Charity walks have risen in popularity in Australia in recent years, with one day charity hikes and multi-day charity challenges to suit almost anyone. Walk into Luxury has joined the ground swell with our own brand of charity challenges, which we call Hikes for a Cause.
Before planning a charity challenge for our wonderful clients we have learnt there are some key factors that will impact an event’s success. Here are our top tips if you are considering planning a charity challenge or hike
- Know your charity hike participant – there really is a charity hike event in Australia to suit anyone, but that doesn’t mean all participants want the same thing. Some want to push their limits on a very challenging event and are not concerned with sleeping in comfort (some choose not to sleep at all if on an endurance challenge like Oxfam Trailwalker). Other event participants are trying to combing a nature-based holiday with raising money for a good cause. They are using precious annual leave to participate and want to enjoy the event and sleep in good accommodation and have some time to relax off the track. Corporate groups tackling a charity challenge together also have special considerations as the participants may range from the super fit to the older office worker with little base fitness. In these cases it’s important to design a challenge that is well thought through with carefully chosen walk route, opt-out points for safety and ideally a lead-time that allows for pre-walk training. Communication with participants and the event organiser at the early planning stage is essential to ensure a smooth and enjoyable event for all involved.
- Match the track to the participants – There are a great number of walking tracks and trails in Australia ranging from easy bush walks to mountainous peaks to beach walking. With this variety there is no excuse for planning an event on a track that is fundamentally wrong for the group participating in the hike. As a charity challenge organiser it’s essential to choose a walk trail that matches the fitness level, age, background and goals of the group. Australia’s network of trails is graded in a way that makes it easy to compare them on paper, and once narrowed down, the event organiser should experience any trail it is considering first hand before designing an event on that trail.
- Design the challenge for budget and fund raising goals – If an event is a fund-raising exercise for an Australian charity it is crucial that it’s designed in a way that allows for maximum participation and fund raising. A charity challenge that is seen as too hard for most everyday Australians is not going to attract as many participants as a slightly easier (albeit still challenging) event. With this in mind, if you are planning a hard charity challenge like this, you may need to design the itinerary in a way that keeps costs down so as to maximise funds raised from each ticket sale. Less participants means you want everyone who does participate fundraising significant dollars for the cause. For easier events expected to attract high volume of walkers – such as one day or half day charity walks – the ticket price can afford to be lower as more participants mean more donations from collective ticket sales. If like Walk into Luxury you sit somewhere in the middle – we arrange multi-day challenges that are achievable for anyone of reasonable fitness but that do require a commitment to be involved due to the multi-day nature of the challenge and the number of inclusions with associated ticket cost – it’s important to balance the challenge itinerary and inclusions to ensure the ticket price and donation per ticket meets the requirements of the charity and budget of participants, while being a attractive event that is considered good value.
- Details details details – As with any event a charity walk is not something that can be thrown together without careful planning and meticulous detail. There are many elements that need to come together seamlessly for participants to have an enjoyable and rewarding challenge experience. Some elements to consider include:
- catering – how will walkers be fed on their challenge and what level of food and wine experiences are expected given the nature of the challenge and ticket price;
- accommodation – where will walkers stay, in tents or accommodation, and are there enough rooms with the required bed configurations for the group if staying in a hotel? If guests are sharing rooms, will men and women be expected to share rooms or only same gender pairings? Expectations of guests need to be understood and communication from the early planning stages pre-ticket sales is key to avoiding issues when walkers arrive;
- hiking gear – it is crucial for all participants to bring appropriate hiking boots, wet weather gear and other items such as walking poles to participate in a charity challenge safely and without injury. Communication from event organisers with all participants is key – including those booking through an agent or friend who may not pass on all details (we recommend every participant be communicated with directly regardless of how they book). A responsible event organiser will have its own gear and contingencies as a back-up, but it is always desirable for participants to come prepared with their own well-fitted and tried and tested gear. This can mean the difference between successfully completing a challenge and retiring injured and/or unhappy.
- transportation – how will walkers get to and from the track (and back to accommodation)? What exit points are going to be utilised in an emergency? What is the contingency if a bus brakes down or gets a flat tyre? These are key questions that need to be considered by the event organiser.
- guest personal details – the more you know about your guests, the better you are able to cater to their needs and keep them healthy and happy on their challenge. We recommend confirming guest dietary requirements, medical conditions, medications, age and (where appropriate) requiring participants to obtain a doctor’s clearance prior to signing up for a charity challenge. Level of experience is also useful in managing the challenge. For example there may be experienced walkers/participants who set off first followed by less experienced participants. For guided events, an appropriate number of guides would lead a group to ensure different walker speeds can be accommodated.
- Celebration – with all the planning involved in a charity challenge it is easy to forget that a challenge is a celebration of funds raised and a reminder of the important work of the charity being supported by participants. It is therefore important to consider how the achievement of walkers and the charity will be recognised during the event. Will there be an announcement of funds raised or a cheque presented on the last day of the event? Will a charity patron or special guest recognise participants efforts? Will there be a small gift or keepsake given to participants as a reminder of their experience? It is sometimes these little details that can take a charity challenge from a good experience to a great one that participants want to replicate year after year for their charity.
We could go on, there really are a lot of details to consider in planning a charity walk in Australia. Walk into Luxury loves supporting Australian charities and corporate groups in this way. Our favourite charity challenge destinations are the Cape to Cape Track in Margaret River and the Bibbulmun Track on the south coast of Western Australia near Albany. WA charity challenges are certainly growing in popularity with these landmark long distance walk trails just waiting to be discovered. Are you interested in a Cape to Cape charity challenge or South Coast event? Contact us to learn more – firstname.lastname@example.org.