Whilst it's great that so many charities will benefit, especially in these tough economic times, I've a cautionary tale from personal experience.
I really dislike raining on anyone's parade, so I thought long and hard about this post. It is written entirely without malice, but as a timely reminder to charity bosses just how important it is to acknowledge your grass root supporters. And here's why:
In his sixties, my dear old dad decided to enter the London Marathon, and ran at his own pace, finishing in a respectable five hours twenty odd minutes. Boyed by this personal success, the next time his entry was accepted, he collected and ran for a local charity. Dad duly collected the sponsorship money (and made up the shortfall) and then sorted out banking and sending off a cheque. He waited and waited for a 'thank you' letter from his chosen charity. It never came.
Time passed, and it was a few years before Dad successfully applied to the organisers of the London Marathon. Whilst by no-means the eldest in the event, he was certainly amongst the vetrans at seventy odd years of age. I begged him to run for my sons' school, and another well known charity. (I won't embarrass them by name).
Dad agreed, and we set to work collecting money. I told the charities involved dad planned on running for them, we received a t-shirt from the bigger charity and a mention in the school's newsletter. My dad's generation don't blow their own trumpet much; asking people for money however good the cause doesn't come easily to him either. But between us, we managed to raise a respectable sum. After the London Marathon had been completed, we collected monies, counted up the coins and notes, took it to the bank and handed two cheques over for equal amounts to the chosen charities. We knew the cheques had been received, by the simple fact that they were banked, but once again there was no official acknowledgement.
'It isn't that I want them to thank me, I know I didn't raise that much.' Dad explained 'It's just that I asked people for money. What do I say to them? What if they think I've put it in my own pocket? They must wonder.'
He really was genuinely upset not for himself, but for people who had handed over their hard earned cash as sponsors.
So I took action. Both parties who benefitted from Dad's run sounded surprised I asked for a receipt of some kind. I'm surprised I had to ask. In one case, not just the once either.
All Dad wanted was a short note on headed paper confirming that he'd raised X amount of money, to show and personally thank the people who'd sponsored him. Official confirmation Dad had handed over that money. Not thanks. Not appreciation: Just a receipt to confirm the money had been received safely. It wasn't a huge amount, a couple of grand each is a drop in the ocean compared to what some people raise for charity, and I'm certain the charities concerned were and are grateful for any financial help. And of course there are many many folk out there who raise funds day in day out, not just once a year, who might be wondering why the song and dance over this omission.
But hopefully I've managed to make it clear Dad didn't want thanks for himself, but for those work colleagues and friends who had actually handed over cash. Although in my view, if someone undertakes to run a marathon for you, the least you can do is say 'Thank you.'
No matter how big a charity you represent, no matter how small the amount collected on your charity's behalf.
To take part in the London Marathon is an ambition many ordinary folk dream about, and to raise money for charity at the same time is icing on top. If your charity was one of the millions benefiting, please don't take the dairy off someone's personal achievement by forgetting your manners.