A walk-a-thon is the perfect way to raise funds for your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club, as well as gain valuable attention for your parent-teacher group’s cause. Follow these event tips from AIM to put on a successful walk-a-thon for your parent-teacher group ensure you won’t end up walking in circles.
First Off, Be Specific
Before you take a single step, start by creating a clear statement about your cause and why you’re putting on a walk-a-thon. Being clear, concise, and specific about your walk-a-thon and its cause will increase the likelihood people will donate, spread awareness of your event by word of mouth, and even interest the local media to cover your event.
Answer “Who’s in Charge?”
After you line up on your cause, you must determine exactly who’s in charge and who’s responsible for what. You can break the responsibility of your walk-a-thon fundraiser into three different groups:
Walk-a-thon Planning Committee
This team will handle the planning and communication before the event happens.
Walk-a-thon Host Committee
Your event’s host committee is the team that will coordinate volunteers and make the event happen.
Walk-a-thon Volunteer Team
These are the members of your organization and interested people who will set up, execute and then clean up after the event. Take a look at the jobs you’ll need to fill, such as parking attendants, refreshment staff, registration workers, route helpers, lap/mile trackers, and a team to run the first aid station. How many volunteers will you need?
Determine Your Walk-a-thon’s Size and Scope
Will it be a huge, community-wide event or strictly for the students and their families and friends? Considering your attendees will help you figure out just how big your event will be and the budget you will need for marketing, and how many sponsors you will need to help fund your walk-a-thon.
What’s Your Walk-a-thon Fundraiser’s Theme
Sure, a basic walk-a-thon will get some folks out earning money for your organization. But adding a theme to your walk-a-thon fundraiser might add the sizzle you may need to generate interest. The options for a walk-a-thon theme are endless, here are just a few examples:
- Dog Walk: Allow walkers to trot their dogs out for the event
- Glow-in-the-Dark Walk: Everyone wears clothing and accessories to light up the night
- Costume Walk: A costume-friendly walk; you can even be more specific by making your fundraiser a zombie or superhero costume walk
- Other holiday-friendly walks include Jingle Bell Jogs, Turkey Trots, Easter Ambles, and Shamrock Strolls
As you can see, the more exciting and catchy the name that you give to your walk, the more fun it is for people to talk about it. Plus, the better the event title, the better the chance people will remember it.
Walk-a-thon Fundraiser Alternatives
Your event may not even end up being a walk-a-thon! There are many other options, such as a run-a-thon, a bike-a-thon, adding up workout minutes in a workout-a-thon, a swim-a-thon, or a climbing wall climb-a-thon.
Any activity with a repeatable or measurable distance can be turned into an “a-thon” style fundraising event. Band, choir, and orchestras can produce music marathons to raise money for every song they play in a row. Theater and dance boosters can do the same for minutes danced or scenes improvised.
Season-long Fundraiser Ideas
Sports booster clubs can get into the spirit by holding season-long fundraisers based on stats like RBIs, tackles, free throws, or goals and assists.
Fundraiser Logistics and Pre-emptive Troubleshooting
It sounds basic, but you need to remember to set the date, time, walking distance, and location for your walk-a-thon well in advance. Make sure your date doesn’t conflict with any holidays, other school events, or seasonal activities when you do so. For example, planning your walk-a-thon on a Sunday afternoon during football season may not be the best idea.
Determine where your walk will take place, whether that’s inside, outside, or a virtual walk. Depending on where your walk takes place, you may need to stagger your walkers into multiple times or days. After all, fifty walkers on a school track work well, but five hundred will get crowded.
As you determine your route, you’ll need to dedicate space for a cheering section, as well as a place for first aid, parking, and trash. Plus, keep in mind that your event may need to accommodate participants of all abilities, so keep in mind ways that you can make your walk-a-thon more accessible and your location ADA-friendly.
You should also determine restroom locations along your walk and create contingency plans in case of inclement weather, and protect walkers in the case of extreme temperatures.
Take this time to speak to your local government about permits. Often, these will be based on how many people are participating. You may also need to contact the police to determine the best route and if they need to be present at your event to coordinate traffic. Plus, you should visit the event location and walk the route yourself to identify any access issues and dangers, such as trip hazards.
The best way to protect your parent-teacher group, walk-a-thon, and participants is with event liability coverage through AIM insurance. Starting at just $65 for the whole year, AIM offers general liability coverage for PTA, PTO, and Booster Club events to protect your group in case a participant or volunteer is injured during your event.
Walk-a-thon Pledges and Donations
To start your pledge program, set a recommended pledge level to give donors an idea of what amount they should donate. Another helpful tip is providing the maximum distance a participant can walk during the event so donors understand the maximum amount they are pledging to donate upfront. You can also save the mental math and provide a way for people to make a flat donation to your cause.
Now is also the perfect time to decide if you want to open the door to company donors or sponsors. Determine what types of sponsorships you’d be interested in and how sponsors can donate. You can choose straight donations, matching private amounts raised, or offering in-kind donations of refreshments, space, shirts, printing, and more as sponsorship opportunities. When considering the size of your event, you may also want to allow sponsors to invite additional walkers to take part in your walk-a-thon.
Determine who and how donations will be collected and deposited. You may want to partner with a fundraising software firm to make this part of your event go smoother, especially if you decide to run a virtual walk-a-thon. We recommend embezzlement coverage for any parent-teacher group running a fundraiser or accepting donations.
While you trust the members of your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club, handling donations and group funds opens the door to the threat of embezzlement. If someone makes off with the hard-earned donations from your walk-a-thon, AIM’s embezzlement coverage will replace them*. AIM offers standard bond limits at levels of $10,000, $25,000, and $50,000, with an affordable $250 deductible.
Stock Up on Supplies
There are plenty of items you’ll need to ensure your walk-a-thon looks professional and goes off without a hitch. Here are some items you should consider purchasing for your walk-a-thon fundraiser:
- Awards: Have ribbons, medals, trophies, or plaques to award to whoever walks the furthest, raises the most cash, or shows the most heart
- Communication: Beyond mobile phones, perhaps a 2-way radio or walkie talkie set will help keep your teams communicating better on the day of the event
- Custom Event Items: T-shirts and water bottles aren’t just nice for the day of the walk. They also create great reminders of the day for those who participate
- Event Supplies: Check off the items you need to keep things running smoothly, like first aid supplies, an event schedule printout, a starter pistol, a megaphone, directional signage, traffic cones, trash cans, and refreshments.
- The Proper Paperwork: Always keep waivers, registration forms, event permits, and proof of insurance on hand. Also, consider keeping hard and digital copies as backups for the event
Get the Word Out
Planning your walk-a-thon event is one thing. Promoting it is a whole other challenge. Beyond flyers and making announcements in other school parent-teacher groups and community groups, consider all the ways that you can get attention for your walk-a-thon fundraiser. Ideas include social media, school announcements, and reaching out to your local media in advance to help promote your big day.
Just as important is how people will get more details on your walk-a-thon. Whether you choose a website or Facebook page, give the public an information hub to learn everything important, like the event’s time, date, and how they can participate or donate. Your website or Facebook page can also provide a way for people to find out news and changes to your event or even donate online. It’s also a great idea to make a unique email address for this event to track all of the communications you receive.
Your Walk-a-thon Schedule
Every event is different, but this basic outline will help you determine how your walk-a-thon event can flow:
- Arrival (2-3 hours before the event starts)
- Set-up and early registration
- Participant arrival and late registration
- Stretching and warm-up
- Starting line set-up
- Opening ceremonies
- Walk start
- Walk finish
- Closing remarks and the official end of the walk
- Breakdown and departure
End Your Walk-a-thon on a High Note
Throwing an after-party for your walk-a-thon, perhaps with the help of one of your event sponsors, is a great way to cap off a successful fundraising event and thank your group members and volunteers for all their hard work to make the event a success. Another great way to show your appreciation is by sending out thank you phone calls, notes, or emails to all your walk-a-thon event sponsors and volunteers for helping to make the event a success.
AIM is Ready to Support Your Walk-a-thon
Did you know that you can be sued for decisions you make as an organization or as an officer of your parent-teacher group? These can include what type of event you’ve planned, where you’re holding it, and any other managerial decisions. AIM offers director and officer insurance to defend you and your organization if someone sues for mismanagement, misrepresentation, dissemination of false or misleading information, or inappropriate actions.
To learn more about our director and officer coverage, visit https://aim-companies.com/professional-liability/. Want to know something specific about our coverage? You can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-876-4044.
*Some exclusions may apply