A Look Behind the Curtain: How is Walk to Tuk Organized?
Every year during Walk to Tuk we have hundreds of conversations with people from all over the NWT, sometimes over the phone, sometimes in person, but more often than not by email. We help to answer questions, to help fix problems, and to send out news and updates to Walk to Tuk teams and participants. Despite this, most people have very little idea of how those news posts get written, what is behind them receiving a T-shirt, or even who the people are responding to their emails.
That’s why we’re giving a sneak peak behind the scenes into the machine that makes Walk to Tuk go. Well, in truth, it’s not a machine at all. Walk to Tuk happens because of the hard work of a small group of dedicated NWT Recreation and Parks Association staff, with support from sponsors and volunteers. To be more specific, one NWTRPA staff works on Walk to Tuk full-time, while two others work on the challenge part-time, and three other staff provide support as needed. So, if you were wondering why you didn’t receive an instantaneous response when you emailed email@example.com, that’s your reason. Unlike Air Canada or Apple, we don’t have a technical support team whose only job it is to respond to customer queries. Our staff do it, and they must balance time spent responding to emails with time doing the myriad of other tasks on the long Walk to Tuk to do list.
Well, why don’t we just hire someone to answer those questions for us? Because that would cost a lot of money and we’re a small non-profit organization. Walk to Tuk’s typical annual budget is only about $100,000. Most years, about a third of that budget goes towards T-shirts. The rest is split between staff costs, website maintenance, travel, promotional materials, and shipping. This year, we had a slightly larger budget to develop and launch a new website (www.walktotuk.com).
Not only does Walk to Tuk cost a lot of money, it takes up a lot of time as well. During January and February, we are kept busy writing new and (hopefully) interesting content for the website and weekly Walk to Tuk newsletter. We think those articles are important because they help teams stay on track, connect participants from across the territory, and keep teams in the know when important deadlines are approaching. In February and March, our attention shifts to T-shirts. We spend about a week organizing, sorting, and sending T-shirts. It’s a lot of work.
In March, we organize Walk to Tuk community celebrations. We do our best to visit communities where we haven’t been before, but the fact is that we must line up celebrations with other programs taking place in those communities because Walk to Tuk doesn’t have the budget to send staff to communities for the celebrations alone.
But what drives us to do all of this? You! It is because of the commitment, determination, and creativity of Walk to Tuk participants that we get so excited about Walk to Tuk every year. It is because participants have continually invited their friends to take part that we are encouraged to make the challenge better every year. This year, we switched to a whole new website. And despite a number of issues at the beginning of the challenge, we are SO excited about the potential it has to make Walk to Tuk more fun and engaging, and hopefully less work for everyone in the future.