A charity walk is a popular fundraising event that provides an opportunity for a group of people to raise both awareness and money for good causes. It also allows people who may not be able to run to participate in a fun and healthy way
Many established charities host annual walks, such as the Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk and Macmillan Your Walk. However, many choose to organise their own events with friends, family or work colleagues.
A charity walk could be between a few friends or involve thousands of volunteers, it can be at any time of the day and could be anywhere from a mile to a marathon.
Below, you’ll find everything you need to successfully set up your own charity walk, big or small, and raise money for your chosen charity or non-profit.
Where to start
Organising a charity walk can be overwhelming as there are many different elements to consider. Try to enlist help, don’t panic and remember to walk before you run.
Choose a route
There are thousands of pre-planned routes to choose from across Britain which can be found at websites like Walking Britain and National Trail. Common route distances include 5k, 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon.
Alternatively, speak to your local walking or hiking club for suggestions. Be considerate of your intended participants. If you want to be inclusive of all ages and abilities, you should avoid uneven or rugged terrain.
We recommend choosing a circular route that starts and finishes at the same location. This works well for events that provide toilets, parking and refreshments, plus it offers a base for participants’ family and friends to congregate.
- Old railways
Decide on a date
It’s important to consider the weather when choosing a day to host your charity walk. Obviously, the summer months will have better weather, however, you may find yourself competing with other events.
Alternatively, you can pick a date that has a significant meaning to your chosen charity.
Once you’ve selected a date, be sure to contact the local council and landowner to ensure there isn’t another event that will conflict with your charity walk.
Organising the event
You’ve got the charity, the route and the date for your charity walk – well done! Now it’s time to turn your plans into reality and organise a successful fundraising event.
There are three main things you need to do to ensure your event is fully legal and will go ahead as planned.
- Contact the charity for permission to use its name and logo for the event, you’ll also be able to find out how to donate the raised funds
- Seek permission to use the planned route from the local council and landowner, if applicable
- Obtain liability insurance for the event in case any medical problems occur, or damage is caused to the land during the walk
If you have a team of volunteers, assigning specific roles will make the entire process run smoother, plus everyone can put their individual skills to good use.
You can assign more than one person a position depending on the size of your team and event, but ideally, you should appoint the following roles:
- Chairperson – to have the final say over all decisions
- Vice-Chair – to assist the chairperson in making decisions
- Secretary – to provide administrative support
- Treasurer – to manage and organise all financial responsibilities
- Health and safety advisor – to manage the health and safety of the event
Health and safety
When planning your walking event, there are a few health and safety details you’ll need to consider:
- All under-18s must have a signed parental consent form to join in with the charity walk
- A First Aid trained person must be present, a St John Ambulance may be required for larger events
- A risk assessment must be carried out
- Water should be available if it’s a warm day
- The Food Standards Agency provides guidelines on how to prepare, handle and cook food for a public event
Once you’ve finalised all of the legalities and had your event signed off by the appropriate people, you’ll need to think about the things you’ll need for a walking event. Below is a list of commonly used items:
- Tape, rope and cones
- Food and water
- Tents and tables
- Medals & T-Shirts
- High visibility vests
- Portable toilets
Promoting your event
You’ve set the event date, the route is mapped out, and you’ve even managed to rope in a few volunteers. It’s time to promote your charity walk and get people to sign up!
Creating a basic website with all the information and contact details will make it easy to direct the public, media and sponsors.
At the very least, create a Facebook Fan Page for your charity walk. This way, you can create a Facebook event and reach out to people and organisations with similar interests to attend.
Contact local sporting clubs, community and local information accounts as well as charity ambassadors. Encourage people to share your event’s page with local groups and their friends to spread the message further.
Flyers & Posters
We recommend starting with local businesses and supermarkets to place in shop windows and on counters for their customers. Alternatively, you can reach out to sporting organisations like running clubs, exercise classes and gyms.
When you contact your chosen charity or non-profit for permission, ask whether they can help promote your event via its website and social media channels. If you have already set up your social accounts or website, get them to link to them so people can find all the information easily.
Contact your local newspapers and radio stations and give them all the information about your charity walk.
Your event is organised, and you’ve started to create a buzz, now it’s time to raise some money! Below are some simple ways to do this:
Charging a registration fee can help cover the initial running costs of the event and also acts as an official pledge from the participant to take part. People are more likely to show up when they’ve financially invested.
With an initial fee, it’s also a great incentive to offer a gift or prize for taking part such as a t-shirt or medal.
Depending on the scale of your event, you can apply a minimum sponsorship amount per participant. This can range from £20 to £100, and the majority of participants will meet and exceed their initial target.
Landing a sponsorship from local businesses is an effective way to raise money and promote your event. Invite their staff and customers to participate and give them logos and images to use on its official website before the event.
You should consider selling snacks on-site and along the route for spectators and host a BBQ or picnic after the event is done to celebrate.
After the event
If you hope to turn your charity walk into an annual affair, you should start planning as soon as possible!
Send out surveys using free tools like SurveyMonkey to participants email addresses and ask them what they liked about the walk and what they want to be improved for the next year, such as walk distance, refreshments or the route.
You could also offer a free gift or registration discount to everyone that took part to help encourage them to attend next year.
- Add a memorable theme to make your event stand out more.
- Use ropes and tape to make sure your walkers don’t get lost.
- Don’t forget the spectators. The amazing people taking part will no doubt have family and friends supporting them from the sidelines along the route. Crowd control and care have to be considered in regards to accessibility and safety.
- Plan for situations like weather changes to avoid huge disruptions for your event.
- Walk 4 Life – How to Organise a Walking Event PDF
- GOV.UK – Organising a Voluntary Event: A ‘Can Do’ guide
- Active Network – How to Plan a Charity Walk or Run
- Cancer Research UK – Walking Events
- Alzheimer’s Society – Memory Walk
- Time Outdoors – Find Sponsored Walking Events
- How to Organise a Charity Skydive
- How to Organise a Charity Quiz Night