5 Ideas to Increase Fundraising at Walk Events

Fundraising walks are a constant during the spring months and for many a source of needed revenue. Walks are fun. They create community, awareness, promote good health and, in some cases, offer a view of a city that can't otherwise be seen except on foot.

However, as reported by the Chronicle of Philanthropy in March 2017, peer-to-peer athletic event fundraising declined for the 4th year in a row. Why? These events have not evolved as quickly as technology - ESPECIALLY communication strategy. The same article noted the 12% increase in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk. One person interviewed said,

"If you sharpen your communications, you can do a lot to reinvigorate your program."

So, the issue is not that there is a flaw in the concept but rather a flaw in how nonprofits are executing the communication and fundraising strategy that surrounds the walk fundraising event.

Here are 5 Ideas to Increase Revenue at your Fundraising Walk:

(1) Eliminate the Pitfalls

- Pitfall #1: We've always done it this way. Is your walk event exactly the same as it was 5 years ago? If the walk event is the same year after year, your fundraisers or walkers will not be compelled to attend. It eliminates the powerful Fear of Missing Out factor.

- Pitfall #2: Inability to change due to volunteer leadership. This is a sister to pitfall #1 and requires its own special touch. Volunteer leadership can often be over involved in the planning of an event and few are motivated to take risk or try something new. For volunteer leadership, it is important to cultivate new ideas and outline the strategic direction for the walk. If you have a volunteer that is hindering progress, one of strongest steps you can take is to help that volunteer find another job.

- Pitfall #3: Old Technology. Do your guests struggle to remember their user logins from year to year? Does it take too long to create a walk fundraising page? Is it too corporate?  Explore how technology can reduce the hurdles for your walkers, help you with check-in, spur fundraising and increase safety.

(2) Create a Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

- Utilize social media to highlight attendees (Who) for the current year and years past (tell their stories, use a quote) - tag them and use your event website to showcase them.

- Post pictures from the event highlighting elements that are unique to your walk event

- Post pictures from a previous year and tag the company or person in the picture - it is important to create a network effect with your event social media (note - if you need to ask an influencer in your market to share your posts, ask them.)

- Reward participants for recruiting others to attend and for generating online buzz - use technology that rewards participant reach and activity in addition to their fundraising.

(3) Acknowledge Consistency

- Highlight participants who have participated in ALL of your walks, then highlight a 5 year club or a 10 year club. Reward consistency and celebrate it. When someone signs up for their 5th year, celebrate it online with a Welcome post or email.

- Elevate a statistic showing the impact that your 5 year club has made to the cause

(4) Creativity

- Walk events offer many creative ways to engage with each other and the cause. Here are just a few: 1. Costume contest 2. Annual signature color 3. A surprise celebrity or experience at the finish line (not announced in advance) 4. Conversation scavenger hunt i.e. encourage walkers to engage with each other and reward those who 'discover/find certain things' or who complete a 'bingo' card of sorts. 5. Prizes -- everyone loves prizes and it's a FAR more fun use of sponsor gifts than an auction. Consider concluding each walk event with surprise prizes -- winning is fun.

- The walk concept is your base but it's still an event and your creativity will keep it fresh and fun.

(5) Fundraising Ideas

- Equip your walkers for fundraising -- truly equip them with communication ideas and incentives to reach higher goals.  This tool kit needs to include example social media posts, example emails, and an exercise to help them verbalize Why they care about your cause

- Create mini-goals in the weeks leading up to the event i.e. provide prizes to walkers for raising the most in a day, or week and then your overall TOP FUNDRAISER.

- Provide participants an incentive and a mobile tool to raise funds WHILE they walk. Post the fundraising results on screens at mile markers. Encourage walkers to email or text friends sitting at home.

Walk events serve as a wonderful way to connect participants with the cause and the decline in revenue is only attributable to a need to freshen up your approach.


If you need advice on how to freshen up an event that has been stale for too long - shoot us an email at Swell's walk registration process is seamless and we provide a tool for onsite registration and real-time fundraising that can engage your walkers during a walk.