Planning a Walk-a-Thon Fundraiser: Your Questions Answered

We're answering your biggest questions about planning a walk-a-thon fundraiser.
Ready to plan your next walk-a-thon fundraiser?

If your organization is searching for a fundraiser that’s both easy to set up and super effective, look no further than a walk-a-thon! If you haven’t participated in one yourself, you’ve almost certainly heard of these fun events in which participants gather donations for a good cause based on the distance they agree to walk.

Why are walk-a-thons a classic fundraising idea? They bring your community together, promote an active and healthy lifestyle, can easily be connected to the cause you’re supporting, and invite participation from people of all ages. Best of all for your organization, they’re easy and relatively inexpensive to set up!

All you need to host an excellent walk-a-thon is a designated area for your participants to walk in, an effective outreach strategy to engage participants and supporters, and a way to gather donations. Today, we’ll help you get started with your walk-a-thon by answering a few common questions that tend to arise at key stages in the process, including:

  1. How does a walk-a-thon fundraiser work?
  2. What causes are best suited for walk-a-thon fundraising?
  3. What is walk-a-thon fundraising software?
  4. How do I get started planning a walk-a-thon fundraiser?


When your organization is able to engage both your participants and your supporters in your walk-a-thon fundraiser, you’re sure to be successful and have fun in the process! Let’s begin with the basics: how does a walk-a-thon fundraiser work?

1. How does a walk-a-thon fundraiser work?

In a walk-a-thon, similar to a jog-a-thon or a fun run, participants gather donations by encouraging their supporters to pledge a fixed amount for each unit of distance they walk. After your participants complete the walk-a-thon, your organization collects the donations that your supporters pledged.

A successful walk-a-thon depends upon the active participation and enthusiasm of three groups of people: organizers, participants, and supporters. Walk-a-thons are community events in which everyone has an important role to play. Here’s what you’ll be focused on if you are:

An organizer: You’ll be responsible for the logistics of the walk-a-thon, selecting the best date, time, and location for the event. Additionally, you’ll choose the method through which your participants will collect donations from their friends, family, and other supporters. Don’t forget one of your most important roles: motivating your participants to get excited about the event and reach out to their networks of supporters to raise funds for your organization!

There’s definitely a learning curve to organizing and hosting any event, so make sure you come prepared to ensure your fundraiser runs smoothly (no pun intended). If you need a few tips and tricks to help get started for your first big role as an event planner, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with these event planning best practices

A participant: As representatives of your organization, you’re responsible for spreading the word about your upcoming walk-a-thon and encouraging your supporters to pledge and donate. You’ll need to ensure that you’re reaching out to as many potential supporters as possible and providing plenty of detailed information about where their donations are headed. You’ll also be participating in the walk itself, getting some exercise and a chance to bond with your fellow organization members.


A supporter: The success of the walk-a-thon depends in large part on your generosity. As a supporter, you’ll pledge a per-lap or per-mile donation to one or more walkathon participants. The total distance that the participants walk determines the size of your final gift. Online fundraising software for walk-a-thons can provide supporters with an estimate of the number of laps or miles the participant is likely to complete.


When organizers, participants, and supporters are all aware of your organization’s goals and are eager to do their part to reach them, your walk-a-thon is sure to help you reach your fundraising goals. In the process of planning the event, gathering pledges, and joining together for the walk itself, your organization’s members will feel actively involved in the fundraising effort.

Walk-a-thons are excellent fundraisers for a variety of causes and organizations, but their emphasis on teamwork, participation, and healthy physical activity make them a great choice for kids. This type of fundraiser is easily adaptable to several types of youth organizations.

2. What causes are suited for walk-a-thon fundraising?

Walk-a-thons are the perfect fundraiser for schools, student clubs, and other kids’ groups. As participants, students take the lead in the fundraising effort, connecting them with their organization’s goals and promoting teamwork, leadership skills, and dedication to a cause. As an added bonus, the walk-a-thon itself is a great way to get outside and get moving with friends!

Organizers of various student and youth groups will find the walk-a-thon an easy, yet fun and effective, fundraising idea that kids will love to participate in! Walk-a-thons are ideal fundraisers for school groups, sports teams, scout troops, and church youth groups.

School Groups

Walk-a-thons are the perfect fundraiser for school groups, whether your school is raising money to send students on a trip, fund a class project, or partner with a charitable organization. They’re also a great way to fund school improvements such as educational technology, teacher development, and classroom equipment. Parents and teachers can organize walk-a-thons easily, and kids will love participating!

Elementary school students are the most common age group for walk-a-thon fundraisers. Parents can take on the participant role, helping their children collect pledges from family and friends and widening the network to include more of their own connections. Online fundraising software for walk-a-thons provides parents with an email link to their students’ pages, making the pages easy to share.

Parents can also get involved on the day of the event itself by tracking students’ laps and cheering them on! Walk-a-thons are an excellent way to bring your school community together in support of a good cause.

To build school spirit and raise even more in donations, you can create additional fundraising opportunities in the time leading up to your walk-a-thon. Consider designing and selling custom school spirit shirts that participants and supporters can buy and wear to the walk-a-thon. Another effective way to boost your campaign revenue is to set up a fundraising web store and encourage supporters, participants, and their families to purchase a post-walk-a-thon treat in addition to pledging a donation. Try selling student favorites like discount cards, cookie dough, or popcorn

A parent, teacher, club director, or a group of these individuals are ideal organizers for a walk-a-thon. Students, whose commitment to their school clubs tends to be intensive and sincere, make enthusiastic fundraisers and participants. Friends, family, neighbors, and social media connections are all strong candidates as potential supporters for a school group’s walk-a-thon.

3. What is walk-a-thon fundraising software?

Walk-a-thon fundraising software solutions are online platforms that your organization can use to automatically generate shareable pages for each of your participants. Participants share the pages online and via text with their friends, family, social media connections, and other supporters, who can then make their contributions online.

Walk-a-thon fundraising software pages are customizable so that participants can share important information about their club or organization and their fundraising goal with potential supporters. The wider networks of supporters that participants are able to reach using walk-a-thon fundraising software, combined with the convenience of donating online, means that your walk-a-thon is likely to raise far more when you incorporate this software.

As the organizer of your walk-a-thon, choosing the right software for your fundraiser is an important part of your responsibilities. Some of the features you’ll want to look out for as you compare your options include:

  • Easy set-up. Whether your participants are young children whose parents will be taking on the majority of the fundraising responsibility or older students planning to take the lead themselves, everyone will want to focus their efforts on sharing their pages and collecting pledges. Choose a walk-a-thon fundraising software provider that does the set-up work for you so that your pages are ready to go as soon as your student participants or their parents receive them.
  • Shareable pages. The benefit of online fundraising for your walk-a-thon is that your participants will be able to reach many more potential supporters than they would using an in-person approach alone. Look for a software provider that facilitates the sharing of pages through as many channels as possible, including text, email, and popular social media platforms.
  • Accessibility for supporters. Just as different supporters will find participants’ shared pages through different channels, they’ll want to give in different ways. If your walk-a-thon fundraising software accepts more traditional cash and check donations in addition to credit cards and other convenient online payment methods, more supporters will find it easy to complete their donations.
  • Tracking and reporting features. It’s important for you to know how your participants are doing as the pledge collection stage of your walk-a-thon fundraiser progresses, as well as how close you are to reaching your goal. Look for tracking and reporting features included with your walk-a-thon fundraising software that will help your team stay on track and can provide important insights even after your fundraiser has concluded.

With the help of walk-a-thon fundraising software, you can make your walk-a-thon easier to manage and even more successful for your organization! Ready to get started? You can plan and carry out your walk-a-thon by following just a few simple steps.

4. How do I get started planning a walk-a-thon fundraiser?

Your walk-a-thon fundraiser begins with a worthy goal and an enthusiastic team of participants. Beyond that, you can make the process of spreading awareness for your cause and your fundraiser as well as collecting pledges easier with software designed especially for walk-a-thon fundraisers. To get started with your own walk-a-thon, follow these seven easy steps:

Step 1: Identify your cause. Because they conclude in an event, walk-a-thons are time-sensitive fundraisers that organizations use to reach a fundraising goal for a specific project or trip. To help your participants structure their communications with potential supporters, determine the exact cause for which you’re raising money: an upcoming trip to a competition, an outdoors expedition, or a new youth group program, for example.

Step 2: Define your goal. Determine how much your participants need to raise to fund the project you have planned. Including this goal amount on your participants’ fundraising pages can be a great way to incentivize supporters to give more, bringing participants closer to reaching the goal. As the organizer, you’ll want to use your walk-a-thon fundraising software to track your participants’ progress toward this goal, perhaps even encouraging competition among individuals or groups to see who can raise the most in donations!

Step 3: Select the right software. Your walk-a-thon fundraiser is likely to be easier and more successful when you collect pledges and donations using walk-a-thon fundraising software. A provider like 99Pledges can get you started by automatically creating pages that are ready for participants and supporters to begin sharing and using. Your provider will email each participant a link to their individual page, which they can then share via Facebook, Twitter, email, and text—no additional set-up or tech experience required! When your fundraiser has concluded, your provider will send your organization a check for the total amount you raised in donations. It’s that simple!

Step 4: Spread the word. Your walk-a-thon fundraising software makes it easy to collect pledges and donations, but your participants are responsible for sharing the pages with their networks of friends, family, social media followers, and other connections to ensure your fundraiser’s success! Especially if you’re working with a group of students who are doing the fundraising themselves, encourage creative thinking and teamwork by brainstorming innovative ways to share the pages, reach new audiences, and express your organization’s goals most effectively.

Step 5: Host an event that everyone will enjoy! Your participants should feel highly accomplished when the time comes to complete their walk and celebrate the success of their fundraising effort. Plan ahead to select the perfect date, time, and location for your walk-a-thon so that the walk itself feels like a fun event. For your participants and all of your guests, don’t forget to keep your cause front and center at the event!

Step 6: Protect your organization from liability. As with any physical activity, participating in a walk-a-thon fundraiser carries some level of intrinsic risk. Therefore, make sure your organization is covered if someone does get hurt by making use of innovative digital waiver software. Otherwise, you risk losing all of your fundraising revenue and more in a costly legal battle!

Step 7: Follow up! After your fundraising event, it’s time to lay the groundwork for a strong and sustainable relationship with the supporters who contributed to your cause. In the days following your event, make sure you’re practicing good donor stewardship:

  • Thank your supporters via email and text message, and if they went above and beyond for your cause consider sending a handwritten note.
  • If you collected pledges ahead of the event, make sure that you’re following up regularly with any outstanding ones. People are busy, and they’ll appreciate being reminded if they’ve forgotten!
  • Think of future ways that these supporters might be interested in getting involved. There are so many things besides financial support that they can provide for your organization: make sure to keep them up to date on volunteer opportunities, potential matching gifts, and in-kind donation needs.

Planning and carrying out a successful walk-a-thon fundraiser is an achievement that everyone, including organizers, participants, and supporters, deserves to be proud of. However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or frustrating to raise a lot in donations and host a fun event. With teamwork, generosity, and a little help from the right technology, your walk-a-thon fundraiser is sure to help your organization reach new heights.

Walk-a-thons are the perfect fundraiser to leverage the popularity of online giving, promote leadership and teamwork, and get young people motivated to work toward a good cause.

Check out the following additional resources to help make your walk-a-thon a success!

  • Fundraising Ideas: If your organization loves the walk-a-thon format but wants to change the event type to better reflect your activities, take a look at this list of a-thon style fundraisers that follow the same model.
  • The 20 Best Online Donation Tools. Software designed to help your organization collect pledges and donations made for your walk-a-thon can help ensure the success of your event. Find the right tools using Double the Donation’s list.