The very first Walk the Night event last year raised a staggering £500,000 in support of prostate and breast cancer. The second annual Walk the Night is just around the corner, on Saturday 27 July 2019 in London. We thought it would be helpful to dive a bit deeper into what made Walk the Night such a tremendous success in such a short amount of time. In this post, we look at three fundraising lessons from Walk the Night that you can apply to your next charity event or campaign.
Charity Fundraising Lessons from Walk the Night
Band Together to Be Better
The first lesson is that you don’t need to go it alone. Partnering with another charity can be a highly effective way to promote your event and tap into a wider network. Walk the Night is the only event that brings together two leading charities in support of prostate and breast cancer – Prostate Cancer UK and CoppaFeel. By teaming up like this, the charities are able to reach a broader audience and create an effective, united front against cancer. As you likely have noticed, breast cancer campaigns typically target women and those that love them, while prostate campaigns typically target men and their loved ones. Walk the Night targets everyone, which has resulted in an impressive outpouring of support and participation.
Have you partnered with any other charities on campaigns or projects? Who might it make sense to partner with? If you can’t identify an ideal charity partner, don’t rule out the private sector, either. Consider reaching out to relevant corporate sponsors that share your passion or mission. For example, the charity Look Good Feel Better partnered with Debenhams on a unique campaign to offer dedicated beauty services for customers undergoing cancer treatment.
Challenge your Supporters but Treat Them, Too
Walk the Night is admittedly tough. The challenge is to walk a full marathon (26.2 miles) or a half marathon (13.1 miles) in London over the course of a night. For someone with an average fitness level, this could take about eight to ten hours for the full marathon or about four to six hours for the half marathon. To help participants prepare, Walk the Night offers a free training plan and other tips. If your event involves a physical challenge, consider offering something similar, especially since many participants are likely to be new to organised walks, runs and rides.
While it’s challenging event, Walk the Night is also focused on the fun. It offers a warm-up and live entertainment, tasty snacks at food stations and great gear, including a high-visibility jacket for safety and a shiny medal as a keepsake souvenir. Another perk is the route itself. The course takes people by great landmarks, including the magical Granary Square in King’s Cross, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace.
Take a note from Walk the Night when planning your next charity event. While it’s great to challenge people physically, reward them for their support and participation and always focus on the fun. Charity events, after all, should be a celebration of people coming together around a common cause. Identify what makes your event unique – perhaps you have a special venue or really great merchandise – and promote these aspects of it to encourage even greater participation.
Make Fundraising as Easy as Possible
The last lesson is to set yourself up for success by making it as easy as possible to raise as much money as possible. We think Walk the Night has a smart, new fundraising approach this year. It’s asking participants to fundraise a minimum of £100 by Friday 12 July (about two weeks before the walk), and the remaining £99 ASAP after the event. This allows the charity to cover the cost of the entry while giving people more flexibility and time to raise even more money, especially for last-minute entrants. We’ll be curious to hear more about how this approach works, please stay tuned!
Another tip for your charity is to provide helpful, easy-to-use resources. Walk the Night provides everything one needs to know “in one beautiful PDF packet” as well as links to last year’s video, instructions on setting up a JustGiving account and a Walk the Night 2019 poster. Create a clear section on your event website for people to download and share materials, and consider creating a sign-up form and newsletter list to send people inspiring updates ahead of and following your event.
The last tip is to keep your cause in mind in all that you do. People participate in charitable events because it matters to them. Many of those who participate in Walk the Night are personally touched by cancer and are walking in memory of lost loved ones. Use compelling photos and quotes to help tell your story and inspire people to get involved.
What else do you think Walk the Night does right? What’s worked with your own charity events? We’re always eager to learn more and help your grow your campaigns, especially when it comes to unique, high-impact merchandise. Please reach out anytime, and we hope to see you at Walk the Night 2019!