The community around Glendalaugh State Park has a deep connection with and commitment to its state park. Each year, the Glendalough Park Partners hosts the “Walk for Glendalough,” a day where visitors walk, bike, or hike the many trails within the park. Many walk participants raise pledges to garner support for the many park improvements projects that are on the docket.
Since 1996, when the first walk was held, the Park Partners has raised nearly $300,000 through this annual fundraising event. Those contributions have enabled the Park Partners to support a growing list of projects within the Park.
How does a friends group sustain such an effective and fun fundraising event, year after year? By connecting with walk organizers, we can get a glimpse into what strategies go into spreading the word about an event like this, getting the community involved, and actually raising the money.
Spreading the word
Glendalough Park Partners gets the word out by providing content for news articles to be included in the local newspapers. They put up posters in Battle Lake and neighboring towns about the event. The Park Partners’s own newsletter includes save the date announcements and feature stories leading up to (and after) the event. The Park Manager works with the DNR to share the event information through other channels. Even with all of these efforts, one of the most challenging parts about the walk is getting the word out to the community.
Involving the community
According to walk organizer, Tracy Kortlever, one of the easiest parts about organizing this event is “getting people involved. That’s because there are so many that truly love Glendalough and like to be part of making it even better.” Board members and their families play an important part in fulfilling volunteer roles on the day of the event. Additionally, there are some folks in the community who have been volunteering for this event for many years.
While the walk has been a huge “friend raiser” for the park, one of its main focuses is to raise funds for upcoming park improvement projects. In order to do this, walk participants are asked to fill out pledge forms—soliciting contributions from their friends and family—and bring those pledges with them to the walk. The Park Partners mails pledge forms to their membership and makes them available at local businesses and schools. Pledges come from individuals, teams, and businesses. Additionally, an incentive for pledges above a certain dollar amount include receiving a commemorative walk t-shirt! Finally, the Park Partners make sure to communicate the accomplishments that have been achieved with past contributions and what future projects this year’s contributions will go toward.