Donate now to contribute to funds that support children who live in poverty. Charity events in any form are always popular, but increasingly, many organisations are choosing to recruit their fundraisers through more interactive events such as walks and runs. A charity walk or run is not only a healthy way for your participants to raise money for a good cause, but also a very visible way of publicising your charitable cause to the community.
If a charity run or walk seems like a good fit
for your organisation, here is an overview of some things you may want
to keep in mind when planning the event.
THE PLANNING PHASE
Choosing a Route
When planning a mass participation event such as a walk or run it is
important that you first take some time to carefully consider the route
your participants will be following. Your choice of route will play a
central roll in other decisions you make concerning resources, staff
size, security, transportation, volunteers, signage, and ultimately the
satisfaction of your participants.
When mapping out the course,
first determine the type of event you would like to hold. Most
fundraising events try to be as inclusive as possible because, simply
put, more fundraisers translates into more donations for your cause! If
your goal is to be as inclusive as possible that means you want people
of all ages and physical abilities to be able to participate in your
event. That said, when choosing your route it is a good idea to not only
look at a map but get out there and actually walk the course yourself.
When surveying the road, pay attention to elevation gain, traffic, road
conditions, and any other factors that could potentially make
participating in your event strenuous for the less physically able. You
may also benefit from contacting a local running or walking club for
suggestions of routes that may fit your participant’s ability levels.
Some common route distances for charity events are 5k, 10k, Half
Marathon and Marathon.
safety is something to strongly consider when mapping out your route.
How much traffic travels along your route? Are there adequate pedestrian
lanes that will keep your participants a safe distance from the
traffic? Does your route require that your participants cross any
especially busy streets? Is any stretch of your route undergoing
construction? Will the course be open to the public making it easy for
non-registered people to come in contact with your participants? Asking
yourself these questions will help you chart your course around any
potential hazards and allow your participants to have a fun, care-free
experience on event day.
When choosing the location of your route, also keep participant and
spectator access to transportation in mind. If you want crowds of
spectators to turn out and easy access to the event for your
participants, make sure that the course is in close proximity to public
transportation and parking for those who have automobiles. If your event
is not in a metropolitan area, it may be a good idea to hire busses and
choose some meet up locations where people can catch a ride to the
Resources and Staff
The number of participants and spectators you expect on event day as
well as length of course are the two main factors that will determine
the size of your volunteer staff and resources needed. Here is a list of
items commonly used by event walking and running events:
- Two way radios
- Rope, tape and cones for course marking
- Signage for start and finish areas
- Signage for services and support areas
- Portable toilets
- Trash cans
- Stage for awards ceremony
- PA system
Looking at your course map, you will be
able to strategically position your water stops, trash cans, portable
toilets, concessions stands and so on. When placing these resources,
keep in mind that many people will want to gather around in the
finish/celebration area after the event so you may need additional
resources in that area. When planning for food and water for your
participants, you may want to ask a local market to sponsor the event in
the way of donated oranges, bananas and water that you can position
along the course. For your spectator concession stands, you will need to
determine what types of food you will sell and if you will need to
prepare or cook food on site. There are many companies that you can hire
to staff and prepare food at your concession stands or you could use
your volunteers. In either case you should check to see if you need a
special permit to sell or prepare food for the public.
Legalities of a Charity Walk or Run
Speaking of special permits, there are several legalities to
consider when planning a charity walk or run. Now that you have chosen
your route, have you looked to see if you need permission to use this
planned route? You may need to speak with the local council or the
person who owns the land. Have you checked to make sure there are no
other events planned on your route come event day? Have you obtained
liability insurance for your event? Ideally, your insurance should cover
any medical problems that occur during the event as well as damage to
the land and surrounding property. With the size of event you are
expecting, are you required to schedule police presence or request road
closures? Do you have permission from the organisation you are raising
money for to use their logo and name?
Considering every city,
town, or district have their own set of regulations, how you address
them will depend on local law and requirements. What we highlighted
above are only some of the larger items you should investigate. We would
suggest contacting your local council for more information.
Now that you picked an event location and have all of the necessary
approvals and permits, its time to start spreading the word! Traditional
event marketing consists of mail, tv, radio, newspaper advertisements
and signs posted up about town. These methods can be effective, reach
large audiences, and should be looked into but they can come at a high
cost. Don’t let that get you down though – the internet has spawned many
highly targeted, low-cost, and sometimes free marketing channels that
are ideal for creating a buzz about your charity event. Here is a list
of some web marketing options that you may want to consider:
a website – This is a must. Nowadays, any successful event has an
official website where they can direct the public, media and interested
sponsors for more information.
Facebook, Twitter, Social Media –
There are countless online communities and fan pages out there that are
filled with people passionate about the same cause you are raising money
for. Get involved with these people and immerse yourself in the online
conversation. Build a Facebook Fan Page or Twitter page for your event,
invite your new online friends and encourage them to recruit their
friends to get involved for the cause.
Paid Search Advertising –
Google and other search engines allow you to bid on keyword phrases and
place an ad at the top of their search results. Try bidding on keywords
such as “London charity events” or “London fundraising run”. Create
compelling ad copy and entice the user to click through to your official
event website for more information.
Submit Your Event to an
Online Events Calendar – There are many websites that will give you a
free event listing on their online calendar. Submit your event profile
to as many of these as possible and make sure to include a link back to
your website in the description.
Email Advertising – Does your
organisation already have a list of members who subscribe to your
monthly newsletter or email announcements? Send your contact list an
attractive HTML email with information about your event and a link to
your. Make sure to include “share” buttons in your emails to make it
easy for the recipient to pass it on to a friend. Also, on your website,
Facebook page and Twitter page, include a feature where the visitor can
join your mailing list.
important to consider from the start of the planning phase is how you
will collect contact information, entry fees, and fundraising
commitments from people who want to participate. Until recently, most
events collected participant data and entry fees in person in the event
office with a paper registration form. To streamline the staff workload
that comes along with paper-based registration, you may want to find a
technology provider that specialises in event management software and
online event registration. An integrated online event management system
will allow you to build a custom online registration form, link to that
form from your website, and collect your participant contact data
online. We would suggest that the technology you choose include a
merchant gateway integrated with the registration form so that you can
seamlessly and securely collect payment online during the registration
process. Depending on your technology provider, the data collected on an
online registration form should be captured and stored in a database
that you can log into, manage the data, run reports, email participants
and process cancellation refunds if needed.
Examples of questions that could be included on a charity walk registration form are:
- Emergency Contact
- Shirt size (if you are offering a free shirt with the entry fee)
- How did you hear of this event?
- Number of times you have participated in this event
- Team Name (if you are offering team fundraising)
- What is your fundraising goal?
- What distance will you walk?
- Will you be attending the pre-event celebration dinner?
you hope to grow the size of your email database, it is very important
that you make the Email question compulsory so that every online
registration has an email address associated with it in your database.
You will be able to use this email to send out reminder emails about
changes to the event schedule or important notices about fundraising.
Any fully integrated online event management system will also need the
email address to send out an automatic confirmation email letting the
registrant know that their payment has been accepted and spot saved for
more advanced event management systems include an online fundraising
platform that you can integrate with your online registration form.
What’s great about this is that every person who registers online will
automatically have an online fundraising website created for them. The
fundraiser can customise their website, ad images, set a fundraising
goal, blog about their progress and training for the event, and
communicate with their donors. The donor can visit the fundraising site
and make an online donation with their credit card at which point the
donation amount is added to the fundraisers goal total and money is sent
to the charitable organisation. Many organisations are moving their
fundraising efforts completely online because the general consensus is
that people are likely to donate more if they are able to do it online
from the comfort of their own home.
Communication up until event day
key to a successful event is to steadily build the registrant’s
excitement and anticipation from the day they register all the way up
until they arrive on event day. Participants that register months prior
to the event may loose interest or slow down their fundraising efforts
if they are not engaged and encouraged on a regular basis. This is where
collecting your registrations online will be very useful. Since you
have a database of registrants including their email address, you will
be able to send out reminder emails and keep the communication going up
until the event. Some content ideas for a weekly newsletter could be:
Updates and special announcements of developments to the event schedule or added entertainment
News and articles from the organisation your event will be raising money for
A training plan for those getting in shape for the event
Special contests for the post-event awards ceremony
Free prizes and incentives for those participants that recruit friends to join the cause
You should also send one final email to your registrants 2-3 days before the event including:
- Event start time
- Instructions on how and where to check in upon arrival
- Schedule of events
- Reminder to bring extra money if they want to buy merchandise or food at the celebration party
- Summary of prizes that will be awarded to the top fundraisers
- The cost of late registration if anyone wants to bring a friend to the event
- Weather forecast so that people dress appropriately
- List of hotels in the area for anyone who plans to stay the night
AFTER THE EVENT
You and your staff may be exhausted after the long build-up to a successful event but believe it or not, you should already be thinking about next year’s event! Considering everyone had a great time, send out a follow-up email and offer your registrants a discounted rate for next year’s event if they register for it now. Or offer them a “returning participant” coupon that they can use when you activate next year’s online registration form. Another smart thing to do is send an online survey out to your participants and ask them what they liked and what can be improved upon for next year’s event. You can offer your participants a free gift or registration discount if they complete the form for you. This participant feedback is extremely valuable and will help you get a sense of the participant experience on the ground that many event organisers are so often shielded from on event day with so many administrative tasks to juggle.
Rohan Miller is an online event specialist for The Active Network. For more resources regarding Club Management Software or even about Membership Management Software and especially about Event Management Software please review these pages.
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