How to Run a Bike-a-Thon Fundraiser
Bike-a-thons are fun and unique. Best of all, they’re great fundraisers. They encourage physical activity while allowing participants to fundraise for their school, extra-curricular, or club.
Here, we’ll show you the A-Z of bike-a-thons, including planning, tracking donations, and ideas on how to organize and promote it.
Bike-a-Thon Guide Table of Contents
A quick introduction to what a bike-a-thon is and how it works.
What is an "A-Thon" & How Does it Work?
Thon’s can be a powerful fundraising tool.
What do you need to run a Bike-a-Thon?
The tools, support, and volunteers you’ll need for a successful Bike-a-Thon.
Using a Bike-a-Thon to Fundraise
How to raise money with bike-a-thons.
Templates, Ideas, Tools, & Resources
Kickstart your bike-a-thon using curated templates and tools.
Bike-a-Thon Theme Ideas
Feel inspired with our bike-a-thon theme examples.
What is a Bike-a-Thon?
A bike-a-thon works similarly to a walk-a-thon or jog-a-thon. There is a set course and distance, and participants complete the course. The main difference, of course, is that participants are on bikes instead of on foot.
They can bit a bit more work upfront to organize since bike-a-thons are typically longer distances and require permits for road use. However, bike-a-thons can bring in a lot more donations than a more relaxed walk-a-thon.
Bike-a-Thon Goals & Rules
Treat these as a base and feel free to tailor these to suit your specific event.
The length of the course is the biggest decision to make when planning your bike-a-thon. Remember that the longer the course is, the fewer people who will be able to participate.
However, longer courses often mean bigger donations, so you can choose what works for your school. Any distance between 1 and 10 miles is a good place to start.
Because bike-a-thons have a set course with a pre-determined route and distance, it should be the participant’s goal to complete the course. You can have prizes for those who finish the course first, but that isn’t required.
Your biking route should be fully paved, typically on a roadway or cycling path. This will make it easier for more people to participate since they won’t need special skills or a specific type of bike.
A continuous bike path often works best. If your local bike paths aren’t long enough, you can also have the event take place on the roads. You will almost definitely need permits for this, so make sure you apply well in advance.
Recommended Starting Rules
Follow these steps for a successful bike-a-thon:
1. Before you start telling students and parents about the bike-a-thon, you should decide the following:
2. Hold the bike-a-thon on a weekend, either Saturday on Sunday.
3. Because bike-a-thons work best on the weekend, tell people about the fundraiser at least 1 month in advance, so they can add it to their calendars.
4. Choose a distance between 1 and 10 miles.
5. Plan a route around your school or a local park. If you’re using the roads, check with your city or town to see what type of permit is needed.
6. Email participants a map of the route beforehand. It’s not a bad idea to have a few paper copies at the event too.
7. Give participants at least 1-3 hours to finish the bike-a-thon, depending on how long it is. You’ll want to plan around lunchtime, so the event should start around 9:00 am or 1:00 pm.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bike-a-Thons
How does a bike-a-thon work?
Bike-a-thons use a peer-to-peer fundraising format, just like other types of a-thon fundraisers. Participants register for the bike-a-thon and then ask their friends, family, and coworkers to support them with donations or pledges.
In exchange for the donations, the biker participates in the bike-a-thon, which is essentially a bike race. You can customize the course and choose a location and distance that works for your school. Most bike-a-thons take place on pavement, but you can also have a mountain bike-a-thon if that works for your area.
How long is a bike-a-thon?
You can make a bike-a-thon as long or as short as you want. The main thing to consider is who will be participating.
If you want younger students to participate, you should make the course shorter. If high school students or just adults will be participating, then you can make the course longer. With this in mind, you can make your bike-a-thon anywhere from 1 to 10 miles long.
When should you hold a bike-a-thon?
Bike-a-thons can only be held outside, so you should plan yours for the spring, summer, or early fall. For a school fundraiser, this usually means sometime in September, May, or June work best.
What do people need to participate?
To participate in a bike-a-thon, participants need a bike. You may also want to make helmets mandatory for the event, especially if students will be participating. Everything else is up to the riders, although it doesn’t hurt to remind them to bring things like water and snacks.
Are bike-a-thons good fundraisers
Bike-a-thons are good fundraisers. While they might seem intimidating to plan, they have higher donation potential than other a-thons, especially for longer distances. And since participants will be riding along roadways, they raise awareness for your fundraiser too.
What is a “Thon”?
Thon’s Are Fun & Effective Event-Based Fundraisers
An “a-thon” is a peer-to-peer style fundraiser that involves participating in a certain activity and gathering donations for participating in said activity.
The activity can be almost anything, from reading to running to bowling. No matter what activity you choose, the premise is the same. Participants commit to doing the activity (reading a certain amount of books, running a certain distance) and ask their friends, family, and coworkers to support them.
A-thons work great because you reach a huge donor pool through peer-to-peer fundraising. People are also more likely to donate since participants are “working” in return for the donations.
What Do You Need to Run a Bike-a-Thon?
Power it With FutureFund
FutureFund’s built-in pledge campaigns allow you to easily collect money and keep donations/pledges organized. Since parents cover payment processing fees, 100% of the funds raised go to your school!
FutureFund is easy to use - for everyone
FutureFund makes running a bike-a-thon easy for everyone. Easier for PTAs to run, for students and parents to participate, and for donors to donate.
Accept online donations
Instead of dealing with paper pledge forms and cash and cheques, FutureFund takes the process online. Donors can donate instantly online with their credit or debit cards.
A single tool to power your entire Thon!
FutureFund makes it easy to track how the fundraiser is going. Easily view how much money has been raised and more with detailed reporting.
Using a Bike-a-Thon for Fundraising
Consider the below when organizing your bike-a-thon. Spending a bit of time up front getting organized from an admin and donation perspective will save a lot of time and potential frustration later.
Managing and organizing pledges
Each student will sign up as a participant in the fundraiser. Then, they can collect pledges individually by credit or debit card. You can also accept cash pledges, but be mindful of properly storing and tracking cash you collect.
If you are using FutureFund, you can record these pledges and they will automatically count towards the student’s total and the grand total for the fundraiser.
Donor information and donation management
Before launching your fundraiser, confirm what records you need to collect from donors.
If you are using FutureFund, it’s easy for students to sign up, especially if their information is already in the system. You can bulk sign up entire grades or classes. All donor payments are automatically entered into the system, so you can instantly see each student’s total and the grand total.
Make sure you accept online donations
Fundraising campaigns that accept online donations perform much better than fundraisers that only accept cash or check.
If you are using FutureFund, you can accept payments online. Donors are given a donation link and can pay by credit or debit card. Any cash donations can also be noted in the system to be collected later.
Bike-a-Thon Templates & Resources
Sample bike-a-thon rules
These rules are a great starting point for organizing your bike-a-thon.
To participate in the bike-a-thon, you sign up through FutureFund by [date]. The bike-a-thon is on [date], so make sure you block it off in your calendar! And don’t forget to tell your family that you’re fundraising, so they can donate (ask your parents for help, so they can ask their friends and coworkers too!).
All donations will be collected through FutureFund through this link: [link].
Sample bike-a-thon event description
Unsure of where to start? Use this sample student and parent messaging to get the ball rolling!
Let’s get moving! On [date], [school name] will be hosting a bike-a-thon to help fundraise for [cause]. You can help by joining our bike ride! Parents, each student will be collecting pledges online through FutureFund: [link].
Please spread the word to your family, friends, and coworkers to help make this fundraiser a success!
Set up online pledges with FutureFund
Let parents and supporters donate online with FutureFund’s online pledges. Try it out for free!
Make your donation easily and instantly! Click this [link] to make your donation through secure credit or debit card payment.
If you prefer to donate by cash or check, just donate directly to the student you’re supporting. Thank you for your support!
Bike-a-Thon Theme Ideas
Tour de France
The Tour de France is the most popular biking event in the world. Get participants in the biking spirit by encouraging them to dress like professional cyclists and represent the country of their choice.
Make the event extra engaging with a bike decoration station. Participants can decorate their bikes with streamers, balloons, and other craft supplies to stand out come bike-a-thon time.
You can never go wrong with a holiday theme, even for a bike-a-thon. For a fall bike-a-thon, participants can decorate their bikes for a spooky, Halloween-themed ride.
Some of the most popular bike-a-thons take place in a nearby town or city. If there is an area near you known for its biking routes, consider hosting your event there for a memorable event.
There’s never a bad time to dress up as your favorite movie character. Participants can dress as their favorite superheroes and more, just remind them that long dresses and capes aren’t great for bike riding.
Encourage riders to dress up in their brightest colors. As an added bonus, the fluorescent hues will keep them highly visible on their route.
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