8 Steps for Avoiding the Charity Walk Slump

A 2015 report shows your nonprofit’s charity athletic-event may be losing traction. Follow these eight steps to help your fundraising walk or run get back on its feet.

By Maddie Bro

Relay for Life. Race for the Cure. Walk to End Alzheimer’s. These longstanding charity events are the face of an American nonprofit tradition.

However, an annual report published by the Peer-To-Peer Professional Forum found that funds raised by charity athletic-events totaled to $1.62 billion in 2014, which is a decline of 2.47 percent from 2013. For instance, the $68.3 million raise by Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s One Walk in 2014 was a 12.42 percent reduction from the total it raised in 2013.

Some large-scale events such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure saw a decrease due in part to recent controversies and crises.

The report also found that small-scale peer-to-peer events – like individual activities including growing mustaches and shaving heads – are growing in popularity. Smaller organizations have recognized that individual activities may not be as easily deterred by weather and thus can be held at nearly any point in the year.

Yet, Jeff Shuck, CEO of Plenty, a consulting firm for nonprofits, says the charity-walk format has not lost its ability to raise money and awareness. Instead of focusing on ways to glamorize these events, Shuck says to focus on cultivating a community of volunteers and others who care about your cause.

With charity-walk season right around the corner, how can you nonprofit avoid falling into this fundraising slump?

Malika Chopra of GOOD Magazine, an integrated media platform specializing in non-governmental organization management, shares eight simple steps for seeing a great turn-out at your charity walk.

  1. Gather a strong planning committee. Chopra suggests enlisting help from experienced fundraising event organizers at least six months in advance. Your local runner’s shops may have ideas and tips as well.
  2. Define your cause or charity. Consider hosting your event during your cause’s designated month. Doing so can foster greater awareness of the issue your organization addresses. Click here for a month-by-month awareness event calendar.
  3. Better safe than sorry. Before setting a date, time, and location, contact local law enforcement to ensure your route does not violate any laws.
  4. Work out the logistics. Consider asking yourself and your team the following questions: Who will handle publicity and media relations? Who will take charge of safety and first aid? Who will handle finances—reimbursements, expenses, and donations?
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In addition to soliciting local small businesses and large corporations for financial donations, ask if they would be willing to donate supplies like tables, water, snacks, or T-shirts.
  6. Spread the word. Utilize social media platforms and local non-digital communication modes, like radio and TV stations, to advertise the event.
  7. Remind others of their responsibilities. To ensure a smooth operation, provide a friendly reminder to your committee and volunteers of the tasks they’ve signed up to complete.
  8. Say thank you. After putting on a successful event, express your appreciation to your volunteers and participants for their time and donations in personalized thank-you emails, letters, or phone calls.

Following these eight steps will help preserve your nonprofit’s charity athletic-event tradition and reach the long-term fundraising success your organization has envisioned.

About the blogger – Maddie Bro is a third-year undergraduate student studying journalism and gender/women’s studies at the University of Iowa. Following graduation, she aspires to attend law school to pursue her interest in studying civil rights law, free speech issues, and equal opportunity policy. Maddie enjoys swimming, running, reading, and catching up on CBS’ The Good Wife in her free time.

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