By: Jesse McDaniel, Meredith Parker, Ann Love and Clare Doyle
For industry professionals, the world of peer-to-peer fundraising events can be highly technical. There are countless pieces of inventory to itemize, volunteer communications to deploy, client meetings to manage, as well as a million other pressing tasks. The very nature of what we do requires surgical precision, and an eye for detail tends to serve us in the long run. Despite some of these tasks being somewhat simple, many require organizational abilities that border on the Herculean. Still, even though the space we occupy is largely black and white, there’s still room for an abundance of color.
That’s where route planning comes into play. Not only is it central to the work that we do, but it is also a phenomenal blend of the methodical and the creative. Yes, there are plenty of permits and maps on the docket, as well as timelines and signage to consider, but these aside, the process itself is just as artistic as it is scientific.
Our approach to crafting participant experiences strives to make them equal parts practical, challenging, and stimulating. For endurance events in particular, the miles logged can be grueling, and the hours or days long, so we do our best to offset these demanding conditions by making sure every stride is worth the effort. Each step is carefully considered, and our staff is as thoughtful as possible when dreaming up all that a route can and should be. And even though there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing one’s vision, revisiting classic options can be a great starting point.
Route Tip #1: Connect with Participants Through Landmarks
Whether it’s the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego, Salt River Fields in Phoenix, or Piedmont Park in Atlanta, every city has its fair share of standard go-to’s. They’re built to provide tons of variety, and there are plenty of staples that both new and repeat participants might come to love as personal favorites. The same can be said for museums, bodies of water, famous attractions, interesting neighborhoods, famous colleges and universities, and historical landmarks. If you’re familiar with the streets of Boston, then there’s a chance you’ve come across highlights like Copley Square or the Harvard campus. Perhaps you’ll recognize the L Street Tavern from Good Will Hunting or you’ve seen The Lawn on D on Instagram. Whether through previous events, travel, or the entire globe accessible through your phone, the cities that we explore are yours for the taking. As unique and interesting as these locations may be, we do our best to exhaust their distinct offerings. Even so, sometimes the roads less traveled are worth the exploration.
Route Tip #2: Unleash the Charm of Hidden Gems
Staving off monotony can take any number of forms. It may mean incorporating less popular walking paths, swinging through public art installations, or utilizing spaces cherished by the non-profits with which we collaborate. And while we keep our ears to the ground for the latest and greatest, relying on everything from local experts to Google hotspots, we put an emphasis on comprehensive research. If you were a participant, what would you want to see? Maybe murals in Miami, a mountain range view in Salt Lake City, or fall colors in New Hampshire? Even in a city rich with possibilities, how does proximity factor in? The ends don’t always justify the means, and if one impressive stop on the journey means putting up with a long, boring stretch of route to get there, why not opt for several smaller, perhaps less prominent, but equally delightful stops instead? And if a beautiful hidden spot is a new surprise for your participants, they may forever associate your organization as the one who introduced them to this delightful discovery.
Route Tip #3: Balance Practicality with Stimulating Experiences
Route planning is not just about creating a visually appealing route, but also ensuring that it is practical and achievable for participants. Along with focusing on the landmarks and scenic photo ops you want to hit along the way, it’s vital to consider factors such as distance, elevation, terrain, and safety when designing your route. Your route may pass by some attractive attractions but if your participants are out of breath from too many hills or lose steam from stopping to cross too many streets, you’ll minimize your hard work and impact!
Route Tip #4: Amplify Impact Through Route Design
It takes a village to pull off an event. Between our non-profit clients, staff, volunteers, participants, and their families and friends, we are consistently amazed by and grateful for the many hands needed to make light work. But, in this host of important players, there’s one who looms over us all: the cities themselves. From population giants like Chicago to the modest but mighty Wilmington, Delaware, these locales are integral to the experiences that we build. With all their character, charm, and individual personalities, we’re constantly seeking ways to exhibit all these communities have to display. As they weave through different landscapes, our participants, in whatever organizational colors they don, serve as ambassadors for so many different worthy causes, and when spectators take note of the seas of pink or purple that rise like tides, that visibility creates waves. Our routes may shift in some ways, and stay the same in others, but at the end of the day, we know that the sidewalk symphonies we help orchestrate will be the soundtrack for change.
At the end of the day, it’s not just about designing a route; it’s about creating a unique, safe and immersive experience for your participants that will keep them engaged, motivated, and inspired. Need help designing the perfect route for your P2P fundraising event? Our team of event pros are ready to help build the route of your dreams! Contact us today for your free office hour.