With the excitement of the London Marathon out of the way, no doubt many of you decided to throw your name in the hat for the 2017 ballot. Perhaps some of you want to do it badly and are considering running for charity on a charity place. Or if you’re looking for a challenge, but don’t want to take on the full marathon, you may be considering a charity spot for an event like the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon.
Charity spots aren’t for everyone and I would urge you to consider it carefully before taking it on. I have run on charity spots before and had a great experience whilst raising money, but I wouldn’t consider it for an event such as the London Marathon for example, because I’m not confident enough in my ability to raise £2000, which is what most charities require you to raise. This is because of the cost they have to pay for spots. However, I have done it for events such as what was the Bupa London 10k (now Vitality London 10k).
So you’ve chosen your event and you’ve decided you might want to run on a charity spot. What is there to consider?
Choose a charity you’re passionate about
This may sound obvious, but choose a charity you’re passionate about, or a charity that really resonates with you. Some people will just choose a charity for the sake of getting a place in their dream race. By choosing a charity you’re passionate about, you’ll feel driven to fundraise, you’ll be making a real difference and in turn, people will be more likely to sponsor you. I raised money for HFT one year – this is because my Uncle has Down’s Syndrome and he benefitted a lot from their support. This year, I was asked to join the blogger team for Unicef at the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon. I said yes because I’ve been incredibly touched by the plight of refugee children and since becoming a mother, I’m more aware of how other children worldwide suffer. Unicef are a charity that I also often donate to, therefore joining their team was a no-brainer.
Check the fundraising target
Charities have to set minimum fundraising targets as they are charged for the spaces in events and advertising. Therefore, they need to make sure these costs are covered, as well as money being raised for the cause you are supporting. Before taking a place, check the target and ask yourself whether you think you can do it. If you can – brilliant! But if you think it’s a problem, then stop to think about whether you can make the commitment. The charity will support and help you, but you need to put the hard work in. If you don’t think you can do it, then try to get an own-place and raise for the charity where there are no minimum requirements.
Don’t wait until the last minute to fundraise
It may sound obvious, but don’t wait until the last minute to start fundraising. Get your fundraising page open straight away and plan out what you’re going to do. Some people will sponsor you on event day, or even after you’ve completed it, but you want to have a good chunk of it done. Remember not to hound people too much though – I’ve discovered that less is more when asking on Facebook and Twitter and don’t take it personally if someone chooses not to sponsor you. Charity giving is very personal.
Think up fundraising events
Some people raise plenty of money through fundraising pages simply through virtue of emailing their friends and work colleagues and this is great. But some people may struggle and this is where it can be helpful to set up fundraising events. For example, you could hold a raffle. Talk to local companies and see if a prize will be donated – many are happy to help and then sell tickets. I raised over £100 through the generosity of my bowling league after raffling off a bowling shirt at £1 a ticket. Or perhaps you could talk to your local pub quiz and see if they’d consider hosting a special version with proceeds going towards your event. Cake sales are also a great bet. Fundraising events are a brilliant way to have some fun whilst raising awareness of your cause.
Don’t forget to train
It might sound obvious, but it can be easy to get swept up in the excitement or focus on fundraising and forget that you need to train! Work out a plan that fits into your lifestyle, lace up those trainers and get going!
I’m running on the Unicef blogger team at this year’s Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon. I have been provided with a complimentary spot, however I intend to raise as much as I can. Unicef do a lot of work to help children worldwide, as well as developing lots of initiatives such as internet safety. If you support their work, they have 200 spots available to run the Royal Parks with a fundraising target set at £400. I will be blogging about some fundraising and training tips in future posts.