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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)


IV. Volunteer Information Meeting

What is the Purpose of the Meeting?

  • To recruit a core group of volunteers who will support the walk by organizing a team for it. These volunteers will form the foundation for the success of your walk. Therefore, in many respects this meeting is one of the most important activities that you will have prior to the walk.
  • While the meeting is really a volunteer recruitment meeting, you should market it as an informational meeting so as not to scare people away from attending.

How to Plan for the Meeting

  • Target and recruit a walk team chair who is going to lead by example through teambuilding efforts-be sure to use the team chair position description when recruiting.
  • It is recommended that this 90-minute meeting be held in the early evening from either 6:30-8:00 p.m. or 7:00-8:30 p.m.
  • Provide complimentary light refreshments as an incentive for people to attend the meeting.
  • Compile a mailing list of approximately 100 to 300 people that you feel are your best supporters or the most likely to support a walk for mental health awareness. This list should include:
    • Your core volunteers (people that have a history of supporting your activities and events or similar types of events).
    • Small service groups in the community that are your natural partners.
    • Physicians, service providers, and others who have a vested interest in supporting this cause.
    • Consumers, consumer organizations, and family groups you think it appropriate to invite.
    • Anyone else that you think might get involved or just want to be made aware of the plans for the walk.
  • Send out a letter of invitation approximately 3-3.5 weeks prior to the date of the meeting. The letter should be sent from the walk team chair.
  • Make as many followup calls as possible to the people on the invitation list.

Sample—Volunteer Meeting Agenda


Key volunteers and staff arrive and make sure room is properly set-up and audio visual equipment is working.


Guests arrive, mingle, and have some light refreshments.


Top local leader welcomes everyone and briefly discusses purpose of meeting and general plans for walk before introducing walk team chair.


Walk team chair discusses his/her reasons for supporting this walk and taking a leadership role.


Key volunteer leader is introduced to talk about the walk program, including:

  1. How other non-profit voluntary organizations use walkathons to successfully raise large amounts of money and increase public awareness of their missions.
  2. How walks work in general and how this walk will work specifically.
  3. Sponsorship and general information on the walk.


Key volunteer leader and walk team chair join in answering questions and offering their comments on plans for the walk.


Key volunteer leader and walk team chair end meeting by thanking everyone and asking them to complete and turn in a volunteer interest form (that will be in the general information folder) before leaving.


Key volunteer leader, walk team chair, and other volunteer leaders are available to answer any specific questions guests might have about your organization and the walk program.

Sample—Thank You Letter, Initial Walk Meeting

<<Put on walkathon letterhead>>

<<Insert Date>>

City, State, Zip

Dear ____________:

Thank you for joining us at our first <<Insert Name of Organization>> walkathon volunteer informational meeting on <<insert meeting date>>. We are extremely excited about being a part of this national program and know that with the support of friends like you our inaugural walk in <<insert location of walk here>> next <<insert walk date>> will be a great success. You will be receiving additional information about our plans for the walk over the coming months. In the meantime, you can help us support the walk in any of the following ways:

  1. By serving as a walkathon team captain and organizing a family-, organization-, or business-based team of walkers. All the information that you need to organize a team is in the general information walk folder that you received at the meeting. Now is the time to think about your team goals (number of walkers) and who you would like to have on your team (family members, close friends, co-workers). Please contact <<Insert name of the person in charge of walk>> if you have any questions about how to organize a team for the walk. When it comes time to build your walk team, all the help you need to do so will be provided!
  2. By recruiting a corporate sponsor for the walk. You can use the sponsorship folder that you received at the meeting to help recruit sponsors for the walk. Any family member, organization, or business can be a sponsor of the walkathon. Sponsorship donation levels start at <<insert dollar amount>> (for a kilometer route sign) and go up to <<insert dollar amount>> (for presenting sponsor of the entire walk). Again, please let <<insert name of the person in charge of the walk>> know if you need any help in approaching a sponsor prospect. He/she can send you what you need to make the approach or can prepare and mail out the sponsorship package for you.
  3. By recruiting other families or organizations to join you in supporting the walk. Those of us already involved with the walk will be the ones who recruit most of the consumers, families, agencies, and businesses to support the walkathon. Again, if you know of anyone who might like to get involved, be sure to speak with him or her about it and give him/her a general walk information folder. Add any potential volunteers that you recruit to our walkathon database.
  4. By securing donations or volunteers for the day of the walk. We will need all types of donations (food and refreshments, entertainment, tables and chairs) and volunteers to help on the day of the walk. We will continue to update you about our donation and volunteer needs. In the meantime, please contact <<insert name of the person in charge of the walk>> if you are interested in working on the logistics of the walk.

If you have any questions about the walkathon, please contact me at <<insert phone number>>. Also, please remember that we can provide you with any materials (sponsor folders, walk letterhead and envelopes, general information folders) that you need to help recruit other supporters or sponsors for the walk. Basically, we'll get you whatever you need, whenever you need it, from now up until the day of the walk.

Thank you again for taking the time to learn more about our plans for this exciting new awareness/stigma-busting program. I know that we have the plan, the people, and, most of all, the enthusiasm needed to make this event a great success both in terms of increasing public awareness of mental health and changing attitudes about people living with mental illnesses here in <<insert community>>.


Walk Team Chair

Cc: Name of person in charge of walk

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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.