Here is the second 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 2. Promise Walk for Preeclampsia (www.promisewalk.org)

The Promise Walk on SWEET Fundraising Website

In 2011, The Preeclampsia Foundation started their Promise 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 Promise Walk has 50 different locations from New York to San Diego and between.  

Several small walks with families and teams: The Promise Walk had 3500 walkers in 2012 or roughly 70 walkers per location. Walkers amassed 2 to 3 donations on average for a total of 8,000 donations so far. The Promise Walk's 50 small locations depend heavily on involvement by families and teams of walkers/fundraisers. For families, participating in the walk becomes an annual tradition and their dedication gives The Promise Walk staying power. If your cause affects families, like preeclampsia does, you should also foster family and group involvement in your event to make it last and grow year after year.

Volunteer Driven Planning & Logistics: The Preeclampsia Foundation employs a network of volunteers to manage their Walk Locations. Each walk location is assigned to a local volunteer coordinator who reports to a national walk coordinator who is a paid staff member of the Preeclampsia Foundation. Local walk coordinators manage their own volunteer teams which support their walk location. 

The great part about employing so many volunteers is that the organization saves money because they don't have to pay event planners. But, coordination is difficult and time-consuming. To make sure that everyone is on the same page, the national walk coordinator posts documents on the Promise Walk site to help local coordinators complete all the ncessary planning steps prior to the walk. The national walk coordinator also communicates via email updates sent through The Promise Walk site. All local and national walk coordinators meet frequently using an online conferencing service called join.me. Certainly, there is more work between the national and local walk coordinators ofline and behind the scenes. All of this is time-consuming but the great benefit is that The Preeclampsia Foundation has developed a national netwrok of dedicated volunteers that are willing to do a substantial amount of work for the organization for free.

Sponsors: The Preeclampsia Foundation acquired national sponsors to subsidize their costs and add to their fundraising totals.

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.promisewalk.org/pfpw/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:

  1. 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.
  2. have the ability to add new locations or remove old ones
  3. track how each location is doing with registration and fundraising reporting
  4. offer customer support
  5. provide easy ways for potential donors to find people to donate to without having to know where or when they are walking
  6. make registration for a specific location easy to find
  7. offer ways that people can register their entire family at once
  8. make it simple for people to change or update their registration information
  9. 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. The Promise 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.

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