Author: Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member
The second annual Buddy Walk® of the High Country took place on Saturday, September 13th in West Jefferson, NC. Coordinated by Patricia Calloway, this event raised more this year than at its inaugural walk last year. Being a new event, Patricia and her volunteers are still learning the ins and outs of planning such a large scale fundraiser, but they have these tips to share for those who are also just beginning their journey.
1. Plan Early
Patricia suggests beginning the planning process no less than 6-9 months before your event takes place. This allows your committee sufficient time to get the word out about your event, and gives your team captains plenty of time to plan fundraisers for their teams. The more time your teams have to organize and plan, the more money they will be able to raise for your organization! Patricia was able to facilitate donations of food and items for goody bags, and certainly found success in this by allowing herself plenty of time to contact event supporters. Opening your online fundraising platform, like Stride, several months before your event also allows donors plenty of opportunities to donate to your event. Beginning early and planning well ahead of your event affords an event coordinator more time to build on the success of the previous year’s event.
2. Have a Backup Venue for Bad Weather
Much to our dismay, Mother Nature does not always cooperate when we need nice weather. This year, Patricia had to move her event inside due to poor weather conditions. Fortunately, because their walk was held at a local high school, Patricia was able to access the gym and moved most of their activities inside. They were not permitted to have the bounce houses inside, but because she had planned so well ahead of time, they had plenty of other fun diversions to entertain their participants. Despite the dreary weather, everyone in attendance still had a great time.
3. Utilize Your Community/Committee Members
Patricia found success in securing sponsorships and in-kind donations for her event by reaching out to her personal contacts. Business contacts who are already familiar with your mission and know your story will be easier to start with, as you have already established a connection with them. Reaching out to the families which your organization serves is also another great way to seek out sponsorships and in-kind donations. Most people are more than willing to help network to gain sponsorships, especially if they are unable to volunteer at the event or for the organization at other times during the year. Utilizing the resources that you already have is a great place to start when you are securing event sponsors.
By working off of her own top three tips, Patricia was able to produce another successful Buddy Walk® event. We look forward to watching the event grow again next year!
The Buddy Walk of the High Country fundraising site is still accepting online donations. To donate, please click here.
If you enjoyed this post, please check out the rest of our Event Coordinator Tip series. We feature event tips from around the country in an effort to share ideas and help build our Down syndrome community.