Runs and Walks Toolkit

Many of our AHC families have executed a charitable Run or Walk event with much success.  We have accumulated some of their experience in this toolkit to get a new planner headed in the right direction.  If you are family with experience, we invite you to share with us! Please contact Vicky Platt via email at

Building a Stronger Timeline


Building a stronger Run/Walk in markets across the country requires appropriate time to plan and execute—generally 10-12 months. It also requires a web of committed volunteers. Volunteers are critical to the year-long process. Volunteers bring their own relationships, own networks, and their own connections to the AHC story.  Identifying prospective sponsors, donors, and participants is the biggest challenge of any event. The more volunteers who are involved in the process, the more prospects you will identify.

Fundraising is about relationships—the prospective donor’s relationship to the cause.  This is the case no matter the mission of the organization. Sometimes the relationship is to the cause itself—think about how many people support Susan G. Komen because a loved one has been impacted by breast cancer. Other times, the relationship is to the person who asked for the gift—a friend, family member or colleague who asked you to join them in their cause. Given AHC’s mission and the rareness of the disease, the relationships that volunteers bring to AHC will be the key to opening doors to potential new sponsors, donors and participants.

The following pages outline a potential timeline for the Run/Walk.  Clearly, more details such a specific goals for sponsorships and participants should be added as the process unfolds.

AHC Run/Walk Suggested Timeline


  • Thank all donors via acknowledgement letter and event summary
  • Thank all runners/walkers via acknowledgement letter and event summary
  • Thank all volunteers via acknowledgement letter and event summary
  • Distribute press release celebrating run
  • Post pictures, info from press release via social media
  • Set date for 2012 event and get on community calendars; post on social media


  •  Host an event debriefing meeting, inviting select participants, donors, volunteers
  • Form a 2012 Run Committee—hopefully some folks from above will join the committee
  • Set meeting calendar for committee—monthly until three months prior to the event and then bi-weekly
  • Brainstorm potential prospects—who has a natural connection/interest in AHC; who is within the Circle of Influence of Committee members


  • Send update on the impact of the investment to all donors—include 2012 event date and ask donors to include the Run in their 2012 philanthropic budgets.
  • Monthly committee meeting—focus is on prospective donors, especially lead sponsorship donors; potential national sponsors with regional interests; make assignments for follow up or initial calls with prospective sponsors
  • Follow up with corporate donors to see if they need any information in order to plan for including AHC in their upcoming budgets. Goal is obtain two pledged sponsorship from last year’s sponsors or new sponsors.
  • Set initial meetings with prospective corporate sponsors to see if they need any information in order to plan for including AHC in their upcoming budgets


  •  Spotlight story on AHC family sent to all donors and promoted through social media. Could include a soft year-end ask for individuals.
  • Monthly committee meeting—focus on reporting on Nov. assignments and planning next steps with each. Include brainstorming on prospects
  • Consider places to promote the run—Y Guides; runners clubs, etc. some of these places post annual calendars—you want to be sure the run is on them


  •  Send any new research developments to all donors and post on social media
  • Monthly Committee Meeting—focus on the circles of influence of the committee members—who are potential runners/walkers/donors—begin to set a strategy of engaging these folks
  • Follow up conversations with at least 2 prospective sponsors –goal is to secure at least one additional sponsorship this month.
  • Initial meetings with at least 5 prospective sponsors.


  •  Send Valentine’s Day type postcard to donors—we love that you love AHC—thank you!
  • Monthly Committee Meeting—reporting on activity with prospective sponsors; brainstorm local civic groups where you can share the story—Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, etc. Make assignments to get on their program calendars in the next 6 months.
  • Follow up conversations with at least 4 prospective sponsors –goal is to secure at least one additional sponsorship this month.
  • Initial meetings with at least 5 prospective sponsors.


  •  Send any research update and post via social media
  • Monthly Committee Meeting—report on activity related to sponsors, civic group connections, circles of influence. Make assignments for next steps. Begin to brainstorm gift in kind needs for the event. Make assignments for securing those gifts.
  • Follow up conversations with at least 5 prospective sponsors –goal is to secure at least two additional sponsorships this month.
  • Initial meetings with at least 5 prospective sponsors.


  •  Save the date card/ecard sent to all donors, participants, and volunteers
  • Monthly Committee Meeting—report on activity related to sponsors, civic groups, circles of influence, and gifts in kind.
  • Follow up conversations with at least 6 prospective sponsors –goal is to secure at least two additional sponsorships this month.
  • Initial meetings with at least 5 prospective sponsors.


  •  Run registration opens?? Promoted at Matthew’s school and through other identified channels
  • Instructions sent to past participants on setting up his/her donate now pages to go live on June 1
  • Monthly Committee Meeting—report on activities and begin to plan the logistics of the run—make logistics assignments as needed.
  • Follow up conversations with at least 6 prospective sponsors –goal is to secure at least two additional sponsorships this month.
  • Initial meetings with at least 5 prospective sponsors.


  • Send sponsorship update to all donors and prospective donors with a AHC family spotlight
  • Monthly Committee Meeting—focus on final follow ups to prospective sponsors, making new assignments as needed.
  • Donor donate now pages go live
  • Sponorship conversations completed


  • Research update sent out to all donors and run participants. Also posted on social media
  • Monthly Committee Meeting—Celebrate sponsorships! Logistics and gift in kind continue; focus shifts to promoting the run—assignments made accordingly.


  • Press release sent promoting the run
  • Social media push for increasing run participation
  • Bi-weekly committee meeting on logistics and promotion
  • Update sent to sponsors with details of the run—encouraging their employees to participate, etc.
  • Fundraising reminder to all runners


  • Bi-weekly committee meeting focuses on final details
  • Fundraising reminder to all runners
  • Personal thank you calls to sponsors with an update on run details
  • Successful race


Site Selection

Getting Started requires the selection of a date, time, distance, and location of the event. Finding the perfect site for the event can take time and should be done as soon as possible. In addition, working smart at this stage of the planning process requires delegation. Consider assigning a person, or team of people, to coordinate matters associated with the site selection process.

Factors for Selecting a Site can include the following considerations:

  • Permits may be required by your local government. Be certain to contact the appropriate governing board and request instructions on how to reserve the site. You may have to provide documentation and make a presentation before a board in order to secure a site. Some local governments meet once a month, so you may have to wait some time for approval.
  • ii.     Access to a sufficient parking lot and facility is crucial in selecting the site. Be certain to pick a site that is big enough for the event and can accommodate people as they come and go during the day.
  • iii.     Shaded areas can make the event. If the site does not have natural shade, inquire with the governing body if tents can be pitched to provide shade. If you have food and beverages, you may be required to have it placed under shade.
  • iv.     Bathroom facilities are a necessity. Your volunteers may be at the event for several hours and a clean bathroom makes the day go by much faster.
  • v.     Playgrounds are great for bringing families to the event. If you can find a site with a great playground, it can help keep families at the event after they complete the walk.
  • vi.     Pet Policies vary. Be certain to confirm if pets are allowed at your site. If they are, this can be a great motivator to get people out to the event and walk their dog.


  • Obtain approval for reserving the site as soon as possible. Some local governments meet once a month. You may have to present documentation and make a presentation before a board in order to secure a site.
  • Confirm reservation of the site with the appropriate board one month prior to the event to avoid any surprises.
  • Confirm if any inspections will take place during the event. Local governments may have restrictions on the distribution of food or beverages and require an inspection on the day of the event.
  • Confirm contact information with the local government in case there are problems on the day of the event. For example, if garbage cans have not been recently emptied and bees are a nuisance, you may need to call and have garbage cans emptied.

Before the Event

  • Conduct an inspection of the site just before the event takes place (day before).
    • Make sure the walk paths are free from debris and in good shape.
    • Check for any damage to the facilities to make sure you are not held liable for damage.
    • Check bathroom facilities for cleanliness and supplies.
    • Make sure tables and garbage cans are present if they are supposed to be so.

Day of Event (Hospitality Team)

  • Set up
    • Volunteers should be recruited to manage the set up.
  • Secure materials to mark the course, such as traffic cones, signs or tape.
    • Balloons are a nice addition to mark where the walkers should meet.
  • Greeters at the entrance of the site are helpful in directing the walkers to the registration table. It is also nice to have people welcoming participants to the walk.
  • Clean up
    • Volunteers should be recruited to take down the event. The site should be left in the condition it was found. The more helpers, the quicker everyone can return home.


  • Signage to mark the walk site will help direct the walkers to the event. If the local government has an electronic sign, you can inquire about posting the walk start time on the sign. You may also want to post a sign at a registration table. Providing as much clarity about where people are supposed to be is helpful.
  • First aid kit is a must. Be certain to have basic first aid items on hand as well as bug bite spray. It is also recommended that you have directions to the nearest medical facility in case there is an emergency. They do happen.
  • Bicycles may be helpful if your site is very spread out. If you need to get from one end to the other quickly, you may want to have a bicycle nearby.
  • Walkie talkies are a great addition. They can keep the leaders of the event in constant contact with the volunteers. Consider keeping one at the registration table and one with the site coordinator.
  • Tables and chairs make volunteers more comfortable during the day. Be certain to have enough on hand in case the site does not provide amble supply.
  • A Hospitality Station can be set up with light snacks and beverages for the walkers. If you can receive donations of bottled water, juice boxes, granola bars, fruit snacks, etc.; that is ideal. If you receive gift cards from stores like Wal-Mart or Costco, you can purchase the snacks and beverages at no cost.
  • A Registration Station should be set up and clearly marked. In addition to checking people in to the walk, you will need a secure method of collecting donations. Before the walk, designate who will be responsible for handling the donations and make sure they receive the donation box at the end of the event.

Volunteers to assist with the event may include:

  • Site coordinator – in charge of all site related matters
  • Set up – coordinates the set up
  • Registration –  checks people in to the event and collects donations
  • Greeters – welcomes people to the event and provides direction
  • Hospitality – distributes food and beverages to the participants
  • Clean up – tears down the event and makes sure the site is in proper order

Sponsorship Opportunities

  • Main Sponsor, if your walk has a main sponsor, create a sign stating so for display at the event. Take a picture of the sign and send it along to the sponsor with a thank you note.
  • Leg Sponsor, you may offer smaller sponsorship opportunities at the event. You can designate a specified leg of the walk to a single sponsor.  If you do so, take a picture of the sign and send it along to the sponsor with a thank you note.
  • Food and Beverage donations can be sponsored. If you are having a walk in the morning, talk to your local coffee shops and see if they will donate coffee. You can create a sign thanking the sponsor for the donation.

Post Event

  • Thank you notes are a must. Be certain to send them out as soon as possible. You may want to include:
    • Local government, expressing our appreciation for using the site. A small stipend may also be appreciated.
    • Sponsors, for their financial support. Including pictures from the event are a nice addition.
    • Volunteers, for their help in creating a successful event.



    Assembling a strong leadership team is an important step to creating a great event. Ideally your team

    should be comprised of individuals with diverse skills and talents that share a common interest in the

    success of the walk. When recruiting, consider who you know that may possess any or all of the

    following characteristics:

    • Enjoys managing detailsExhibits creativity
    • Feels comfortable asking for sponsorship, in-kind gifts, an or donations
    • Holds experience in volunteer organizations

    Each of the positions listed below are suggestions and can be customized as needed. Not all areas may be

    applicable to your event. Modify or combine as you see fit. Consider assigning a person (or team of

    people) to the following areas:

    1. Chair
      1. Delegates tasks and creates a timeline for implementing the tasks;
      2. Schedules meetings with leadership team and stays in regular contact throughout the event planning process;
      3. Communicates important achievements and shares challenges with team;
      4. Send thank you notes to leadership team after walk.
    2. Site Manager
      1. Contacts venue to obtain permission and permits;
      2. Oversees the procurement of proper insurance coverage (call AHCF office);
      3. Secures materials to mark the course as well as communication methods (i.e. walkie talkies) during the walk;
      4. Checks parking availability for the day;
      5. Makes sure site is in good shape at the end of the event;
      6. Sends thank you note to host for letting us use the venue.
    3. Public Relations
      1. Designs and develops print media for event (i.e. registration packet, signage, and the coordination of sponsor logos within printed material) (assistance from AHCF office is available);
      2. Contacts local media to obtain information for press release submissions;
      3. Creates and distributes press releases (assistance from AHCF office is available);
      4. Coordinates event website with AHCF office;
      5. Coordinates event photography and or video;
      6. Recruits celebrity participants for roles such as a master of ceremony, team leader, judge, or prize presenter. Celebrity participation helps to boost participation, media attention, and corporate sponsorship.
    4. Fundraising
      1. Prospects and solicits sponsorship from members of business community;
      2. Recruits in-kind donations, such as coffee for walk participants, beverages along the course, sunscreen and first aid products, t-shirts, items for participant goodie bags, and any items needed for after event activities;
      3. Works with the public relations team to develop a donor/sponsorship information packet (assistance is available from the AHCF office);
      4. Maintains records of sponsors and donors;
      5. Oversees the proper acknowledgement of all donations (i.e. thank you note, receipts or documentation of the gift, and recognition at the event and in event literature.
    5. Treasurer
      1. Collects all donations made on the day of the walk;
      2. Keeps a record of all donations made to the event;
      3. Coordinates with the AHCF office to ensure proper record keeping;
      4. Provides receipts as needed in coordination with the AHCF office;
      5. Receive approval for anticipated expenses from AHCF office;
      6. Submits any expenses to the AHCF office on a timely manner;
      7. Provide a report to the leadership team on the financial outcome of the walk.
    6. Registration
      1. Assists volunteer coordinator in recruiting people to staff the registration table during event;
      2. Facilitates participant check-in;
      3. Collects any donations made on the day of the event;
      4. Transfers all donations to treasurer at the end of the event.
    7. Hospitality
      1. Plans and coordinates the use of in-kind donations for walk participants;
      2. Sends periodic coaching cards to participants prior to the event with helpful tips for finding additional pledges and training for a safe and healthy walk;
      3. Works with volunteer coordinator to recruit volunteers to serve beverages during the event, administer first aid along the walk course as needed, and for any after-walk events;
      4. Plans and facilitates fun activities for participants spending significant amounts of time at the event (i.e. face painting, balloon sculptures, bocce ball games, music, raffles, contests, and prizes).
    8. Volunteer Coordinator
      1. Recruits volunteers to manage set-up and take-down of course on the day of the event;
      2. Schedules volunteers in shifts to insure proper coverage.