Have you ever walked for a cause? If so, you may have taken part in a walking rally.
Walking rallies is a fantastic way to get your exercise while walking for a cause and getting heard at the same time. Often walking rallies are also known as a march, demonstration, or a protest.
When it comes to the latter, rallies that involve walking are not aggressive but simply raise awareness. There’s nothing better than having the feeling of accomplishment, gathering a lot of people to walk for a cause, and creating a conversation within your community about it.
Strength in numbers is truly powerful.
We believe that you can be that change maker and can be truly powerful when you organize a rally. It’s not that hard either, and today we will guide you through how to hold your own.
29 steps to organizing your walking rally
1. Think about and decide on your cause
You can’t just organize a walking rally for the sake of it! Walking for everyone is a natural form of daily exercise that we all do. There needs to be some igniting reason that will fuel people to take part in your rally. Think about your cause, is it enough or worthy enough for people to go out and march for it?
2. Choose your theme and name of the walking rally
Great, now you’ve thought about your cause. We reckon, now, you’ve formed a solid reason and passion as to why people may want to get out and walk. Now you need to select a name for your rally and choose a theme if needed.
Because what usually happens in this context, is people don’t have the time at first to read about your rally, they only have a few split seconds of attention to digest the name.
So it’s your job to come up with a catchy name like “Black Lives Matter or Walk for Life” that suits your walk’s purpose and can grab people’s attention in a matter of moments. For example, in Thailand, there was a Harry Potter themed walking rally against the Thai Monarchy.
3. Seek out endorsements
If your cause or movement is already a popular one in your country or internationally, you may be able to get endorsements. What we suggest is to create an extensive database of notable organizations you could reach out too.
Then, we suggest sending out personalized emails to each organization and working your hardest to obtain a sponsor for your walking rally.
Initially, you will have to try for some time to get your first; however, you may find yourself getting more from others over time. The reason we suggest to get endorsements for your rally is that it makes it look more credible.
Therefore it can also work out in your favor when you need permissions off local authorities later on in your organizing process.
4. Establish a team
Organizing a walking rally is not a quick process; it takes time and involves many details that need to be considered. To allow you to cover everything, we suggest establishing a team of 2-4 volunteers, including yourself, to efficiently organize a walking rally.
Having a team allows you to share out responsibilities and eases the workload pressure off your shoulders. You will also have more time to focus on other aspects of your life.
5. Plan the location of your rally
Here you will want to go out and plan your rallies location. It’s often a good idea that you think about a place and then visit that location yourself to walk around it. Ask yourself while there, is it big enough to fit x amount of people? Is this location safe to walk in? Is the site appropriate for my rally?
6. Plan and secure speakers for your rally
Words are powerful and help raise awareness. When you have speakers talking at a point in your rally or as you go along, words can provoke change. Also consider your speakers finally, are they liked by many or are they up and coming?
If you choose a well-known speaker, you may draw more attention to your rally. Especially if that speaker has a following already, their fans may come, and they also may generate a massive amount of attention to the rally on their platforms. Make sure the speakers you select are experienced in speaking about topics related to your rally.
7. Create a media strategy
When you are walking, you must have a well-executed media strategy in place. This is because it allows you to plan your target audience, set measurable objectives, and create social media content for many different platforms.
8. Start Promoting your walking rally
Now a lot of attention to walking rallies is generated online. We suggest marketing your rally well and purchasing your own domain with your rally name. Then create a website.
When you have a website, it adds more credibility to your rally and serves as an excellent go-to point for people who aren’t on social media.
Likewise, create social media pages under the rallies name and consistently post to them. You may ask your friends or family to share the posts within their social circles to draw attention to your rally.
Remember, consistency is critical, and you want to keep reminding people about your march up until the day of the event. It’s also good to start advertising as early as you can, as you will need a lot of supporters and people who will come to raise awareness of your event.
In addition to social media, you will need to create posters, banners, flyers, and leaflets. As people connect to visual imagery, and it also generates attention. You don’t have to have a graphic designer to do this, you or your team can easily design them.
There are free online resources like Canva and Adobe Photo Spark, which allow you to design your marketing materials free of charge. Plus, there are already ready-made templates if you wish to use them.
9. Plan the date and time
The date is an essential point in organizing a walking rally, which should not be overlooked. If you want a lot of people to attend your rally, consider hosting it on a day everyone is available. Similarly, if your rally is aid of a specific cause and there is an international day surrounding it, you could time you rally on the given day.
10. Get permission to hold your rally
Depending on what country you’re in and the rules, you may need permission off the police or local council to hold your walking rally. If you plan to host it on private land, you will need permission off the person who owns it.
11. Plan your walking route
Now you have your location in place; you will need to plan a route to walk around before your rally takes off. Are you going to start in one place and finish in another?
Perhaps you want to start and end in the same place. Consider the distance of your rally and the people who could be marching alongside you. Is the route a tiring one, will they drop out halfway?
12. Update the police
If you’ve already received approval from the police and local council, it would be good practice to keep them updated. Having police liaison at your rally will help you encase any trouble that can break out. In addition to this, they can also help you smoothly coordinate with traffic and regulate the crowds.
13. Get people to stand by the sidelines
It would be a good idea to get people who are legal observers who don’t take part in your rally. What they do is that they stand at the sidelines, looking onto your walking rally to see if there is any violence or criminal behavior. This way, they act as a witness and protection for you rally if anything legal needs to happen.
14. Have first aiders on standby
To have medical experts at your rally is a must. We suggest having paramedics on-site and tents if you can. Because if your rally attracts a lot of people, there could be high chances of someone getting injured or an accident occurring. It’s better to take precautions.
15. Get your equipment ready
You can’t conduct a walking rally without any equipment! Consider your use of signs, ribbons, cones, and others to navigate your attendees in the right direction. Likewise, if you’ve got speakers, you will want to source a sound system that will help raise awareness.
However, be wary of the number of attendees and the size of the sound system. You want the sound to be heard by your attendees but also not to disrespect the residents. Remember, if you have a sound system, then most likely you will need a permit.
16. Plan additional logistics
When organizing a walking rally, you will need more than just yourself, participants, and speakers; you will need to consider planning:
Event Greeter- As you’re hosting the rally, we know you will be rushed off your feet on the day and will have many other tasks to attend to. What would be good practice is to delegate someone from your volunteer team to be the greeter or your event or get them to organize a volunteer.
The event greeter serves as a great point of contact for people to know where they’re going. Likewise, if attendees have any questions, the event greeter can point them in the right direction. They also serve as a great way to make them feel welcome.
Sign Coordinator– You will need volunteers to stand navigating people in the right direction to participate in your rally. Similarly, if anyone needs the bathroom, then they need to be guided.
Emcee- Throughout the event, you will need a hype man/hype woman to get the crowd going.
Print your signs- messages are powerful, and we suggest coming up with slogans and signs for your event. It would be great if you can curate signs to showcase at your rally and even give out.
17. Create chants for the speakers
There’s nothing more than screams camaraderie than by creating chants. We’re not talking about football hooligan type chants, but fun ones all you participants can get involved in.
Moreover, these chants will help make your event get recognized. Devise a few up between you and your team and get the speakers or emcee to start them off on the big day.
18. Inform the local media
It’s good to inform the local media about your event. This way, they will be there waiting ready to cover your event from all angles. You want to hold your rally for a cause, and a good way of raising awareness of that cause is through the media outlets.
19. Review the event with your team
Just before the big day, you’ll want to review the event and make sure everything is covered on your list. Provide a checklist that can allow people to tick off activities and be well prepared for the big day ahead.
20. Make sure there are reminder updates
It’s essential that leading up to your protest, you have reminder updates within your group, and they are fully aware of their role. Similarly, inform sponsors, media, and post to your social platforms, informing about any updates to the events.
On the day of your walking Rally
You must be organized on the day of your big event, and you will want it to run smoothly. For this to happen, you will need to do the following:
21. Arrive 30 minutes – 1 hour prior
It would help if you arrived a lot earlier than your walking rally starts. If you arrive 30 minutes to 1 hour before, this would be an excellent time to get organized. As effectively, you’re leading this walking rally, and you will need to make sure all the volunteers will be there. If you’re the first to arrive, start setting up the signs.
Another essential task is that once you reach the venue, you need to give the staff a call to let them know you have arrived. This will serve as an urgent reminder that they need to come down as soon as possible.
22. Politely greet the media teams
If you have invited the media, they will soon come to get ready for the walking rally. Upon their different times of the arrival, greet them politely and honestly answer their interviews.
As you’re on the news, it would be good if you were well presented, so make sure that you look your best on that day of your rally! Plus, being kind will allow you to generate a great first impression about you and your rally.
In case you don’t know who will be television reporters, a fun fact is that they usually have notebooks. Therefore, if you see someone coming with a journal and a big camera van with the local news station logo on, they are most likely a reporter.
If you’ve invited a radio reporter, they’re also similar to spot.
23. Welcome the greeters
As per your earlier planning phases, we now assume you have a few greeters for your walking rally. When your greeters arrive, please give them a warm welcome and thank them for coming. You must sign them in and introduce them to the rest of the volunteer team.
From this moment, it’s either your team or you, that will need to brief the greeters about the day ahead. They will need to know where to stand, what to say, and further event logistics, such as start time and finish time.
24. Welcome the emcee and speakers
When the emcee arrives, you must welcome them and the speakers (if there are any) for your walking rally. The emcee will need to be informed about the rest of the volunteer team and anything that needs to be announced to the public before the event starts.
Typical things you may want the emcee to cover is any health and safety options, not to walk on sidewalks, nearest toilets, start time, finish time, no littering, where to go if need first aid, and much more.
25. Go through the final checklist with your team
Just before your walking rally starts to move, go through your final checklist. Make sure you’ve got everything in place, volunteers, first raiders, police, media, sound system, signs, and much more if you haven’t delegate one of your team to fix this.
26. Begin your walking rally
Now all of these are in place; it’s time to get going and begin your walking rally! Remember to have fun and enjoy it. You and your team have spent a good time in advance organizing it.
Once your rally has been complete, celebrate with your team because you all deserve it!
28. Post to social media
You must recognize everyone who attended your walking rally and their efforts. One great way of doing this is to post media coverage and general info about your event onto your social media pages. Most of all, put a thank you message!
29. Post a questionnaire (optional)
If you enjoyed organizing a walking rally and think you may want to do one again in the future, you may want to create a questionnaire. This is a great way to interact with your participants finding out what they liked and what could be improved for future rallies.
That’s it; we covered how to organize, enjoy, and do after your first walking rally. All of us at Walkathon, really hoped you have a fun time, and your rally is effective. Remember, you don’t have to follow all of this plan; you can use it as guidance.