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‘Tis the season to be thankful

23 Nov



Thanksgiving is tomorrow!  Are you ready?

I usually do the hosting (so I can drink allotta wine) and cooking (ordering) for the big day and my kids like to help me prepare by hiding and “catching up on homework”. Hubby barricades himself in the home office when he is not at yoga for the Flow before the Feast, the Pre-game Flow before the Feast, or at Staples getting more ‘supplies’.

Thanksgiving is the kickoff for the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!  Yes? Yes!


Since it is the season to be grateful, I thought this would be a good opportunity to post about thanking our peeps that sponsor, donate or walk in our events..

Question: How quick should you thank your walkers after an event or receiving a donation?

ASAP I say! You should already know who your sponsors and team leaders are well before walk day.  So, you should be able to create abuncha merge thank-you letters for that group wayyy before the event.  Stuff’m and seal’m so that they can be run thru the postage machine the day after the walk.  Boom!

Now, I would never share the pre-thanks secret with my kids, because I want them to write a VERY detailed thank-you note to all their donors (read: gift-givers) within a week of receiving it.

You will also have enough time before the event to create or purchase a sentimental piece to commemorate the event sponsorship.  This can be presented to your sponsors at a thank-you-please-come-back-next-year meeting shortly after the event.  KaPow!  I like to put a nice frame around the event poster containing their logo and include a cut-out with a message.

Thanking the walkers is tricky, because you need to get the 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 names into your database so you can generate a thank-you. This will take more time, but you should thank your walkers no later than one month after the event. Really. One month. You can do it!

Since many walkathons are in the fall, this thank-you letter should arrive around the holidays.  Please do not use this thank-you as an opportunity to also stuff a year-end giving ask in the same envelope.  Not classy.  Keep the thank-you genuine and the year-end giving letter separate.

THANK YOU for reading and I hope you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving!

The 8-foot Egg Peddler

24 Mar


Sit on my lap for $8. $10 if you want a photo.


The mall squatting Easter Bunny.  A shopping symbol of Spring and all things pastel.

When I was at the mall and saw the Easter bunny rise up to take a break, I was surprised to see how tall he/she was. Almost eight feet tall!  The size of this candy-pushing hare reminded me of an ‘incident’ at one of my walks when a company sent their 8-foot inflatable mascot to pass out candy to thousands of walkers.

These visibility-stealing guerrilla marketing techniques are a big no-no and need to be shut down immediately so that they do not steal visibility and messaging.

Your sponsors pay a lot of money for the opportunity to be a partner with your organization and be seen as a leader in the community on the issue. Part of the package is having visibility at your event on signage and possibility a piece of real estate, like a table or a tent.  It’s not fair when someone gets the visibility for free.

So, how do you shut down an 8-foot confection-distributing-visibility-suck at your walkathon?  Make a scene and tell them to leave?  Take a lighter to the costume and see if it meets any fire-retardant guidelines? Nope. You don’t want to be forever known as “that girl” who booted the beloved gigantic peddler of sweet meat.

Instead, we approached the enormous inflatable with a puncture tool (just kidding) and suggested that they move along the walk route, sharing their tooth-rot nuggets along the way.  Fantastic!  Our sponsors were happy to get them off the main event oval where thousands were congregating – and the 8-foot monstrosity left the area surrounded by the same 20 people as they happily walked the route together.  Ta Da!

I wonder if the same amount of kids freak out sitting on the Easter Bunny’s lap that lose it sitting on Santa’s lap.

Perhaps the kids know that there are chocolate eggs in it for them instead of a stale candy cane.

Hoppy Easter!



My Easter addiction

My Easter addiction


The forgotten charities of Boston 2024

5 Jun




I get annoyed when charities waste money.

A recent article in the Boston Business Journal describes a study from a Charitable Foundation with over $1B in assets that commissioned a report on the economic impact of the Olympics coming to Boston.  The report was favorable – however – they forgot to mention the part about how it may affect local charities. Is this really happening? A large Boston foundation that supports local charities paid for a report that did not include information about how the Olympics would potentially impact the corporate giving of Boston companies. Jaw drop.

According to the article “The omission is noteworthy because of evidence that prior Olympics badly hurt local charities in other host cities..”

So there it is.  Hosting the Olympics would be good for the economy but bad for the local charities.

 I wrote about this is January and here it is again, regarding the possibility of the Olympics coming to Boston in 2024.

I love watching the Olympics.

I get the tingles when I hear the big drum beat when the Olympic rings appear on the screen.

Boom boom ba boom boom…..

If you haven’t heard, Boston is the USAs submission for consideration of the 2024 summer games. Officially known as the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad. We will find out in 2017 which city is chosen to host.

Much has been written these past weeks since Boston has been chosen for the short list. According to CBSnewsBoston joins Rome as the only other city that has officially decided to bid. Germany will submit either Hamburg or Berlin, with France and Hungary among those also considering bids. Some Bostonians feel that there should a referendum put up for a vote to gauge the support of those residents that may be affected.

The hope is that no public funds will be needed or used to help pay for the Boston Olympics.  Things that make you go Hmmmmmm. A CNBC article  says that the Olympic organizing committee hopes to produce this event for ONLY $5 Billion! What a bahgain!

So how will they pay for this?

If you have read my previous blog posts about the Sochi and London Olympics, then you have seen that millions (billions?) of corporate dollars are needed to produce these events.  Sponsorships. Corporate Sponsorships will help pay for the games.

This is where the WalkathonMaven is concerned.  Having a blog allows me to have an opinion on many things. Since this potential event is close to home (I live 20 miles from Boston) there will be many-an-opine coming from moi.  Buckle up. As you may know, I am an event junkie. I love attending, volunteering and sometimes producing an event.  If the 2024 Olympics do come to Boston, then I will be out there volunteering with my other AARP-brethren pointing to where the toilets are.  I may even brush-up on the French I forgot from high school. I may even challenge myself to learn “the toilets are this way” in several languages!  WooHoo!  I will live in my SUV near Carson Beach while I rent out my home for meeeeeeellions of dollars.

Local non-profits rely on the corporate dollar and mostly the corporate sponsorship dollar to produce their walkathons in and around Boston.  The corporate sponsorship dollars help defray the costs of producing an event.  Corporate sponsorship dollars are needed to pay for sexy things like tents, toilets, chairs, printing, police, postage etc… This allows more of the walker donations to go toward the mission of the non-profit organization. With me?

There are many worthy causes competing for the corporate donation dollar. When the Boston Marathon bombings occurred and the One Fund Boston was established to help those affected, many corporate donation dollars were directed toward this.  Great cause, yes – but these same corporations have a limited donation bucket capacity and had to reduce the support they usually gave to the other organization that rely on their sponsorships.  Many walkathons in Boston had reduced support from local corporations since they were supporting the One Fund instead. Still with me?

My main concern regarding the Olympics coming to Boston is that many of the corporate donations that local walkathons rely on will be directed instead to Boston2024.  While many of the local walkathons have sponsorship levels at $5K, $10K, $25K or $50 thousand, these same corporations will instead be asked for $5M, $10M, $25M and $50 MILLION to sponsor the Olympics.

I really HOPE that Boston gets the Olympics and I really HOPE that the corporations will minimally level-fund their walkathon sponsorships.  This way the for-profit and non-profits in and around Boston can happily share the world spotlight on our great city!  For more information about the Boston bid for the 2024 Olympic, please check out their website here.



Super Bowl XLIX

31 Jan




Super Bowl XLIX (or 49 for the roman-numeral-challenged) is tomorrow!  My beloved Patriots are playing the defending champs (name omitted on purpose) for the title of Best NFL Team. Being an event junkie, I needed to read about the logistics involved in hosting such a HUGE event.  I found the Host committee website to peruse the volunteer opportunities, sponsors and the like.

Apparently, Super Bowl Central in downtown Phoenix is sponsored by Verizon. The VSBC Verizon Super Bowl Central (VSBC) will take over and transform Downtown Phoenix into the epicenter of Super Bowl activities with 1 million visitors expected to attend.  I think that the Host Committee did a great job on the website making the event idiot-proof with regards to transportation and other FAQs.  They even have a tab that lists contact information for ALL of the vendors that have provided services to their event.  If you have room to spare on your walkathon website, it would be nice to include ALL the vendors that provide services for your event.  Perhaps the mention on your site will encourage a greater discount or outright donation of services for your next walk.   FYI – the name of the potty company is called “A” Company Portable Restrooms.  Your welcome.



Many news sites have done non-football-related comparisons between New England and the other team.  My favorite is the one from titled: Super (Generosity) Bowl: Which Team Has the Edge?  The article compared things like:

Which city is more generous?  (Answer: the other team. Their giving ratio is 3.09% vs. our 2.54% of income. )

Which teams foundation gives more?  (Answer: Patriots with $3.12 million in grants. BTW, only the Cowboys give more)

Which team owner is more generous? (Answer: The other team.  The owner, Paul Allen,  is the co-founder of Microsoft.  ‘Nuff said.)

Charitable standouts on the roster. (Answer: toss up)

Looking forward to seeing the commercials, especially the Budweiser Clydesdales search for ‘Lost Dog’!  Let’s go Patriots!!!





FIFA fever

8 Jul




The World Cup futball games are now in the semi-final stage, with 4 teams (nations) left to play.  Fédération Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”) says it is the largest single sports event and most-watched competition on earth.  Brazil is the host country, and one of the final four teams to play.  I happen to live in a town that has a large Brazilian population, and we have plenty of traffic jams downtown before and after each game with cars proudly displaying the Brazilian flag.

I have watched a few games, and like how the sideboards rotate the sponsor names in sporadic intervals. It made me wonder who the sponsors are, and how much they have to pay for the privilege.  I found some good info on the “official documents” page on the website.  

I had no idea that there was an official mascot


And an official slogan

fifa slogan


An official look element. Say what?



An official poster with logos



Here are the companies that are allowed to use the above “Official Marks” for promotion:


According to their website, here is the breakdown of the sponsor levels:

FIFA Partners – pay between $25M and $50M for the privilege.

FIFA Partners are altogether 6 entities to which FIFA has granted or

will grant the most comprehensive package of global advertising,

promotional and marketing rights in relation to FIFA, all FIFA

activities and all FIFA competitions, including the 2014 FIFA World



FIFA World Cup Sponsors – pay between $10M to $25M each.

FIFA World Cup Sponsors are a maximum of 8 companies to which

FIFA has granted or will grant the second-most comprehensive

package of global advertising, promotional and marketing rights in

relation to the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ (and the FIFA Confederations

Cup Brazil 2013).


National Supporters – combined $170M to promote only in Brazil

National Supporters are a maximum of 6 companies to which FIFA

has granted or will grant a package of advertising, promotional and

marketing rights in relation to the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ (and the

FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013) for the territory of Brazil.


When I see that there is a price range for sponsorship, and everyone gets the same – it makes me nervous for the sponsor-sales peeps.  What if a company comes back at them with information that one company paid less than them?  I would always protect the integrity of my event by making sure that everyone pays the same.  No side deals. It helped me sleep at night knowing I was not going to have any uncomfortable confrontations.

These FIFA-folks are serious about their brand protection, and have a complete section on their website talking about intellectual property and enforcement.  I guess there really is such a thing as the Logo Police!  FIFA is serious about protecting the rights of their sponsors, and have a three-prong brand-protection plan: Communication, Surveillance and Enforcement. How do YOU protect YOUR event brand?


I found this under the Enforcement section, wondering if there is a FIFA-Hit-Squad for those street-corner-vendors selling unauthorized merchandise:

FIFA’s approach to brand protection focuses on education and guidance, rather than enforcement by means of legal threats and sanctions. FIFA prefers direct personal contact to bring infringing situations to an end by speaking to the business in question, explaining why the specific situation is problematic and seeking cooperation in solving the issue.

In more serious cases, where there is a clear intention to take a free ride on the goodwill vested in the event and the public excitement surrounding it, FIFA may need to engage in court proceedings to halt an infringing situation and to claim financial compensation for the damages suffered. However, FIFA will not resort to such legal action without an in-depth analysis of the intention, scale and commercial impact of the matter at hand.

Perhaps your walkathon should incorporate some of these tactics when your teams make their own shirts using your trademarked event logo. They should be supporting your cause by buying YOUR event shirt.

I wonder if the Logo Police will come after me for using these “official Marks” on my blog.  I’ll be waiting with the official Brazilian drink, a  Caipirinha, in-hand.   Good luck to my Brazilian neighbors today!



Sochi2014 needs their Sponsors!

10 Feb



The Winter Olympics in Sochi is quite the money and marketing machine!  There is the official social media branding of #Sochi2014 and the oodles of Sponsors, oops, Partners to support what is being called the “most expensive” Olympics ever.  Isn’t every Olympics the most expensive ever?   The Washington Post put the number at $50 Billion.  Since every large event needs sponsors to help pay for things, I visited the official Sochi2014 website to take a lookie at the official sponsors.  I found that the sponsors are called Partners, and the levels are surprisingly NOT Gold, Silver and Bronze.

The WORLD sponsors

The WORLD sponsors


The above WORLD sponsors ran into a PR nightmare when social media took aim at them for being associated with a WORLD event that promoted itself as anti-gay.  Tsk tsk.


The NATIONAL sponsors

The NATIONAL sponsors


There is another level called just “Partners” and another called “Suppliers.”  I cannot figure out which one, if any, supplies the potties.   This article on CNNmoney says that the Sponsors, er, Partners contribute more that $100 million for the right to put the five rings on their marketing materials.  Once the initial monies are paid for the naming rights, then the real money is spent on the marketing machine and the packaging, printing and production of the Olympic-themed materials. The article also says  “ for every $1 paid in sponsorship fees, companies must spend an additional $3 to $4 on things like new product launches or advertising campaigns.”

OK, we covered the actual Sochi2014 Partners.  The next grouping is the Team USA layer of Sponsors.  There are a few levels here too, and they are Worldwide, Domestic, Broadcast and Suppliers.  I counted another 23 companies that are considered licensees.

Now, we need to include the Sponsors for the individual athletes.  According to an article in the Boston Globe: “athletes have to pay for coaches, housing, food, and other expenses. For athletes who compete in nonpaying events such as the Olympics, sponsorship is a form of survival.”  Figure Skater Gracie Gold lists her sponsors as Visa, Nike, Pandora, a jewelry maker, Proctor & Gamble, Smucker’s, CoverGirl, Toyota Sports Center, and United Airlines.  She is also supported by mattress maker Airweave and Edea, which makes skates.  Whoa!

Perhaps the Walkathon Maven should search for appropriate Sponsors, Partners and Licensees to support the good work of this blog.  Please contact me for opportunities (or product donations!)  if you are affiliated with any of the following brands:


club medminieggs


Running on pink fumes

29 Oct




Pinktober is coming to an end, but the pink marketing machines are still rolling.

In my Sunday paper, I noticed that Proctor and Gamble included their multi-page pink coupon insert. It appears that P&G partnered with the National Breast Cancer Foundation.


I visited the P&G and NBCF websites, and found no information about any monetary donations.  This smells like a pink promotion opportunity. One of the items is a pink Swiffer sweeper.  Walmart is probably the largest customer of P&G products, and they have store displays of the pink Swiffer accompanied with a Walmart employee that is a breast cancer survivor.  On these displays is the website Cleaning for a Reason.    According to their website “Breast Cancer Awareness Month creates a natural opportunity for Cleaning for a Reason to raise awareness of their mission to ease the burden of household chores for women.”

Allotta money was spent on the production of these coupon inserts and store displays.  I’m sad to see that there is no monetary donation included in this. Especially since this pink promotion involves Walmart and P&G – two gigantic companies.


Yoplait yogurt is once again running their lid promotion to benefit Komen.   Apparently, you can save your lids to save lives. Who knew? Peel-off your spoogy-yogurt-covered lid and place it into an envelope for mailing.  Some poor intern has to open these envelopes and count these lids.  While I doubt this actually happens, I hope that this poor intern is wearing rubber gloves.

According to their website: General Mills will donate 10 cents to Susan G. Komen® for each lid received (and also for each code entered from select Yoplait products) by 6/30/14. Maximum total donation of up to $1,500,000


The NPQ had a good article titled The Economics of Pinkwashing at the NFL: Straw on the Camel’s Back?    This was an enlightening read about how much money is actually given to the American Cancer Society from all of the pink NFL merchandise.  “for every $100 spent on the pink stuff sold through the NFL’s breast cancer initiative, the American Cancer Society only receives $11.25″   Boooooo. Shame.

I visited the Charity Navigator website.  There are 27 organizations that are registered with Breast Cancer in their name or mission.  Of these 27, Eleven are ranked highest at 4 star and four are ranked as a zero star.  Too many organization are using pink to raise money.  It is my pleasure to call them out.

Here is what a breast cancer survivor thinks about pinkwashing.

BTW – November is Diabetes Awareness month.  I wonder what color is associated with that?





$uper $ponsors

5 Feb


super bowl!


Oh what a night!  The Super Bowl had many memorable moments.  I was amused to see that every aspect of the Big Game was ‘brought to you by” or “sponsored by” or “presented by” a company paying millions for the privilege.

What’s the diff?  What does it mean to be “a sponsor of the Super Bowl”?

There is allotta money to be made that day, and allotta layers of sponsorship to accomodate all the companies that want to open their wallets.

I found a bunch of good stuff on the official NOLA Superbowl website page on sponsorships.  They had 37 corporate sponsors raise $6 million (The Louisiana government kicked in another $6M+) to help pay for all the hosting responsibilites.

In addition to the 37 Host Committee Sponsorships, the CBS Network sold several broadcast-related sponsorships (The Half-time report brought to you by…). Here are some other sponsorships that the Host Committee sold:

Volunteer Program Title Sponsorship   FYI: The Super Bowl needed 8,500 volunteers for the ramp-up. Under the FAQ page it was noted that volunteers should not bother to come to the Mercedes Benz Superdome on game day.  Did they really think they would be attending the game?  Volunteers were given a commemorative shirt and hat.

Environmental Title Sponsorship .  This lucky sponsor gets to figure out how to manage all of the trash and recycling efforts.  I wonder if they really had to pay to have their company logo on all the trash receptacles.

Host Committee Sponsorship  Cash only.

They did not list the prices, but it appears that if the sponsors wanted tickets to the game, then the package would be customized. (Read:  Alot more money).

The 2014 Super Bowl Host committee already have their sponsors  lined up for the Meadowlands.

How about that blackout?  What happens if you lose power at your event? So many logitical questions were mowing thru my mind while watching.  I also want to know how all those kids wearing credentials got on the field and who they belong to.  Good genes.

I doubt that Beyonce and her fabulousness will be invited back.  Unless, of course, they bring their own power supply.

Sasha Fierce shut it down!

Sasha Fierce shut it down!

Are political candidates welcome at your walk?

30 Oct


We are a week away from election day, and soon the TV commercials will revert back to erectile dysfunction and pharmaceutical malpractice victim recruitment.

Many walkathons occurred during the fall, which is in the thick of political season. Especially this year, since a presidential election is part of the mix.

What do you do when a campaign wants to display signs at your event, usually held in a public space?

Hopefully, you have a good relationship with your team captains and walkers, and will hear some noise about this possibly happening well before your event.

It is important that all non-profits, especially if you rely heavily on individual donations, to stay apolitical.

You may jeopardize your 501c3 status if you become political, or publicly take sides with a candidate. Even worse is if you endorse a candidate.

Read about the horror show when a presidential candidiate visited a soup kitchen.

So what to do if a candidate wants to bring walkers carrying signs to your event?

What a fantastic guerilla marketing opportunity!  Hold signs so your 500, 5,000 or 50,000 walkers will see!

First, I let them know that they are welcome to come to the event.  (Say what?!)

Second, I let them know that carrying signs may take the focus off the patients and survivors who are the real celebrities of the event and ‘good luck’ to anyone that tries to steal the spot light away from them.

Third, I let them know that they should walk as a team with the candidate name on the back of the event shirt (if they order more that 24!).

Lastly, I reinforce that bringing signs to the event will not only anger the patients and survivors, but may also anger the sponsors who pay a significant amount of money for the visibility they are stealing.

It happened to me with a Senate race several years ago, and I had to have the above conversation with a campaign staffer that wanted to line the park with signs and supporters.   Thankfully, they decided that pissing-off 50,000 people and several sponsors was not a good idea.

I really dislike those political commercials.  I’m ready for them to be over so I can see if the loving couple in the canoe resolve their ED issues.


Please vote on November 6!


Tchotchkes = trouble

4 Sep



tchatchke (chäch-kə) or tchotchke

Definition from Merriam-Webster:

A Knick-knack or trinket

(Origin) Yiddish tshatshke trinket, from obsolete Polish czaczko

Definition from the Urban Dictionary:

A small piece of worthless crap, a decorative knick knack with little or no purpose.


Why do humans lose all sense of dignity and manners when there is a table full of samples or gratis merchandise?

What is it about a 2-inch magnet, a comb, a sticker, a lip moisturizer or any other mindless tchotchkes that make people lose their shit?

Watching the latest Shark Week extravaganza with my kids made me think about how giveaways at events are like a shark feed.

That is why I am not a fan of allowing my sponsors, or my event, to give unrelated event stuff away. 

Why?  Because you will NEVER, EVER have enough.   If you have a walk with 500 people, and have 5,000 shameless-self-promoting pieces of whatever (tchotchkes) – you will never have enough.  Imagine a walkathon with 40,000 people…

It must be part of human nature to grab, handfuls at a time, for anything considered free.   Oh – you want to distribute it? One per customer?  Good luck with that.  Make sure it is an intern and that they have health insurance.

Here are three (of many!) reasons that free stuff is a logistical nightmare at walkathon events:

1.   If it is wrapped, then the wrapping becomes a trash issue for you.

2.  How do you handle the crowd when you run out?

3.  How do you determine who gets one?

If it is a free-for-all, then back that thang up.  Here they come!

Stop the madness before it begins!   Once you open the big, ugly precedent door it will be hard to close it.