How to Organize a Charity Walk or Run

A charity walk or run raises money for a good cause by capitalizing on people's desire to help as well as get in shape. And there are any number of good causes that need cash infusions--from cystic fibrosis, AIDS or breast cancer research to school districts that face music and sports cutbacks without additional revenues. Whatever the cause, read 381 Plan a Fund-Raising Event, then get on your mark, get set and go!

Sit down with key people to get things going. See the related eHow titled "How to Plan an Organizational Meeting."

Identify the charity you want to support. For greater exposure, plan your event during a designated charity's day or month. Set a date--rain or shine. Choose a starting time, and determine the length of the race and the route.

Decide how many participants your team (and the course) can successfully handle. An event with several thousand runners or walkers is a whole different beast than one with several hundred. The more participants, the more spectators come to watch.

Set a registration fee. For a short race like a 5K, charging runners and walkers a fee is preferable to having participants line up sponsors who pay by the mile.

Hold your initial planning meeting. Establish procedures and discuss policies for registration, media relations and publicity, volunteers, safety, traffic management, first aid and other services such as massage and foot care, food, rest rooms, accommodations, cleanup and entertainment.

Approach potential sponsors to help finance, publicize or even organize the event. Contact an athletic or sporting-goods store, a running club, a podiatrist, and local sports hero. Solicit corporate donations for water, energy bars, other snacks and sports drinks to be handed out along the route and at the end of the race. Sponsors will always want to promote their product with giveaways such as T-shirts, caps and water bottles.

Contact law enforcement agencies about local ordinances, road closures, traffic barricades, crowd control and security issues.

Get the word out to as many volunteers, runners and walkers as possible. See the related article "How to Publicize an Event" and contact a local TV station to see if it will get involved; maybe a news anchor is an avid runner.

Organize training sessions prior to the event for participants to get in shape. How many and how far in advance they should begin are determined by the length and intensity of the event. Assume some participants are total couch potatoes and schedule training sessions and plan instructional materials accordingly.Marathons and two- and three-day walks require at least six months of training. A 5- or 10K requires more casual preparation--or none at all.