Before we get started, just a reminder that this is about why you should not, and not about stopping you from raising money for charity.
Covered in this blog
- How donating money affects you
- Why raising money for charity is bad (hint: it's not)
- How to properly raise money for charity by athletic events
- What else you might do instead
How donating money affects you
I’ve had the honour and privilege to work with, interview, and be friends with many amazing people who have raised incredible amounts of money for charity. People like Mark Beaumont, Ben Smith and Dean Stott have raised millions towards very worthy causes. I’m proud to have raised and donated tens of thousands for mental health charities.
There is some falsity behind the statement “money can’t buy you happiness”, a study in 2014 by Pradnya K.Surana showed that people do tend to be happier with money, when they donate it. Those in the experimental group (those who gave money to charity) showed improvements in their own wellbeing, including improvements in life satisfaction and self-esteem, over those in the control group (who spent money on themselves), who actually experienced higher post-test levels of money-related anxiety. “The results provide corroboration for the powerful idea that charity does not only benefit the recipient, but positively impacts upon the donor too.”
Why raising money for charity is bad
Well, it’s not…
The problem comes when we burden ourselves with the amount of money raised and the logistics around raising it. Speaking from personal experience, and from working with many clients who actively raise money for good causes too, the act of fundraising as part of an event can be more demanding than the event itself. You will spend far more time and energy talking to people, businesses, creating content and generally seeking donations than you ever will in training.
The bigger problem arises when you start to want to see a return for that hard work. When you pour your heart and soul into something so passionately and you don’t see that reciprocated in your friends, family and followers, it can be heartbreaking. When you are so invested in something and you’ve spent many months working on it, it’s demoralising when you don’t see your efforts being recognised via donations.
Of course, a fundraising total can be entirely subjective; ask ten people “how much would you want to raise to ride around the world?” and you will no doubt receive ten very different answers.
The issue is this negative load can dramatically increase your chances of event failure. Your event will be (should be) challenging and you almost certainly have thoughts of quitting. These thoughts can easily be exasperated by a lack of donations. It will become very easy to just quit.
How to properly raise money for charity using sporting events
I feel there are two main options for successfully raising money using your sporting event. The first would be to simply not raise money for charity at all. Sounds odd, but with the time and energy you save not fundraising for yourself, could be spent on someone else's campaign. This is a much more selfless approach as you are likely to receive less kudos, but you will almost certainly help someone raise more money without the emotional attachment to the amount raised, thus increasing your own chances of success in your sporting event.
The second is to build a team around you that will help support you with your efforts. If you are committed to fundraising, you will, at a certain point, need to step back from this and focus entirely on completing the event itself. Unless your challenge is easy for you to complete, you will find the additional workload during the event impossible to manage. Ideally, you will have a fundraising manager from start who can help you organise your content creation, liaise with businesses for corporate donations, and maximise the effectiveness of this side of the event. However, having a friend or family member step in at a certain point and assume this role from you is the next best thing. During your event, you don’t need to know how much has been raised, it’ll never be enough. Simply distance yourself from this until the end so the fundraising total doesn’t become a moral killer.
Before I’m inundated with hate (e)mail, let’s just address the focal point here; we all should be doing our part to help those less fortunate than ourselves, but we need to remove fundraising as a target that we strive to achieve when it is part of an athletic goal. If you are capable of not focusing on the amount you raise or have the time to do it, then don’t. Offer your services to others and donate your time to a worthy cause instead.
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