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Healthy Fundraising Events That Are Good For Your Body

By James Berigan

As parents and educators, we are obviously very concerned with the overall health of our children. Although it has become very easy in our society to make unhealthy choices, we are increasingly becoming aware of opportunities to opt for those things that will make us stronger, more fit, and in the long run, happier.

This attention is starting to turn toward our schools. With the vast amount of time that a child spends at school each year, this is a very important front in the battle for a building a healthy lifestyle.

Many schools are addressing the issues of soda and candy vending machines in the schools. And although candy sales have long been a successful form of fundraising, some schools are now looking for ways to integrate their desire for good health into their need to raise money to support vital school functions.

Here are a few ideas of physical activities that combine exercise, fun, and the opportunity to generate lots of income.

Golf and Walk

The golf outing has long been a staple in the fundraising world, used by thousands of non-profit organizations. However, many golf outings have focused solely on the golfer. While these events are great at generating camaraderie among those who participate, the very nature of the activity is exclusionary. If you don't like to golf, you aren't going to participate, and that limits the amount of money, as well as community spirit you can drum up.

However, there is a solution. The concept of the Golf & Walk event opens up the beauty of a golf course and the fun that comes from enjoying the great outdoors to everyone who wants to support your organization.

I have worked in the past with Champion Events and was very impressed by their customer service and organizational detail. They have great experience with the Golf & Walk. Here is a snippet from their website about this creative and inclusive event:

"The Golf & Walk Event is a new event concept that combines a fundraising golf tournament with a unique "walk-a-thon" at the golf course. Walkers walk nine holes on cart paths at a beautiful golf course. They are kept separate from golfers in complete safety. Everyone finishes together at the end for an awards celebration.

All participants raise donations prior to the event. The Golf & Walk Event is planned on a 12-week timeline and mobilizes everyone in your network to raise money for you, not just those 15% of adults who can play golf. Because its foundation is "relational" fundraising in its most effective form, the Golf & Walk Event is currently producing the highest dollar results of the standard Big 3 fundraising events (banquets, auctions, traditional golf tournaments)."


One of the most popular fundraising events that promotes physical activity is the concept of the "thon".

There are so many great physical events that a school can engage in and collect pledges prior to the actual event. Of course, there is a walk-a-thon, but for a younger crowd, a trike-a-thon might be a good idea.

According to the Daily Times in Tennessee, Carpenters Elementary School in Maryville, held a walk-a-thon on May 21, 2008, and raised just under $25,000 for the day! Those are results that anyone would jump up and down about!

"Leesa Taylor, a rotating physical education and wellness coordinator for Blount County Schools, and John Dalton, the school's assistant principal, decided to have a walkathon fundraiser.

The students enjoyed the walkathon and the effort paid off. "We thought (the fundraising) was for a good-cause," Satterfield said. "It was (also) good exercise for students who wouldn't normally get much," she said.

The walkathon coincided perfectly with the school's physical fitness test and walking works program, Taylor said. The school's wellness program emphasizes making healthy choices and is about "the total mind set of changing routines, lifestyles and eating habits to stop obesity," she said."

Flamingo Flocking

Another fundraiser that can be a fun, physical activity is called a "Flamingo Fundraising".

Many groups have used Flamingo Flocking to great success.

West Middle School in Andover, MA, is currently planning their first such attempt. The Andover Townsman newspaper reports on the event, and I have included a few of the highlights from the article below.

"West Middle School parents have introduced a flock of 144 of the plastic lawn ornaments to raise money for the school. Local residents can make a donation to have the birds "migrate" to a lawn of a friend or neighbor in town. When the surprised residents wake up to find they've been "flocked," and a group of about a dozen plastic pink flamingoes now reside on their front lawn, they'll be asked to make a donation to have the birds removed. Or they can pay to send them to roost on another lawn in town.

Folks can also pay for "flocking insurance," making a donation to West Middle to ensure the pink birds will never show up on their lawn as part of the money-raising effort. A flier explaining the flocking process will be left with the flamingoes at each house.

"It's all in fun. I think people will be in good humor about it. You don't see a lot of pink flamingoes around here," said Tracy Callahan, Parent Advisory Council vice president, with a laugh. "We were looking to try something different that hadn't been done around here (for a fundraiser), and flocking is popular in other parts of the country. It just looked like a lot of fun. We're excited about it."

Between 10 and 12 flocks of flamingoes will circulate on Andover lawns until May 23, and the PAC hopes to "flock" at least 100 different yards in Andover, said Callahan."

Service Projects

Although, this is technically another "thon" type activity, I believe the nature of the event, as well as the overall results, merits its own category on this list.

The phrase "win-win" may be in danger of becoming terribly over-used, but nonetheless, a serve-a-thon as a school fundraiser is certainly an event in which everyone comes out ahead.

Not only can a serve-a-thon raise much needs funds for any school, but it also engages students in a volunteer effort to help others in need.

I have two examples, one large and one small of recent serve-a-thons which can inspire your school to act.

The first is the 15th Annual Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon. This blurb is taken from their website:

"What is the Serve-a-thon?

The Annual Serve-a-thon is the largest day of service in the city of Chicago AND the largest fundraiser for Chicago Cares. Thousands of volunteers will come together to improve our city's schools and raise donations to support the 200+ volunteer programs Chicago Cares manages each month.

Is there a cost to participate?

Yes, a $30 registration donation is required if you are not a member of a team from a Serve-a-thon sponsor company. This non-refundable donation covers the basic cost for each volunteer to participate in the event, which is not only a massive day of service but Chicago Cares' largest fundraiser. If you are interested in beginning a team from a non-profit group like a church, alumni association, AmeriCorps crew or block club, a donation waiver may be available."

The smaller version of a serve-a-thon is typified by the Sioux Falls Christian Schoolin Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This information is taken directly from their website:

"The Serve-a-thon is a fundraiser where the student body (grades 1-12) and staff serve at various locations in Sioux Falls and the surrounding area. This project gives our students and staff an opportunity to put their Christian values into action and to be a blessing to others. Funds are raised by asking friends and relatives to help support this project as a mini-missions trip to the community. The majority of the funds raised are used to help keep tuition affordable for more families desiring Christian education. Ten percent of the funds raised are donated back to a worthy community organization. Some serve projects include: making treats for firemen and policemen, raking leaves for the elderly, collecting items for The Furniture Mission, visiting with residents of nursing homes, offering to help other non-profit organizations and helping with church painting projects."

Car wash


It seems that in recent years, we parents and educators have been confronted with a growing concern for both our children's health, as well as their schools' shrinking budgets. As we work to supplement the school coffers, so that the students have all the opportunities needed for a well-rounded education, we must do this in a way that promoted a healthy lifestyle both now and into the future.


About the Author: James Berigan is a former school principal who enjoys guiding schools with their fundraising efforts. He writes for the Top School Fundraisers blog at which includes a variety of fundraising options like fundraising events and school carnivals.

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