How to have a Walk-a-Thon to Raise Money for your School
by Tryna Fitzpatrick, freelance Program Manager, Writer and Marketing Specialist
On average, a school of approximately 700 K-5 students can expect to earn $8,000 to $20,000 from a well managed Walkathon, with very little overhead other than a substanial volunteer effort. Depending on the size of your school, you should plan on having at least 3 or 4 people responsible for planning and organizing, and then an additional 8-12 people the day of the event.Tryna Fitzpatrick
A Walk-a-Thon How-To
Most walkathons work by having students solicit pledges of financial support based on the number of “laps” that they do. This method works fine, but an easier way is to simply have students ask for flat pledges regardless of laps.
1. Pick A Date
Check with your school to find out what date works best and does not interfere with other school activities and events. Consider the weather and day of the week. For instance, you might be able to get more volunteers on a Friday as compared to a Monday. Think about the typical weather for your area and try to pick a time of the year when it is not too hot or too cold. In Virginia, October or April is a great time of the year. But be aware that in the fall there are usually a lot of other fundraisers going on so you might have a difficult time getting business sponsorships and donations that time of year. With that said – we’ve always had great success with October events.
2. Pick A Theme
Make your walkathon more exciting by organizing it around a theme every year. Our school walkathons have had a “cowboy / wild West” theme, the Wizard of Oz, “space” theme, and many others. Your day-of-event volunteers will dress in costumes based on your theme and, if appropriate, the students can dress for the theme too. For instance, our students wore cowboy hats for our Wild West theme.
3. Get Donations and Sponsors
In order to get the kids excited, it is a great idea to offer walkathon prizes to top fundraisers, top classroom participation and top classroom earners. Our school offers prizes for each grade level. These prizes have included an iPod, iPad Mini, a Nook, plus gift certificates for frozen yogurt, laser tag, bowling, movie tickets and much more.
Not all of your prizes need to be donated by business though! One of our most sought after prizes is “Principal For A Day” where one lucky student gets the opportunity to shadow the school principal for a day – performing all job duties along his or her side! Other ideas include PTA sponsored parties. For instance, one prize might be a class pizza party where all students get to enjoy a pizza lunch in the classroom or an ice cream party after school.
4. Spread The News
You’ll need to make pledge sheets and flyers to hand out to your school community. If there is space at your school, create a bulletin board to advertise the event. Be sure to include pictures of the prizes to generate excitement! Facebook and Twitter are fantastic (and free!) marketing tools that can help too. Create an “event” on Facebook for your Walkathon – or, you can create a “page” just for your Walkathon. Our school also has a PTA website that makes it easy to advertise the event and collect money. Besides cash and checks, we are able to use online payment processing via our website and Paypal. The more payment options you can offer, the more money you will make for your school!
You will also need to create a Walkathon template letter that students can give to their friends and family asking for support and pledges. Feel free to use the walkathon template letter below.
If you need help, contact me! I’m glad to give you some pointers on what has worked for us. I’d love to hear your ideas too – comment on this post.
Be sure to let me know how your event turns out.
SAMPLE WALK-A-THON TEMPLATE LETTER
I am writing to ask your support for a very big event at my school, (NAME OF SCHOOL).
On (DATE OF EVENT), we will have our annual Walk-a-Thon to help raise money for the PTA and school programs. It’s our biggest fundraiser and the money really does a lot for all of the students at (NAME OF SCHOOL). Instead of selling things, we collect pledge money for our participation in the Walk-a-Thon and every student gets to participate!
This year our goal is (DOLLAR AMOUNT OF SCHOOL GOAL). The money will help the PTA continue to provide many fun and educational programs and events for me and my classmates that we wouldn’t otherwise have such as (LIST TWO OR THREE PROGRAMS OR EVENTS).
Would you please consider a donation to support me walking on (DATE OF WALKATHON)?
You can send cash or checks, or submit your pledge online (GIVE LINK IF APPLICABLE).
Thank you so much for your support of my school!