A thought on charity places

I know this is a bit of an uncharitable thing to say, but all of these golden bond places--the entire sponsorship ethos--worries me. When I said I'd applied for a London place I had three people promise to sponsor me, and they were very puzzled when I said they didn't have to, I wasn't running for charity (if I got to run at all). It seems that the popular understanding of London--and other events like it, perhaps even of running as a sport--is that ordinary people only do it to raise funds. Now I know what a godsend this must be to the charities concerned, but we're rapidly getting into a situation where if you won't or can't run for charity, you're manoevred into feeling guilty. Now, even trying to fit running in between teaching my 12 year old at home and working a long week is difficult enough. I might be able to spare time for limited fundraising, but--particularly living where I do--there's no way I'd be able to raise the £1,500 -2000 that most charities seem to want for a guaranteed place. I gather that North Wales was refered to as a third-world country in a recent EEC Directive (!), and however generous folks round here try to be, they're just not rich enough and there just isn't very many of them to cough up. As for asking my company to sponsor me--well, blood and stone springs to mind. Since presumably there are other folks who can and do raise phenomenal amounts, I'd be wasting a charity's time, really, if I even investigated Golden Bond Places, even the ones who ask for less of a pledge. I'm finding it all gloomy, really--it means if I don't get a place in the ballot, I don't run. That's ok, I suppose: but I do wonder if we're not making our sport a slave to sponsorship.


  • A lot of charities ask for less than 1500-2000. I'm running for the National Kidney Research Fund - they only ask for 1000. Your company ought to have no problem in matching whatever money you raise... after all it is tax deductible (i.e. it costs them NOTHING and they get loads of good publicity out of it) have you asked them?
  • Hi, when I ran London this year (my first marathon) I failed in the ballot and club place draw and ended up with a charity place. This was for a small local charity and at the outset I said that I could probably only raise £300 which they were happy with, in the end I collected £400.

    However I am also running New York next week and entered through the ballot so it is costing me very little and I am fealing a little guilty about not raising any money this time.

    If I get accepted for London next year I will see what money I can raise by selecting a few worthy charities (my choice) and using a completely no presure method of raising what ever I can. The reason for selecting a few charities is so that my sponsor can decide if they wish to donate to a certain charity (they can choose which from my list). In my mind any charity will always be greatful for donations and if you think you can raise a certain ammount they may be able to give you a tee shirt or simular without them providing a golden bond place.
  • RK--I work for a nightclub chain in marketing--they're utterly opposed to any lifestyle that doesn't involve fags, booze and late nights, cos that's where they make their money!!!

    Earlier this year my son played inline hockey for Wales. We needed to raise enough sponsorship for the N Welsh squad to play in the Spirit of Friendship Festival, which was a sister event to the Commonwealth games, for sports outside the current Olympic listing. Needless to say, my company refused to contribute a penny, even though we had TV coverage and a guarantee of a lot of good publicity. This was even more annoying because we actually run kid's clubbing events, with a dedicated glossy magazine to promote them, and the F of F would have made a good feature. Anyhow, if they won't sponsor something on that magnitude, I doubt they'll sponsor me to plod FLM in 41/2 hours--they might not lose anything because of it, but unless they have a gain in £££ they're not interested.

    Still, I might find out more about charity places though--exactly how difficult is it to raise a grand or so on limited time? And how difficult is it to actually get people to pay up afterwards? What happens if you're squashed by a bus the week before and can't run? I think perhaps I'm being defeatist and need to investigate the options.

    All the same, I still wish we could have sport for sport's sake.
  • My worry is that if anything happens injury wise or in my crowded personal life that prevent me running what do I do then???
  • If I get in, I certainly won't be putting any effort into raising sponsorship. The whole idea of making people feel they have to give money seems wrong - then it becomes a tax!

  • I can see nothing wrong with Golden Bond places just so long as they are limited in number so that it allows others to run too via a ballot, club place or being fast/elite.

    I also think the idea of a guaranteed place following 5 years of rejection is good. At least, as a recreational runner, I should eventually be able to run for the price of an entry fee.

    I agree with you, Mim, the levels required do discriminate a little. I live in Cornwall and am self employed. I do not earn a high level of profits. I live in a low populated and low paid area. I do not have the ability to call on a large company to help me. I swam a marathon recently for charity and raised £220, it took some doing. I am sure many people do put a great deal of effort into 'earning' their GB place and well done to them. Its not a gripe and I am happy not to go for a GB place because I'm not confident that I could make the grade. I would likely run my first marathon for local small charity, with no pressure on collection levels.
  • I could raise the money in fact when I did the GNR and wasn't sponsered I was turning people away, but I will run it because i love running,sad aren't I??/
  • Mim
    if you set up an online sponsorship page through justgiving, its all done by debit/credit card and is automatically deducted from sponsors bank accounts after the event. Plus they claim the 28% tax back under the Gift Aid scheme making peoples donations almost a third more.
  • I would not be comfortable asking for credit card details.
  • You don't ask people for their details - they fill out a form same as buying stuff on the web. I believe the collections are organised by Nat West, so security not a problem.
  • Im running for Phab and the minimum I have to raise is £850 which I feel is reasonable - anything more than that and I might have struggled. I am going to do the just giving thing as well as a normal sponsor form as then friends that live far away have noexcuse not to sponsor me :)
  • What is Phab
  • I have a lot of sympathy with your sentiments Mim. I've applied through the ballot and won't be trying to get a charity place- if I don't get in I don't run. Why? Because I feel asking people to sponsor me to do something I already do and love doing is not in the spirit of what sponsorship is about. Who or what are you asking people to sponsor? Your desire to run the FLM?For me it should be an acknowledgement that a person is taking on a genuine new and difficult challenge in order to raise funds for a charity to which they have some personal and genuine commitment.

    On the FLM thread earlier this year there were quite a few moans about 'tight' people who'd 'only' sponsored them a fiver, well I thought that was an appalling attitude. Just because someone has chosen to support a particular cause doesn't give them the right to judge other people's choice of where they spend their money.

    I'm pleased to hear of runners committed to supporting smaller charities. I realise this may sound insensitive to those involved with the big charities, but the ones with enough resources to get lots of golden bond places and have the infrastructure of their own marketing departments get so much the PR compared with the numerous smaller, local charities who are often staffed solely by volunteers and haven't a budget for placing ads in RW. Not to undermine anybody who's personally affected by the circumstances/conditions these charities support, that's not the issue.

  • I like the idea of justgiving, although I can't help thinking that it would work better with strangers or other companies, rather than people you know. It's quite an impersonal method of offering support, although I think it would make collecting the proceeds less stressful. When I was trying to raise sponsorship for our hockey team, we had people and local companies who promised support but never actually paid up. I think it's trying to raise hockey funds that put me off fundraising for life, actually.

    £850 isn't too bad, Zoe--although like Keswick, I'd a bit dubious about agreeing to any amount, because there just isn't the population base nor the wealth in a rural area for you to be sure you could make the amount. Besides, if you have to hit an amount, I'd feel that I was pressurizing people I knew to pay up, whether they could afford it or not. Frankly I'd be amazed if anybody in my village would sponsor me for a fiver--I pound or two would be the best I could hope for, I think, particularly since there's usually a local lass running the FLM who's after sponsorship too. Perhaps, on the whole, I'd best steer clear of a charity place--I think I'd spend too much time fretting over the fundraising and too little concentrating on the running, which was the concept that annoyed me in the first place, I think. I don't have a problem with people running for charity, but I don't like the preciousness that surrounds certain charitable causes. I had a particularly nasty run-in with a very large national charity quite recently, when I e-mailed them to find out what their vivisection policy was, before I committed myself to running a local race which was raising funds for them. Rather than a straight factual answer, I got a five page lecture on how my own moral perspective was wrong, evil, foolish, stupid and sentimental (oh, and anyway, they never chopped up doggies or pussies, only nasty horrid rats). I didn't run the race, because this sort of approach just epitomised what I most disliked about certain charities' manipulative strategies, and, dare I say it, total lack of respect for anyone who thinks differently. Now I don't think this sort of thing should impinge on running. I mean, if you work in marketing, the whole point of running is to get away from this sort of thing!

  • I agree with your sentiments exactly, Laura.

    If I decide one day that I have a marathon in me then that's the opportunity I would take to raise local charity sponsorship. My first attempt, at a very real challenge.

    It is a difficult subject to critise though and I admire Mim for taking it up.

    Having raised the Swimathon money in March I took up running just to see if I could run as far as I could swim (which I couldn't at first). Then in June someone said 'You can, prove it to yourself and run the Race for Life with me'. It was a spur of the moment thing, with just two days to go, and I said I would. This was at a time when I was still collecting the swimathon money! Luckily, a very dear friend offered me £15 sponsorship (on top of £20 just given for the swim!) and I made a personal donation. I just couldn't ask the same people again and so close so I made a personal donation. I still didn't reach the requested £50 target.

    Now, I feel, I shouldn't run Race for Life next year. Its a 5k, and I know I can run 12 miles. It would, truthfully, now be a time trial (and experience..its a lovely run to be involved in) but I would still be only to happy to give a £20 donation.

    The question is....do I not enter as I know I will not achieve what is expected, or do I go with the knowledge that £20 plus gift tax is a worthwhile donation adding to the overall pot raised. Its a difficult one.
  • Definately enter race for life. The charity still get your entry fee, and the smallest donation is still worthwhile. But mainly, Cancer research uk would be getting your support, the more that enter R4L, the more publicity it attracts, and therefore more corporate sponsorship, and fundraising power.

    Having ranted though, I do agree with what has been said before, You wouldn't expect to fund raise to play in the sunday football league, or for a round of golf would you?
  • It's a lot easier for some people - a friend of a friend works in the city, and everyone who worked in the same office was quite happy to fork out £100 even if they didn't know the person that well because to them it isn't much money. I'd be chuffed to get that much out of close friends!

    The commitment of doing it worries me - which is why I don't do it, but get a place and then raise money anyway - it takes the pressure off.

    Going back to what's been said earlier, rightly or wrongly a marathon is seen as more of an achievement then something liek playing a round of golf, but I wouldn't like people to feel obliged to sponsor me if they didn't like the charity. You can't realistically give money to everything, I think it's down to the individual to choose who they want to support.
  • Phab is a national charity dedicated to promoting and encouraging the coming together, on equal terms, of disabled and non-disabled people to achieve an integrated and inclusive society.

    If you go to www.phabmarathon.com you can get details of the London Marathon charity places.
  • I'm applying for a gold-bond place from a charity that I have supported since 1986 because I'm expecting to be rejected by the ballot this year. As a resultI'm currently putting together a plan to raise about £2000.

    It isn't easy, as even though I live in the South East, I don't socialise in circles where £100 is pin money, so I'm expecting to do a fair amount of work to achieve my goal.

    But then, I have my work cut out to turn myself fromm a non-running couch potato into a marathoner by April 13th. I'm hoping to use the shock value of "What... YOU????" to increase the amount of sponsorship.
  • I and my partner Lizzie are also running for Phab next year. Would love to hear from any other Phab runners to share fundraising ideas via e-mail or have a smile at each other's justgiving page?

    Love to hear from you?

    Tony and Lizzie
  • Mim
    I'd be interested to know the name of the charity that doesn't mind chopping up rats.
    Re fund raising, as a person who ahs had to give up work due to (non visible to others) disabilty, it would be impossible for me to raise more than £200 as I live a very secluded life. So for people like me there is no chance of a place if I don't get one in the ballot .
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