When I was first offered a space for the London Marathon from the Willow Foundation I had two thoughts. One (the standard) was “how am I going to do this?” The second – “I’m never going to be able to reach my target of £2,000.”
Training for such a huge event takes its toll, you barely have time to think of anything other than the job at hand. Add the pressure of fundraising on top and it became one of the most challenging six months I have faced.
But with the challenge comes the reward. The reward of knowing you have completed one of the most amazing races in the world and in doing so knowing you have helped numerous people by raising money in the process.
So, if you are one of those who have just signed up for the biggest challenge of your life or if you are simply just looking at raising money for a charity close to your heart, here are my tips to help you reach that all important target.
- Set up your fundraising page as soon as you are committed to the challenge. Even if the event itself is a year away, the sooner you have a page up and running the sooner you can get those important sponsors coming in. I started my page immediately, I had six months leading up to the event and thought I would need the head start.
- Make a fundraising plan. Take into consideration big holidays – such as Christmas; you will find friends, family and colleagues are more charitable around this time of year.
- Social Media is a powerful tool and free. Use it. Tell everyone about the amazing thing you are doing. When I first started to promote my page I was rather shy about it, but the closer I got to the big day the more I shouted about what I was doing. Every time I made it through a long training run, I spoke about it, I blogged about it and I shared my fundraising link – every time. Use a countdown to the event to remind people how long you have left – if there are only 30 days remaining, tell them.
- Raffles! Everyone loves a raffle. I put together three raffles in the lead up to the big day. For the first one I received a voucher from work for dinner at the Savoy. Raffling this off at my Boot Camp group raised over £100 – which got me off to a fantastic start. The second raffle I put together for my work colleagues the week leading up to Christmas. Using loyalty points I had gathered from various retailers I purchased several gifts for the raffle – which raised around £80. The final raffle I ran in the last few weeks leading up to the big day, for Easter with chocolate eggs. This one generated around £60. Like I said – everyone loves a raffle. Try it for yourself.
- Bake sales. Or in my case a cake sale. Lets face it, with all the extra training I did not have time or the energy to spend baking. After long runs at the weekend the only physical thing I could manage was lifting the remote control. So, with my trusty Costco membership I brought massive batches of cakes and pastries and sold them at work. Sugar sells after all, and timed with pay days the cake sales proved extremely successful. In the six months lead up to the big day, I recall running the cake sale two to three times. Each time the cakes sold out completely.
- Tuck Shop! My biggest success in my fundraising. Back to Costco again, I began my tuck shop at the end of January – after most in the office had given up their “no sugar” diets post Christmas. I stocked up on fizzy drinks, crisps and chocolate – yes I helped increase the chances of diabetes in the office. But, it worked. Like I said, sugar sells. And those purchasing were likely to head over to the corner shop anyway. Instead, by purchasing from my tuck shop they knew they were helping me get that little bit closer to my target for the Willow Foundation (the company charity).
- Stick a penny pot on your desk. I had one on my desk for several months and I told all my colleagues it was there. Some colleagues came in to work with bags of pennies they had from home. Some simply just emptied their pockets of the unwanted coppers. Either way, every penny helps and it certainly helped me reach my target.
- Do not give up. Don’t stop shouting about what you are doing. There were times when I thought I was boring everyone with my updates, with my constant requests for sponsors and at times I thought “maybe I should not bore people today.” But each time I remembered I should shout. I had bragging rights, especially once I completed the marathon itself. I deserved to shout and continue shouting about it. Be proud! I know I am.
- Keep your page open – some sponsors can come months after the event itself. I have left mine open until the end of 2017, as you just never know when you might receive a donation (page can be found here).
Today it still feels like a blur. I don’t understand how I managed to both finish the 26.2 miles itself and raise such a huge amount of money at the same time. My end total for the charity was £2,222.95, so each mile on the day itself was worth £84.85. Each painful, tired step was worth every penny. All the hard work fundraising paid off, as well as the training miles too of course.
The most important thing to remember is to not give up. If you have a challenge coming your way and you are fundraising, shout loud and proud for all to hear.
You are amazing, keep going!