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My fundraising journey

02 March 2018
 

Choosing to run the London Marathon is a major decision, but choosing to raise money for a charity at the same time takes guts! If you are running just for fun, you may not get the training right straightaway. The plan may fall apart, the nerves may take over and before you know it, you are trying to postpone! However, choosing to run a marathon for a charity may give you the support and some welcome additional pressure to keep you motivated during your journey. I call it a journey as it has a start, a middle and an end, with a lot of work required throughout, but it can be the most rewarding process, if you let it.
 
I chose Shaw Trust as I wanted a charity that had similar values to my own. Having worked in recruitment for many years, I felt a strong synergy with Shaw Trust's work supporting employment and training opportunities. When deciding which charity to work with, make sure you have a connection with them and the people that work for them as it makes the process enjoyable and much more interactive.
 
Shaw Trust creates a community for their runners on Facebook where advice and support is at the click of a button. Runners can discuss fundraising ideas and share tips for reaching their fundraising and training targets. You can request fundraising materials for events, and of course, there will be plenty of support on the day from the Shaw Trust Team.
 
So where do we start with fundraising? There are bake sales, sweepstakes, raffles, workplace lotteries, and so many competitions you could hold, you could also host one big event and really give back to those donating to you The most popular events I have seen have been a fundraising Quiz Night or Race Night. For argument’s sake, let’s say we choose a Quiz Night (because I have). Where do we start?…We need a venue, a price structure, a quiz master and prizes. 

When thinking about a venue, try to make it local to your target audience. People are more likely to come along if it is somewhere they know they can get to easily. Do your research on venues, shop around, some pubs and sports clubs are able to offer discounts or even provide a venue for free if it’s a charity night. Check the maximum number of guests they can cater for. Can they staff a bar for you to ensure your guests are well hydrated? Think about how much you want to charge, as well as what you can offer.  My particular event is £10 per entry with team size set at a maximum of 6. I have researched local caterers, told them I am hosting a fundraising evening and managed to get a discount on the price.  Now my guests not only get to take part in a quiz, they also get a hot dinner. Thank you to John at http://www.hogroastnorthampton.com/

You need someone to host, or maybe a group of volunteers who feel they can get the audience excited on the night about taking part in the quiz, they need to work the crowd to make it an entertaining evening for all. Then what about the prizes? I found there were some helpful posts online about how to compose a fundraising request letter or email. This link was particularly useful:http://www.thefreewealth.com/how-to-get-raffle-prize-donations/
 
I also asked Shaw Trust for a confirmation letter of my association with them so that I had some official support to accompany my request for prizes. Contacting restaurants, local attractions, theme parks and everything in between in the county I set off sending out my requests. Try to find an email address perhaps on company websites, or even better, some websites have a charity help request page. Walk up and down your high street with printed letters to hand to the manager. Another handy tip I found was to use Trip Advisor to find the most popular places to try. You may need to put over 100 requests in to start seeing a return but believe me it will not take long before they start coming in. You will get many companies replying to say they cannot help you but stick with it. Unfortunately some companies already have charities they are dedicated to or they only support charity events taking place in certain counties for example. I live in Northamptonshire so a lot of my research took place in Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire. Some of the companies which were able to provide support include:
  • Northampton Football Club
  • Woburn Safari Park
  • Silverstone Circuit
  • Beckworth Emporium
 
I also had support from more nationally based companies such as:
  • Experience Days
  • Delta Force Paintball
  • Planet Ice
  • Revolution Bars
Also, think about sharing your request on social media with friends and family who might own their own business or might know someone who does instead. Maybe you can thank friends who help you out on the night, either with prizes or by supporting you in hosting, by offering them free entry into the event.
Remember to thank everyone that helps you in any way shape or form.

With a few weeks to go before your event, drum up interest at work, in social clubs and with friends and family. Create a fun poster. Get friends to put teams together, come up with fun names and get them to book themselves in with you up front. Collect the money at this point, so you have less to worry about on the night. Sell raffle tickets if you think you have more prizes than you thought you would get, to help raise a few extra pounds.

What else is there to think about? Oh yes….remember to have fun!!! The end of the journey is the rewarding part where you can remember that you are making a difference to someone’s life.  Shaw Trust help 50,000 people a year and it is only possible with the support of those people who give up their time to fundraise and train for the London Marathon. Now you have raised the money, turn your attention back to the training and mentally readying yourself for the biggest and best challenge.  You will become a member of a very small club of people who have completed a marathon. Well done!!!!

If you need any further support or have any questions then don’t hesitate to get in touch with Shaw Trust directly.
 
 

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