The 2011 Promise Walk has come to an amazing close and the Preeclampsia Foundation is already looking toward 2012! Have you considered hosting or volunteering at a walk? Even if you have just few hours to volunteer, we need you! Join us for the first Promise Walk planning call of the 2012 season on September 13 to learn about what it means to organize a Promise Walk, or email National Walk Director Becky Sloan about how you can support the efforts.
In 2011, Promise Walks were held in 24 locations, and for 2012, we are looking for eager volunteers who are interested in creating even more new walk sites or in volunteering a few hours to help an existing walk be successful. Organizing a Promise Walk is a little like a planning a party…if you’ve put on a birthday party or organized a wedding you are likely qualified to plan a Promise Walk!
There are five main components of helping to organize a successful Promise Walk: Logistics, Sponsorships, Registration, Advertising, and Fundraising. And, there are plenty of tools to assist you in each of those areas – as well as dozens of experienced Walk coordinators who will happily share their insights and advise. The Promise Walk is also a great opportunity to build a network of preeclampsia survivor volunteers to divvy up the work and generate support in your local community!
So here is what it takes:
- Logistics – To successfully advertise, fundraise for, and attract participants to a Promise Walk, location is everything! Great locations include public parks, open air malls, school stadiums, or any outdoor location that achieves great visibility and accommodates the size of your walk. Consider what your walk route will be, where people will gather to register, and what additional activities (program, silent auction, raffle, etc.) you might want to add to your walk. Bring a friend, family member or other volunteer to help you think through the process and determine what is reasonable for you and your local volunteer team! It never hurts to attend other walks or runs in different locations in your area to get a feel for what a site offers and how it can be utilized.
- Sponsorships — Corporate and local businesses can be fantastic event partners that involve your local community and help your walk make money by through underwriting of many of the costs associated with planning the event. The national Promise Walk team has several tools that will help you identify sponsor prospects, approach them, and make a proposal. Some businesses may be interested in making an non-cash donation of necessary items like food and water which will help to increase your net income. Sponsorships can take time to come to fruition, but a good way to begin moving in the sponsorship direction with a business might be to encourage registrants of your event to see if they can get their employer to form a Promise Walk team. And don’t forget those business located near your Walk site; your event may bring a couple hundred people to their doorstep – engaging them can be a win-win for both parties.
- Registration — There have never been more tools available to help drive registration: email, Facebook, Twitter, word-of-mouth to family and friends, Community Forum postings, or contact with local health care providers and businesses. The more people you have at your walk, the more impact you’ll make. And, of course, the Promise Walk website (www.promisewalk.org) makes registering a cinch!
- Advertising — Advertising and promoting the Walks can take many forms. The Foundation provides press release templates for all coordinators to use in reaching out to local media to generate news articles and awareness. Requesting a Proclamation declaring May Preeclampsia Awareness Month in your city, county or state will help call attention to the cause with policy makers and will help the Preeclampsia Foundation gain national attention. Flyer templates can be printed full size or postcard size and taken to businesses near your Walk site or to women-, pregnancy-, and family-friendly enterprises to help people learn about your event. Many radio stations will offer free public service announcements that can help promote your Walk. Finally, don’t forget the web! There are many community calendars that accept free event postings.
- Fundraising — Budget, plan, and execute! Budget to cover all your essential expenses, plan to reach out to any and all contacts to try and get those costs covered outside of your budget, and execute on event day! While much of the fundraising may happen prior to your Walk through personal donations in support of your participants, don’t overlook the opportunity to include activities at your event that will add to your bottom line: bake sales, silent auctions, raffles, etc. And, your program itself could inspire additional giving at the event. Some walk sites have created new categories of sponsorships that allow donors to purchase a special sign or placard recognizing a loved one along the Walk course.
Think you have it in you? The Preeclampsia Foundation believes you do and the national Walk team will be there to assist you. We promise you, you’ll be standing there on Walk Day, you’ll take a moment to look around, and you’ll realize you did it, your team did it. You made it happen and all these people are there because you said, “yes”!