We’ve been involved with the London Marathon for over half a decade now. During that period of time we’ve collated loads of feedback from runners who’ve told us what’s really helped their fundraising. Since we’re all round good eggs, we don’t do anything silly like try and charge people money for our knowledge. So as a special pre-Valentine’s treat here is our definitive FLM guide: if you’re running in April then this will help.
Just a bit of perspective, last year over £12.5m came through our site for the Marathon and over 10,000 runners had pages. So enough numbers, on to the top ten:
1. Get Personal
Start with your close friends and family. They’re your core group of supporters after all so it’s important to communicate why you’re taking part in the marathon. Maybe it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, or you’re particularly passionate about the charity you’re running for. Whatever your reason it has to be crystal clear and communicated without hesitation. If people can get behind your reasons too then it’s going to be easier to hit that target.
Hopefully this group will also be some of the most generous sponsors you’ll have. With our fundraising pages it’s always intimidating to see zero donations, so make sure that before you cast the net out a little wider, your close friends and family have made some good donations to your page. It helps if they’re not too small, since your sponsors will tend to match the average donation on your page. If the first five people all donate a tenner, then it’s going to be hard to push that average donation higher. To give you all an idea, last year’s average single donation per page for the marathon was just over £40.
Make sure that you’re really proud of your fundraising page. Make it pretty. Get some decent photos on there and make your personal message really really good. And once it’s done don’t forget that you can update it whenever you fancy. Check out Lucy and Katy’s great example.
2. Tell the World!
Tell everybody! Be utterly shameless. It’s a big target you’ve all got so make sure everyone who knows you even remotely knows that in April you’re running the London Marathon, and which charity you’re running it for.
So keep on at your work colleagues, post flyers through your neighbours door, get on friendsreunited and nab the email addresses of all your
old schoolmates. get in touch and don’t be afraid to make the ask. Same
goes for old uni mates and ex-colleagues.
Also if you’re a member of a club: it could be your local gym, golf club, cycling club, running club, poker club, anything. Make sure they know and make sure they don’t forget!
And whenever you’re down the pub, make sure everyone knows there too.
3. Get in Print
If you have a page on our site, you can access a sample press release by logging in to your account. Customise it a bit, call up all your local papers and send it over. But don’t stop there, local journalists are pretty busy people, so phone them a week later to check if they received it and whether it’s going to print.
Crucially, make certain they’re going to print the address of your fundraising page, or if not at least something which will allow readers to get in touch with you. If your story is good enough it’s really easy to get an article in there.
But just because the local gazette has got your story, don’t expect thousands to start rolling in from complete strangers, just wallow in the publicity for a while and perhaps it will raise a few extra quid.
4. Get online
We do kinda have to say this one. Have a look at your page, and underneath your total there’s an RSS button. Like this chap:
Give it a click. Basically, RSS feeds give you an up-to-date total right on your desktop or on a Google homepage every time you open your browser. If you want to find out more and how they work then click the more about RSS link and you’ll be sorted. There’s a very concise write-up on the BBC website
On to blogs. You can do these on realbuzz.com if you want an official marathon one, or any of the big blog sites will do it too, such as blogger, myspace and typepad. If you update your blog regularly with your training news and keep communicating why you’re running the marathon, it will help your sponsors to keep up with what’s going on, and it could be the tipping point for someone to make a donation.
Next up is our widget. We just released this, and what it allows you to do is put a mini version of your fundraising page on your blog or on any website you might be involved with. It’s more compelling than just posting links everywhere and you can ask your friends to host your widget for you too. And they look nice. Check out the Innocent Drinks blog for a great example.
We’ve also just released a new email tool, which can import your contacts from all your email addresses. Maybe it’s Outlook at work, Hotmail at home. It works with them all and saves lots of copying and pasting.
5. Talk to each other
You’ve all got similar targets and you’ve all got different ideas on how you’re going to get there. If you’ve come up with a great initiative then tell everyone, and also if something hasn’t quite gone according to plan then tell everyone too.
It’s easiest to do this online, we’ve got our lovely forum which is also linked from our homepage and the realbuzz forums are great for this too, not just for figuring out which types of Lucozade are isotonic or not.
6. Make some Printables
Get creative and make some posters with your page address on it. You can make some business card sized versions too to hand out to people you meet when you’re out and about.
Also you might have some contacts in your mobile that you don’t have an email address for, so send them a text message with your page address so that they can find out more. They might sponsor you.
There are loads of places you can get t-shirts printed too so get your web address put on your training gear so that everyone down the gym knows.
7. Communicate the Cause
It sounds really obvious but so many people forget to do it. Get the facts from your charity and find out exactly what a donation can pay for.
When you’ve got halfway to your target, update your blog and email your supporters, tell them what that money has achieved and what a difference the full amount will make. It is already in a charity bank account after all.
Your friends are donating to you and not necessarily the charity in alot of cases, but they’re probably going to give more if their donation makes a tangible difference. Check out Nick’s fantastic bulletpoints as an example.
8. Talk to your charity
Pick up the phone and keep in touch with your events team. They do get a bit nervous if runners disappear off the radar, and they’ve got tons of ideas and resources that can help you. They are, after all, the professionals at this stuff.
Also, make sure you know what the whole marathon team is up to and share your training and fundraising tips. Maybe some of them are local and you could train together. Like this lot are doing.
9. Talk to us!
We are totally dependent on your feedback. It shapes everything for the future, so if you’re happy with your page please tell us! Similarly if it’s not working for you or there’s a feature that you’d like to see then let us know.
We update this blog nearly every day so keep an eye on it, it’s linked from every page on our site. We’re going to be featuring runners from now until April so if you think your story is a good one then drop me a line and say so.
Also we’ve got a little stand at the FLM Expo in Docklands, where you all get registered for the big day. do come and say hello and give us some feedback. We will have sweets.
And if you fancy a chat then call Mike on the helpdesk, here’s the number: 0845 021 2110
Mike does love a good chat.
10. Keep Fundraising
Don’t stop when you’ve finished the race and don’t stop if you’ve hit your target. There’s always more money out there if you keep looking and if you’ve finished the marathon then people don’t have an excuse not to sponsor you anymore. It can make a huge difference for your charity.
Tell everyone how it went, put a photo of you crossing the finishing line on your page, update your blog, let everyone know the nasty recovery stories!
Right that’s it. If you’ve got any tips to share then leave some comments or get on our forum!