How to Host A Virtual Walk Fundraiser [+ Ideas for Success]

A virtual walk fundraiser is just what it sounds like: a fundraiser where your supporters raise money for your cause by pledging to walk a certain amount or distance and asking their friends and family for donations. Much like in-person walk-a-thons, virtual walk fundraisers are fun, morale-boosting events that get your supporters moving and help…

8 minutes read
How to Host A Virtual Walk Fundraiser [+ Ideas for Success]

virtual walk fundraiser

A virtual walk fundraiser is just what it sounds like: a fundraiser where your supporters raise money for your cause by pledging to walk a certain amount or distance and asking their friends and family for donations. Much like in-person walk-a-thons, virtual walk fundraisers are fun, morale-boosting events that get your supporters moving and help you connect with their networks.

There are many reasons to consider hosting a virtual walk for charity. In this article, we’ll dive into the ins and outs of virtual walk fundraisers, including some ideas you can use to ensure your fundraiser is a hit!

  1. Why Should Nonprofits Host a Virtual Walk Fundraiser?
  2. 6 Steps to Organizing A Virtual Walk Fundraiser
  3. 4 Virtual Walk Ideas to Make Your Fundraiser A Success

Why Should Nonprofits Host a Virtual Walk Fundraiser?

We’re all pretty used to virtual events now because that was our only option for connecting with one another for so long. Now, though, there are reasons to host a virtual walk fundraiser, that go beyond the necessity of a pandemic.

1. It’s affordable

Hosting a virtual fundraiser means that you don’t have to pay for the usual materials required by a walk-a-thon or similar kind of in-person fundraiser – a space for the event, water and snacks for participants, permits for the event, or additional staff to work the event. This means more money to help your cause!

2. To reach more supporters

In-person events have a major drawback–they are only accessible by supporters in your area! With a virtual event, you can reach people all around the world. Meaning more support and donations.

3. Easier for people to participate

Since the event can have an ongoing timeline and many different options for participation, it can be easier for more people to participate depending on their schedules and preferences. With this flexibility, you can ensure more participation and funds for your nonprofit.

4. More fundraising potential

A virtual walk-a-thon will help you raise funds in more ways than one. You can have a crowdfunding campaign for the entire duration, each of your participants can engage in peer-to-peer fundraising to help raise more money, and there will be enough time for you to reach more people and increase donations. See how this fundraising campaign has raised nearly $29,000 in donations for their mission through a virtual walk fundraiser.

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5. To build a presence

Hosting a fun, accessible, online activity that gets people up and moving helps build your presence in the world. The more you market this event, the better will be the awareness of your cause. More people will come to know about your nonprofit and this will help your brand presence.

6 Steps to Organizing a Virtual Walk Fundraiser

1. Set a goal

It’s important to know how much money you’re hoping to raise through your virtual walk fundraiser. This number helps establish the scope of your event: do you need 10 participants who raise 50 dollars each, or do you need 200 participants who raise 10 dollars each? Or even more?

Knowing your goal can help you establish:

  1. Your minimum entry fee for participants.
  2. How widespread you need this event to be (advertising and marketing requirements).
  3. Your budget for other incentives for the event like prizes or participant tee shirts.

2. Establish the logistics

You’ll need to establish the following elements for your event:

  1. Time period – How long will your participants have to participate? Virtual walks can easily be stretched up to a month, ensuring more fundraising opportunities for you.
  2. Tracking – Will you accept pedometer information from their phones? Or will you trust them to track their own steps/miles?
  3. Rewards – What can your top fundraisers or top walkers win? How will you distribute them? Can you get gift cards from sponsors that can be sent via email?
  4. Event add-ons – What more can you do to make the virtual walk fundraiser more fun, build your brand presence, and increase participation?

3. Choose an online fundraising platform

A virtual walk fundraiser means you’ll be needing to raise money online. Not only that, but your nonprofit will also need to enable the participants to collect donations online on your behalf. That’s the main purpose of a virtual walk fundraiser. To make it all happen, you need to choose an online fundraising platform that offers you plenty of fundraising options.

To start with, peer-to-peer fundraising. It’s the best way to turn your supporters into fundraisers by giving them the opportunity to make their own fundraising pages with a donation form that immediately sends donations to you.

Donorbox Peer-to-Peer lets you create a fundraising campaign and turn it into a peer-to-peer one by simply toggling a switch. Then you can invite participants to fundraise with names and email addresses from the tool itself. But you can also add a button (as highlighted in the below example) on your fundraising page that will help anyone choose to participate and fundraise for you. You can approve each campaign or let the tool automatically do that on your behalf.

Check out this virtual 5k event fundraising page created on Donorbox and has peer-to-peer enabled. This is originally a crowdfunding campaign. On this page, you can also find out the top fundraisers who have been helping them raise more money online. You can click each fundraiser’s name to check out the individual campaigns. This feature not only encourages more people to join in but also publicly recognizes the great work of your top fundraisers. Donorbox Peer-to-Peer helps automate the whole process for the ease of your nonprofit.

virtual walk for charity

4. Host a kick-off meeting with your initial registrants

This meeting can be hosted on Zoom and include the initial supporters who have registered to walk and raise money for your organization. This can be to educate them on the process and your fundraising tool. You can show them how the whole peer-to-peer fundraising works on the chosen platform. You can also share with them some tips on raising maximum donations with these campaigns.

Record this meeting and add it to your online fundraising campaign page so that all future participants can refer to it to get started.

5. Promote the event

It’s time to get the word out. Try out these simple ways to spread more and more awareness for your virtual walk –

  • Post something fun on social media to help set the tone of your event.
  • Send out an informative yet entertaining email, alerting your email lists about how they can participate.
  • If you know of any local running groups or organizations, reach out to see if they would be willing to help you spread the word. You can also invite them to participate. This would increase your reach to the right audience.
  • Create a Facebook group for this virtual walk. This can be a community for you and your participants to share updates and excite more people to join in.
  • Connect with local media and check if they can help you get the word out through a newspaper advertisement or something similar. This can be the start of a great partnership.
  • Create a unique hashtag and ask participants to use it on social media to post images and videos. Add it to your every post regarding this event.
  • Create branded t-shirts and give them away to participants who sign up to fundraise. Ask them to wear it as they walk and post images tagging your nonprofit.

6. Keep the momentum going

You want your fundraiser to stay on the minds of both your participants and potential supporters–which means reminding them of the start and end dates and advertising about whatever incentives (medals, tee shirts, etc.) you’re including for your fundraiser.

Remember to celebrate small milestones, like reaching halfway through the fundraising goal, raising the first $1000 in donations, or having 50 participants or 100. Host virtual meetings and acknowledge your best fundraisers. Post highlights and updates on social media with pictures of participants. And so on. Always find a way to excite your supporters and potential donors.

4 Proven Ideas to Make Your Virtual Walk A Success

You know your supporters are looking for interesting, fun, and exciting ways to support you in your mission. Here are 4 solid ideas to make your virtual walk fundraiser the best it can be.

1. Add a theme

Think about your virtual walk fundraiser like it’s a kind of party. What’s something the best parties have? A theme!

Come up with a theme that is fun and fits your brand. For example, a Rock n’ Roll theme could encourage your participants to dress up as their favorite rockstar and post selfies on social media that your organization can share. Or an underwater theme, if your organization deals with conservation, could invite your participants to wear bathing suits, shark fins, and anything else water-themed–just remind them to leave the flippers at home for easy walking!

Be creative and consistent, making sure to communicate your theme–and your reasoning behind your theme–throughout all of your messages about your event.

2. Invite furry family members

Encourage your participants to get up and get moving by including their dogs in your virtual walk fundraiser. You could even make your event about walking the dog, especially if your organization deals with animals.

Take it a step further and make it a dog costume contest on social media. Whoever has the best-dressed pup gets a special prize.

Check what this virtual cum in-person walk event does! They invite furry friends to encourage more participation and make the event more inclusive for all. This event is created using the Donorbox Events feature. This feature allows organizations to create simple online event pages and add an even simpler and more efficient event-ticketing form. You can add unlimited ticket levels, the tax deductibility against each ticket, and also accept donations from the event page.

virtual walk ideas

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3. Collaborate with other organizations

Is there another organization that works in a similar space as yours? Or a community group whose interests align with yours? Consider collaborating on an event!

Collaborating offers the following benefits:

  1. Ability to share the load – More hands-on-deck means the work of hosting the event is spread out, making it less of a burden on your staff and more focused on increasing the impact.
  2. Utilizing connections – Both you and the partner you collaborate with will effectively double their audience. You’ll get connected with their lists, and they’ll get connected with yours. It’s a win-win!
  3. More knowledge – You might know more about hosting a virtual walk fundraiser than your partner (especially after reading this article!), but they might know more about some other element, like how to connect with a wider social media audience. Collaborate to expand your knowledge base and improve your future events.

4. Get creative with swag

Everyone loves a good t-shirt. Really, you can’t go wrong with that–but what about thinking outside the box? Getting creative with your swag can help your participants feel the full value of their participation in your event.

We’re talking koozies, lanyards, hats, sweatbands–the possibilities are endless! Remember to add your organization’s branding/logo to all your swag items.

Over to You

Now that you know the ins and outs of hosting a virtual walk fundraiser for charity, all you have to do is act. Once you establish a goal and a budget, the rest of the details of your event will fall into place. The great part about hosting a virtual event is the flexibility to change things up as you go!

Like any fundraising, your goal with this event is to stand out. Your supporters and potential supporters are getting pulled in a million different directions when it comes to their philanthropy. Find a way to catch their attention with a fun, convenient, and unique virtual event.

An efficient and powerful online fundraising tool gives you the freedom to choose from many ways to raise money with your fundraising events (virtual or in-person). Donorbox has helped 50,000+ nonprofits create a bigger impact in the world through more donations and donor engagement. Some of our best features include Recurring Donations, customizable Fundraising Pages, Crowdfunding, Peer-to-Peer, Events, Memberships, QuickDonate, Donor Management, etc.

Donorbox experts can help you reach your full donation potential. Wondering how? Donorbox Premium gets you expert fundraising coaching, a dedicated account manager, tech wizards to solve all your technical queries, and high-powered add-ons. The pricing will be personalized for your nonprofit needs. Get in touch with your sales team now.

Read more fundraising and nonprofit management articles, find free downloadable resources, and more on the Donorbox Nonprofit Blog. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive our best resources (blogs, webinars, podcast episodes, and feature updates) in your inbox every month.

Lindsey Baker

Lindsey Baker Bower is a writer, educator, and nonprofit professional. She has years of experience helping arts nonprofits with their fundraising messaging and strategy. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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