Marketing Powerhouse

By Nonprofit Marketing ArizonaApril 22, 2016

For nonprofit organizations, raising money through targeted events is one of the most critical components in reaching yearly fundraising goals. At JDRF, we work with our community, donors and corporate partners year-round to generate funds in several different ways with one of our primary fundraising events being our JDRF One Walk (formerly known as JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes). 

The JDRF One Walk has a single goal: creating a world without type 1 diabetes (T1D). The One Walk helps JDRF continue to fund life-changing research for the millions of children, adults and families affected by T1D. T1D is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas loses the ability to produce insulin—a hormone essential to turning food into energy. It strikes both children and adults suddenly and is unrelated to diet and lifestyle. Since diet and/or exercise cannot help those with T1D, we must rely on science, medicine and technology to provide the critical life-saving therapies that those with T1D need to live an active and healthy life. 

JDRF is committed to funding T1D research until we find a cure. To assist in generating these funds, JDRF holds more than 200 walks across the country every year. The JDRF One Walk brings together more than 950,000 people who, as of 2014, have raised more than $68 million for critical T1D research. 

The success of the JDRF One Walk is only possible because of the support, commitment and strength of our community. That, coupled with detailed planning and a commitment to providing a memorable and worthwhile experience, has given JDRF a terrific asset in our fundraising tool kit. Below are the steps we take and the strategy we have in place in order to successfully execute what has become the largest T1D event in the world. 

Planning and organization 

JDRF has several chapters across the country, with the Desert Southwest (DSW) chapter serving the Phoenix area. This is the 26th year that the DSW chapter has held a walk, and what began as a few hundred people at the onset has grown to over 10,000 people in attendance. Currently the JDRF One Walk takes place at Sloan Park, the home of the Chicago Cubs spring training stadium. This location has become a tremendous value-add to our attendees, as our walkers are able to access all the amenities of the park and the kids get to run the bases in the stadium. 

Year-round planning is our highest priority. Our strategy and protocols are consistent year over year, from the recruitment of our walkers to working with each of them one-on-one to reach their personal and team fundraising goals. Even outside of “walk season” we continue to steward and retain our walkers so they stay engaged with the community and are more likely to return as walkers the following year.

In addition to walker engagement, we focus on year-round volunteer recruitment and management, corporate and family walk team recruitment/fundraising and developing and seeking out corporate sponsorship. We aim to create a donor-centric environment in which we give back to our donors as well. Some of our higher-level donors include Arizona Ford Dealers, Bashas’, Londen Companies, Salt River Project, Sloan Valve and Sonora Quest Laboratories. 

Our logistics planning is proactive, detailed and thorough, from t-shirt procurement, planning for kids’ zone entertainment, development of banners and flags, and more. We always ensure that we stick to national standards for set up and design of area. Most of all, we are hyper-focused on constituent needs and raising critical funds both in and out of season. It takes a team of full-time staff, weekly and day-of volunteers, board members, sponsors, family teams, corporate teams, individual walkers and more to make our walk successful. 

Event promotion and volunteers 

As soon as registration opens eight months prior to walk day, it’s full speed ahead. We begin regular email campaigns and constituent engagement, and also utilize outreach and third-party fundraising events to promote the walk. Some of these events include JDRF’s Type One Nation, JDRF’s mentorship program, JDRF’s Bag of Hope Program, a family team yearly chili cook-off, and JDRF’s Young Leadership Committee (YLC).We generally have between 200 and 250 volunteers at our walk. We give first right of refusal to past volunteers before reaching out to our larger volunteer constituent base. If we need to reach outside of our database, we identify volunteers using email, social media and online registration sites. We hand-pick great volunteer leads to take ownership of each volunteer segment and utilize that lead to work hand-in-hand with JDRF staff to train the other volunteers prior to the walk. 

How we stand out 

The JDRF One Walk offers a unique experience that is fun and creative. Sloan Park serves as a terrific and engaging walk route and provides kids the rare opportunity to actually run the bases at a major league park. We also incorporate other attractions and activities to engage the community at the highest level. We don’t just ask our attendees to show up and walk; we provide them with an exceptional, exclusive experience that they don’t get anywhere else, all while raising funds for a cause that is so important to so many. By working year-round and continually engaging our community, corporate partners and donors, each year is better than the last.