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Fundraising tips

Raise more money for charity with our fundraising tips

Got a fundraising target that you’d like to smash? Or perhaps you’re just looking for some inspiration and creative ways to get the donations flooding in. We’ve complied a list of our top tips and ideas for fundraisers.

Four secrets of successful fundraisers

Before we start, let’s take a look at some stats. Research has identified four key things that its most successful fundraisers have in common…

Successful fundraisers:

  1. Start early. People who set up an online fundraising page as soon as they receive their London Marathon place raise up to £700 more on average than those who only start to fundraise in the two months before Marathon Day.
  2. Set a fundraising target. Eighty-one per cent of fundraisers set a target, raising an average of £1,495 each, compared to an average of £914 raised by those who leave their goal unspecified – a 64 per cent increase.
  3. Are social media-savvy. People who don’t use this medium raise an average of £1,276 each, compared to averages of more than £1,900 each for Instagram and Linkedin users, more than £1,500 for those who use Twitter, and more than £1,400 for Facebook fans.
  4. Use an app. If you embrace on-the-move fundraising by downloading and using a fundraising platform app you might raise 19 per cent more than people who don’t.

Expert fundraising tips

Andy Etchells is the founder of the Charity Runners Clearing House (CRunCH), which has been matching London Marathon runners with good causes for more than 20 years. As you might expect, he’s picked up a few tips and tricks along the way, which he’s agreed to share with us.

Please note that, with all these suggestions, what is currently possible depends on the Covid-19 restrictions in your area. Always consult these before planning any fundraising activity or event.

  • It helps to convey how your money will be put to good use as precisely as possible. Who will benefit and how? Platitudes about ‘helping the disabled’ or ‘saving babies’ will not engage as much interest as ‘£350 pays for a week’s holiday for a child with a disability’ or ‘£100 pays for an operation for a child in Africa’.
  • Use your fundraising page, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account, or blog to keep family, friends and colleagues up to date with your training progress – good and bad – as a way of keeping them involved. Throw in occasional reminders about the link to your fundraising page too. 
  • Make a list of all the people you have access to who might be interested in donating and work out the best way to reach them. It will probably be online, but sometimes meeting up (at a social distance if necessary) will be best. 
  • Try approaching organisations and groups as well as individuals. For example the company you work for; any organisations you come into contact with via work; your children’s schools, including bodies like parents’ associations; your sports club or gym; your place of worship or social club. Sometimes it will be a question of reaching the individuals within these groups, for others you may need to make a corporate pitch.
  • If you work for a reasonable-sized company, ask HR or payroll if it operates a Matched Giving scheme. At their most generous, Matched Giving schemes double what you raise, but most are capped and some may only match donations made by your colleagues. But it’s still money there for the taking. If your employer doesn’t have a Matched Giving scheme you could ask why not – if you’re feeling brave.
  • More than nine out of 10 marathon runners fundraise via an online platform – but that doesn’t means you should totally discount the old ways. In a CRunCH survey of runners who we recruited for charities, 20 per cent of their total income was collected offline. Sponsor forms (or collection boxes if your charity has them) can tick along nicely on reception desks at work, counters in your local shops, cafes or pubs, and on noticeboards. To avoid the hassle of collecting your money post-marathon, you could ask for donations upfront – just like people have to do when giving online.
  • Get others in your family and social network to bang the drum on your behalf by replicating what you do on email and social media. I always used to urge runners to circulate sponsor forms far and wide (remembering, of course, to put name and address on them for safe return), now I encourage busy runners to appoint a friend or family member to manage their campaign – be it on or offline – for them. 

Think outside the fundraising box

People can get tired of hearing charity pitches, but may get caught up in the excitement if there’s something in it for them – even if it’s just a night out with friends. Responses in the CRunCH survey include the following ideas...

  • Invite your friends to your favourite local restaurant and charge an entry fee on top of a negotiated deal for food with the management. Alternatively coffee mornings, quiz nights, dances and tombolas all can boost your TCS London Marathon sponsorship pot. Make sure no one leaves without a link to your fundraising page!
  • If you don’t have the time, resources or contacts to organise a stand-alone event, ask if you could ride on someone else’s coat-tails. This might be a pub landlord or an event such as a village fete where you get permission to set out your ‘stall’ when people are in giving mode.
  • Organise a sweepstake for friends and family (and attendees at any events you arrange) around your predicted finishing time.
  • Consider carrying an advert for a local company on Marathon Day (and get your picture wearing said vest in the local paper and even on national TV!).
  • Packing bags at the supermarket was the top single earner one year for one enterprising runner. Again, prior permission is essential, as is people power. It helped, therefore, that this particular fundraiser was in the Air Training Corps with a ready supply of air cadets to help – he came away with virtually his entire pledge figure from one pre-Christmas evening stint by the tills.
  • Some runners swear by this method of fundraising, but you need to take care. It must be your charity that applies for a bucket-shaking spot, not you the individual, and it is illegal to ask members of the public for money without the right permits. However, in private areas such as out-of-town shopping centres or in the immediate entrance areas to big stores, you can avoid this bureaucracy as long as you have the business owner’s permission to be there. But you’ll need to plan ahead, as such coveted shaking ‘slots’ are often rationed.
  • Are you prepared to stand up in public and make a heartfelt pitch? Examples that we’ve heard of include a Baptist minister from his pulpit, a singer hijacking a choir rehearsal, and a teacher talking in a school assembly. As with all other events mentioned here, the follow-through is important: cards with your fundraising page url or sponsor forms by the door are a must.
  • Mufti days can raise phenomenal amounts if, say 1,000 pupils pay £1 each for the privilege of wearing jeans for the day. Obviously, such events are most easily arranged by school staff, but I know of runners who approached their children’s teachers and got the rights to a termly slot (plus publicity on the school website and newsletter). And while we are talking of being creative, if it works in schools, why not elsewhere – like your office or workplace?
  • Remember, what you decide to do for your fundraising campaign will vary depending on how much you think you can realistically raise and how much time and energy you have to dedicate to the cause. Every penny counts and your charity will be grateful for your interest and support, no matter how much you raise. Don’t forget to ask your friends, family and work colleagues to promote your various fundraising efforts too. However you go about fundraising when you run the TCS London Marathon for charity, good luck and get started today!

More charity info

    • Why run for charity?

      Running for charity has lots of benefits for both you and the charity you support

    • Virgin Money Giving

      Find out why we recommend starting your fundraising campaign with Virgin Money Giving today

    • I have a ballot place

      Got a place through the ballot? Why not run for a cause that’s close to your heart?

    • Why run for charity?

      Running for charity has lots of benefits for both you and the charity you support

    • Virgin Money Giving

      Find out why we recommend starting your fundraising campaign with Virgin Money Giving today

    • I have a ballot place

      Got a place through the ballot? Why not run for a cause that’s close to your heart?

    • Why run for charity?

      Running for charity has lots of benefits for both you and the charity you support

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