As the date of the London Marathon approaches, there has been an increase in the number of articles providing runners with fundraising hints and tips. For the vast majority of runners, raising money for charity requires just as much time and effort as training for the London Marathon itself.
My marathon fundraising attempts haven’t generally been very successful. As I wouldn’t want other runners to make the same mistakes, I decided to write my own guide on how not to raise money for charity.
1. Overshare your fundraising page on social media. As soon as I confirmed my place in the London Marathon, I created a personalised fundraising page. I eventually shared the link to my fundraising page on Facebook. Within 24 hours my fundraising total stood at £10 and I’d lost 5 friends. Following advice from the charity I’m fundraising for, I shared the link a second time to correspond with the final Pay Day before the marathon. Several more friends unfollowed me. Another friend asked me stop oversharing the link to my fundraising page. Sorry!
My fundraising page has offended a few people!
2. Email everyone you have ever met. As article recently published in the Guardian suggested sending an email to everyone in your address book. This is potentially a really effective way of finding out who has changed jobs, got married, left the country and changed their email address. It’s not such an effective way of fundraising. Seriously, would you donate money to someone who hasn’t been in contact with you for several years? I’m not so sure that I would.
3. Leave it to the last minute to start fundraising. I didn’t start sharing the link to my fundraising page until February. The London Marathon takes place on April 24th. I have set myself a fundraising target of £500 and I’m struggling. If you accept a guaranteed charity place in the London Marathon expect that target to be substantially higher. If I had to raise in the region of £2000 I would allocate a minimum of six months to my fundraising.
4. Make assumptions. When I started fundraising I assumed that people I had previously sponsored would sponsor me. This hasn’t generally happened and has taught me not to make assumptions about people. I’d also assumed that the family member who sponsored someone £50 to complete a Race for Life would sponsor me a similar amount. My reasoning was that completing the London Marathon is far more challenging than completing a Race for Life event. I was wrong again.
5. Be unemployed. I’m currently spending most of my time searching for and applying for jobs. Being unemployed means that I’ve lost a large source of potential sponsors and supporters. When I worked at the Environment Agency the generosity and support of my work colleagues was incredible. I’ve really missed this support. In addition, many employers have fundraising policies and will match for fundraising up to a certain amount.
6. Have a history of getting injured and not making it to the start line. I have a history of getting a place in the London Marathon, starting my training, setting up and sharing a fundraising page, getting injured and then not making it to the start line. I can understand why people are quite reluctant to sponsor me. I’d be reluctant to sponsor me! Hopefully a few more people will sponsor me when I’ve successfully completed the marathon on April 24th.
I didn’t make it to the start line of the 2012 London Marathon.
7. Raise money for Samaritans. Like many other runners, I had a personal reason for fundraising for a specific charity. When I personalised my fundraising page I shared some of my reasons wanting to raise money for Samaritans. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that some of my friends and family don’t feel very comfortable discussing mental health related issues.
Luckily not all of my London Marathon fundraising experiences have been negative.
8. The kindness of the online running community. The majority of the money that I’ve raised has come from members of the online running community. I’ve never actually met most of these people. These people seem to understand why I’m running with an injury and why I’m raising money for Samaritans. Thank-you!
Have you ever made any fundraising blunders?
Do you have any tips for successful fundraising?