Charity walks are a great way to get some exercise while raising awareness for a cause. The problem, for many of us, is that you have to raise money—tricky for those who are new to or shy about raising money. We talked to top fundraisers across the country to get some great ideas that you can try for your event. Whether you are walking with a team or by yourself, these tips are sure to help you bring money and awareness to your cause.
1. Never underestimate the power of Facebook. Thanks to Facebook—and other social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn—people are more connected than ever before. Dana Silver of Highland Park, Ill., found that out quickly when she signed up for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day For a Cure after she lost her best friend of 35 years to breast cancer. Dana used Facebook to reconnect with friends she hadn't seen in years, who were all more than willing to donate to her team, Team Dishalicious. "Every time I updated my status about the progress of our fundraising, we would get as much as $200 in the next hour," Dana explains. Not only did Facebook help get Dana's team to the top fundraising spot in Chicago, but the connections she made helped her heal from the loss of her friend. "It was a great distraction during some of the darkest days of my life," she says.
2. Go out to eat—or drink! Ask local business owners if they would be willing to participate. Many restaurants donate a percentage of their profits on certain nights to charity . All you have to do is spread the word to your friends, neighbors and community, and make sure people order generously! Also, some bars will allow you or a team member to guest bartend, and the tips you make go to your organization.
3. Ask for stuff, not cash.When Vernon Piver of Fort Bray, Cal., was diagnosed with lymphoma, he and his wife Betty got involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk. Just by talking to friends in the community, however, they were able to organize an event featuring a live auction onboard a train that runs from Fort Bray through the Redwood forests. The train's management donated the use of the train, and Vernon and Betty enlisted friends to donate items for the auction. In 2010, the event’s first year, the couple raised a total of $23,000, and in 2011 the tally jumped to more than $35,000.
4. Don't forget who you’re walking for.Wayland, Mich., Relay for Life chairman Kim Ogden had an idea to feature a luminaria ceremony at the inaugural relay, with lighted lanterns honoring the memory of individuals who died of cancer. But—with the blessing of the fire chief—she also invited individuals and teams to buy 3 ft. “Sky Lanterns” for $20 each to launch into the air. Giving donors a way of recognizing their own loved ones not only added to her fundraising coffers, but gave the event an emotional edge. "There was hardly a dry eye in the place," Kim says.
5. Do what you love. While Dana Silver was raising thousands of dollars in Chicago, she also encouraged friends across the country who knew her best friend to do the same. They each came up with an activity that interested them, and charged participants for participation. While Dana and her teammate Rachel hosted a fitness class, her friends in Miami held a beach yoga fundraiser and friends in Jacksonville organized a tennis tournament. Not only were all the teams raising money for their Komen walk, they were getting active and spreading the word about breast cancer.
6. Turn a negative into a positive.Vernon and Betty Pivers note how much love and support they received from the community as a result of their fundraising efforts with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Dealing with sickness or loss is certainly challenging, but channeling energy into fundraising and awareness for a cause can help you cope in difficult circumstances