AFSP-Wyoming seeks Out of the Darkness Community Walk organizers

02/13/2014

AFSP-Wyoming seeks Out of the Darkness Community Walk organizers

Walkers in the 2013 Cody Out of the Darkness Community Walk.

AFSP Wyoming is calling on suicide-prevention key stakeholders across the state to support AFSP's signature event, the Out of the Darkness Community Walk.

The purpose of the Out of the Darkness Community Walk is to create a brand identity for AFSP fundraising, help build a network of strong AFSP chapters across the country, and generate funds needed for suicide prevention research, education and programs for survivors of suicide.

In the fall of 2004, AFSP launched its inaugural Out of the Darkness Community Walk campaign in 25 cities nationwide. In 2005, walks were held in 48 cities with more than 8,000 participants and over $1.3 million raised. Six years later, in 2011, walks took place in 49 states, drawing more than 90,000 participants and $6.5 million. 

Today, AFSP requires each chapter to conduct at least one Out of the Darkness Walk a year. To help establish AFSP-Wyoming, the Sheridan County Suicide Prevention Coalition organized the Wyoming Out of the Darkness Walk in 2010, 2011, and 2012. 

Now AFSP-Wyoming is seeking other communities to organize Walks of their own in order to help maintain the chapter's momentum and bring in local funding for suicide prevention education and programs. Once another community signs on, the Wyoming Out of the Darkness Walk will become the Sheridan Out of the Darkness Community Walk. 

As a signature event, all Out of the Darkness Community Walk events have the same name, are held during a specific time frame, have the same general appearance, are conducted in the same way and focus on walker recruitment and fundraising.

While AFSP does not wish to stifle innovation, experience has shown there is a specific way to conduct these events to maximize their potential. AFSP helps local organizers by eliminating guesswork and having them focus on the mechanisms that will lead to success.

How does the Walk work?

All events are called “Out of the Darkness Community Walk.”

All events are held on a Saturday or Sunday in the fall during the period between specific dates in September and November, which vary each year.

The Walk route should be approximately 3-5 miles in length along a scenic route.

The event is a non-competitive walk: AFSP is not targeting runners. Experience shows that walks raise more money than run events and create a sense of community among participants.

The primary purpose of AFSP’s walk is to raise money to support the organization’s mission. While raising awareness is important, the focus of our event is on walker recruitment and promoting fundraising by walkers, the two key elements to maximizing our fundraising potential. Secondary benefits of the walk are raising awareness of suicide prevention, reducing the stigma surrounding this issue, identifying survivors in the community, identifying families who have a loved one at risk and increasing AFSP’s volunteer base.

Walkers are encouraged to set a minimum fundraising goal of $150. Walkers who raise $150 will receive a walk T-shirt. AFSP will not turn away walkers raising less than $150, but the organization will aggressively promote the $150 fundraising goal. AFSP will provide fundraising tips to the walkers to make it easy to meet and exceed that goal. Walkers who raise significantly higher amounts are eligible for incentive prizes based on the amount they raise. All walkers who participate will receive some type of incentive prize. The National Office will establish and coordinate the prize structure.

The National Office provides assistance to local walk sites including: producing a detailed, step-by-step walk manual; establishing and maintaining the Out of the Darkness Community Walk website, conference calls to provide consultation, sharing of ideas and technical assistance; and producing the walk brochure, which will be available in May; providing incentive t-shirts for walkers and volunteers; and providing signs and banners for each walk site. The national office pays the up-front costs of these items, which are then deducted from the net proceeds.

Walk funds are centralized. All monies will be deposited into a centralized bank account and the national office will pay invoices for walk expenses. 

How do I get started?

1. Notify an AFSP Wyoming Board member or a member of the Community Walk Team at AFSP’s national office (see contact info below) of your intention to have a walk event in your community.

2. Recruit a few friends, family members or co-workers to serve on a committee to help you with the event; 3-5 people are a great start toward a walk committee.

3. Identify a potential location for your walk. 

4. Based on the availability of your site and other community activities, select a date for your event.

5. Begin making of list of companies that could be potential local sponsors for your walk.

National Out of the Darkness Walks Brand Manager: Nicole Dolan, 800-363-AFSP (2377), ndolan@afsp.org