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Walkathon Guide

This guide is designed to help you regardless if this is your first time organizing an event, or if you have previous experience. If you're organizing a "first time" event which is not established, or even if your event is already developed, this guide has valuable ideas and tips that can help. Every event is unique in some way, so use the ideas and tips that apply and work for your event. While specifically designed for "Walk-A-Thons", the content applies to any fundraising event where participants must register to participate.
1
The Event Manager - Role and Responsibilities
As the Event organizer, you're ultimately responsible for the success of the event. Depending on the type and size of your event, there can be many tasks to handle. Enlisting the help of some volunteers is always a good idea.

Key responsibilities of the Event Manager include:

The Event Manager - The Basics

Before you get started planning, it's helpful to consider some of the basics. Here are some simple but important questions to help you get started:

What type of event do you want to hold?

Simple events require less planning and fewer volunteers, while more complicated events may require additional volunteers, permits, equipment, or other resources. When selecting the type of event, keep in mind what resources are available to you. Once you determine what kind of event you're planning, you can start to estimate the number of participants and the number of volunteers that you'll need.

What are your goals for this event?

How much money are you hoping to raise? How many participants are you expecting to attract? Is this going to be an annual event or a one-time event? What other goals might you have? If you have organized this or a similar type event before, you're already ahead of the game because you know what to expect. If this is your first time organizing this event, you may have to make an educated guess or estimate the number of people who will participate and how much you will raise.

What is the date and time of your event?

Check the calendar for any statutory, religious, or school holidays, or for any other major events that may conflict with the date you have chosen. If you have a couple of key volunteers in mind who will be helping you organize the event, you may want to check with them first if they will be available on the date you have chosen, and that they will have time to work on tasks both before and during the event. Before you finalize your date, be 100% certain that the location you selected is available and that you have reserved it for the date you have chosen. Get a written confirmation from the location owner, or from the authority that is responsible for the location.

Consider the exact time of your event. Some events have a start time and all participants start the course at the same time. The advantages to this are that you can have a warm-up and speeches prior to start because everyone will be there at a certain "start time". This type of start can also be good for media photo opportunities of everyone starting at once. If you have bikes, wheelchairs, or many participants with a narrow course, you can stagger the start so not everyone starts at the same time. The other way to go is "Open registration". With Open Registration, participants can start at any time they want between the specified hours (example; 9am - 3pm). Each participant starts and finishes within the time range at their leisure.

Unfortunately, bad weather can't be predicted when you're committing to your event date. We always hope for the best and plan for the worst. Having a backup plan or even an alternate backup rainout date may be well advised. Rain measures could include tents, temporary indoor shelter, alternate routes, etc. Because of the additional work required, most organizers prefer to go with a "rain or shine" policy and take their chances rather than having to reschedule the entire event for another day.

What is the location of your event?

Depending on the type of event and the type of location, you may need to book or reserve your date/location far in advance. This should be done as early as possible to avoid any nasty surprises. If you're planning on using public property such as a park, streets or sidewalks, check with local authorities first. You may need a permit or other permissions to use or to reserve your location.

When selecting a location for your event, here are some key points to consider;

2
Registration
Now that you know the basics, the planning can begin. The first question you need to ask is, how exactly will you will raise your money? Several different models are available to you. Most events rely on registration fees or participants soliciting donations. Additional methods of raising more money from your event such as "Corporate Sponsorships" are listed in the section on "How to Raise Even More". At this stage in the planning, we'll limit discussion to Registration".

Registration - Methods:

Participants pay a registration fee

The amount you charge a participant should cover all your costs (T-shirts, permits, etc...), and in addition allow you to reach your fundraising goals. How much should your fee be? Will there be more than one option? (example child vs adult). Consider an "early bird special" to generate early revenue.

This method can be summed up as "Pay to Play". It's simple and easy to mange. The only downside is that ultimately, your overall raise is limited to how much you can charge a participant to register, and how many participants register.

Participants register free, and request donations from family, friends and coworkers

The MyEvent system automatically creates a personal fundraising page for each participant who registers online. Participants share their personal fundraising page (URL) with their personal networks on social media, and via email.

The system tracks totals raised for individuals (and teams), and automatically generates dynamic features on your event website such as; Leader Board, Participant List, Search for Participant", and more.

The advantage of this model is that instead of getting a specific amount from each participant, each participant becomes a fundraiser for you. Your fundraising is multiplied. In addition, there is no theoretical limit to how much any one individual can raise. Since donations are made online, participants can raise money from friends or family anywhere in the world.

Minimum raise required

This is the same model as above, except each participant must fundraise a predetermined amount prior to the event to have the right to participate in the event. This model is also used with teams where each team must raise a certain amount. This model can be advantageous if you have costs associated with participants, and you want to ensure you exceed your costs, while not having to charge a registration fee.

Participants pay a registration fee and Fundraise (request donations from family, friends and coworkers)

This model combines both concepts. Participants pay to register, and act as fundraisers using their own personal fundraising pages.

Other Registration Considerations

3
Plan for a Profit
Regardless of your Fundraising model (Registration Fee and/or Participant Fundraising), the amount you raise is directly a result of how many participants you can get to participate. It's a numbers game. Keep this important fact in mind; the more participants, the more you will raise. Corporate Sponsorships, Recruitment, Media, and PR are critical tasks to maximizing your fundraising. In addition to "Registration" and/or "Participant Fundraising" there are other ways to raise more money with your event.

Plan for a Profit - 4 proven ways to raise more money:

Corporate Sponsorships

Selling sponsorships, can be an excellent way to raise additional funds. Companies pay for exposure to your group of participants and/or donors (sponsor). Your sponsors get to have their logo displayed on your website and on a board at the event. The MyEvent website and system makes selling sponsorships online easy. If you're printing banners, flyers, posters, t-shirts, or advertisements, your corporate sponsors logos can appear on those materials as well.

A more detailed description and explanation about Corporate Sponsorships in the "Event Planning Task List" section under "Corporate Sponsorship".

Raffle

This is one of the oldest tried and true ways to raise additional money. Before planning to hold a raffle, check with your local authorities to see if you require any permits or licenses. Running a successful raffle requires a good main prize and/or other prizes. Therefore, there is usually some work involved in procuring your prizes. Most of all, you'll need volunteers to sell your raffle tickets. If you're able to procure good prizes, and you've checked and obtained any necessary permits, The MyEvent website and system makes selling your raffle tickets online easy.

Silent Auction

The Silent auction can be another way to increase your overall fundraising. To hold a silent auction, you need to assemble a bunch of items that people will want to bid on. In some cases, you may be able to get some items donated. In other cases, you may be able to get suppliers to provide items at a heavily discounted rate. For these items you'll need to impose a "minimum bid" to ensure you don't sell anything below cost (plus a markup). Once you've assembled a group of items to auction, you can place pictures and descriptions of each item on your website, so people can see the items in advance.

At the event, you'll need tables to display all the items up for bid. Place a description in front of each item that lists the actual retail value of each item. Then place a paper on a clipboard in front of each item. Bidders who are interested write down their bid on the clipboard. If another person wants the item, they list their higher bid below the prior bid. People continue bidding until the auction is officially closed, at which time the items are awarded to the winners. Items that did not reach their minimum bid can be returned to the vendor who provided the goods.

Sell T-shirts

T-shirts can be a source of revenue if you can sell them either at the event, or by giving T-shirts to all registrants who pay a registration fee, or as an incentive to give to those who raise a substantial amount. If you are selling T-shirts, make sure your markup is adequate as you may have loss, shrinkage, or leftover unsold inventory. T-Shirts have the benefit of creating awareness for your cause, organization, and/or event. If possible, get all your volunteers to wear the shirt the day of the event. It adds an element of professionalism to your event. It's even more impressive if all the participants wear the same shirt. T-shirts that are attractive or that have a "cool" factor work best. Finally, you can charge your corporate sponsors even more if their logo appears on your T-shirts. If your lucky, you may be able to have the T-shirts donated by a manufacturer who agrees to become a sponsor, or to have them paid for by a donor, technically avoiding any "expenses".

Read more about how to obtain free goods and services, in the "Event Planning Task List" section under "Procuring Goods and/or Services".

Plan for a Profit - Projecting and Minimizing Expenses:

Raising money and creating a positive experience for your participants and donors doesn't have to cost much or anything at all. There's no need to spend on lavish expenses. As the event organizer, you want to keep any expenses to an absolute minimum. If you want to do something elaborate and costly, it's a good idea to build up to that rather than to spend a lot on a first-year event, unless you have experience, have an established base of support, or if you have a lot of confidence regarding how much you will raise.

Always consider borrowing or renting to minimize costs. If you must make a purchase, always try to negotiate with suppliers to get goods or services for free or for a heavily discounted rate in exchange for being promoted as a sponsor. Remind the vendor that your event is for a good cause and is a non-profit in their community. Ultimately, you should try to keep expenses below 5%-10% of your overall raise. Some events that provide extra value to participants (food, music, entertainment, T-shirts, professional services, accommodations, etc...) may have higher expense ratios, some running as high as 40% or 50%.

A good approach is to try to maintain as close to a $0-dollar expense as possible. This technique requires you to find a donor or a sponsor for anything you need to purchase. Let's say you want 100 lawn signs to promote your event and they cost $4.00 each for a total of $400. You'll need to find a donor or a company to pay for it. You can offer the sponsor to have their logo on the signs in exchange for their support. If you know of someone who would be making a similar amount donation, you can ask them to purchase goods or services for your event instead. If you are a beginner at organizing, this is a good technique to make sure you stay on track. It prevents you from taking on more expenses than you can cover.

If you don't keep a tight control on expenses, you can quickly spend as much as you raise. Here is a sample list of potential expense items that you might consider borrowing, renting, or getting donated (purchased by a donor or provided free by the vendor). Create a list of any expenses you may incur to help plan your goals and budget.

Sample Expense Projection:

Plan for a Profit - Projecting Fundraising Revenue:

Depending on your personal and professional networks, demographic, and geography, the average amount raised by a single participant can vary significantly. The average participant in MyEvent clients' events raise approximately $165.

The number of participants can be difficult to estimate. MyEvent clients' events range from as few as 10 participants to as many as 500 participants. You can try to estimate a count for your event. If your event has been happening for years, you have some history to go by when estimating the number of people that will participate. If this is a "first time" event, projecting how much you will raise may be an educated guess at best, however it's still an important step and can give you valuable insight. It also allows you to compare your estimates to your goals and see if they are in line.

Sample revenue estimate:

Plan for a Profit - The Bottom Line:

Now that you have estimated your fundraising revenue and your expenses, subtract your estimated expenses from your estimated revenue to determine your estimated "Net Raise". Is your estimated "Net Raise" in line with your goals? Always stay focused on your bottom line.

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4
Event Planning Task List
Regardless of the size of your event, a few dedicated volunteers can make a huge difference in what you can accomplish. Try recruiting family, friends, or co-workers. The more people you can get to commit to join in your core group of volunteers, the better.

Organizing a successful event involves many different elements that require special attention; Media and Promotions, Sponsorships, Event management, Registration, Safety, and much more. The best way to mange all the different parts is to break them into separate chunks and assign each chunk to a volunteer if possible. Try to recruit responsible, competent, productive and committed volunteers to handle each separate area of responsibility if you can.

The list below is a comprehensive detailed list of tasks. You may not require all of them, or your event may require some specific tasks not mentioned here. This is only meant to be a base and reference to work with. All the various tasks have been broken down into the following areas:

Media/PR, Corporate Sponsorships, Procuring Goods/Services, MyEvent Website, Recruiting Participants, and the Course Marshall.

Event Planning Task List - Media and PR (Marketing and Promotion):

Its critical that you promote your event to get the word out. They won't come if they don't know about it. It can be surprisingly simple and easy to attract people to your event using methods that are mostly free.

The key to success in this area is to start early and to be very persistent. The city, the media, and companies plan far in advance. If you want them to post your event, ask early. Keep a detailed spreadsheet of calls made, letters sent, and the status of requests made so it's easy to follow up.

Contact your local city hall:

Contact your local media:

When contacting the media, use a press release. It should contain all the pertinent information regarding your event such as the cause you are supporting, the date, time, place and the beneficiary that will receive the funds you will be raising. Write a compelling personal story of why you are organizing this event or how beneficiaries of the event will be helped.

Sample Press Release

Contact local celebrities and politicians:

Other free methods:

Flyers and posters can usually be created and printed relative inexpensively or preferably donated. It's a simple but effective technique. Send some young volunteers out in your neighborhood to local shops, libraries, community centers, parks, and anywhere you can post a poster or flyer. Lawn signs may come at a cost; however, they can be very good at creating awareness for your event if you can place them in the right locations (check local regulations). Try to get a sponsor to donate or pay for your lawn signs. Usually they can be re-used year after year if the date is not permanently printed on each sign.

Event Planning Task List – Corporate Sponsorships:

Your event presents a captive audience of participants and donors. This provides an excellent opportunity to sell sponsorships to raise additional funds. Often, your "audience" of participants and donors may be specialized. Your event may attract a specific type of group; bowling, running, cycling, golf, etc. This can make sponsoring your event more attractive for the right sponsor. Consider approaching companies that sell goods or services to your group.

In exchange for a sponsorship fee, companies can have their logo appear on your event website, and on a physical board at the event. If you are giving participants any kind of give-aways or registrant kit, sponsors can insert flyers or special offers and/or samples into your participants package. For a higher price, "premium sponsors" can have additional presence on your website homepage, on all promotional materials like posters and flyers, T-shirts, or can even be mentioned on the radio.

Who should you approach for corporate sponsorships?

Medium to large sized companies can be a good source of sponsorships. Most large companies have budgets for local causes and donations. They might even have a specific person who is responsible for "corporate social responsibility" (CSR). Large companies set their budgets very far in advance, therefore if you plan to sell sponsorships or asks for corporate donations, start as early as possible.

The obvious place is to start with companies you know. You may work in a large company yourself and/or have family and friends who work in companies. Look at the community where your event is going to be held. Are there any medium or large sized companies in your area or community?

Many medium to large sized companies have clubs or groups within the company that may want to participate in your event. When communicating with companies for sponsorships, be sure to ask about clubs or groups that may want to participate (running, bowling, workout groups, yoga, etc.) and ask them to join in. At the very least ask if you can post a poster on their bulletin boards, lunchroom, or reception area.

Create a list of companies that you want to target and then methodically call and/or write each of them. You will have to be prepared with an information sheet explaining the event, the reason for the event, and the details of the event. In addition, you will need to have a prepared letter formally requesting support.

Here are some sample materials that will help:

To be successful at selling corporate sponsorships, you (and/or your volunteers) will have to be prepared to do some cold calling, send letters, and to follow up on their requests. Keep a spreadsheet of companies and the last contact you had with each, so you don't get confused.

Small local Businesses

Look around your community and notice all the local businesses. Hair salons, gyms, restaurants, ...etc. Unlike with large companies, you can often walk in and speak directly with the owner. While the amounts generated may be less, selling sponsorships to local business can be another good technique to raise money. Unlike larger companies they usually don't require a formal written request so many months in advance.

Event Planning Task List – Procuring Goods:

Depending on the type, size, and scope of your event, at some point you are going to need "stuff". If you're holding a raffle, you'll need prizes and/or if you're having a silent auction you'll need items to sell. Even if you're not you may still require items. It could be a garbage can, a tent, a banner, T-shirts, or even a band.

Ideally, vendors can be found to donate almost all the items you need. Here's a list of materials, supplies and or options you may want or need at your event:

Event Planning Task List – The MyEvent System and Website

The MyEvent system simplifies everything and minimizes your effort. You select a design, add/update content, and handle any general inquiries that come through the site. In addition, the website can generate reports listing participants and donations received from donors in the Organizer Dashboard. Read more about the website in section 6, "The MyEvent Website and System".

Event Planning Task List – Recruiting Participants

Success is a numbers game. That's why it's important to work hard for each participant you can add to your event. Advertising and PR are important; however, you can really make a difference by reaching out to find your participants rather than waiting for them to come to you. If you can convince one small group to participate in your event, you've just increased the amount you raise. There are many groups that you can approach. You may be surprised to find they are looking for activities like yours and will be happy to participate. If you add 5-10 people to your list of participants, that could easily represent $500 to $1000 or more for your overall fundraising. Remember, just one great participant can add much more than that to your fundraising totals. Think of groups or clubs that you have been affiliated with or that you may know. What about your family, friends, workout buddies and co-workers?

Groups and clubs that are good to call on are, veterans, schools, companies, gyms, cheerleader squads, book clubs, glee clubs, running groups, sports teams, students, former employees, alumni, etc...

Event Planning Task List – Course Marshal / Safety

Someone must create, measure, and mark the course. Depending on your location and course, you may not need to do very much. Courses are typically marked out with signs, ribbons, chalk, pilons, tape, and volunteers. Sometimes a map is supplied to participants. If there are street crossings, volunteers should be there as crossing guards. It's ideal to make the start and finish line in the same area. You may organize the route in a few ways. With the "Out and back" model, the start and finish line is the same. A circuit has the same start and finish line; however, the course is a loop. The other method is to have a pre-determined number of laps.

Safety, security, and first aid are also usually handled by the "Course Marshal". Try to make sure you have at least one volunteer on site who has some medical first aid training. A basic first aid kit should be readily available on site. It's also a good idea to notify local public security and/or the local police about your event well in advance.

5
Motivating Your Participants
It is very important to keep reminding your participants to fundraise as much as possible. Very often donors do not react to the first request they get, so fundraisers should be encouraged to send at least 3 friendly reminders to their social networks.

One way to engage your participants is to offer incentives. You can have large incentives that only the top fundraisers will earn or various rewards for achieving different levels or a combination. The important thing is to know your participants and figure out what will motivate them. You should try and get as many of the incentives donated as possible so that you don't have to purchase anything and you are able to raise as much money as possible.

Examples of incentives can be tickets to professional sports games, gift certificates for restaurants, retail gift cards, travel vouchers, etc...

6
Color Runs
Color runs have become very popular and they can be a lot of fun. If you choose to do a color run, MyEvent recommends you set up 4 color stations along your walk or run. The preferred method of getting the colored powder on to participants is to dispense it by hand (with little cups). Some people choose to use condiment bottles to dispense the powder. You can purchase colored powder (corn starch) in bulk packaging (one color per 25lb. box). The recommended amount per participant is .6 lbs per participant. Location and quantity determines the final price delivered to the event. We recommend Color Blaze as your powder supplier.

Every participant should receive .6 lbs of colored powder during the entire color run. This is an estimation with some room for variation in hand size and throwing consistency. A handful is about .10 lbs - .15 lbs. Divide up all your powder into the stations that you will have. 3 or 4 stations is usually enough. If you have 500 participants, you will receive a total of 300 lbs of powder (500 x .6 lbs). You should divide that up into your stations and then divide the number of stations by .6lbs which is the total amount that will go on a participant. Therefore, if you have 3 stations each station will receive 100 lbs in the example above and you will dispense .2 lbs per station which is appx 1 handful of powder (or part of one small dixie cup).

It's not an exact science, it's all approximate. If you start running through powder too quickly dial back the amount. Some events provide paper cups or plastic condiment bottles to use to project the powder. In those cases, you end up using more powder per throw which may or may not help you estimate more accurately how many cups you'd throw on each individual. The powder comes in 25lb boxes. You can have one color per station or mix it up. There is also the option of having individual 70 gm packets of powder that you can give out to the kids (which they just throw on each other). This is usually done in addition to the bulk powder if there is room in the budget.

What about clean up?

The color on your grass will disappear the first time the sprinklers run. Any color on sidewalks/pavement can be washed away with a hose (a few minutes with a power washer never hurts).

Will the color wash off skin/out of hair?

Yes! The easiest way to get it off is while it's still dry (shake, wiggle, jump up and down, vacuum, etc). After that, soap and water, with a little rinse and repeat action will do the trick.

What if it gets in our eyes?

Encourage participants to wear sunglasses (not only will everyone look cool) but it will greatly reduce the chances of colors in eyes. However, never fear, the color is non-toxic. A simple rinse with water will take care of you.

Can we eat the colors?

Not recommended. It is corn starch but will taste like colored dirt.

Can we inhale it?

It's a lot like breathing in dust and dirt, extensive exposure is not recommended. If possible, we recommend you provide a white bandana or other covering for them to put over their nose and mouth.

Are the colors safe?

The vibrant colors are made up of Corn starch and FD&C and/or D&C colors. Color safety information: Approved for use in foods, cosmetics and/or drugs. These products are not considered hazardous, 29 CFR 1910-1200.

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7
The MyEvent Website and System
MyEvent has specialized in "Walk-A-Thons" and all types of events involving participant fundraising (Peer to peer fundraising) for years. We understand the needs and the concerns of Event Organizers. Our system is specifically designed to help you manage your Walk-A-Thon event.

Here are some key features included in the MyEvent "A-Thon" website:

Accept Payments Securely Online

The website makes accepting payments online fast and easy. Registration fees, Donations, Corporate sponsorships, Raffle Tickets or any other type of Ticket can be purchased online through your event website. MyEvent.com is a payment facilitator, so no merchant account is required, and there are no third-party processors (like PayPal) to deal with. MyEvent handles everything for you. Every transaction is recorded digitally, and details can be viewed in real time through reports in the Organizer Dashboard.

Online Registration

The MyEvent system can be easily customized to accommodate free or paid registration, custom fields in the registration form, waivers, and other options. All data can be viewed in your Organizer Dashboard and downloaded in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format. Read more about registration in the section "Registration".

Leaderboard

The leaderboard displays the individuals and/or teams which have raised the most money. This makes for some friendly competition and can help to motivate fundraisers as they strive to raise more to move up the list.

Customizable Design

Select from a multitude of colors, themes and designs that suit your event. In addition, your logo or branding can be integrated into the header of the website. MyEvent can help you customize your design if you wish.

Goals and Progress Indicators

Goals can be set for individuals, teams and/or for the entire event. A "thermometer" style progress indicator on the website shows how close the goals are to being reached.

Search for a participant

This feature allows anyone to quickly locate and donate to a participant, even if they don't have the link (URL) of the participant's fundraising page. By typing in the name and searching, the user finds the searched participant's individual personal fundraising page where they can donate to them.

Offline donations

The MyEvent system automatically records all the details of every registration or donation transaction completed on the website. Unfortunately, the system has no way of knowing if you've received any cash or check donations offline. Therefore, the system permits you to enter your offline donations via the Organizer Dashboard. By including the offline donations, totals raised and reported on the website along with the goal progress indicators will be accurate for the entire amount, not just the online portion. It also affects "totals raised" on each participant's page, team pages, and on the leaderboard.

Unlike the online transactions made through your website, MyEvent never actually touches your offline money. No fees are applied to any money you raise offline. Only online transactions are subject to fees. Offline donations are provided in the system as information only, and to provide data to the system to dynamically calculate and display your "total raise" including both offline and online donations.

Corporate Sponsorship

If you want to sell corporate sponsorship packages online, the MyEvent system makes it easy. This feature includes a highly customizable shopping cart designed specifically for selling corporate sponsorships. You simply create your "packages", and then sponsors can choose and purchase any package they want on your website. Read more in the section "Event Planning Task List – Corporate Sponsorships".

Selling Raffle tickets

Selling Raffle tickets on your event website is simple. For more information about holding a raffle, refer to the section "Plan for a Profit - 4 proven ways to raise more money". You can sell any type of ticket online on your event website; Cocktail Receptions, Galas, Spaghetti Dinners, Movie Nights, etc. All the information regarding tickets and transactions get instantly recorded digitally and can be viewed in the Organizer Dashboard Reports and can be downloaded in spreadsheet format.

Tax Receipts (Registered non-profits only)

All the E-commerce features on the website such as Donations, Registrations, Sponsorships and Tickets can all automatically issue tax receipts. If your organization is a registered non-profit, a customized tax receipt can be sent in .PDF format via email to the donor or purchaser. For our Canadian clients, our system meets all the requirements for tax receipts issued in Canada as well.

8
Event Day
If you're well prepared and organized, the day of the event can be a fun and rewarding experience. Assuming things run smoothly, you should have time to participate, and meet your supporters. If you're raising for a cause because you, a friend, or a family member have been affected by a hardship, it's likely you'll meet others with similar experiences. You may meet volunteers, police, members of the media, politicians, or celebrities. Some of your sponsors may attend as well. Have fun, enjoy the day and feel good about the excellent work you're doing raising funds for your cause. It will all be over before you know it, so take time to smell the roses.

By now you've procured, arranged, and double-checked delivery of all your critical materials, supplies, and gently reminded all your volunteers. Always obtain or take delivery of the items you need prior to event day if possible and transport them to the event yourself to avoid risking any late deliveries of crucial items. If you must rely on another person, the city, or a vendor to deliver critical goods or services on the event day, be sure to remind them a few days in advance and ask them to deliver as early as possible to avoid any last-minute glitches. Setting up almost always takes longer than expected, sometimes much longer. Start as early as possible to be ready for when your event opens. Try to place your tables/tents near public traffic to take advantage of the free publicity. Place signs out by the road, or areas where passers by will see them. Consider placing balloons around your tables to increase visibility and public curiosity while adding a festive mood at the same time.

Event Day - Checklist/Planner:

Volunteers:

Depending on the type and size of your event, you will likely require volunteers for help on the event day. Volunteers who are giving their time deserve to be appreciated, treat them well. Do what you can to make their jobs easy and to make them comfortable. Always be appreciative and always thank your volunteers in person at the event. Don't assume volunteers will be there for the event as promised, it's not uncommon for them to forget or for circumstances to change. For this reason, it's always better to have more volunteers than less. Be sure to remind them a few days or a week prior to the event about their commitment and confirm their attendance.

Provide volunteers with clear instructions and make sure they understand their jobs. If someone is volunteering for hours, they will most likely need a break at some point. Be prepared to move volunteers around to cover if necessary. Smaller events can have as few as 2 or 3 volunteers, while larger events require more. Areas where you might need volunteers for help are; welcome/greeter, registration, water/snacks distribution, t-shirt sales, first aid, crossing guards/course officials, "warm up" trainer/instructor, money manager, photographer/videographer, and music/DJ/band.

Registration:

If your event has a specified "start time" or even an "opening" time, you will likely experience a rush of people who all want to check in at the registration table at the same time. The key to handling registrations is to be prepared. It's a good idea to practice a few "mock registration" run-throughs before you open the registration table just to make sure your registration volunteers are clear on the procedure. You don't want to be figuring things out or making mistakes in the rush with a line-up of people waiting. Make sure the people who are registering and/or checking in participants are familiar and comfortable with the process.

MyEvent makes your check-in/registration easy. Simply download the spreadsheet of all registered participants and print or use online. As participants arrive, you verify they are registered on your spreadsheet, and make a note that they have checked in/registered. If you're distributing any T-shirts, samples, coupons, or give-aways, you can track that as well for each participant on the spreadsheet when you give them out.

Start/Finish Line

Make a clear and visible start/finish line. This can be accomplished with chalk, balloons, ribbon, pilons, signage, etc. Try to make it as visible as possible. Decorating and enhancing your "start" line helps increase your visibility to the public.

Water/Snacks

Make sure to have water available for your participants and volunteers, especially if the weather is hot. De-hydration is a concern, particularly among the young and the elderly. Ideally, you should have water available every 1.5 miles or so on your course. At a very minimum, make sure there is a water fountain accessible. Consider using a large thermos with paper cups at your tables.

Snacks are not essential, however the more distance/work your participants are doing, they will need energy. If possible, get some fruits and/or other healthy snacks donated. Try to get some energy bars or energy drink companies to donate samples.

Course Marshal

Depending on your chosen location, setting up your course can be time consuming. Consider appointing one volunteer to be responsible for managing the course including; start line, crossing guards, signage and course markings, pilons, chalk, maps, etc. If your course is long or complicated, consider distributing a map handout to participants.

Cash management

If you will be accepting cash or checks for donations, registration fees, t-shirts, or anything else, it's a good idea to appoint one volunteer to hold and watch the money. You should have a proper box (preferably with a lock) where you can store all your money. Make sure that all money accepted gets recorded, so you can balance everything after. Things can get hectic so keep it in a safe place or with a person where it will be secure. In addition, someone may have to hold a large amount of money until it can be deposited to a bank.

Event Day - Supplies Checklist:

Here's a quick list of items you may need for your event day:

Tables/tents/chairs, pens/pencils, calculators, paper, cash box, trash cans/recycle bins, sponsors logo display board, signage, course markers, pilons, chalk, printed map of course, water, snacks, first aid kit and supplies, tape, string, and sunscreen.

Event Day - Activities:

In addition to your main event, if you have enough people, you may want to try the following:

Speeches:

If you're able to gather any celebrities, politicians, or the leaders of any groups or foundations, consider having some speeches. Welcome and thank your participants. Let them know how important the event is. Try to keep it very brief (2-5 minutes).

Stretch/Warm up:

If you're expecting most participants to all start at a certain time, then you can co-ordinate a warm up. Since everyone will just be hanging around for the start, try to get a local workout guru or aerobics instructor to run participants through a short stretch and/or warm up.

Start/Kick off:

When you're ready to get the walk started, assemble everyone at the start line. The start is an excellent opportunity to capture a large group shot, perfect for posting on your website. It's also the best shot for any photographers/reporters who may have come to cover the event. Finally, get the crowd to countdown from 5 or 10 for added fun and a synchronized start. If your event is a competitive one, make sure the start is wide enough to accommodate the crowd size.

During the walk

While your participants are walking, make sure no one is going off course or getting lost. Try to ensure no one is experiencing any distress of any kind. You (or a volunteer) may want to use a bike or a car to monitor participants along the course or have volunteers at regular intervals to report any problems. Have them carry some extra water in case participants are in need.

Liven it up! Smiles are free. If you're patrolling in a vehicle give your participants some friendly honks. If you have a bullhorn, a bell, shakers or other noisemakers, some noise (not too loud and annoying) can help to add to the fun. If possible have volunteers cheer and encourage participants along the route, and as they finish the course. Add some upbeat music to further enhance the atmosphere.

Finishing the course

Increase the fun by announcing the names of participants over a speaker as they cross the finish line. Once they finish, participants will be thirsty, and possibly hungry. It's likely they will want to sit down somewhere.

Cleanup

When all the participants have finished and gone, it's time for the cleanup. The cleanup is important for 2 main reasons. First, you want to organize and store all your equipment signage and supplies neatly so they can be used again next year (or for another event). Second and most important, you want to leave the location the way you found it (or better). If you are using public property and do not clean up, you may not be granted use of the same location next year.

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Wrap up
The last phase of planning, organizing and managing a Walk-A-Thon is the wrap up. Don't skip this very useful step. This is your chance to learn and improve for your next event.

Seek out feedback from sponsors, volunteers, participants, donors, or anyone else who was involved. Ask important questions. Did you achieve your goals? What things if any went wrong or didn't work as expected. What things were great that people liked? What lessons have you learned and how can you improve next year? If you are not planning on holding this event again next year, maybe you can pass it off to someone else to organize next year?

The last important thing you should do after your event is over is to say, "Thank You". A little acknowledgement goes a long way and helps set the tone for next year. Take the time to write a quick note or email to your volunteers, sponsors, participants, and donors. Volunteers should ideally receive a personalized thank you.

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