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Charities and fundraising

Charities and fundraising at the London Marathon

In recent years, three-quarters of all London Marathon participants have run for a charity and a third of all places are offered by charitable organisations with guaranteed entries. But charities weren’t always so prominent, or well organised. In the early years, it was runners who independently raised money for good causes.

In 1984, the London Marathon named the Sports Aid Foundation as its first official Charity of the Year and granted the organisation some places to help it raise funds.  As charity involvement grew, the organisers decided to offer more places to a wider range of charities.

Such has been the growth of charity involvement that the London Marathon itself has entered the record books. In 2007 £46.5 million was raised for good causes by participants, making the London Marathon a Guinness World Record breaker as the largest single-day annual fundraising event in the world. The event has broken that record every year since, including in 2019 when £66.4m was raised, taking the total raised since 1981 to more than £1 billion. 

First official charity: Sports Aid Foundation
Charity of the Year 2024: Samaritans UK