Charities start to get tough on London Marathon runners who fail to deliver sponsorship money

Some participants who use charity places are asked to make up shortfalls themselves

London Marathon
London Marathon

A number of charities are introducing tougher measures against runners who fail to meet agreed fundraising targets for the London Marathon, which takes place next month.

Some charities ask runners to sign up to regular direct debits until they meet the fundraising total. Third Sector also understands that others have started taking runners' credit card details when they agree to take part so they can be charged if they fail to deliver the funds.

Defaulting runners can also be reported to the event's organisers: the London Marathon operates a 'low performers list' of runners who fail to raise money for the charities that have given them places.

Karen England, head of fundraising at the Make-A-Wish Foundation, said the charity did not charge runners' credit cards. But she said that last year it had revised the form it asks runners to sign when they accept a London Marathon place.

The new agreement requires runners to commit to raising £1,850 in sponsorship and confirm they will be personally liable for this amount if they fail to run the marathon.

"Every year, a couple of people drop out and a couple more don't raise the funds," England said. "We have to recoup our costs, so we think it is reasonable to ask people to pay."

Karl Gwilliam, challenge events manager at WellChild, said about five runners a year raised no funds at all for the charity. The charity has 200 places in the event. "It's getting a lot more difficult, and each place costs us £400," he said.

A spokeswoman for Barnardo's said all runners using its gold bond places - reserved for particular charities year after year - were asked to sign an agreement to raise £1,600 before a fixed deadline. They were also asked to commit to making up the shortfall personally if they did not raise the full amount. She said this did not apply to anyone injured before the event.

A London Marathon spokeswoman said it was up to each individual charity to decide the terms on which it asked runners for money.

She would not say how many people were on the 'low performers list' or how it operated.

Read Jude Habib's blog on London Marathon fundraising.


"A lot of people drop out at the last minute" - Children's Trust

"It happens all the time" - WellChild

"There's a process of chasing" - Scope

"In the end it becomes more expensive to keep chasing" - Barnardo's

"If a runner doesn't send the money, there's nothing we can do. We contact the organisers and get the name added to the blacklist" - Age Concern/Help the Aged


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