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There are so many charities that you can support. It can be very easy to make the wrong choice if you don't follow these 5 top tips. Don't forget you don't have to raise a fixed amount unless you are running for a charity on a 'guaranteed entry'.


There are so many charities that you can support. It can be very easy to make the wrong choice if you don't follow these 5 top tips. Don't forget you don't have to raise a fixed amount unless you are running for a charity on a 'guaranteed entry'. This is when the charity gives you a spot in a race in exchange for a specific amount of fundraising. If you aren't running on a 'charity entry' you can raise whatever you can. But who should you run for.


Choose a charity close to your heart

You are going to be spending a lot of time fundraising so it's important that you choose a charity that is close to your heart and that you want to promote. Having a connection to the charity and especially to the nature of their work is particularly important. Talking to friends, family and work colleagues about a charity that you're not really engaged with will be very difficult and after a few weeks you will find your motivation declining daily. Ideally your charity will have provided support to you or a loved one and you know their work first hand. Being able to talk about a charity's work from experience will make the world of difference. Your potential donors will be able to sense your enthusiasm and will support you accordingly.

What support do they give you?

There is a separate post on this really important element of choosing a charity. Many charities offer some support for you and your training and fundraising, but only a few do it really well. It's easy to say that support is available but what is it, who does it and how much do they really offer. Ask questions and satisfy yourself that you're going to get what you need. If you're new to distance running and new to fundraising then you'll need lots of help, but if you're a regular then obviously it becomes less important. Saying that it's still great to have on the day support, especially a 'thank you' function at the end of the race. Some charities offer somewhere to store your bags and food and drink afterwards and it's these touches that can make all the difference. Who is going to be your point of contact at the charity? Some of them are really, really good and some not so much. If you're new to this you will be in contact with them a few times and you'll want to make sure that your contact is as passionate about what you're doing as you are.

Find out where the money goes

None of us want to run for charity and not know where the money gets spent. Finding out can sometimes be difficult but it's really important to find out. Sometimes the charity will assign funds from specific marathon campaigns to specific projects internally, but very often it just goes into a big pot to be spent as allocated by the bosses. Occasionally you'll be able to ask for it to go to certain projects, but this is unusual with the bigger charities in particular. If you're not comfortable with that approach then it's better to run for a smaller or mid sized charity where they may well be a bit more flexible.

Check who has entries and how much do they want you to raise?

If you are looking for an entry in a specific race then you need to find out from the official website exactly what charities have entries. All of the big races will have a list of charities that have spots and some of the charities will have ads on that site targeting runners. It's important when browsing the options that you review how much each charity expects you to raise in exchange for one of these entries. The amounts can differ significantly so make sure you're comfortable with the amount being asked for. When you're happy you will need to apply to one or more charities. There will be an application process for these entries and in some cases, where they have a few entries and there is a lot of demand, they may run their own lottery style process. In races like the New York City, Boston and London Marathons there will be huge demand and it's inevitable you will go into a draw. With some events that won't be the case and they'll be pleased to offer you an entry if your pledge amount meets their expectations.

In some cases the charity may want a deposit up front and in the US they will take a credit card and charge it on agreed dates if you haven't fundraised the agreed amount at that point. This is to ensure they get the agreed amount for the spot. This doesn't happen in the UK but may do in the future. The charities have to pay for the entries and the marketing so it's important that they get the income from their investment.

Are they local?

This is really important to some runners and less so for others. If you are running for a local charity you'll want to know that the money you raise will be staying local. This isn't always the case, but a quick check with your charity contact will usually get you the answer. If you're raising money for a local hospice in memory of a friend or family member and you specifically want to support the work of that hospice then you won't want your monies going off to a central administrative body. Find out before you get started.

Choosing the right charity is absolutely crucial and if you don't get this first step right then you'll find the whole experience danting and more challenging than it needs to be. We should all have a go at raising money for charity at some point as it can be highly rewarding and a great way of giving back. Take your time and get this bit right. Don't just choose a charity because they want the lowest pledge for a New York or London Marathon entry, choose one because it's the right fit for you.

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