Editor’s note: Here is another blog post from Free the Slaves intern Alison Leuchtenburg, in which she gives tips on how to organize a fundraising walk for your favorite cause—which, we hope, is Free the Slaves! As a student organizer, Alison organized the first Freedom Walk at UMass, and was the leader of Team Free the Slaves for the second annual Stop Modern Slavery Walk in Washington, DC, which took place last October.
Ever wanted to organize a fundraiser? Here are some tips! Also, be sure and let us know what you’re planning.
Find a group of committed co-organizers to help you. Come up with a time to meet regularly for planning. You probably want to meet once a week to make sure everything is going smoothly. Make sure you have both phone numbers and email addresses. If you need something the day of the walk, you need to be able to reach people by phone.
Together, choose a time and date for the walk. Consider weather, proximity to holidays and local events, and other things that will maximize the number of people who join the walk, and the number of passersby who see the walk. Make sure it’s far enough away that you have plenty of time to plan.
Choose a route for the walk. Pick a meeting place that is easy to find and easy to describe in only a few words. I used “Map My Run” to plan a route that was the length I wanted it (5 miles). If you use a program or a map to plan the route, make sure you or one of your co-organizers walks the route to make sure it’s safe and ideally handicap accessible. Be sure and check local regulations to see if you need a permit. You may also want to inform local police of your plans.
Design flyers. Once you’ve made the flyers, ask friends, family, and interested strangers to volunteer to put the flyers up around the area. The best flyers have the necessary information but are not too cluttered, so they’re easy to read from a distance. It’s also a good idea to have a website with the necessary information so people can check it if they forget the date or meeting place. This doesn’t need to be difficult or elegant. I just used Google Sites to make a very simple website.
Collect donations and pledges. If you’re shy about this, remind yourself that the money is going to a good cause. Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers. Even if they don’t pledge, they may be learning about slavery for the first time. A fundraising walk is as much about awareness as it is about funds.
Approach local businesses for donations, matching donations, awareness, and other assistance. For example, maybe a local restaurant is willing to provide free food for after the walk. Or maybe a local bookstore will prominently feature “Ending Slavery” or allow you to put up a flyer. Contact news outlets to let them know about the event and ask if they want to have a photographer present. Maybe you or one of your walkers would be interested in writing an editorial.
Make signs to carry for the walk. Invite everyone and anyone, even if they can’t participate in the walk. The goal is to get as many people as possible involved in some way. Tell people they can help, walk, donate, collect pledges for another walker, spread the word, or some combination. Allow people to walk with or without pledges to get maximum turnout.
Meet at your location, wait some number of minutes to account for stragglers, and start walking! Have some cards or leaflets to hand out with a URL to go to for more information. Feel free to sing freedom songs or chant. Have fun!
Celebrate. Thank everyone for participating. Continue to collect donations even after the walk is over. Never send cash in the mail—use a check or make an online donation. Announce the final count and congratulate yourself and everyone else for a job well done.
Let us know how it went! We’d love to hear your story and see the pictures!