Thanksgiving is about gratitude and giving back. It's the time of the year for your organization to build a community by organizing an outdoor “turkey trot” (don’t worry, outdoor peer-to-peer events aren’t only for spring and summer season!). A Turkey Trot fundraiser, either a run or walk, is a popular Thanksgiving-themed fundraiser. If your organization plans a turkey trot fundraiser, you're in full-scale planning mode as the weather cools off. However, organizing a successful event takes more than lining up vendors, obtaining permits, and creating promotional materials.
No one wants their fundraising events to feel repetitive and predictable, leaving participants and donors less motivated to get involved. Fortunately, with a bit of imagination and thinking outside the box, it’s fun and easy to turn your Turkey Trot into a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Take a look at these 10 cool ideas to make your Turkey Trot unforgettable – from fun costumes to awesome entertainment and delicious food, these ideas will bring people together and help you smash your fundraising goals.
What is a Turkey Trot Fundraiser?
A Turkey Trot fundraiser is a charity run or walk event that takes place around Thanksgiving. Whether it’s a 5K fundraiser, 10K, or half or full marathon, a Turkey Trot is a fun way for communities to come together, get some exercise, and raise funds for a good cause. It's a win-win situation: participants burn off a few calories before (or after) indulging in a Thanksgiving feast, all while raising funds for a meaningful purpose.
Combining fitness, charitable giving, and a fun holiday atmosphere, Turkey Trots have become a beloved Thanksgiving tradition and a staple of community engagement. Best of all, Turkey Trot fundraisers are usually inclusive for all ages and fitness level! And while many participants know and love the traditional format of a Turkey Trot, there’s still ample room for creativity and uniqueness that will set your event apart from the rest.
How to Spice Up Your Turkey Trot Fundraiser: 10 Fun Ideas
Want to take your Turkey Trot to the next level and make it the highlight of the fundraising season? By incorporating these 10 unique ideas, you can engage participants and raise more funds for your cause.
1. Up the Laughter with a Creative Costume Contest
Make your Turkey Trot memorable by hosting a costume contest. Encourage participants to dress up in their wackiest, most creative costumes. Think turkey hats, pilgrim outfits, or a full-fledged turkey costume for the boldest participants. Or you could opt for superheroes, historical eras, or another creative, non-Thanksgiving theme if you’re feeling bold. Offer prizes for the best costumes to spark some friendly competition and create memorable photo opportunities. (If someone dresses up like a pumpkin pie or a bowl of stuffing, they automatically get an honorable mention – if only because a jogging pie will make everyone double over in laughter!)
2. Raise the Bar with a Thanksgiving-Themed Obstacle Course
Add another physical feat to the traditional Turkey Trot walk or run by setting up a Thanksgiving-themed obstacle course. Participants can navigate obstacles like corn mazes, haystack climbs, pumpkin hurdles, or a festive inflatable. Ensure the course is family-friendly and safe for all ages. It’s a surefire way to get kids energized alongside many young-at-heart adults.
3. Incorporate Family-Friendly Activities
Make your Turkey Trot a family affair by including activities for all ages. Set up a kids' zone with games like “bobbing for apples,” (apple cider) donuts-on-a-string competition, pumpkin launching, and Pin the Tail on the Turkey. Set up stations for face painting, pumpkin and gourd decorating, and a mini Turkey Trot course for the little ones. This will ensure families feel welcomed and encouraged to participate together.
4. Gobble-gobble with Food and Beverage Stations
Adding food and beverage stations and offering fall-themed foods can create a festive atmosphere and entice attendees to indulge in tasty treats. Consider setting up stations with apple pie, chili, and Thanksgiving-themed food. Serve warm apple pie slices with ice cream or caramel sauce. Warm apple cider, kettle corn, and apple cider donuts. Offer different types of chili with toppings like cheese, sour cream, and jalapenos. Showcase dishes like turkey sliders, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin soup. These stations will satisfy hunger and bring seasonal delight to your fundraiser.
5. Groove to Live Entertainment and Music
Elevate the atmosphere by bringing in live entertainment and music. Local bands, DJs, or even a turkey dance-off add a festive vibe to your event. Don't forget to rope off a flat surface as a dance floor where participants can groove to the tunes and celebrate their successful Turkey Trot.
6. Set Up an Interactive Photo Booth
Capture the spirit of your Turkey Trot with an interactive photo booth. Design a Thanksgiving-themed backdrop and provide props like turkey hats, feather boas, and funny signs. Participants can snap photos to commemorate the day and share them on social media with a fun hashtag to spread the word about your fundraiser.
7. Include an Auction with Enticing Items
Boost excitement and fundraising potential by organizing a silent auction with enticing items. Reach out to local businesses for donations and build excitement for the auction items before (through your social media channels) and during the event. Announce the winners during post-Turkey Trot festivities, adding an extra element of anticipation to the day. (With the right fundraising software platform, closeout for your main event AND the auction is a breeze!)
8. Add a Virtual Participation Option
A virtual participation option is an excellent idea because people from anywhere worldwide can join and support your cause. To make it fun, create virtual leaderboards for participants to track progress and compete. You can also have virtual costume contests where people dress up in Thanksgiving-themed outfits and share pictures online. During the event, you can even have live-streaming sessions for participants to interact. Giving digital badges or certificates for completing the virtual run adds a sense of accomplishment. These creative additions make the virtual option more appealing and engaging for everyone on and off the main course.
9. Activate Extra Friendly Competition
Adding friendly competition can make your Turkey Trot fundraiser extra exciting and engage participants even more. Activities like baking contests, chili contests (Best Chili), pie-eating contests, or apple cider donut eating contests create a fun atmosphere that encourages people to get involved. These competitions also provide an opportunity to raise more funds. Participants can pay to compete, and the money goes towards the fundraising goal. It's a lighthearted and enjoyable way to bring people together and make the Turkey Trot fundraiser a memorable experience for everyone.
10. Keep the Giving Spirit Going with a Food Drive
Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude and giving. Encourage participants to bring non-perishable food items for a food drive. Set up collection points at the event and donate the collected food to a local food bank or shelter. Helping those in need is what it’s all about during the holiday season.
Make a Memorable Turkey Trot Fundraiser with FrontStream
A Turkey Trot fundraiser can easily include so much more than just a run or walk event. By incorporating creative ideas, you will transform yours into a memorable and enjoyable experience that attracts more participants and donors eager to have fun and make memories while supporting your cause. To execute these fantastic ideas and make your Turkey Trot fundraiser a smashing success, check out FrontStream’s all-in-one fundraising and donor management solution.
Our technology and services are built to streamline event planning, enhance participant and donor engagement, and optimize fundraising efforts. Get in touch and request a demo to learn how our solutions can help make your Turkey Trot an event to remember.