Turkey Trot

How to Host an Unforgettable Turkey Trot 2021

Rahul Razdan Rahul Razdan
Nov 2021

turkey trot virtual map
From races in their 126th year (the oldest consecutively run footrace in the world) to hundreds of new races coming up each year, Turkey Trots have become as integral to the fall racing calendar as Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING. No wonder the New York Times estimates that there will be over 1,000 turkey trots this year, with over 1 million people participating in such events.

Turkey Trots are a unique opportunity for local and national non-profits to host a community-building event while raising funds before the Giving Tuesday and End-of-Year Giving period begins. Whether you’re a first-time Turkey Trot Director or a pro with several races under your belt, read along to learn more about Turkey Trots and how you can be successful in running these races!

What is a Turkey Trot, and Why Are They So Popular?

Thanksgiving Turkey Trots or Turkey Trots have traditionally been a fun walk/run event (5K, 10K, half or full marathons, etc.) hosted on Thanksgiving Day across the United States. These races have become popular with non-profits over the last 100+ years for the following reasons:
  • Turkey Trot races are typically hosted on Thanksgiving holiday, which makes it easier for participants to join.
  • Participants get to burn additional calories before indulging in the holiday feast.
  • Thanksgiving day is generally associated with giving back to the community, aligning the races closer to non-profit work and philanthropy.
  • Participants are encouraged to dress up (and enjoy) in funny costumes for these races, making it fun for a family outing.

Did you know that in-person races cost approximately 52 cents for each dollar they fundraise? Virtual races in comparison only cost around 15 cents on a dollar raised.

Interested in starting a virtual race?

3 Reasons Why Your Non-profit Should Host a Turkey Trot This Year

  1. Capture Inherent Demand - Don’t miss out on existing demand for Turkey Trots. Remember, it is easier to swim downstream, planes fly faster with tailwinds, etc.
  2. Boost Peer-to-Peer Fundraising - Most people spend time with family & friends, making peer-to-peer fundraising super-efficient in-person.
  3. Acquire New Donor - Fitness events are popular among young people, and a Turkey Trot is a great way to acquire young new donors to your organization.

4 Tips To Run an Unforgettable Virtual Turkey Trot in 2021

Charity Footprints specializes in creating, managing, and supporting virtual races, virtual walks, virtual step challenges, and other fitness-based virtual fundraisers for 800+ non-profits. Our partners have hosted everything from a 1-day virtual turkey trot to months-long virtual fitness challenges commencing or concluding on Thanksgiving Day.
  1. Grow The Event Radially Outward
    A Virtual Turkey Trot gives you a fantastic opportunity to recruit any human being from around the world. So, it is critical to leverage your biggest asset - existing donors, volunteers, and champions to reach these potential participants. Keep a short early-bird window for incentivizing your biggest champions to register early. Next, lean on these champions to invite their friends and family to join their team (run prizes like - $100 gift card for the biggest team), and start marketing your event on social & traditional media, email listservs, etc. in parallel, to generate the buzz.
  2. Recruit Swiftly
    It is critical to move quickly and start onboarding participants to fundraise effectively and invite more people to join. From Thanksgiving-themed e-Bibs, e-Certificates, and e-Medals to other giveaway and contest ideas, Charity Footprints has virtual race packages that you can utilize to save precious time that’s typically wasted in creating and supporting a fundraiser.
  3. Focus on Donor Recruitment & Stewardship
    Race registration fees are a tiny component of the overall event fundraising, so spend a lot of time stewarding the participants and equipping them with fundraising tools and guidance. Here is a quick blog post we wrote on this topic.
  4. Boost Engagement
    The backbone of any successful virtual event is how much engagement it can generate. Think about using exciting features such as a Virtual Map that chalks out a turkey trot trail, encourage participants to dress up in costume and share their pictures on the event Scrapbook, and invite other friends, family members, and colleagues by inviting them to join the virtual race. We see a 2.5 times higher compliance when a fitness activity is in a team-based setting instead of doing a workout challenge alone.


An engaging virtual race outperforms its physical race counterpart by miles (pun intended), coupled with an awesome holiday theme, giving back to a great cause, and health benefits for race participants - and it’s a win-win-win for participants, organizers, and the organizers beneficiary non-profit(s). Bring out that turkey costume, and let’s go for a turkey trot race!

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