Plan a charity walk or run.

How to Organize a Charity Walk or Run

Fundraising for your nonprofit of choice can often seem like a daunting task. Today, one of the most popular ways people are proactively raising money for charity is through interactive events. Whether it’s a 5K run/walk, color run, or even the more extreme "tough mudders," they are highly effective ways to generate excitement and bring people together for a common cause.

If a charity event like this seems like a good fit for your organization, here are some important details to keep in mind when planning your event.


Step One: The Planning Phase

Choosing a Route: It’s important to carefully plan out the route that your participants will be following and the distance they will be completing. Some of the most common route distances for charity events are 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon.

Another essential component to remember when mapping out your course is how inclusive you want your charity event to be. Most fundraisers want to be as inclusive as possible, welcoming people of all ages and physical abilities to participate in the event. That being said, the chosen route and level of difficulty should reflect this.

Once the route has been decided, it will be easier for you to make some of the other planning decisions, such as the resources needed, staff size, security, transportation, volunteers, and signage.

Safety: Obviously, safety is of the utmost importance. When considering possible routes, take into account the following key aspects:

  • What is the typical amount of traffic that flows along the route?
  • Is there adequate space along the shoulder of the road that will keep participants a safe distance from the traffic?
  • Will your participants need to cross any busy intersections during the route?
  • Will the course be open to the public, making it possible for your participants to be interrupted by non-registered pedestrians?

Asking yourself these questions will help you plan the best possible route, avoiding any potential hazards.

Transportation: Keep in mind ease of access to transportation for participants and spectators. Whether it’s convenient parking or the availability of public transportation, these well-planned details will make the event less hectic and more enjoyable for all involved.

Resources and Staff: The number of participants and spectators you expect on event day as well as the course length 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 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
  • Food
  • Water
  • Tents
  • Tables
  • Stage for awards ceremony
  • PA system
  • Generator

Looking at your course map, you will be able to strategically position your water stops, trash cans, portable toilets, concessions stands, and so on.

Legalities of a Charity Walk or Run: Make sure to check with your local town officials in order to ensure you obtain the proper permits and approvals for your event.


Step Two: Finding Participants

Marketing for Your Event: Now that the planning phase is done, it’s time to start generating excitement and spreading the word. Thankfully, in today’s world of growing technology, you can successfully publicize your event, no matter what your budget may be. Obviously, traditional marketing will consist of mail, television, radio, and newspaper advertisements. These, however, are going to require a larger budget. For those in need of a more budget-friendly approach, the following are great for creating a buzz about your charity event:

  • Official Website – This is a key resource to direct the public, media, and interested sponsors for more information.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Social Media – Social media is perfect for reaching a large group of people and building excitement for your upcoming event. A separate Facebook fan page or Twitter page for your event is a great way to invite friends and encourage them to recruit others to get involved in the cause.
  • Email Advertising – Email is a great tool for spreading the word about your event and keeping participants updated. Send your organization’s contact list an email with information about your event and a link to your website. Also, 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.


Step Three: Participant Registration

Whether you choose to use a simple paper registration process or implement an online event management system that allows you to build a custom online registration form and process, here are some questions to include on the form:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Emergency Contact
  • Shirt size (if you are offering a free shirt with the entry fee)
  • How did you hear about 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?


Step Four: Effective Communication Until Event Day

Communicating with registrants leading up to the actual day of the event is a great way to build excitement and help guarantee a successful fundraiser. Participants that register months prior to the event may lose interest or slow down their fundraising efforts if they are not engaged and encouraged on a regular basis.

Above all, no matter how much work it takes, remember to have fun! You’re raising money for a cause you feel passionate about and bringing others alongside to join you.

Email to tell us about your plans!