Cause4Opinion

The 2018 London Marathon

Ed HarveyThe 38th edition of the London Marathon is fast approaching, and will take place this Sunday, on 22nd April.

It is one of the most spectacular events to take place yearly in the capital, featuring over 40,000 people running 26.2 miles around the city, and backed by cheering crowds (over 750,000) throughout.

Whilst celebrating some of the best professional and amateur runners from around the world, the Marathon is well known for its charitable nature. It is the largest annual fundraising event on the planet, and runners have raised more than £890 million for good causes since the event’s inception!

It’s certainly a time when we dig into our pockets to support those taking on the gruelling challenge – last year alone, £61.5 million was raised for charity through the event. It is also likely to be one of the leading contributors to the finding that 35% of us sponsored someone for charity in 2017.

There are a whole host of charities – from The Outward Bound Trust, to Alzheimer’s Society, to Unicef – that have guaranteed places for runners each year, and it’s such a popular event for charities that the waiting list for the Golden Bond scheme and Silver Bond scheme (which guarantees charities at least five and one places, respectively) are closed for the foreseeable future. Other charities that want to take part have to enter the event’s Charity Ballot, offering the chance to secure one guaranteed place.

The event is so popular for charities not simply because of the money that is raised, but because of the positivity of the event and the number of people engaged. As a fundraising option, it offers charities a rather unique ability to have their stories told for them – by people who have benefitted from their services or are interested in their work. The personable nature of this fundraising is incredibly valuable.

Of course, there are also the infamous costumes that are worn by those raising funds for charity, including Humphrey the Camel (two dedicated runners for WaterAid), the brave runners who don the very large Rhino costume for Save the Rhino, and, more recently, Tom Harrison, who crawled (yes, crawled!) the London Marathon last year in a gorilla outfit for Gorilla Organisation, in no less than six days, raising over £23,000!

With charities often asking its runners to reach a fundraising target of £2,000, runners come up with a variety of innovative ideas to reach their targets, even if they don’t commit to wearing an elaborate costume. These include:

  • Holding an event with friends, family, colleagues or even people in your community. This is a great way of getting people on board with your commitments, and helping to tell them about the cause you are running for. You can do this with coffee mornings, a quiz, a music night, a car boot sale, a dinner party and much more. For some events, your employers might match fund you, so don’t be afraid to ask. (Or, if you’re holding the event in the office, think about doing it just after pay day).
  • Give up something that you love – this can really help to show your commitment to the cause and get supporters on board. For inspiration, Great Ormond Street Hospital hold the brilliant campaign, ‘Give it up for GOSH’ which is full of great ideas, and even a cheat sheet if you do slip up!
  • Guess the finish time – sell finishing times and offer a prize to the person that gets closest. See this example from Cancer Research for inspiration.

The London Marathon is a truly special event, partly explained by the determined charity runners who are incredibly well supported. If you know a friend, relative or colleague that is running, be sure to help them in whatever way you can.

Tweet us @OfficialCause4 to let us know your thoughts on fundraising in the London Marathon, or even your favourite costume from the event!

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