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!


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