A sponsored walk is a great way to raise money without the need for lots of planning and volunteers. It also promotes exercise, takes your fundraising into the public eye and can bring your whole community together. And with a short, flat route everyone can join in – even those in buggies and wheelchairs.
- Five to six weeks before: Decide which day of the week you want to hold your walk and agree a date, checking that nothing else is going on locally that may affect numbers. Each local authority is structured differently, so it is wise to contact yours to see who you may need to consult. Start planning your route – a circular course starting and finishing at the same place makes it easier for you to sign everyone in and sell refreshments.
- Three to four weeks before: Publicise your event around the community, in the local press and on social media. Explain how to enter/raise money, how long the route is, and a list of what participants might need to bring with them. Draw up a sponsorship form for entrants to collect/download. Collate participants' information, including contact details in case of emergencies or last-minute changes.
- One to two weeks before: Finalise your route and draw up a map (and questions for your fact hunt if applicable). Enlist the help of volunteers. The number of volunteers required should be determined by the route distance and likely number of participants. You will need clearly visible marshals along the route and people to serve refreshments. Appoint qualified first aiders to attend and provide contact numbers to all participants. Complete a risk assessment, thinking about trip hazards, crossings, weather (heat/rain), overcrowding and how marshals can contact one another (especially if mobile phone reception is poor).
- On the day: Be ready to collect entry fees and monies, and hand out maps if necessary. Can you get a local celebrity to open your event with a brief speech? A member of your organising team should remain at base camp to deal with any issues that crop up.
- After the event: Thank everyone for taking part and seek feedback. Claim Gift Aid.
Download a print-friendly PDF version of our step-by-step guide to a sponsored walk
Tips and advice
- Timing: A Friday evening can work well, giving everyone the chance to get home, get changed and have something to eat without competing with clubs and other weekend commitments.
- Rewards: Give an incentive to those taking part by offering a prize for the most sponsorship money raised, or the biggest achiever. Once walkers return, consider giving them certificates or medals.
- Planning: A well-planned event will anticipate safety issues, thus avoiding any disasters on the day. If you expect large numbers, notify relevant authorities beforehand, and ensure that you have sufficient volunteers/staff to cope. Check that your public liability insurance cover is up to date.
- Licensing: There are no licensing requirements arising from a sponsored walk. If you are walking on public highways or public land, it would be good practice to advise your local authority, particularly if the walk is going to involve mass crossings of people. If using roads, you may need to contact the highways team.
- Boosting profits: Claiming Gift Aid is a pretty straightforward process and can add an extra 25p to every £1 raised. You don't need to be a registered charity, you simply need to register with HMRC. Read our online guide to Gift Aid.
Sponsored walk success story
David Keys, PTA secretary at Phoenix Integrated Primary School, Cookstown (180 pupils) told us: 'The PTA of Phoenix IPS is small and relatively new, so it's important for us to keep our events simple. Last year we decided to run a sponsored walk, incorporating a 'fact hunt'. Participants had to answer questions about landmarks along the route, for example, what date a building was constructed, or the number on a particular post box. Participants had two options for raising money – sponsorship or an entry fee of £10 per family. On entering, every pupil received a fact hunt pack which included a sponsorship form and map. Just over 100 walkers took part. Only on the day were they given the question sheet! The route started and finished at school where we provided tea, coffee and juice, and sold cupcakes donated by parents. The walk itself went through the centre of town and back – just over a mile. This was short enough for all ages, and we kept road crossings to a minimum. We completed a risk assessment prior to the event, walking the route to check for any potential issues, and we had PTA members supervising the group on the day (12 volunteers in total). We contacted the local police station to make them aware that the event was taking place. On the day, our principal gave a quick talk before everyone set off, explaining that parents were expected to supervise their children at all times. The sponsored walk was very easy to organise, and raised £1,150. Not bad given that it really only took a morning to scope out the route and set the questions, and a few hours to prepare all the paperwork!'
The above is intended as guidance only. We recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on the guidance provided.