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Successful A-Thon Fundraising: Boost Participant Engagement

a dog and people running and walking in an a-thon fundraiser

June 26, 2023

There’s a reason walk-a-thons are popular fundraisers—they’re great for raising money and awareness and attracting new supporters. However, the trick to having a successful a-thon event isn’t just having lots of participants. It’s keeping all those wonderful people engaged and excited.

In this blog post, we’ll share strategies that will keep participants motivated, ensuring your fundraiser is a success. Whether you’re planning your first walk-a-thon or read-a-thon, or simply hope to improve upon past events, these tips will help you create an experience that participants will look forward to year after year.

What is a-thon fundraising? A-thons are fun community-oriented fundraising events centered around an activity. A good example is a walk-a-thon, in which participants gather pledges for miles or steps walked during a certain period of time.
A woman in a wheelchair participating in a run, roll and walk-a-thon

Setting A-thon Participants Up for Success

The easier you make it for your participants to promote the event, the more time they can spend engaging their social networks, rallying support, and, ultimately, driving donations.
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Provide a comprehensive fundraiser fact sheet.

Include a blurb that explains the cause the fundraiser benefits, information about your charity, the event’s start and end dates, and the overall fundraising goal. This information will not only give your participants a clear understanding of the event but also equip them to accurately communicate the cause to potential donors.
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Empower participants with individual fundraising sites.

Individual fundraising sites serve as platforms from which participants can share their own stories, connection to the cause, and progress toward their individual fundraising goals.

When friends, family, and coworkers see a familiar face passionately advocating for a cause, they’re more likely to contribute. This personalized approach not only increases the money raised but also fosters a deeper connection between participants, their networks, and your cause. It’s an empowering strategy that makes your a-thon fundraising event more accessible, personal, and successful.

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Supply images and sample fundraising page text.

This step removes the burden of creating content from scratch and ensures that your charity’s messaging remains consistent. Sample texts can guide your participants in effectively telling their personal stories, why they’re involved in the fundraiser, and why it matters. By supplying fundraiser participants with these tools, you’re setting them up for success and maximizing your a-thon’s ability to raise funds.
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Track progress and celebrate milestones.

A strong motivator for everyone involved is the visibility of progress toward a shared goal. Use real-time progress tracking tools, such as a fundraising thermometer. Seeing it rise closer and closer to the donation goal will motivate participants to continue their fundraising efforts. To further boost engagement, try breaking down your overall goal into smaller milestones and celebrate each milestone as it’s reached. A shout-out on social media or a small prize like a t-shirt or tote can be a simple way to celebrate. By using this approach, you can maintain momentum and create more opportunities for interaction with your participants.
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Foster friendly competition.

Gamification of your a-thon can drive even more active participation and donor generosity. Encourage participants to form teams and track their progress against each other by utilizing your fundraising platform. Recognize the top fundraising teams with awards or tokens of appreciation to make the competition even more engaging. Then, keep everyone invested by regularly updating participants and social media followers on team rankings through newsletters or social media posts.
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Utilize peer-to-peer fundraising.

Participants can amplify the reach of your fundraiser by engaging their personal networks through peer-to-peer fundraising. Participants can create their own fundraising pages, share their stories, and explain why the cause is important to them. Seeing a familiar face passionately advocating for a cause can encourage their friends, family, and colleagues to donate and earn your org new supporters.

For more about peer-to-peer fundraising, check out our article, Peer-to-peer fundraising: everything you need to know.

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Keep communication consistent.

The key to sustained a-thon engagement is to keep your fundraiser and its purpose fresh in participants’ minds. Regular updates are crucial to fostering a sense of community and maintaining momentum. Deliver these updates through email newsletters, social media posts, or even text messages.

Communication should always be upbeat, encouraging, and appreciative. This not only helps to motivate participants but also builds a positive atmosphere around your event.

a man laying on a bed reading - a read-a-thon is a great fundraising idea.

The Net-Net

Maintaining participant engagement is vital for the success of any a-thon fundraising event. Employing strategies like real-time progress tracking, friendly competition, and consistent communication will keep participants engaged and motivated. The key to a successful a-thon lies not just in the initial recruitment of participants but in sustaining their enthusiasm and motivation. Happy fundraising!

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