Fundraising Case Studies, Tools and Tips

Successfully Planning a Hike-a-thon

Donna McMillion, author of How to Produce Fabulous Fundraising Events: Reap Remarkable Returns with Minimal Effort and Director of Development for Hope Hospice, provides some excellent advice on planning a P2P fundraising event such as a walk-a-thon, or in her case, a hike-a-thon.


Some of our interview tips include:

  • Closely align your event with the spirit of the organization.
  • Start the planning process at least 10 months out.
  • The event should not be driven by staff only, but should have a strong volunteer presence.
  • Choose a good chairperson connected with the ambiance of the event and organization.
  • Make the transition to online registration.

Tell Us About the Hike-a-thon Planning Process

First of all the event must be closely aligned with what the organization is all about. The hike, for instance, involved children on up to senior citizens. We are all about families so this really worked for us. We did not want to have some black tie event directed towards a small elite group, but an event that directly involved all the people connected with our organization.

The event should be driven not just by staff, but by volunteers as well. We created a committee with an excellent chairperson very connected with the nature lovers community. This broadened our reach to individuals involved with the organization and nature lovers that may not have known of us before the event.

We are an established organization, so our connections in the community are very strong. Although the event may be driven by volunteers, there is always a bottom line. Expenses need to be minimized. We were able to obtain pro bono multi-media advertising, donated printing, graphic design, and snacks for the participants as in kind donations. Basically, our only expenses were the printing of the t-shirts, which were included for participants with their registration fee, and the rental fees at the park.

If you are planning for a big event, it is best to start the planning process at least 10 months out, maybe even a year. This is important especially if you will be seeking sponsorships.

Did You Reach Out to Local Sponsors?

As I mentioned, our organization is very established. Therefore, acquiring sponsorship was successful for us. We had support from the mayor and county supervisor who wrote letters on our behalf that helped legitimize the event. We used personal contact to solicit sponsors, both established and new. We received many in kind donations from local sponsors and were also able to acquire $34,500 in corporate sponsorship. When approaching sponsors, know that they are looking for something in return. We offer different benefits to our sponsors depending on their sponsorship level. Read more on getting sponsors to support a walkathon.

Did You Advertise to Recruit Participants?

Besides the advertising methods given as in-kind donations, we sent out about 5,000 invitations. We also have a newsletter that goes out to 12,000 constituents. The committee was also comprised of members that are very connected in their communities. That helped us with even more reaching out to potential participants.

How did DoJiggy Help with the Planning and Success of Your Hike-a-thon?

First of all, the fee structure from DoJiggy makes it very accessible. It is a fair, flat fee. We investigated thoroughly and even spoke with other non-profits that had used DoJiggy. All of the references were glowing.

This was our first time using online registration. We really felt it was an important move based on the paper management of some of our other large events. We estimated that about 40% of our supporters would use the website, but in the end it turned out to be 97%! We have many older clients, so that was surprising and impressive. We are now convinced that online registration is the way to go. We will continue to do our traditional mailings, but now they will serve as the promotion and encouragement for our participants to register online.

As far as the management and reporting of the site: we found the system very easy to use. It is great to have the ability to access the reports 24 hours a day and be able to constantly check on the progress of the event. As a whole, the system was really fun to work with.

Tell us about your success…How many participants? How much did you raise? Did you accomplish your goals?

We had almost 700 participants and have raised about $88,000 to date. It is our first P2P event and we are very pleased with the results.

Do You Have Any Advice for Other Organizations?

  • It is essential that your event reflect the mission of the organization.
  • The event should not be driven by staff only, but should have a strong volunteer presence.
  • Choose a good chairperson connected with the ambiance of the event and organization.
  • Make the transition to online registration and P2P crowdfunding software

P2P & Walk-a-thon Resources

If your organization is considering a hike-a-thon or walk-a-thon fundraiser, we’re here to help!

Our peer-to-peer software is a complete registration and donation management system for hike-a-thons, School Fun Runs, Dog Walks, and events where individual and team participants solicit and track donations and pledges for your organization. Each of your participants manages their personal fundraising page with includes a fundraising thermometer and social media links, and invites friends and family to support your organization through secure, online donations. Administrators configure registration fees, a minimum fundraising goal for participants, the types of donations accepted and much more in our powerful administration console.

DoJiggy is the leading walk-a-thon software provider. Find out why.


About Lisa Bennett

Lisa is the Sales Director at DoJiggy. She joined DoJiggy in 2006 and loves her job. Prior to working with DoJiggy, she worked at several non-profits and managed special event fundraising.
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