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5 Steps to Host a Swim-a-thon Fundraiser

1. Assemble Your Event Team

Between the peer-to-peer campaign and the event itself, a swim-a-thon has a lot of moving parts. As you start planning, make sure to communicate clearly with your organization’s staff so everyone knows who is responsible for all of the different aspects of organizing, running, and promoting the event.

You’ll also need a number of volunteers to pull off a successful swim-a-thon. Besides ensuring you have enough volunteers to help with setup, participant check-in, time tracking, and clean-up, you should also recruit some volunteers who have lifeguard certifications and first aid experience in case of emergency.

2. Solidify the Logistics

Next, work with your event team to determine some key information for your swim-a-thon, including the:

  • Location. Most organizations host swim-a-thons at a local indoor or outdoor pool–either the pool the swim team regularly practices in or a community pool that is willing to rent out space. It’s also possible to host open water swim-a-thons, although these are usually harder to secure space for and come with more safety considerations.
  • Date and time, including a rescheduling date in case of inclement weather.
  • Supplies. Make a checklist of everything you’ll need to run the event, like tables and chairs for volunteers, snacks and water bottles for participants, and tents if you’ll be outside. As you procure each item, cross it off to stay organized.

As soon as you have basic details finalized, start promoting the event to your supporters so they can mark their calendars. You can always share additional information as it becomes available.

3. Register Participants

In most cases, it’s best to keep event registration forms short to ensure participants fill them out completely. However, for a swim-a-thon, you’ll have to add extra form fields for participants to sign a waiver and provide any relevant health information. Try breaking the form up into several sections so you don’t overwhelm supporters.

Once participants sign up, help them set up their individual fundraising page in your peer-to-peer campaign so they can start asking for donations right away!

4. Host the Swim-a-thon

The day of your swim-a-thon is when you’ll see all of your hard work pay off. During the event, focus on safety and fun!

You can engage your supporters from the beginning by having a staff member or volunteer welcome everyone and get them excited about your cause. Also, encourage participants to invite friends and family to cheer them on and tag your organization in any posts they share from the event on social media.

5. Follow up After the Event

After everyone goes home from the swim-a-thon, your organization’s work isn’t quite finished. Within a day, send a thank-you message to all of your participants, share your fundraising total, and emphasize that they made your success possible. Don’t forget to thank your volunteers for their hard work too!

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising for Swim-a-thons

You’ll probably collect most of your swim-a-thon donations via the peer-to-peer campaign you run alongside the event. As with other a-thon style events, participants in your swim-a-thon will ask friends and family to pledge donations before the event, then make contributions after the event that correspond to their loved one’s participation. Donation amounts could be based on:

  • The number of laps a participant swims (for example, $1 for each length of the pool)
  • The distance a participant swims ($1 for every 50 meters)
  • The amount of time a participant spends swimming ($5 for every 15 minutes)

Participants will collect pledges using individual fundraising pages that you create using peer-to-peer fundraising software. Include a message template on each page explaining the fundraiser, but allow each participant to add unique details about why they support your organization in their message. These personal stories help attract new donors and make your cause seem more concrete.

Additional Swim-a-thon Tips

Besides following the five basic event planning steps and setting up the peer-to-peer campaign, there are a few extra strategies you can use to take your swim-a-thon to the next level, including:

  • Fostering friendly competition by displaying a leaderboard of the top peer-to-peer fundraiser during the event and handing out awards at the end.
  • Selling merchandise branded to your organization, like t-shirts, water bottles, and swim caps, to bring in even more revenue.
  • Securing corporate sponsorships to offset some of the upfront costs that come with event planning.

While swim-a-thons should be fun, it’s best to prioritize safety. Have an emergency plan in place, and make sure you know who is in and out of the water at any given time. Once you have these details worked out, though, you can dive right into creating the best possible experience for participants!