Guest Blogger - Claire from "Run Claire, Run"

Guest blogger Claire from Run Claire, Run speaks about marathon training and fundraising for Dogs Trust

Marathon training AND raising £1800 ... you must be mad

Marathon training AND raising £1800 ... you must be mad

Have you ever wanted to do an event but been put off by the compulsory and, sometimes sky high, fundraising target which are set in exchange for a guaranteed place?

Well, when I found out for the third time running that the London marathon ballot had failed me my thoughts turned to charity places. I had toyed with the idea a few times but neveractually gone for it. Until now. Now was the time – if I was ever going to run all six of the world marathon majors I had to start somewhere. I knew from my past encounters with the over subscribed ballot that the fundraising targets for charity places were high (I'd looked plenty of times like a child sneaking a look at their birthday presents but never committed) so I was prepared.

I looked at a lot of different charities, put a lot of research and thought in and eventually decided on the Dogs Trust. At £1800 their target is in the middle of the field (targets range from £1500 up to £2500) and it was a charity I could really support. We've always had rescued pets plus my own dog, Sonny, had to be put to sleep the summer and it hit us all hard as we'd had him since he was a puppy. I wanted to run for an animal charity or one that specifically helped dogs.

Sonny and Trixie
Sonny (the bigger dog of the two) and Trixie (mum’s rescue dog)

So, I applied and within a day it suddenly became very real when they emailed to say I'd been accepted. Elation that I would finally be doing the London Marathon quickly turned to, 'Erm, sooooooo, fundraising. That's happening'

I'll be honest, I'm not completely new to fundraising large amounts – I cycled London to Paris in 2015 with my co-worker Kayleigh and between us we had a target of £2000. The difference here was that I had a partner in crime. We split the roles. We pushed our fundraising in different ways. It made the process (and the trip) fun! Could I handle raising that sort of money all on my own? How would I do it? According to an research done by everydayhero:

  • The most common challenge cited by event participants was that the fundraising target set was too high (27.1%) followed by not knowing how to start fundraising (21.2%).

OK, so you know your target before you sign up to anything and make your decision based on that but I completely agree that knowing how and where to start can be daunting. Thankfully I do actually enjoy fundraising. The feeling of seeing that email that says, 'Congratulations, you've been sponsored' is almost as good as getting a personal best on race day. Knowing that you're that bit closer to the end goal. I also have a very supportive network of friends and family (boyfriend included … he has to hear all about it the most!) and a workplace who understand why I do it.

At this point I'm nearly half way to my overall target of £1800 with my fundraising page sitting at just over £700 so, although I still have a way to go, I'm really pleased with where I am so far! I'm so glad I finally committed to that charity place!

Hopefully, you're thinking it's time to commit to something big too. Here's my tips for taking on a charity place with a big fundraising target:

  • Do your research. I looked at a lot of charities that had places before I even attempted to fill out an application form. I wanted to make sure that the support they offered was really there.
  • Take on a place for a charity you are (or can be) passionate about. I had a fleeting moment of doubt when I was looking at the targets. Should I go for the smallest target I could find? Or should I apply for something higher knowing that the charity is one that I'm passionate about? The passion for animals won out in the end and I wouldn't have it any other way now.
  • Have some ideas already before you apply. Having raised for the London to Paris event, I was lucky enough to be able to look over what we did and use those ideas. If you get a place in the event you've applied for, you will thank yourself for thinking about the logistics first!
  • Make the most of your friends, family and colleagues. They are your immediate circle of potential donors but think about who they know as well. The husband of one of my managers is the co-owner of Fareham Crossfit which is where I hosted my competition.
  • That leads me on to doing something big. One event bought in a quarter of my target in one go. If you can do this early on you become so much more relaxing about the rest of the money … I know I did!
  • Be careful about what you ask for. Try not to ask for a straight up donation as there is such a thing as fundraising fatigue both on your part and your supporters. You can get sick of asking and they can sick of hearing it. Why not ask them to donate a cake to a bake sale instead?
  • And, talking of cake, give your supporters something for their money. Run a bake sale or a raffle and give your supporter something to buy so it doesn't feel like they're just handing over cash. Plenty of companies are willing to give prizes for charity in exchange for some advertising and good publicity. The potential to win something or walk away with a sweet treat makes it far more tempting to part with your money! I'm currently offering for donators to suggest a song to go onto my marathon playlist

In an article written by The Institute of Fundraising, 'While charitable giving has remained steady over the last few years, participation in fundraising events has grown across the board.' So, it looks like fundraising for events like the London marathon isn't going away any time soon. If you're thinking about taking on the challenge just remember, you can do it!

C x