Marathon fundraising: Helping fundraisers and supporters ride the emotional rollercoaster


This year’s marathon has been an emotional time for event fundraising.  There was the tragedy of losing runner David Seath and the touching commitment his friends have made to finishing the race he started.  There were the images of Alex Lacey carrying a fellow runner over the line which have inspired an outpouring of pride and respect:

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 16.02.13 Comments left on Alex Lacey's page

These events underline how fundraising at its core is about people and emotions as well as transacting money.  So what has London 2016 taught us about how to give more people a bit of that amazing marathon feeling?

  1. Take as many people as possible on the journey

Fundraising is often described as a curiously intense process – and whilst the emotional investment is felt most by fundraisers themselves, it is striking just how much their supporters feel connected to the journey too.

JG’s #Poweredbypeople campaign aimed to spread ownership of the story to donors as well as fundraisers.  With personalised content being clicked /played nearly a quarter of a million times by fundraisers and donors alike, this idea seems to have appeal. Social posts have also helped fundraisers reach further, to touch the hearts of strangers.

Donation from stranger on London Marathon runners page

Charities of all sizes can adopt similar principles:

  • Encourage fundraisers to regularly update their community on their highs and lows of their journey, so everyone involved can feel ownership
  • Give fundraisers content to inspire their supporters and to deepen connections with your cause

London Marathon runners on Tower Bridge

  1. Use social channels to help digital supporters sample the atmosphere

Whilst manning Twitter on race day, we were struck by supporters’ desire to ‘shout out’ for their runners. The cheering heard around the course also echoed loudly across digital channels. The constant activity kept our tweeting fingers busy – but you don’t need sophisticated systems or a massive following to bring an event to life digitally for audiences:

  • Embrace ‘real time’, even if it’s a bit messy: Social around exciting events is all about combining enthusiastic support with new information– so don’t worry about making it perfect
  • Amplify other voices: Responding to requests of others alongside planned messaging helps create new affiliations

People taking a selfie at London Marathon start

  1. Help your fundraisers tell your charity story

This year, we were keen to champion charity impact to donors. So every runner’s personalised post-race web page contained their charity’s impact statement, to tie the money raised to the activities it would support.  Experimenting with creative ideas that bring fundraisers and supporters closer to charity stories has reminded us that:

  1. The impact of donations has emotional power, so be sure to champion how money gets spent after the event
  2. Small can be big. Translating money into smaller tangible items helps donors identify their contribution

As London returns to normal, all these points serve to remind us that, great fundraising captures not just heads, but hearts.

London Marthon runner wearing medal at finish line






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