Charities are hoping that this weekend's 2.6 challenge will bring in millions of pounds for organisations struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Organised by the Mass Participation Sports Organisers group and supported by organisations including the Charities Aid Foundation and the Institute of Fundraising, the challenge calls on people of any age to come up with an activity based around the numbers 2.6 or 26, and fundraise to "Save the UK’s Charities".
The initiative was put together after the London Marathon, which was due to take place on Sunday and raises tens of millions of pounds for charities each year, was postponed until October.
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has warned that the sector could stand to lose an estimated £4bn in income over the next three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in fundraising events being cancelled or delayed.
Among the hundreds of volunteers participating in the challenge this weekend is 25-year-old Harley Salter, who had his foot amputated in 2018 because of a congenital birth defect. Salter plans to use his Alinker walking bike to run 2.6 miles each day for 10 consecutive days as he raises money for the Huntington’s Disease Association.
“The thought that fundraising will be badly affected because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that might affect much-needed support for families is something that gravely concerns me,” Salter said.
His efforts have already raised more than £300 for the charity.
“The UK had significant inequalities and thousands of people living in poverty before coronavirus and the lockdown,” said MacDonald, whose challenge will begin at 8am on Saturday and end at 11am on Sunday.
“Unemployment is sky-rocketing and social inequality will get worse. I don’t believe it has to be that way, but we need charities and other socially-minded organisations to help society get through this.”
There has been widespread celebrity involvement in fundraising efforts, with the comedian Stephen Fry attempting to hit a cricket ball in the air 26 times in a row as part of a challenge set by lung cancer charity the Ruth Strauss Foundation, ambitiously doing so in a glass conservatory.
I’ve done the #RSF26challenge and donated to— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) April 19, 2020
the wondrous @RuthStraussFdn via https://t.co/SptpPR8TUU … Full explanation on the challenge and how to #bidforthebat on instagram here https://t.co/Fk0GNO0tTT pic.twitter.com/R2MDwN7lNX
Also getting involved is former England rugby union captain Jonny Wilkinson, who will complete 26 keepy-uppys with a variety of balls to raise money for the small charity Tiny Lives, which supports premature newborn babies.
But not every endeavour is a sporting one. Sonya Chowdhury, chief executive of Action for ME, will spend the weekend cooking 142 different curries and will then walk 2.6 miles to deliver them to members of her community, a challenge that has already raised more than £6,000 for her organisation.
And Third Sector’s own features and analysis writer Rebecca Cooney is getting involved this weekend, dressing up as 26 different characters across two days, with planned costumes including a Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Frank-N-Furter and Doctor Who.
Update on my @LondonMarathon #TwoPointSixChallenge 26 Costumes in 2 days fundraiser! There are still at least 4 spaces left for you to donate and suggest a costume (and of course, you're welcome to simply donate to 2 fantastic causesl - details here https://t.co/o7wZeGvAtz pic.twitter.com/W2UuyFX1tG— Rebecca Cooney (@RebeccaKCooney) April 24, 2020
Around the country charities are encouraging supporters to get involved and donate. The animal charity the RSPCA has challenged supporters to complete activities ranging from a 2.6k dog walk to running 26 times around the garden dressed in an animal onesie, while London’s Air Ambulance has so far seen more than £2000 raised by supporters completing its "Helicopter" press-up challenge.
“The 2.6 Challenge can be anything that works for you,” said Nick Rusling, co-chair of the MSO and chief executive of Human Race.
We want people to get active, have fun and raise money to help save the UK’s charities by giving money or raising funds for the charity close to your heart.”
At the time of writing the 2.6 challenge had raised more than £1.8m for charities around the country.