Your local aphasia group wants to set up a charity walk for Aphasia Awareness Month in June. Great! Before you lace up your walking shoes, here are some things you need to know to set up your event.

These suggestions are a starting point, and we encourage you to become familiar with the laws in your local area. Planning a walk, securing a permit, and getting insurance is a big endeavour and this article is to get you on your way but certainly isn’t the end point. We’ve broken down this overview of setting up a walk into two parts. The second part will address advertising, sponsors, and all the items you’ll need to make your walk great.

starting line
Image: Tableatny via Flickr via Creative Commons license

Choose a Route

First and foremost, decide where you want to hold your event. The walk route needs to take a few things into consideration. You want the starting and stopping point to be clear. You want ample transportation to the site or parking in the area. And you need the route to be do-able — no one wants to walk straight up a hill for an hour!

Some groups choose to use a local building such as an office park or religious center (especially one that is not in use during the time of the walk) and do multiple laps around the building or parking lot. This not only keeps the event contained and safe, but it usually provides an easy walking surface, too. Additionally, check with local high schools to see if they’ll make their track available to you for the event.

Regardless of where you hold your event, you will need to get permission from the land owner and apply for proper permits. Your local government should have information about obtaining a special events permit (Google “special events permit” and your county government). While you’re speaking with your local government, make sure you ask if there are any other steps you need to take such as securing security. Make sure you have permission in place before you proceed to the next step.

Keep it Legal

You not only need a permit, you also need liability insurance. If your organization already has insurance, contact your agent and make sure that the insurance covers the walk, too. You’ll want to make sure the insurance covers both medical crises and property damage.

If you don’t have insurance, you can obtain insurance to cover the walk or run. Google “liability insurance and charity walk” to see a list of insurance companies that cover charity walks.

Start Communicating

Now that you have your permit and insurance, it’s time to tell the rest of the world about your walk. You can set up a free site through or You’ll add news about the event to this site, but initially use this site as a landing page since you’ll want a way to grab information from supporters for three different reasons:

  • Newsletter Sign Up: Set up an account with Mailchimp and gather email addresses through the site. You’ll use this newsletter for general communication for the walk.
  • Registration Form: Set up a form in Google Docs so people can sign up for the walk. This will not be your legal registration form — that will require a waiver and signature. This form is just meant to gather email addresses so you can send more information directly to race participants. You can skip this step if you don’t need an initial head count and send out the registration form via the general newsletter.
  • Volunteer Form: Set up a form in Google Docs so people can sign up to volunteer. You’ll want to keep these names and email addresses separate from the walk participants since they’ll be helping you get ready and run the event.

This is the perfect time to start thinking about your schedule for the day. Not only will it help you get your to-do list in order, but it will give you a sense of how many volunteers you need. Additionally, start creating a registration form. If your event is a fundraiser, you can have participants pay an entry fee or raise funds through pledges. You’ll want the form to include a waiver that goes with your liability insurance. A lawyer should help you draft the registration form, and a paper copy of this form should be collected from all participants. It can either sent directly or downloaded from a website in PDF form.

Lastly, think about how often you want to communicate with your walkers or volunteers. Set up a schedule for posting news, sending information, and getting your walkers excited for the big day.

The second half of this article will run on Thursday. Get ready to think through marketing, sponsors, and items — big or small — for the event. We’ll also give you off-the-beaten track ideas for your charity walk.

Image: Tableatny via Flickr via Creative Commons license