I ran the Windsor Half Marathon yesterday, to raise funds for the Israeli charity Colel Chabad. Thank you to all who have sponsored me.
Fundraising pages are now very popular. More and more of us, it seems, are running, swimming, cycling and walking, and more of us are raising funds for charities as we do so. JustGiving pages are now commonplace on social networks.
This is a good thing – and there are many ways to go about it.
For instance, several people suggested to me that I set a target figure on my page. As one put it: ‘Experience shows that’s the way to get people to donate more than they planned to.’
I found this a bit bizarre. Why would I want anyone to donate more than they planned to? There’s a fine line between enthusiastic charity fundraising and inappropriate pressure. Personally, I preferred not to set a target.
Then, someone wrote to me to say he was about to sponsor me and that he was very sorry he could not afford to donate a bigger amount. He explained that he has had a very tough year income-wise and money was tight in his household.
I replied immediately to say that there was no need to sponsor me at all. He then wrote again and told me how ‘at least’ five friends of his had been ‘nasty’ to him during the past year because he had not been able to afford to donate higher figures to their fundraising pages. Whoever these five people are I hope they get a life one of these days.
All of this reminds me of Judaism’s eight levels of giving concept. This separates grudging giving from loving giving. It shows the difference between vain, showy giving and anonymous, silent-hero giving.
It is one of the most thought-provoking and challenging parts of the faith. Reading it is always powerful a reality check for me. I wonder how high up on the list the whole JustGiving fundraising phenomenon would rank. Certainly anyone who berated a friend for the size of their donation is not going to fare too well.
During the race yesterday it was unseasonably hot, making the incline of the hills in Windsor Great Park seem sharper than ever. As always at these events, it was the volunteers and spectators who made the day so magical.
The volunteers work so hard to keep the water stations and other aspects of the race working efficiently. The spectators, with their cheering, clapping and shouts of encouragements, lift the runners’ spirits.
I’ve noticed in the two events I have run since last summer that spectators have been significantly more vocal and enthusiastic than in any previous UK event I’ve run in. The beautiful spirit of the London 2012 Olympics lives on.
Thank you to volunteers and cheering spectators yesterday. Us runners and fundraisers get a medal and plentiful kudos. Yet it is you who are the heroes of the event and it is you who deserve the credit.
But hey, I ran 13.1 miles in 1hr57mins44seconds and raised, so far, £1,322.51 for Colel Chabad. So go me! Here I am, a few hours after the finish, doing The Bolt with my medal.