in case anything urgent needs to be addressed.
Type of Route
You must have a safe route for your participants to walk across. Therefore you must take into account factors such as the weather. For example, if you’re conducting a winter walkathon, you want to make sure the course is not prone to getting iced over as you want to minimize the risk of injury. Similarly, is your planned course near to traffic? If so, you may want to consider the time of day your event, you may want to host it at a time of day where there is less traffic near the course.
The participants will most likely be traveling via many forms of transport and some on foot to get to your walkathon. Don’t be surprised if they carry items on them, such as bags, coats, clothes, etc. A great way to accommodate your participants is to hold a locker system to store clothes and items banned before the walkathon. That way, they can collect them after they’ve completed their distance. If you’re doing this, it may be a good idea to have volunteers operate this and note what participant gets what locker.
As humans, at times, we can all be a bit careless and lose an item or two. When the walkathon is happening, something could easily slip out of a person’s pocket or bag. As a result, someone may hand it in, or a volunteer may come across it in the event. Therefore, it would be a great idea to have a stand known for lost property where people can locate and get their valuables back.
If you’re hosting a large walkathon, sometimes people can get caught up amongst the crowds. It’s a good idea to have a sign advertising a meeting point, where people can reunite.
Water and Food
You must have rehydration points during your walkathon, where participants can pick up free water. The last thing you need is attendees becoming dehydrated. Concerning this, you may also want to give out free bottles of water to encourage good health practice. Also, provide quick energy-releasing snacks such as flapjacks, protein bars, and bananas.
Now you have an idea of the maximum number of people who can attend your event; you need to estimate the type of resources you need, how many, and the cost. Here are a few resources you may wish to consider:
Rope/tape and Signs
You will need to find a way to mark out your course for the walkathon attendees to follow easily. For this reason, rope/tape and signs are an excellent way to help navigate people on the right track.
Tents are a great way to maintain privacy and protect us all from the rain. If you have medical experts onsite, food stalls, lost and found, and much more, you should filter this into your planning.
Between you and your team, calculate how many volunteers you will need. You may want to consider volunteers to run the event, such as event marshalls, first aid staff, water stations, storage, etc.
To keep your participants informed about the starting time, you need a PR system to reach a broad audience. Likewise, if someone has lost something or there is an emergency, this is a quick way of getting heard by a broad audience.
Often at walkathons or big scale events, there is a guest speaker to get the crowd going before the event takes place. It also helps to add more diversity to your event. You may want to consider having someone from the charity your raising funds to, to speak about this event and how it will help.
Similarly, you may want to consider inviting a celebrity or a few celebrities to take part in your walkathon. Perhaps get them to speak at the event or promote the event across media. It’s an excellent time to plan now who you want that special guest to be, to help generate more attention to your walkathon.
You must decide how many onsite toilets there should be.
To eliminate littering, you must decide how many trash cans you will provide for your event.
Water and Food
Factor in the type of food you will provide and how much water will be needed to be given to participants and volunteers.
Assigning each person a number and providing them with a bib, is an excellent way to monitor who completes the walk. Similarly, it allows you to filter out precisely who is participating and who isn’t.
It’s good practice to provide incentives to keep participants motivated and have a keepsake from their event. Whether you’re going to give a free t-shirt or a medal of participation, you should decide this and plan your finances accordingly.
Decide on the Date and Time
Before you can proceed any further, you must decide on the date and time for your event! Ideally, walkathons are best held on a weekend. This is because fewer people work on the weekend and will be able to attend or volunteer at your event.
After you’ve done all of the above, it’s time to being your administrative duties. You will want to plan and carry out the following:
You must plan and purchase event insurance in advance of your walkathon. This will allow you to be covered at all costs in case an accident or emergency occurs. Moreover, it protects you if there’s any damage to property your event.
Method to Signup/Pay and Collect Data
Participants must have a secure system where they can register, pay their entry fees, and collect their sponsorship. It’s important their data is protected, and they can access their account at any time.
While there are several softwares out there online, we recommend using qgiv, which allows you to manage event registration, donation forms, and collect statistics. Likewise, once you have their data stored safely, you can later use it to send out emails.
Sign Up Form
Before any participant can take part, you will need to acquire their consent. To save the paper trail, you may wish to consider online software which allows participants to fill it in and submit as soon as they’ve signed it. An example of this is Pandadoc, which is a cloud-based signature collecting software.
Also, it’s important you cover all parts of your event in the signup form. You don’t want to have any clauses in the document that your participant signs before taking part in the walk. You will want to add in:
- Date of birth
- Underlying health conditions
- Emergency Contact
- Shirt size (if you choose to include a shirt)
- Health conditions
- Consent to being contacted
- Consent understood event rules
Acknowledge On the Day Registrations
To have an efficient way of tracking your participants is having a system allowing them into the event. One way is by having QR codes on participant bibs and scanning the codes to acknowledge their entry and finish of the walk. Great software to use is Boomset, which allows you to manage event registration by QR code scanning or face recognition. It also allows you to take cashless payments from your participants.
As you will have volunteers, you need to provide them with an outline of their role. Think about the different types of volunteers you will need for your event and then write specific descriptions/instructions for that role. Likewise, write down who they need to contact or speak to if they have any queries. We’d recommend discussing this with your team and delegating this task to a member of your team to organize the volunteer part.
4. Create Your Logo
Before you can promote your walkathon, you must create a logo! If you wish to use the charity logo, please contact them first and get legal permission to use their brand.
You don’t have to hire a designer if you don’t wish there are other free tools such as Canva and Adobe Spark. These softwares have premade templates where you can upload photos and design, logos, banners, etc. Whatever you do, create a logo, it adds more authenticity to your event.
You want your walkathon to be a success; therefore, you must utilize all platforms to get as many participants and volunteers as possible. Make sure you give a substantial amount of time leading up to your event date to raise awareness.
Purchase a domain and create a website around your event. A domain gives your walkathon credibility, but it serves as a reference point for your participants if they need more information.
Make a Facebook page under your walkathon name. Moreover, create social media handles for Twitter and Instagram. Make sure you add the branding, logos, and event information. This way, you can refer potential participants or volunteers to the right area.
You must be active on social media to get people interested in your event. Whether it’s you or a team member, be creative! You could do live streams, live streams, or Q&A’s across your platforms to generate more attention. Further to this, you could interview someone from the charity you raised money to gain more attraction.
You could also reach a wider audience via Facebook and Instagram by paying for sponsored adverts. This is something you may want to consider doing or hiring someone to do for you.
Those who aren’t on social media often visit online event calendars to check if any events are happening in their nearby area. Post your event to platforms such as Eventbrite and redirect them to your sign up page.
Word of Mouth
You can’t promote this event alone! Get your team of volunteers, friends, and family to promote it themselves. They can do it verbally or even tweet, post, or talk about it on their social media handles.
Pay a local newspaper, magazine, or radio show to advertise. Whether it’s in print or air time, this is bound to raise awareness of your event. It will also help reach people who don’t actively use social media.
You want to keep the excitement brewing for participants who have registered for your event. One way of doing this is by sending emails to them to keep them updated about the event. After you collect their emails when signing up, you can use MailChimp’s software to distribute mass amounts of emails and newsletters. Make sure also to email participants a few days before and inform them about event details.
6. Host Your Walkathon
Today is the day that your long-awaited event occurs. Remember to have fun and be active on social media, raising awareness and excitement hours before the event.
Encourage Participants and motivate them with words of encouragement. Also, during the event, use live videos and post to your story.
7. Follow Up
Once your walkathon has finished, send out a thankyou email to participants and volunteers. Similarly, post it to your social media channels and your website informing about your walkathon’s outcome.
Similarly, if you have any certificates, email them to the participants or send them in the post. Also, send up follow up emails to remind participants about the deadline for sponsorship collection.
If your event were successful, it would be good to create a survey and send it around getting feedback for any future walkathons.
Once you’ve ticked every item off this checklist, sit back and appreciate the hard work you and your team have made for organizing your first successful walkathon. You’ve gained a life skill and managed to connect your local community for the greater good.
Do note; you don’t have to do every step in this checklist; it’s just a general guideline. Remember its YOUR walkathon, and you can organize it however you like. These ideas are something to inspire and encourage you forward.
Have you organized a walkathon before? Do you have more ideas on what to include in our checklist? Contact us with your suggestions for the checklist, and we will add in accordingly.