How Charities Can Support their London Marathon Runners
January 4th 2022
The countdown to the London Marathon is upon us! This year, on 26 April, many runners will not only run 26.2 miles, but they’ll do so to raise funds and awareness for a charity of their choice. This dedication and effort can result in large donations and awareness for your charity.
In fact, did you know that since the first London Marathon in 1981, charity entrants have raised more than £830 million for important issues? Here, we share a few ways that charities like yours can support, motivate and encourage your runners to not only cross the finish line, but to bring in big funds for your charity at the same time.
Training Guides and Resources
For many of your runners, this will be their first big race. Help people of all levels prepare by offering clear, robust, and easy-to-access tools and resources to achieve their training goals. For example, Macmillan offers runners a great step-by-step guide on what to expect, as well as an array of training plans for runners of all levels. This includes a downloadable wall-planner for more visually-oriented people to chart their plan and progress.
Photo Credit: Macmillan Cancer Support
One tip here is to be proactive with your support. Don’t expect everyone to navigate to these resources on your charity website. Remember, people are busy (especially once you factor in the additional time needed to train for a marathon!) and not everyone has easy or reliable access to the internet. Hit as many channels as possible to inform and motivate your runners, including social media, newsletters (print and digital) and in-person events.
Give Great Gear
At the Charity Clothing Company, we know this: Running 26.2 miles is a grueling feat! Plan to give your charity runners some great gear to build excitement and keep them motivated. One tip is to design exclusive marathon-branded merchandise; it will help your gear stand apart from other campaign merchandise and increases its perceived value. Your runners certainly deserve that!
Popular ideas include exclusive charity-branded technical running vests or jackets to stay dry and comfortable, water bottles and retro-cool headbands or sweatbands.
For example, people who run the London Marathon for Outward Bound receive a custom running vest and t-shirt; Cancer Research UK provides a “cheering pack” with a branded banner, clapper boards, cheering sticks, balloons, tattoos and running sacks. Macmillan also offers a great collection of “sports stash” including a load of fun stuff for non-runners, like scarves, socks and tote bags.
Create a Long-Lasting Community
Make your runners feel like they're a part of a team, because when they run with your charity, they really are! As we mentioned above, not everyone is internet-savvy. Seek opportunities to form deeper connections with your runners through in-person, community events. You could provide a social gathering at your charity headquarters or a local park or library – perhaps to trade training stories over a potluck meal or games night? Or, what about creating a pre-marathon running club for people seeking a training buddy? At these events, don’t overlook an opportunity to check in on fundraising efforts and offer tips and tools to help people raise even more money for your cause.
The Great Ormond Street Hospital charity, for example, hosts an “information evening” to give runners a chance to meet one another and ask questions. Who knows? First-time charity runners might turn into some of your biggest long-term supporters.
Marathons are Hard; Fundraising Shouldn’t Be
The end goal of all of this is to raise awareness and funds for your cause. Make it as easy as possible for your runners to fundraise leading up to 26 April. Carers UK offers a comprehensive guide for fundraising – one neat thing is that it helps runners make a clear connection between the amount of money they raise and what can be done with it. For example, £25 will enable the charity to answer emails from five people who find it difficult to pick up the telephone. Or, £1000 will staff the Adviceline for one day.
The Carers fundraising toolkit also includes a creative A to Z list of fundraising ideas, including some surprising suggestions, like “K for hold a KARAOKE evening” at home or a local pub. Get creative with your fundraising guides, and don’t shy away from sharing compelling stories about why all of this matters.
Make it Fun!
And, of course, our last tip is to have fun! The London Marathon is a tremendous and celebratory event with global reach and impact. Honor this big moment and reward your runners with a post-race reception where runners and their families can celebrate, enjoy a post-race massage, live music, refreshments (don’t forget healthy and hydrating options) and more. One of the more popular activities we hear about? Offer a warm shower at your post-race reception! Some charities, like Marie Curie, also host "cheer stations" along the course to keep runners motivated throughout the race.
As we count the days until the London Marathon, we wish you and your charity runners the best of luck! We hope to see you out there. Please give us a call and see what we can do to inspire your runners and maximise your fundraising opportunities before, on and after race day!