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Event-a-thons are fun, creative ways to raise funds. These events are usually very popular, as they are easy to promote and supporters are typically excited to attend and participate. They are a common school fundraiser for school sports teams and organizations, but because they are so customizable, they can be utilized for many different types of nonprofits.

This article will dive into the details of what an event-a-thon is, some of the variations you can implement into your fundraising campaigns, and a few different ways you can shake up your event and make it more interesting like incorporating event sponsorships. Let’s begin!

What is an event-a-thon?

An event-a-thon is a type of pledge fundraiser. Essentially, participants collect pledges from donors for participating in the event or performing an action for a certain duration of time or another metric. Additionally, some events are built so that donors can give flat amounts.

For example, in a walk-a-thon, a donor might pledge to donate $5 for every hour their specific participant walks. In a dance-a-thon, a participant might receive a pledge of $40 for dancing during the event.

As event-a-thons are particularly popular for school organizations, if your nonprofit is education-related, you may want to consider holding your main event on an academic giving day. That way, donors will be more likely to make pledges to participants and support your cause because your organization will be top-of-mind.

Event-a-thon variations

Part of what makes event-a-thons such great fundraisers is that they are easily customizable and can be changed to fit your nonprofit’s cause. Here are a few examples of event-a-thon variations you can use for your fundraisers:

  1. Walk-a-thon or fun run. As the quintessential event-a-thon, walk-a-thons or fun runs are an extremely versatile type of event-a-thon and can be used by any nonprofit organization because they are accessible to most participants.
  2. Hit-a-thon. 99Pledges suggests hosting a hit-a-thon as a baseball team fundraiser. For these fundraisers, donors can choose to pledge donations based on how many home runs a participant hits. They might also pledge based on how many games are played or the duration of the game.
  3. Swim-a-thon. This is a great option if you live in a tropical climate or if you’re fundraising for a swim team. Participants can ask donors to make pledges based on which stroke they use or how many laps they swim.
  4. Kick-a-thon. A kick-a-thon is a great soccer fundraising idea, as it allows people of all ages to connect with the popular sport. You can make the event more challenging by asking participants to hit the bar that runs across the top of the goal instead of just the net or having an experienced goalie block their shots.
  5. Dance-a-thon. Many people enjoy dancing, either by themselves or with a partner. You can make the most of people’s enthusiasm for dance by hosting a dance-a-thon and having donors pledge to donate per style of dance or for the duration of dance.
  6. Volunteer-a-thon. In this type of event-a-thon, participants find volunteer opportunities and are given donations based on how much time they spend volunteering. This is a great event-a-thon variation for teaching students the value of nonprofit work, or for getting people involved in improving your local community.
  7. Clean-a-thon. Cleaning is usually a dreaded chore, but you can leverage the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing cleaning tasks to create a productive fundraising event. You might choose to center your clean-a-thon around tidying up your facility or addressing community cleanliness by picking up litter.
  8. Hunt-a-thon. Host a scavenger event and have participants collect pledges for the number of items they find. This is a great way to connect with your neighborhood and gain a better understanding of local landmarks.

After you decide on what event-a-thon to host, ensure that you use robust fundraising software to collect pledges prior to the big day. The platform you choose should have a streamlined pledge page creation process and a variety of social media integrations to make it easy for participants to share their pages with their personal networks. This has an added marketing benefit—participants are essentially advertising your event for you!

Ways to shake up your event-a-thon

Because event-a-thons are so popular, it can be challenging to set yours apart from all the others. Here are a few ideas to consider during the event planning process to shake up your event-a-thon and make it more appealing to your supporters:

  • Incorporate fun themes. Choosing a fun theme can help participants immerse themselves in your event. Your theme can be anything, depending on what type of event-a-thon you’re hosting. If it’s a dance-a-thon, you could make your event swing-dancing themed, and play swing music. Or if you’re hosting a hunt-a-thon in April, you could make it Easter-themed by hiding Easter eggs or chocolate bunnies.
  • Add side activities. Should you choose to host a main event, you can choose to add other activities to it aside from the main attraction. Carnival-style games are extremely popular side attractions for spectators and participants alike. Also consider adding snack and drink stands to encourage people to continue spectating and giving to your cause.
  • Invite the greater community. Don’t be shy about reaching out to the community at large to promote your event. If you’re holding a fundraiser for a school group or sports team, feel free to ask parents, students from neighboring schools, and other community members to attend. The versatility of event-a-thons means that it’s easy to make them accessible for many people, allowing you to invite more participants.
  • Add gamification elements. There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to get participants excited about attending your event. In your promotional materials, such as email newsletters and social media posts, include a leaderboard so people can see who the top fundraiser is. You might also add integrations allowing people to see how much time their peers have spent participating, allowing them to compete with each other to get more hours. Make sure to offer fun prizes for the top participants!
  • Partner with businesses. Acquiring a corporate sponsor can help you dramatically increase your event’s budget. Nowadays, many businesses are interested in corporate philanthropy opportunities, and you can offer them benefits for partnering with you. For example, you could include their logo on all of your marketing materials and thank them in your end-of-event speech.

Shaking up your event-a-thons is no easy task, but as long as you consider what will best resonate with your audience, you’ll be able to host a memorable event. 

When the event concludes, be sure to show your appreciation to your participants, volunteers, sponsors, and donors. It is because of them that your event is even possible! You can show your heartfelt gratitude in a variety of ways—Kwala suggests giving a little gift like wearable merchandise, pieces of art, or edible treats.

Before you consider the ways you can make your event-a-thon more engaging and immersive, keep in mind that event-a-thons are pledge fundraisers. It is crucial that you choose donation software that streamlines the giving process so that donors can easily make their pledges and donations. Ensure that no matter what payment method they choose, their information is secure to show supporters that your nonprofit is reliable and trustworthy. This will set you up to pull in donations now and in the future!