Over the summer, the on-going saga of the Three Peaks Challenge yet again dominated the area of events activity. Back in 1997, this particular event caused so many problems that the Institute of Fundraising was asked by the National Parks to do something, resulting in the Code of Practice in 1999.
However, two key problems remain. The plethora of small ad hoc groups fundraising for local charities are well meaning but unfamiliar with the voluntary code. At night, they flock to remote valleys such as Wasdale, oblivious that people live there.
Then we have large-scale events run by commercial operators. These have a serious impact in the Lake District and despite annual protests from the National Parks, hundreds of people appear by the coach load to tackle Scafell.
The code of practice is emphatic in two areas. First, it limits the numbers of people to 200 since properly managed events - where the walkers are broken down into small teams spread over a period - have very little impact.
Second, the code is clear about avoiding the embarkation of teams during the night. In this way, local people's wishes are respected and, if necessary, other arrangements can be made.
A good event should be one where the locals and other visitors are scarcely aware of its presence and all trace of the event having taken place is removed.
As with most fundraising issues, it is a question of balance. Properly managed events can raise funds at very good ratios without any lasting or damaging impact. Charities that adhere to the Institute's Code are likely to be welcomed and appreciated for their concern.
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