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Running for a Cause

How to Plan for an Awareness Run or Walk

You're motivated, driven, passionate about something, and you want the world to know it. You are the perfect person to plan a walk or run to raise awareness — but how do you plan an event like that? Use this handy guide as a starting point, bringing all your passionate energy to the task, and you can put together a fun walk or run that is sure to be a smashing success.

Preliminary Checklist

There are quite a few things you'll need to sort out before you can begin printing off flyers and shouting about it on Facebook. Right now, focus on these key elements:

  • Budget. How are you, or your organization, going to pay for the event? You will need funding for promotional material, T-shirts, any food or drinks you hope to offer participants, portable toilets, and any permits that you may need — you'll be raising money for your cause, but you need funds to get started first.
  • Location. Your options may be limited to a certain city or region; but even within those limits, you must choose the location of the event carefully. Pick a park or street that is pleasant, where people will enjoy running, and that is accessible with plenty of parking. Places where other events have been held successfully might be a good place to start.
  • Timing. The date of your run will depend in part on your location, because you don't want to have any competing events going on at the same time. If the county fair, city anniversary party, or local college graduation is going on that weekend, pick a different date.
  • Messaging. It’s important to have your message planned out before you start promoting your event. That way you have a consistent message throughout all your social media posts, flyers and other collateral. Make it a point to really understand your audience so you can tailor a message that will resonate with them.

Getting the Word Out

Once you've picked the perfect location, locked down a date that gives you plenty of time to plan, and secured funding for the event, it's time to start getting the word out. You'll want to focus on two fronts: you need participants to walk or run, and you're going to need volunteers to bring everything together. How are you going to reach the right people? The specific avenues you use will depend largely on your cause, but here are a few ideas to start:

  • Local Businesses. Hit up as many restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and retailers in the area as you can, and stop by a few in surrounding towns or cities as well. Make sure to put a brochure in the local library, too. While you're pasting flyers to the windows of local businesses, ask a few of them if they would be willing to sponsor a mini event. Half-price entrees at a restaurant, for example, could help get your word out and create a rich marketing opportunity for the owner.
  • Churches. If it works for your cause, some churches in the area may be willing to lend volunteers and even help you spread the word.
  • Online. Your organization should already have a Facebook page, and this is an ideal place to recruit participants. You might even consider creating a special page just for the event, and guest post on other sites where you can direct people to information about the walk or run.
  • Mail. Send out emails or even print mail to the members of your organization, to get them pumped up about the event and to tap into an excellent source of volunteers.

Promotional Materials

You will need to order signage and promotional items about 6-8 weeks in advance to insure arrival before your event. This will give you time to receive the items and time to assemble them into kits or organize them to avoid any additional preparation on the day of your event.

Types of Items:

  • Giveaways are a nice touch to hand out to each participant. You could include t-shirts, water bottles, lip balms, backpacks, medals, etc, as a reminder of your awareness message and event. Giveaways can also be handed out to volunteers to thank them for their time. Below are more ideas for memorable giveaways:

Between the time your participants sign up and the time of the event, make sure they stay excited and motivated for it. Send out regular updates and reminders, tips for getting ready to run, tips for finding sponsors, and news from your organization.

Day of Event Checklist

As the big day nears, you'll want to get a checklist together so that no detail gets overlooked amid the whirl of activity. Make sure to include:

  • A list of who needs to be where, and when.
  • A timeline of what's going to happen throughout the day.
  • A set-up checklist so that trash cans, water stops, bathrooms, and tents are in place along the route before the run begins.
  • A break-down checklist so that everyone knows what they should be doing once the event is over.

You're passionate about something. We get it. We're passionate, too — about making your awareness event an unprecedented success. Check us out today to see how we can help support your message in your run/walk event.

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