12 Tips for Hosting a Successful Dog Walk

Bonney Brown, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Set an inspiring goal and purpose for the event. Establish a financial goal as well as a mission and theme for the event. Be sure to share this with the volunteers, your members, the media, and the public.

Take care in selecting a date and place. Be sure that the event date does not conflict with any other community events. Select a location that is easy to get to and has plenty of parking.

Prepare attractive printed materials. Your walk brochure does not need to be expensive or elaborate, but it must be well designed and easy to read. When you look at the cover of the brochure, it should be obvious that this is a benefit for animals and that it will be fun.

Dont set (or imply) a donation limit in the brochure. Be careful how you word the brochure. You dont want to inadvertently discourage high donors! A premium, such as a T-shirt, offered for a minimum donation can be a great motivator, but avoid wording that implies a set participation fee. If your brochure reads, $15 entry fee, that is likely to be the most that youll get. Also folks who can only raise $10 will stay away. In addition to being a fund-raiser, the event also has educational value, so you may want to welcome anyone who wants to attend. (After all, they may become supporters.)

Encourage larger donations. You may want to offer prizes to those individuals bringing in the highest dollar amounts on walk day. (The prizes can be donated.) Offering additional premiums to folks who raise larger amounts can significantly increase the average donation. For example, if you offer a T-shirt for raising $30, offer a sweatshirt too for raising over $100.

Think BIG. Print enough brochures to draw a crowd. You will probably need to print and distribute over 20,000 brochures to draw 1,000 participants.

Get the brochures out there. Send walk brochures to everyone on your mailing list and distribute them aggressively throughout all of the local communities. Be sure to include vet clinics, pet supply stores, groomers, markets, health clubs, and places of worship. Special mailings should be sent to last years top fundraisers thanking them again and inviting them to bring friends along (send them extra copies of the walk brochure). Invite businesses and civic organizations to participate as teams. Plan walker recruitment days at local pet supply stores, markets and other events.

Get the brochures out there early. Eight to ten weeks before the event is the critical distribution time frame. That means having them out there, not just printed but in the hands of the public, 8 to 10 weeks before the event. Also be sure to periodically re-check the distribution sites, right up until the event, to be sure that there are brochures available.

Plan festivities. Make the event day FUN for the participants! The longer people hang around and the more fun they have, the more likely they are to make this an annual event and to tell their friends about it. Free samples, entertainment, exhibit booths and refreshments are important.

Publicize the event broadly. Be sure to cover all the various media outlets in your community. A poster campaign is an inexpensive, grass-roots strategy that works.

Piggy-back fundraisers. You may want to consider selling advertising space in the event program. (You can offer free ads as a way of thanking businesses for major in-kind donations.) If your organization has merchandise to sell, be sure to make it available on event day. Offer to print business logos on the Walk T-shirt in exchange for sponsorship support. Put donation canisters out wherever free refreshments and services are available at the event. Plan a raffle of donated items.

Thank everyone. Dont forget the volunteers, participants, sponsors, donors, and other people who helped to make the event possible. Thank you notes and a post-event news release which mentions the supporters can go a long way toward ensuring continued support for next years event.

Planning A Walk Event

Overview

  • Appoint a Walk Chair to coordinate the event and oversee the volunteers.
  • The Chair appoints a Coordinator or Committee Chair to oversee each of the major aspects of the event: Logistics, Publicity, Corporate Sponsorship, Distribution (of walk materials), Special Events, Refreshments.
  • The date and location for the Walk is selected and secured.
  • The time line for completion of key tasks is established (see the enclosed sample).
  • The tasks are delegated and completed by the appointed deadlines.

General Duties And Guidelines

The Walk Chair

  1. Oversee the entire walk event.
  2. Appoint Coordinators/Committee Chairs and delegate tasks.
  3. Create an event time line, setting deadlines for each task. Ensure that the tasks are completed on time.
  4. Maintain accurate records of all aspects of the event for future events. Obtain the information from each coordinator and pass it on to the Executive Director after the post walk meeting. Ensure that the Treasurer receives copies of names, addresses, amounts and the nature of all donations received.
  5. Hold regular meetings with the Committee Chairs and the post walk meeting for all Walk day volunteers.
  6. Ensure that volunteers and donors are appropriately recognized in Walk literature and receive written thank-yous.

The Committee Chairs

  1. All Committee Chairs report directly to the Walk Chair.
  2. Recruit and manage committee members and volunteers to assist you. Submit a list of committee phone numbers and addresses to the Walk Chair. Review Volunteer Guidelines with all committee members.
  3. Complete all deadlines on Walk Timeline Schedule which have been assigned to your committee. If you are unable to meet a deadline or help is needed to do so, advise the Walk Chair in advance.
  4. Hold scheduled meetings with your committee. Submit a copy of your meeting schedule to the Walk Chairs. Explain and delegate tasks, set deadlines and follow-up to ensure completion. Attend all scheduled Walk meetings held by the Walk Chair. If unable to attend a meeting send a representative from your committee and follow up with them after the meeting.
  5. Communication is key! Keep in touch with your committee volunteers and the Walk Chair. It’s important to confer with the Walk Chair regarding any concerns or potential problems, as soon as they come to your attention. Work with other Committee Chairs as needed to avoid duplication of effort.
  6. Handle all correspondence, follow-up and confirmation of donations and services. Write post-Walk thank-you notes to all donors, sponsors, participants, entertainers, Park or Recreation Director, and volunteers.
  7. Complete a Walk Donor Sheet on each donor for our permanent records. Maintain accurate records for next year’s Walk file (specifically; lists of all potential donors contacted and results, all volunteers, sponsors, participants, etc.). Pass this information on to the Walk Chair at the post-Walk meeting.

Job Descriptions for Committee Chairs/Coordinators

Logistics Chairperson

Function:

Organize the management of the physical aspects of the Walk coordinating all committee efforts to see that the event runs smoothly with an organized, efficient set-up and thorough clean-up.

Responsibilities:

  1. Secure a location for the Walk with written confirmation of the requested date. Obtain any necessary permits. Establish a contact person at the Walk location.
  2. Recruit and manage a committee of key members and volunteers to accomplish committee goals.
  3. Secure services of a nurse, vet, and security personnel. Obtain trash receptacles, trash removal service, sanitary facilities, leashes for dogs, bug repellent, and other needed items.
  4. Devise and arrange a plan for emergency coverage with an ambulance, fire and police in Walk area. Arrange for emergency communication system; phones, walkie-talkies.
  5. Complete a Walk Donor Log sheet for each secured service or item for records.
  6. Handle all related correspondence and follow-up during the planning of the Walk.
  7. Coordinate and schedule storage and delivery of all items to the Walk location. Review plans with your contact person. (You may want to consider truck rental.) Plan for return of equipment and supplies post Walk.
  8. Coordinate all walk day set-up plans. In advance: Map out the location of all services, entertainment, tables, tents, water stations, etc. Determine assignments for all walk staff. Appoint a “Walk Route Captain” to oversee the set up of water/rest stations and staff along the route. Supply the Premium Team with a list of all volunteers to receive “staff” T-shirts.
  9. Ensure sufficient volunteer help for Walk day jobs. You may want to ask for assistance from Army, Navy, Marine, or Reserve groups in setting up on the day of the walk.
  10. Schedule pre-walk training session for all Walk day staff one week to 10 days prior to the Walk. Maintain a list of volunteer names, addresses, and phone numbers.
  11. Assign a Registration Captain and ensure that pre-walk training is arranged for the registration volunteers.
  12. Create and place signs along drive route directing people to the park. Use signs to indicate water stations and the walk route where necessary. Remove signs after the Walk.
  13. Arrange for security and ensure proper handling of cash pick up of donation canisters and the registration area.
  14. Oversee clean-up and trash removal. (You may want to solicit the services of a trash removal company.)
  15. Send post-Walk thank-you notes to appropriate people.

Registration Captain (working with Logistics Committee)

Responsibilities:

  1. Confer with Logistics Chair.
  2. Recruit and manage a team of volunteer registrars for Walk day.
  3. Develop training materials and hold advance training sessions for registrars.
  4. Oversee the entire Walk day registration process.
  5. Confer with the Treasurer to set up a plan for the safe handling of funds at the Walk and transport after the Walk.
  6. Assist with sending post-Walk thank-you notes to your volunteers.

Publicity Chairperson

Function:

Create effective publicity for the Walk event by planning and implementing a comprehensive publicity campaign for print media, radio & TV to get the word out to the largest possible audience, in order to attract participants and donors. Create a detailed publicity plan and review it with the Walk Chair.

Responsibilities:

  1. Recruit and manage key committee members and volunteers to accomplish your committee goals.
  2. Confer with the graphic artist regarding the look and color scheme for the walk materials (brochures, posters, walker handouts, T-shirts, K-9 Team).
  3. Solicit and secure an Honorary Chairperson (a local celebrity). Confer with the Walk Chair and Special Events Chairs before approaching anyone.
  4. Develop a Walk solicitation/information packet to send to prospective donors for use by the Logistics, Corporate Sponsorship, Special Events and Refreshments Committees in their solicitation efforts.
  5. Create Walk brochures (walker registration/sponsor form and general information), and posters. Arrange for printing.
  6. Produce walker handout (usually done the week before the event, for distribution at the registration desks). Include Walk route map, Walk rules, scheduled events, and list of sponsors/donors. Arrange for printing.
  7. Write and distribute news releases on pre-event stories to newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. Phone follow-up on all releases to ensure coverage.
  8. Send calendar listings to magazines and newspapers. Note: most magazines will need at least three months advance notice prior to the event.
  9. Work with local cable, radio & TV stations to devise PSAs (public service announcements).
  10. Secure interviews about the event with various TV, cable and radio stations.
  11. Send invitations (media advisories) to secure coverage by reporters from TV, radio and press for the day of the event. Call assignment editors to follow up on the requests.
  12. Arrange to have several volunteer photographers on hand for Walk day to take pictures for newspapers that do not send a photographer. (Provide your photographers with a specific photo assignment list to assure coverage of all aspects of event.)
  13. Designate one or two volunteers to function as liaisons with the media on the day of the Walk.
  14. Arrange post Walk publicity. Include post walk spay/neuter program publicity if appropriate. Remember to mention all corporate sponsors and volunteers.
  15. Complete a Walk Media Contact log sheet on all radio, TV, press, and cable contacts for records.
  16. Send post-Walk thank-you notes to all media contacts and honorary chairperson.

Premium Team (working with Publicity Committee)

Responsibilities:

Graphic Artist:

  1. Oversee the artistic decisions regarding the logo, Walk brochure design and color theme and review recommendations with the Walk Chair. Confers with Publicity Chair & Premium Coordinator.

Premium Coordinator:

  1. Price and research T shirts & other premiums and provide a list of vendors and prices to the Walk Chair. (Consider two different colors for T-shirts, one for walkers and one for staff/volunteers.) Discuss quantities and budget with Walk Chair.
  2. Order T-shirts/premiums. Secure written agreement and follow up with vendor regarding progress to ensure T-shirts will be available when promised.
  3. Arrange for transportation of T-shirts to the walk. Arrange for distribution of shirts/premiums on Walk day to volunteers and walkers. Work with Registration Captain.
  4. Obtain list of volunteer/staff names, assignments and T-shirt sizes for Walk day from the Logistic Chair.
  5. Maintain accurate records. Handle applicable correspondence and thank-you notes.

Corporate Sponsorship Chairperson

Function:

Plan and implement a successful corporate fundraising campaign to ensure sufficient capital to cover all operating expenses in executing the Walk for Animals and additional operational funding for the Walk Spay Neuter Program.

Responsibilities:

  1. Recruit and manage key committee members and volunteers to solicit the following:
    1. Sponsor(s) for the event, which may include their logo on the brochure and/or T-shirt
    2. Corporate gifts
    3. Local business donations
    4. Prizes for walkers and raffle
  2. Research and compile a list of corporate donors/businesses. Review list with the Refreshment and Special Events Chairs to avoid duplication of requests.
  3. Develop a solicitation letter and information packet for potential donors. Review with the Walk Chair.
  4. Assign a committee member for each town to personally solicit local business, preferably someone who is familiar with the town.
  5. Actively solicit donors by sending and following up on solicitation letters, making phone calls and presentations to business organizations, etc.
  6. Complete a Walk Donor Log sheet on each donor for records. Maintain a complete file of donors. Provide the Publicity Chair with a list of donors to be included in the walker handout.
  7. Handle all related correspondence and follow-up during the planning of the walk and send post-walk thank-you notes.

Distribution Chairperson

Function:

Develop and implement a successful plan for distribution of all Walk related materials to the public.

Responsibilities:

  1. Recruit and manage key committee members and volunteers to accomplish the following goals and distribution of all Walk materials.
  2. Develop Distribution List divided by town, listing veterinarians, animal hospitals, groomers, trainers, pet cemeteries, pet supply stores; convenience stores, supermarkets; town hall, libraries, community/civic/recreation centers, sporting goods stores, sport/health clubs, pizza/restaurants, shelters/rescue groups, schools, scouts/campfire, employee bulletin boards and other appropriate locations.
  3. Schedule and process the mailing of Walk brochures to the membership mailing list.
  4. Devise and oversee a Distribution Plan for dissemination of walk brochures and posters utilizing the Distribution List.
  5. Follow-up distribution locations, ensuring replacement of brochures and posters when necessary. It is essential that this effort be carefully monitored and continued until Walk day.
  6. Schedule and carry out numerous Walk Recruitment Days at area pet supply stores and other appropriate locations. (If your Walk is to be held at a park, pass out brochures at the park on weekends prior to the walk.)
  7. Send out brochures and posters to individuals who call or write to request them in response to Walk publicity. This must be done in a timely manner!
  8. Send out post-Walk thank-you notes to appropriate people.

Special Events Chairperson

Function:

Plan and organize special events for Walk Day, as entertainment for participants.

Responsibilities:

  1. Recruit and manage key committee members and volunteers to accomplish your committee goals.
  2. Devise and write up a plan for solicitation of services and entertainment (i.e., guest speaker, musicians, clowns, entertainers, face painter, training/grooming demonstrations, Rabies Clinic, K-9 Tattoo, Rescue Groups). Consider equipment/electrical supply outlets.
  3. Solicit staging, tents, chairs, tables, cellular phones/walkie-talkies, small PA system and related items.
  4. Confer with Publicity Chair regarding selection of an Honorary Chairperson.
  5. Confer with Publicity and Corporate Sponsorship Chairs regarding Walk Solicitation packet and literature.
  6. Coordinate and confirm all above services and entertainment.
  7. Arrange and manage the Raffle on Walk day.
  8. Coordinate awards and prizes for top fund-raisers to be given on Walk Day. (Certificates work very well.) Confer with Corporate Sponsorship Chair.
  9. Plan an Outreach Table including literature, brochures, volunteer recruitment, assistance forms, organizational posters, etc.
  10. Notify all service providers (entertainers, speakers, vendors, etc.) of the proper set up time, what to bring and who to contact when they arrive.
  11. Complete a Walk Donor Log sheet for each service provided for records.
  12. Provide complete and accurate listing of service providers/donors to Publicity Chair for inclusion in Walker’s handout.
  13. Confer with Logistics Committee to coordinate Walk day set-up of services and entertainment.
  14. Write follow-up thank-you notes to all contributors, entertainers, park or department of recreation, and any speakers.

Refreshment Acquisition Chairperson

Function:

Secure food, water, beverages, pet food samples, and related products for walk participants.

Responsibilities:

  1. Recruit and manage key committee members and volunteers to accomplish committee goals.
  2. Compile a donor list conferring with the Sponsorship and Special Events Committee Chairs to avoid duplication of requests.
  3. Devise a plan for acquisition of the needed items (see list below). Usually involves sending a solicitation letter and follow up phone calls. Some items may be more easily obtained by personal visits.
    1. An adequate supply of water for humans and animals
    2. Food and beverages (donuts, bagels, cookies, snack foods, juice, fruit, soda, tea, coffee, cream and sugar)
    3. Paper supplies (hot/cold cups, napkins, plates, table cloths (or sheets), plastic wrap, straws, stirrers, heavy duty trash bags)
    4. Pet food samples, toys, and related pet items, animal water bowls, small plastic bags and paper towels for animal cleanup
    5. Insulated beverage dispensers, large containers, coolers, large coffee pots, and ice for beverages (clean large barrels lined with plastic bags can hold ice)
  4. Complete a Walk Donor Log Sheet on each donor for records. Maintain a complete and accurate file of donor names and addresses to provide to the Publicity Committee for inclusion in the walker’s hand out.
  5. Confer with Logistics Chair regarding placement of refreshment tables and water stations.
  6. Send a post-Walk thank-you to all donors and volunteers.

Walk Timeline

[When planning start with walk day and work backward to set deadlines.]

1 Year to 8 Months Prior

  • Initial planning meeting
  • Appoint walk chairperson and coordinators
  • Secure location, obtain written confirmation and any permits needed
  • Set exact dates for completion of each task on timeline and delegate each task to appropriate committee
  • Seek honorary chairperson (local celebrity)
  • Develop solicitation letter and info packet for potential sponsors
  • Create potential sponsorship list (local businesses to solicit for support)
  • Create potential entertainment/activities/services/refreshment solicitation list (sources for all needed material & services)
  • Schedule regular meetings of committee chairs & volunteers

7 Months Prior

  • Create distribution list (locations to display walk brochures/posters)
  • Develop detailed publicity campaign
  • Actively begin solicitation of sponsors & donors of needed goods & services, send letters/info. packets 6 Months Prior
  • Create event logo (artwork for publicity, T-shirts)
  • Design walk brochure and poster
  • Follow up on all sponsorship requests

5 to 4 Months Prior

  • Research T-shirt and premiums
  • Review sponsorship campaign, assess response, initiate subsequent requests where needed
  • Brochures and posters to printer
  • News release to TV, radio, cable access stations, newspapers announcing event, sponsors & requesting volunteers

3 Months Prior

  • News release to TV, radio, cable access stations, and newspapers about purpose of the event
  • Initiate distribution of Walk brochures and posters
  • Begin walker recruitment days at area pets supply stores, markets, etc.
  • Confirm sponsor arrangements
  • Order T-shirts and premiums

2 Months Prior

  • Mail Walk brochures to membership
  • News release to TV, radio, cable, newspapers seeking participants
  • Calendar release and PSAs to local papers, cable TV, radio, informing public of upcoming walk, seeking participants
  • Prepare logistics plan
  • Continuing walker recruitment days
  • Ongoing distribution of Walk brochures and posters
  • Confirm entertainment, services, activities, refreshments, etc.
  • Secure T-shirts and premiums

1 Month to 1 Week Prior

  • Review logistics plan with all committee chairs
  • Develop walker handout; include sponsors/donors
  • Press release to TV, radio, newspaper & cable
  • Continuing walker recruitment days
  • Ongoing distribution of walk brochures and posters
  • Organize education/outreach booth materials
  • Arrange deliveries to location
  • Review photography assignments
  • General training meeting for volunteers and staff
  • Registration team training meeting
  • Send media advisory to request attendance of reporters, phone or in person follow-up with local media to assure coverage of event
  • Finalize walker handout to include all sponsors/donors; send to printer
  • Review final Walk day logistics plan and emergency coverage

Post Walk

  • News release to report event success and thank sponsors
  • Thank-you notes to participants, sponsors, entertainers, spokesperson, activities, volunteers
  • Committee chairs; return files to Walk Chair for next year’s Walk
  • Post-Walk meeting for key volunteers to review success of event, discuss ideas for next year
  • Implement programs utilizing walk funds

*** Compiled by Bonney Brown and Frances Hecht for Neponset Valley Humane Society, 1995


Courtesy of
Bonney Brown
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
Kanab, UT 84741-5001
(435) 644-2001
e-mail: info@bestfriends.org
website: www.bestfriends.org

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