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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/22/2012

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


VI. Team Building

  • Set goals for the number of walkers that you hope your team will gather.
  • List the people that you would like to ask to walk on your team. Your top prospects should include:
    • Your spouse or significant other.
    • Consumers.
    • Your children.
    • Parents and grandparents.
    • Brothers and sisters, and brothers and sisters-in-laws.
    • Cousins.
    • Aunts and uncles.
    • Current coworkers.
    • Former coworkers.
    • Friends.
    • Neighbors.
    • Anyone else that you feel close to.
  • Complete or collect a walker registration form for every walker that you recruit for your team. Register your walkers online, or mail or fax their registration forms to the walkathon office so everyone is properly registered for the walk.
  • Keep your Team Roster Poster updated as you sign up your walkers, and display it in a prominent spot in your home (the refrigerator door is usually a good spot) so you and your family can see your team grow during the weeks leading up to the walk.
  • Make sure all your walkers know why their participation in the walk is important to you and the millions of other individuals and families in the United States touched by mental illness in some way. Keep them as informed as possible about the progress of the team's recruitment efforts during the months and weeks leading up to the walk.
  • Design and order team T-shirts for all the walkers on your team approximately 2 to 3 weeks before the day of the walk.
  • Write everyone a thank you letter-include pictures from the day if you can.
  • Relax and be proud of the important role you and your family and friends are playing in the fight for all those dealing with mental illness!

Walk Team Chair Targeting Worksheet

Prospect's Name: _______________________ Title:____________________
Company: ______________________________# of Local Employees:________

Reasons he/she might be "interested" and make a good walk team chair:

Possible negative factors in recruiting this person:

Prospect's Name: _______________________ Title:_______
Company: ______________________________# of Local Employees:______________

Reasons he/she might be "interested" and make a good walk team chair:

Possible negative factors in recruiting this person:

Core Team Building Strategies

Set Walker and Fundraising Goals for the Team

  • Recommended team building goal: 10-20 percent of total number of employees.
  • Your team goal should include family and friends as well as employees.

Recruit Team Captains and Walkers

  • Start by helping the company identify or appoint an overall team captain to lead the team building effort. This person will serve as the main liaison with the walk coordinator and volunteers running the program. This person often will have a personal interest in mental health.
  • Encourage (and help) this team captain to recruit assistant team captains in every department or on every floor (use the United Way model).
  • Have as many team captains as possible attend the pre-walk team captains' kickoff luncheon that will be held approximately 8 weeks prior to the walk.
  • Use a "top down approach" to teambuilding whenever possible. Draft a memo from the president or other top executive to all department heads asking them to appoint a team captain for their department or area and organize a meeting for these team captains.
  • Send a memo from president or other top executive to all employees telling them about the walk and encouraging them to join the company team.
  • Always try to make the walk personal by highlighting important facts about mental illness and its impact on society and how the cause will benefit from the company's participation in the walk.

Host Internal Team Building Meetings

  • Arrange for a 10- to 15-minute presentation on the walk at a regular management staff meeting.
  • Schedule a special presentation about the walk for as many employees as possible-always have a team captain or volunteer touched by mental illnesses speak at these presentations.
  • Meet with team captains before or after the kickoff luncheon to help them develop a team building game plan.
  • Always distribute sponsoring organization literature as part of any walkathon-related meetings you have with employees, team captains, and senior managers. Always try to sign walkers up at the conclusion of any presentation on the walk.

Provide Effective Internal Team Building Incentives

  • Offer a team T-shirt (designed and paid for by the company) to every walker.
  • Offer incentive prizes (selected and paid for by the company) for departments.
  • Hold competitions between divisions, departments, sites, or branches of the company.
  • Offer special recognition (plaques, letter of commendation in personnel file, lunch with the CEO) for top performing team captains.
  • Publish a thank you list of all the walkers in the company newsletter or in a special thank memo to employees.

Recruiting and Developing Large Teams

A Checklist for Volunteers and Staff Managing a Walk

  • Send team captain starter kits (folders with walker brochures, posters, and teambuilding and letter writing instructions) to all potential supporters unable to attend the kickoff.
  • Compile a database of team captains for your confirmed and potential teams.
  • Move people from your potential teams/team captain database to your confirmed teams/team captain database.
  • Print out a master list of your confirmed teams in alphabetical order with the primary team captains listed by every team.
  • Communicate regularly with your team captains about the walk by e-mail or regular mail.
  • Keep close track of the number of walkers that each of your teams has registered for the walk.

What Should the Team Captains Do?

  • Be the first to complete a walker registration form for their team.
  • Complete and send in a team information form for their team.
  • Put a walker registration form in the hands of as many of their co-workers, family members, and friends as possible. If a team captain is a business team captain, we recommend that they try to send a memo about the walk with a walker brochure to every employee in their company. The memo should come from the highest level senior manager who will agree to sign the memo. A family team captain should get a walker brochure into the hands of every family member, friend, and coworker.
  • Collect walker registration forms for all of the walkers that they sign up for their team and send those forms into the walkathon office.
  • Have T-shirts (preferably brightly colored) for their walkers so they stand out on the day of the walk.
  • Offer incentives (such as prize drawings) to encourage people to sign up for the walk. Business team captains may have additional financial resources to offer incentive prizes to workers.
  • Do everything possible to show their team walkers that their support is appreciated and to make the walk as much fun as possible. This might include things like having a pre-walk dinner or party, a team breakfast the morning of the walk, or a post-walk party or barbecue.
  • Communicate regularly with both the walkathon office (to get teambuilding advice, encouragement, and support) and with their team members.
  • Think about the walkers on their team after the walk and share information with them such as how many walkers participated and media coverage. This information may be sent with a card, letter, team photo taken the day of the event, or anything that clearly says to the walker that the walk was a success in helping people with mental illness.

Team members should feel appreciated, and should feel that they made a difference for others.

A walk manager's job is to help the team captains as they recruit walkers and complete as many of these tasks as possible.

Team T-Shirts Make a Team!

More than any other factor, team T-shirts help build a team prior to a walk and unite a team the day of a walk. Here are some key tips to keep in mind regarding team T-shirts:

  • They should be bright and colorful so the team wearing them STANDS OUT as much as possible on the day of the walk.
  • T-shirt designs, logos, and slogans should be as creative and unique as possible so they are a conversation piece both during and after the walk. Team T-shirts are (in effect) walking billboards for your company, organization, or family team.
  • A great way for a company team to develop creative and unique designs for its team T-shirt is to sponsor an employee T-shirt design contest.
  • Another great way is to tap the talents of the company's public relations (PR) department staff, or the family's "in-house" artist/designer.
  • Good team T-shirt designs almost always include both the company or family's name and the name (sponsoring organization's name) and logo of the walk.
  • Sponsor a best team T-shirt contest with the winner selected at the walk. Offer a prize to the winning team.
  • Team T-shirts are a very effective walker recruitment tool if publicized and promoted by the team captain prior to the walk. People love T-shirts, especially cool ones!
  • A simple T-shirt design is better than not having a team shirt at all. Get started with a team T- shirt this year, and get good at designing it next year!

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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.