Jul 14, 2021

7 tips for organizing a virtual run/walk

Person holding a phone showing a virtual walk/run tracker

As we watch nonprofits adapt to restrictions imposed on them by the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing a lot of creative solutions. While some in-person events are being postponed or canceled, some organizations are finding ways to embrace change and even find new fundraising opportunities. 

Social distancing guidelines that prohibit large gatherings of people have led to the cancellation of charity athletic events. But with little or no restrictions for individuals to walk or run on their own, many organizations are choosing to transition their in-person walk or run into a virtual one. As long as participants recognize social distancing, they can walk or run indoors or outdoors in their neighborhood. Below are seven tips for creating a virtual run or walk.

7 tips for creating a virtual run/walk

Zotec Partners virtual 5k page

1. Expand the walk/run’s length & duration

Because you don’t have to worry about the logistics of a physical space, you can also expand the length of the campaign. By having the virtual walk or run last 1 week or even 1 month, you open up the chances for someone to join in and participate. You can also improve participation by allowing goals of any distance. A 5K can be overwhelming for some, but if they know that whatever goal they set for themselves makes a difference, you may find more people joining in.

2. Promote the run/walk outside of your local area

Individuals who aren’t local to the walk or run can now join in and participate wherever they live. Even if you are still planning a physical walk/run, or plan to return to physical events in the future, consider always including a virtual option to open your campaign up to more potential participants.

3. Send swag items

L.E.A.D. swag items for additional contributions

You can still incentivize supporters to participate with t-shirts, medals or other swag items by mailing items directly to them. Or send digital bibs they can print out and wear or finisher certificates they can print and hang. These swag items can include a call to action with your text-to-donate keyword that will send people right to your donation form or Event Page. From there, people can register to also participate or donate to the campaign.

4. Offer discounts for your next event

Registration incentives can also include a discounted or free registration to the next walk/run. Or line up a sponsor to offer gift certificates or products to participants. Don’t be afraid to use your partnerships to come up with creative ways to add value to signing up.

5.  Incorporate peer-to-peer fundraising

Harc Walk n' Roll page

Give your participants the ability to raise funds as well. By creating fundraiser pages, your walkers/runners will also be able to reach out to their friends and family to get them involved. Their network will be able to register to virtually walk with them, or donate to support their efforts and the campaign. You can also add incentives attached to the amounts raised. For example, if a participant raises $50, they get a free water bottle. You can have multiple incentive levels to challenge your more ambitious participants. If you don’t want to mail out items, you can always have similar challenges with digital badges, social media callouts, or other virtual recognitions to create a sense of competition and community.

6. Live stream the event

You can use live streaming or pre-recorded videos posted online to encourage your supporters to participate by registering or making a donation. You can also post subsequent videos as updates on the progress of the campaign. Have your staff and volunteers create their own videos showing them walking or running. They can also briefly share why they’re participating to reinforce the reason behind the walk/run.

7. Utilize social media

L.E.A.D. Facebook page

Create a hashtag for your walk/run and use that on social media for any relevant posts. Encourage participants to use the hashtag as well so you can follow along on their progress. Be sure to interact with participants online. Comment on their posts by congratulating and thanking them for making a difference.

Request a demo

With a virtual walk/run, embrace the creativity of new ways to do a familiar event. Every decision should be motivated by engaging with your participants and donors. That will create a sense of community among the participants and help them get even more involved. Our goal at GiveSmart is to help nonprofit organizations create and manage successful digital fundraising campaigns, raise more money and retain donors longer. Request a free demo with one of our fundraising experts to learn, step by step, how GiveSmart can simply help set up your campaigns while transforming your results.


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