Dust off those walking shoes, because you have a charity event to plan.
A charity walk/run is one of the most popular fundraising events you can organize. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed organizations raise tens of thousands of dollars through virtual walk fundraisers.
How? By getting creative, of course! 💃
There are plenty of fun, exciting ways to bring people together for your virtual walk — even while staying a safe distance apart. We witnessed a single school district raise nearly $80k through a costumed virtual fundraising event. In another campaign, we watched a hospital raise $40k through their online fundraising walk by getting innovative with sponsorships and a fun afterparty. Below, we share some creative fundraising ideas to make your virtual walk a success.
9 creative ideas for your virtual walk fundraiser
A virtual walk is a fun, healthy way to raise money for your good cause. Below, we share innovative fundraising tips to make your virtual walk one to remember.
1. Put on your best outfit 👗
Charity runs and walks are known for their unorthodox dress codes. Runners and walkers dress up in tutus, don monster garb, and even run a full 5k in their undies.
To garner excitement for your virtual walk, incorporate a theme and invite participants to walk in costume. Have everyone upload photos of their festive running gear to your supporter feed and offer prizes for the most inventive costume.
2. Invite your furry friends 🐶
Sure, having a walking buddy is fun. But if you're encouraging social distancing, inviting people to walk with their four-legged friends might be the safer choice.
Create two separate ticket types: One for the regular walk, and one for the dog walk.
For an additional $5 donation, supporters can enter their fur baby in the virtual walk. Invite paw parents to share photos of their walking buddy on social media, using your event hashtag to create buzz for your cause.
3. Enjoy a pint 🍺
Let's face facts: The best 5ks always offer free booze. Just because you're hosting a virtual fundraiser doesn't mean you can't enjoy a pint afterward.
Partner with local restaurants to offer two free drink tickets to race participants (serving soda for those 20 years old and younger, of course). As an event sponsor, they'll provide beverages to your supporters in exchange for publicity on your campaign page, newsletter, and social channels.
Encourage supporters to pick up some takeout food items when they cash in on their free drinks. Local restaurants need your support throughout the coronavirus pandemic 🍔🍷.
4. Throw a virtual after party 🎉
Speaking of drinks, why not throw an afterparty after your fundraising sweat sesh?
After your virtual event, livestream an afterparty for all your event participants. Announce any prizes, invite event sponsors to speak, and share a little more information on your cause. Invite people to enjoy a cocktail or Gatorade while attending your post-exercise virtual happy hour.
5. Create a relay run/walk 🏃🏃🏃🏃
A relay race is where a group of runners (or walkers) each cover a different "leg" over a given distance.
Just because you can't pass the baton in person doesn't mean you can't experience this team bonding activity.
Creating a relay-focused virtual race is a creative way to capitalize on a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
Each relay participant will register as a team, then log their leg (portion) of the race (e.g., a 5K). Set a lofty goal for relay teams, instructing each relay to complete 20, 30, or even 50 miles as a group. (For example, 10 team members walking 5 miles each = 50 miles total.)
To encourage a little competition, offer two prizes for relay teams: one to the team who fundraises the most money, and one to those who walk the furthest total mileage.
6. Take it to the trails 🌲
COVID-19 lockdowns forced many of us to stay inside our own bubble. Since so many currently crave travel, adventure, or even the slightest hint of change, encourage people to explore new hikes or outdoor trails rather than staying in their own neighborhood.
Integrate your event page with your email automation platform (like Mailchimp, Gmail, or Constant Contact). As your virtual run/walk approaches, send out a detailed newsletter to event participants detailing fun hikes and trails in your area. Be sure to include the distance of each trail, the distance from your city center (e.g., a two-hour drive), and the difficulty of the terrain in your email.
7. Rethink your swag bags 🎁
Many race swag bags for in-person events are all the same, featuring an event T-shirt, bib numbers, protein bar, and buttons from local businesses. To make your virtual walk event a success, why not apply some out-of-the-box (er, bag) thinking?
Book a sponsorship with a local pizzeria, and ask them to donate pizza-making kits for all participants.
Or, ask several local bars and restaurants to donate supplies for take-home mixology kits for a post-walk mocktail. Or, put a unique spin on the standard race T-shirt, and have local businesses donate tie-dye supplies so each participant can create their own fun race shirt.
These kits are much more fun (and useful!) than the typical swag bag. Plus, they offer a shared activity participants can do in a streamed post-race happy hour or party (see: item #4).
8. Organize a kids walk 👶
To hit your fundraising goal, you need to attract as many new donors as possible. Expand your target audience by tailoring your event to every age group — not just adults.
Customize your event page by offering two ticket types: A regular 5k walk for adults, and a "fun run/walk" for kids. Kids under the age of 14 can participate in a 1-mile walk for a lower registration fee than the adult 5k.
Use the custom filters feature to collect each participant's age upon registration, encouraging all to participate (with adult supervision, of course). After the race, offer prizes or ribbons for different age groups.
9. Create a must-listen playlist 🎧
If you're going to exercise, you need the right tunes. Headphones and an awesome playlist are two must-haves for any walk-a-thon.
To help race participants feel a sense of camaraderie, create a central playlist for all supporters to listen to.
To share your playlist, create it on Spotify and share the link in your automated thank-you message. That way, your playlist will land in your supporters' inboxes post-registration. Otherwise, encourage supporter integration by instructing each participant to write their go-to race song on your fundraising page. After the event, create a supporter-generated playlist that each walker can enjoy.
Givebutter has the tools you need for a one-of-a-kind event
If you want to put on a creative campaign, you need to have the right tools.
Givebutter has over 70 features to make your virtual walk a safe yet memorable event. By combining livestreams, active supporter feeds, and unlimited ticket types, you can put on a fundraiser that supporters will remember for years to come.
Plus, Givebutter has the lowest platform fees in the industry, so you keep more of the money you raise for your cause.
Ready to start whiteboarding more ideas? Get started with a free Givebutter account today to start planning your virtual walk.
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.