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How to Run a Walk-a-Thon Fundraiser

Walk-a-thons are great fundraisers because they benefit both participants and your school. Participants stay active while raising money to support their school, extra-curricular program, or club.

This page outlines the A-Z of walk-a-thons, including planning, tracking donations, and tips for organizing and promoting the fundraiser.

students participating in a walk a thon

Walk-a-Thon Guide

Table of Contents

fundraising team recording the total funds raised

Walk-a-Thon 101

A quick introduction to what a walk-a-thon is and how it works.

what is a read-a-thon

What is an "A-Thon" & How Does it Work?

An “A-Thon” can be a powerful fundraising tool

what do you need to run a read-a-thon?

What Do You Need to Run a Walk-a-Thon?

Learn what it takes to run a successful walk-a-thon.

using a read-a-thon to fundraise

Using a Walk-a-Thon to Fundraise

How to raise money with walk-a-thons.

read-a-thon tools and resources

Walk-a-Thon Templates, Tools, & Resources

See how FutureFund helps your Walk-a-Thon

read-a-thon theme ideas

Walk-a-Thon Theme Ideas

Feel inspired with our walk-a-thon theme examples.

image of a student and teacher scheduling a walk a thon

Start Your Walk-a-Thon With FutureFund

Our integrated pledge campaign fundraising tool allows you to collect donations (via cash, debit, or credit) and easily manage fundraising progress. Get started for free.

Walk-a-Thon 101: A Quick Guide

What is a Walk-a-Thon?

A walk-a-thon is a popular a-thon type of fundraiser since they’re easy and effective. It’s easy for students and parents to participate since they don’t need any special skills or equipment.

It’s also easy for PTAs and PTOs to organize since it doesn’t require a ton of planning. And it gets participants outside and moving, which is always a win.

Walk-a-Thon FAQ

How does a walk-a-thon work?

Participants collect donations for participating in the walk-a-thon. Like other a-thons, walk-a-thons follow a peer-to-peer fundraising model, so you aren’t limited to gathering donations from only the participants.

Each walker asks their family, friends, and coworkers (or parents’ coworkers) to donate, which gives you a huge donor pool compared to other fundraisers. From there, participants walk a set course around your school, town, or city.

How long is a walk-a-thon?

One of the great things about a walk-a-thon is that you can customize it for your school’s needs. If you’re an elementary school, you’ll likely want to make the route shorter, so younger students can participate.

For junior high or high school students, you can look at making the course longer. Walk-a-thons aren’t a race, so no matter how long the course is, participants can take as long as they need to complete the walk.

When should you hold a walk-a-thon?

Walk-a-thons are best held outside, so you’ll want to plan yours for a warm time of year. For most schools, this means holding your walk-a-thon in September, May, or June.

What do people need to participate?

That’s the beauty of walk-a-thons; participants don’t need any special skills or equipment to participate. To make your walk-a-thon accessible for students and parents with limited mobility, make sure your course is fully paved, on wide paths, and not too long.

Are walk-a-thons good fundraisers?

Walk-a-thons are great fundraisers for everyone involved. They’re easy to plan and easy to participate in. Plus, they help raise awareness for your causes, as the public will see a large group of people walking along your route.

What is an "A Thon"?

what is a read-a-thon?

A 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 Walk-a-Thon?

Community raising money for school

Use FutureFund to Power It

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!

Easy for Everyone

Any good fundraiser needs to be easy to plan, participate in, and most importantly, get donations. FutureFund makes planning and running a walk-a-thon as easy as possible.

Donate Online

Instead of dealing with paper pledge forms and cash and cheques, take the process online. Donors can donate instantly online with their credit or debit cards.

All-in-One

Always know how the fundraiser is going. Easily view how much money has been raised and more with detailed reporting.

Using a Walk-a-Thon for Fundraising

Managing & Organizing Pledges

Each student will sign up as a participant in the fundraiser. Then, they can collect pledges individually by credit or debit card. These pledges will be recorded in FutureFund and will count towards the student’s total and the grand total for the fundraiser.

Paperwork & Donor Payment Management

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.

Using FutureFund to Accept Online Donations

Donors don’t need to have cash or a checkbook handy to donate. They can easily donate through an emailable donation link and pay by credit or debit card. Any cash donations can also be noted in the system to be collected later.

using future fund for fundraising
goals and rules

Walk-a-Thon Goals & Rules

Length

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.

Walking Goal

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.

Walking Route

To make your walk-a-thon accessible to everyone, including those with mobility issues, try and make sure your route is fully-paved. Sidewalk curbs can be tricky for those who use mobility aids, like walkers and wheelchairs, so a park with a continuous walking path makes it easier for everyone to participate.

If there are no parks like this in your area, plan an easy-to-follow circular route. It should be around your school, so it’s nearby for most students and their families.

Recommended Starting Rules

Follow these steps for a successful walk-a-thon:

    1. Before you start telling students and parents about the walk-a-thon, you should decide the following:
        • Distance
        • Route
        • Date
        • Theme
    2. Hold the walk-a-thon on a weekend, either Saturday on Sunday.
    3. Because walk-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 schedule.
    4. Choose a distance between 1 and 5 miles.
    5. Plan a route around your school or a local park. Check with your town or city to see if you need a permit for this type of event.
    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 2-3 hours to finish the walk. You’ll want to plan around lunchtime, so the event should start around 9:00 am or 1:00 pm.

Walk-a-Thon Templates & Resources

read a thon templates
sample read-a-thon rules

Sample Walk-a-Thon Rules

These rules are a great starting point for organizing your walk-a-thon.

sample read-a-thon description

Sample Walk-a-Thon Event Description

Unsure of where to start? Use this sample student and parent messaging to get the ball rolling!

online pledges w/ futurefund

Set Up Online Pledges With FutureFund

Let parents and supporters donate online with FutureFund’s online pledges. Try it out for free!

Walk-a-Thon Theme Ideas

Holiday

You can do a walk-a-thon at any time of year and match it with upcoming holidays. In the fall, for example, you can do a turkey trot for Thanksgiving or a zombie walk for Halloween.

Color Walk

You’ve probably heard of a color run, and you can use the same theme for your walk-a-thon. They’re tons of fun and make for great photos once everyone is covered in flour paint.

Bubble Walk

Bubble walks are a fun alternative to color runs. Everyone gets covered in bubbles which are easy to wash away while still making for great photos.

Costumes

Every student has a favorite TV show or movie. Encourage them to come dressed up as their favorite superhero, princess, or another character.

Neon

Really make your fundraiser stand out with neon outfits. It’s fun and easy for families to participate, plus, it keeps everyone safe and highly visible on your walking route.

Food

There’s no better motivator than food. Incorporate food with a potluck or food truck frenzy after the walk.

Find Other Fundraiser
Ideas & Guides

How to Run a Bowl-a-Thon Fundraiser

How to Run a Bowl-a-Thon Fundraiser

Bowl-a-Thon fundraisers are great ways to raise money while also being active. See how a bowl-a-thon works & what you’ll need to run one in our guide.

How to Run a Bike-a-Thon Fundraiser

How to Run a Bike-a-Thon Fundraiser

Bike-a-Thon fundraisers are great ways to raise money while also being active. See how a jog-a-thon works & what you’ll need to run one in our in-depth guide.

How to Run a Swim-a-Thon Fundraiser

How to Run a Swim-a-Thon Fundraiser

Swim-a-Thon fundraisers are great ways to raise money while also being active. See how a swim-a-thon works & what you’ll need to run one in our guide.

How to Run a Sing-a-Thon Fundraiser

How to Run a Sing-a-Thon Fundraiser

Sing-a-Thon fundraisers are great ways to raise money & bring people closer. See how a sing-a-thon works & what you’ll need to run one in our in-depth guide.

How To Run a Jog-a-Thon Fundraiser

How To Run a Jog-a-Thon Fundraiser

Jog-a-Thon fundraisers are great ways to raise money. See how a jog-a-thon works & what you’ll need to run one in our in-depth guide.