How to Host an Impactful Campaign Kickoff Event


Your important first action for your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign is to host a kickoff event.


Choose a convenient location, whether it is your nonprofit’s office space, a public meeting space like a park or a restaurant, or a local happy hour spot – think about what is easier for your fundraisers to get to. The key here is to bring your enthusiasm and to get your fundraisers excited about the next steps and the beginning of their fundraising and training journey.

Invite your fundraisers to bring friends! Continue your recruitment efforts at your campaign kickoff event as you activate more of your fundraisers’ network.


Create an experience that drives to your goals, one that reinforces commitment to your cause, motivates your runners, generates enthusiasm, encourages repeat constituents, and builds your brand.

Research has shown that millennials especially like it when nonprofits share stories of people they have impacted positively with their mission. Your campaign kickoff is where you can begin to create a powerful, impactful experience.

Provide training tips or a handout on how to train for the 5K, half marathon, or marathon. Is it 16 weeks until the event? Provide a 16 week training plan showing how to ramp up their long runs and other concrete training tips.

Explain the logistics of the race day (and packet pickup), as well as how to set up a fundraising page. Suggest key recommendations for their fundraising page such as uploading a profile photo and customizing their personal story, because research shows that leads to more donations.

Set milestones or incentives for your fundraisers. It is important to announce these incentives at your campaign kickoff, and provide a reward at that time. It has been shown that a reward at the beginning will help people follow through with their commitment.


My colleague Pam and her friend Cindy went to a charity event kickoff event she felt was very well-organized. When Pam and Cindy arrived in the morning they were welcomed with lemonade, water, and snacks. While sipping lemonade the supporters heard from inspirational speakers who provided brief testimonials about the work of the nonprofit – or the experience of training for a half-marathon. The speakers were of different ages and different fitness levels; everyone in the room could see themselves in at least one of the speakers. The entire group then ran the 1st mile of training together.

After the run the supporters all met with their teams.

On their way home Pam and Cindy were excited. They met new people from their team, they were more informed and enthusiastic about the cause and they had already begun their training.

It may seem simple, but let’s think about what was achieved at this kickoff event:

Pam and Cindy went from people who were thinking about running and fundraising to people who had publicly committed to doing so. They met their team who now expected them to show up to the next run. The power of commitment, identification and social engagement has moved them forward as great ambassadors and fundraisers.

Is success possible without hosting such a event?

Yes, some charities have great success without a formal kick-off. These charities generate excitement and commitment through great communication. If you can’t host an in-person event, substitute a dedicated email to your fundraisers. Craft a clear and concise message with a call to action to create their fundraising page. Provide detailed instructions on how to do so.

With every email ask yourself – have we made the next step clear?


Your campaign kickoff event (whether actual or virtual) is your opportunity to meet and introduce yourself to your new fundraisers. Above all, make your fundraisers feel welcome, and show your enthusiasm and belief in what they will accomplish. Express how vital they are to positively impacting your nonprofit’s mission, and overtly show your appreciation!

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