Here is the first of 2 proven strategies for creating a national walk-a-thon that will raise $1 million for your small to medium sized nonprofit organization.
Case 1. MG Walk (www.mgwalk.org)
In 2010, the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America started the MG Walk. In early 2013, they will exceed $1,000,000 in gross revenue for their organization.
How did they do it? And what can you learn from them? Here are a few tactics that they employed to achieve their success.
Walk Locations: In order to achieve similar results, you will most definitely need to have walks in multiple locations. The MG Walk has 21 different locations from New York to San Francisco and between. The MG Walk also has a "virtual" location for people to register as walkers and fundraise without attending an actual event.
Focus on Fundraising: This may go without saying but walkers need to fundraise especially if you are not charging a registration fee. Walkers need to have the option to form teams to walk together and fundraise together. Organizations need to be in constant touch with walkers to urge them to raise money, provide fundraising tips and offer support. MG Walk had 3000 walkers in 2012 or roughly 150 walkers per location. Walkers amassed 3 to 5 donations on average for a total of 10,000 donations so far.
Detail-oriented Planning & Logistics: A dynamic event management firm named EW Group is behind the success of the MG Walk. There is a lot of logistical work involved with an operation like a national walk-a-thon. For example, selecting locations, securing permits, managing police detail, walker safety, power & sound needs, day of walk registrations, donation processing and post walk planning are just some of the things that need to be done. Oh, and everything needs to be replicated for each walk location. It's A LOT of work and the cost of hiring a firm like EW Group is well worth it if your organization can not dedicate a team of people to a walk. And even if your orgnaziation does have the resources, there may be a greater return on allowing a professional event management firm to handle logistics.
A Great Web Site: Your website will not only be the place where most of your donations originate but it also becomes a vital management tool for the walk. If you visit http://www.mgwalk.org/mgwalk/findevent_register.asp you will find that each walk location has its own dedicated page or series of pages. On these pages you will find updates, sponsor info, logos, fundraising leaders, and weather-related information specific to that location. Furthermore, your site should, at the very least:
- reflect the brand of the event and your organization. You should start creating and developing the event's brand immediately on the website. Dont settle for using the templates of some website vendors which reflect their brand more than your own.
- have the ability to add new locations or remove old ones
- track how each location is doing with registration and fundraising reporting
- offer customer support
- provide easy ways for potential donors to find people to donate to without having to know where or when they are walking
- make registration for a specific location easy to find
- offer ways that people can register their entire family at once
- make it simple for people to change or update their registration information
- provide communcation tools to contact donors and or walkers
The site should also be customized with features to meet your exact needs. Most cookie-cutter services can't customize features in a website to optimize for your workflow and revenue generation. MG Walk runs on a SWEET Fundraising Website, which does both.
Know Where Your Money Is: Finally, the purpose of raising all this money is to use it for the programs and services that your organization is offering. Make sure that online donations are processed through your own online payment gateway/credit card processor. This will ensure that the money raised goes directly into your organization's bank account quickly and securely. You want to avoid situations where the software vendor collects the money, holds on to it, and then distributes it to you on their schedule. Not only is this bad for cash flow but it will always lead to additional transaction fees. And it also makes it very easy for a software vendor to skim off the top of what your organization has worked so hard to raise.