•Dance-a-thons: In these events, participants have to dance to
provided dance music for a specific amount of time. This type of event is good if you have a younger
target donor list.
•Sew-a-thons: In these events, participants sew (or quilt or craft) for a
pres-set period of time or until a specific number of items have been created. As an added bonus,
the things created this way can then be sold at a fair or sale. However, if you decide on this sort of
marathon, you will need to make sure that you can find enough volunteers willing to sew or craft for an
extended period of time!
•Exercise-a-thons: These were popular a number of years ago, but it is still
possible to find this sort of marathon hosted by non-profits. Participants are encouraged to exercise for
a specific period of time or are encouraged to take part in once type of activity (skiing, swimming, horseback
riding, biking, boating, aerobics, skateboarding, in-line skating, or some other activity). It is
important to ensure that the marathon is not so long that people will be injured, and it is important to
provide some medical help at the marathon site to ensure that anyone who is injured or becomes ill can get the
help they need.
•Clean-a-thons: This type of marathon is very popular among groups with a
"green" theme. In exchange for the possibility of cash and prizes, participants agree to clean part of a
city or highway, often agreeing to pick up specific amounts or garbage in order to get sponsor
This type of marathon is good because it has several side advantages. The city or
town area will usually look much better after the event, which means that media or town politicians will often
support such an event, ensuring more participants. Schools, neighborhood groups, churches, and other
groups interested in the community are usually willing participants, ensuring that you have enough people
And this can be a fun event, with participants working together in their
community. It is easy to organize. Remember that you will need to provide refreshment, prizes,
and garbage bags as well as thick gloves to protect participants. You will also need someone to take
collected recyclables to be recycled. Additional volunteers will have to follow up with participants in
order to get sponsor's contributions.
•Kiss-a-thons: As the name suggests, in this type of marathon calls for
participants to kiss for a specific period of time. In many of these marathons, participants have also
tried to get participants into the world book of records for the longest kiss.
•Fasts: Marathon fasts are becoming quite popular. Events such as the
"24 hour famine" raise awareness about world hunger as well as the money that can change poverty.
Participants need to be told about the dangers of long-term fasting before beginning.
•Cook-a-thons: In these events, which are often better for small towns where
security issues are not as much of a concern, participants cook for a specific period of time. The food
cooked can be sold to raise even more money or can be donated to a shelter or food bank. These marathons can be
expensive to sponsor unless you can get a company to help you, as the cost of cooking supplies can be quite
•Eating contests: Part race and part marathon, these contests are often part
of a fair or bazaar. Participants try to eat as much of an item (usually a pie) within a set period of
time, and are usually lots of fun.
•Sit-ins: In the 1960s, sit-ins were used to protest certain conditions or
institutions. Today, some non-profit groups are using sit-ins to raise money and awareness for
specific issues. Participants spend a few days in a specific area, "camping out" creating a stir about an
issue while also raising money through sponsors. This type of marathon requires lots of organizing and
careful controls to keep everyone safe. Also, you will need to find someone willing to lend space for
•Read-a-thon: In this type of marathon, participants read as many books as
they can over a period of a few weeks. In exchange, sponsors give participants a specific sum of money
for every book read. Since this activity takes place on participant's own time, there is no need to
provide a space or refreshments.
Participants also provide their own books, making a read-a-thon one of the more inexpensive
forms of marathon to organize. Schools and libraries are often willing to help advertise or support this
type of event, as well, so you can be sure of getting help with this type of project.
In fact, any event or activity that can be organized to take place in a group for a few hours
can generally be made into a successful marathon. For inspiration, try looking at the Guinness World Book
of records and other similar reference works for activities that could be converted into a marathon.