Monday, 14 June 2010

So you want to walk the coast... Charity

It's all for charidee, mate!

This is perhaps going to be the most controversial of these sections. Some people have raised large amounts of money for charity whilst doing the walk - in the order of several hundreds of thousands of pounds each. I was remarkably less successful, and I think the reasons might be useful to others.

Firstly, the fundraising aspects were, for me, a drag (and even more so for my girlfriend). We both believed in the charity and wanted to raise money for them. However, the main reason for the walk was the walk, and fundraising was a side effort. We were attempting to do everything on our own, with few contacts to help us. To be frank it was a nightmare, especially for my girlfriend who was left to do most of the organising whilst I walked.

If you are walking to raise money for a cause that you hold dear, then the first aim should be the charity, not the walk. This means that the walk will be hindered to a certain extent by the fundraising - a classic example is having to be in a certain place at a certain time in order to do an interview. It all adds extra pressure on to the walk.

Secondly, you will need a person (or ideally, a team of people) behind you who are committed to the fundraising effort; people with contacts in the media are ideal. You will often be out of contact with the world, and you need people who can coordinate the fundraising activities for you.

Thirdly, get buy-in from the charity. This is absolutely vital, both for publicity and your own sanity. They will have the contacts that will help you publicise your fundraising efforts. Additionally, you will find that supporters of the charity will be keen to help you when you are in their area - that was certainly the case for us, and we were the recipients of many small acts of kindness during the year.

Fourthly, prepare literature to hand out on the walk. People will often not want to give you money as you walk (besides, there are legal complexities to doing that). Instead, have a website where people can donate and read more about your progress. Business cards and leaflets are a remarkably effective way of spreading your message, especially as you will meet literally thousands of people on your walk. I had a little banner attached to the back of my rucksack, and this seemed to positively encourage people to come and speak to me.

Please do not let this put you off fundraising as you walk - it is a great way of raising money, as many people have shown. Just be aware that it will get in the way of the walk, and that the walk will get in the way of the fundraising.

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