Well, as you may already know I have just about made it to half way in my quest to run 5000 miles in 5 years – an injured calf means I am having to rest up a little, so….. I’ve been reflecting on how things have gone so far, and specifically thoughts about how tough it is to raise funds these days…….
I always said that this was an evolving challenge, and that when I set off I didn’t really know exactly where it was going to take me – all I knew was that I was running 5000 miles inside 5 years and that I wanted to do it as a fundraising “event” for Kirkwood Hospice. It’s difficult to articulate exactly what “it” is, because whereas a normal event is usually easy to describe – “I’m jumping out of a plane”, “I’m running a 10K”, “I’m doing a tough mudder”, “I’m sailing across the Channel in a bathtub”, or whatever it is, people have a basic understanding of how that works. You do a thing, you get sponsored, you collect some money, it goes to the Charity – you feel good, the Charity benefits to the tune of £xx and everyone is happy.
What I’m doing is a different thing – but one of the things I’ve learned these last two and a half years is that “it” is very difficult to explain – I’m not exactly the most succinct talker, I try to fight against my natural tendency to use 500 words where 50 will do, but if I ever try to explain it people glaze over pretty quickly, and it’s also clear that my original concept of getting people to sign up to a financial commitment has not been embraced or taken up in the way I had originally perceived that it would be.
I feel like @MrNaivety would be as appropriate a twitter name as @andy5000miles when I think back to those initial meetings I had. I thought that I’d have a load of leaflets printed, people would read what I was doing, want to support the Hospice through a regular giving scheme, and sign up in their thousands, or at the very least hundreds. I figured I could change the world of regular giving by actually doing something to earn the money, rather than just standing in the precinct with a clipboard and persuading people to part with a regular Direct debit because I was digging wells in Africa or looking after malnourished cats – I had what I thought was a fantastic idea, combining the concept of a normal thing (running, lots of times) with giving regularly over a period of time, by making the normal event last a significant length of time (in this case 5 years). I still think it’s genius, but unfortunately the only people I have been able to persuade are a few of my friends and a very small number of other people.
I can’t decide whether I have only been able to persuade a few people because of any of the following…….
(a) there is a reason why it’s a daft idea but no one has the heart to tell me, or to explain why
(b) people don’t like the uncertainty of their finances and don’t want to commit, so would rather give me £20 than fill in a form for £2 per month
Don’t get me wrong, lots of people have been incredibly generous with one off donations and I would love to list you all, you know who you are and thank you thank you thank you!! But – the fact is that I hate asking for money. I am rubbish at it. I think that at the heart of it is the fact that I hate being asked for money, because to be honest my heart sinks – I want to support all sorts of worthy causes but you can’t give to them all and part of me wants to focus my efforts on making a difference to the charity that I support – but then of course if everyone felt like that then no one would support me, and so it goes…..
So – if anyone out there is reading it and wants to do any of the following….
- support me with a one off donation (which is very generous, thanks – but were you not moved at all by any of the above!?)
- support me by simply working out a better way of articulating the regular giving thing as described above
- support me by signing up to my regular giving thing (because you are super clever, and get it, think it’s genius, and want to support me too)
……then please do get in touch.
One thing I think I am going to do in 2018 is wave my metaphorical little “cap in hand” flag when I’m doing a specific race – I already have my 2018 schedule planned and it includes 3 half marathons and a marathon, so I’ll join the same band wagon as everyone else and say “Hi – I’m running the xxx (half) marathon for Kirkwood, would you like to sponsor me?” – somehow this doesn’t feel right though – I don’t like doing it, and I feel like I’ve worked out a way to avoid this constant low level pestering of the same loyal people, so it doesn’t sit comfortably……
The fact is that the Charity market is very crowded, and even the most generous people only have so much to give – there is another factor which has crept into my thinking too which is a dawning realisation that the running for charity market is tougher than ever, for two reasons – thanks to parkrun and other initiatives more people are taking up running than ever before, and whilst this is fantastic for the health of the nation, and I am actively trying to be a part of that encouragement, it means more runners, which means that more people are asking for money for running challenges, which dilutes the available source, and it means less people thinking that running distances is as impressive a feat as they may have done a few years ago. Second, there is always someone out there who is going to go further, or for longer, and be more impressive, so whatever you do, it isn’t going to be as extreme as what someone else is doing. Recently a 75 year old man ran 75 marathons in 75 days – we had the guy who ran over 400 marathons in consecutive days, and since I’ve become more involved with club runners I’ve realised that several of them run a greater weekly distance than me as a matter of course, without making a song and dance about it.So, as I hope to move into the second half of my challenge, I still don’t have much idea where it is going to take me – some things have gone well, other things not so well – I’ve raised in the region of £5,000 so far (although not all of that was from running, that includes a couple of other contributing events too) so I’m not doing too badly – I still have that feeling though that if someone could just get it and explain it, and go with it, I’m really onto something with the monthly giving thing…….