Institute of Fundraising: Marathon captures the essence of giving

The London Marathon captured a kaleidoscope of fundraising issues this year. Yes, there was the usual (or downright unusual) range of gorillas, ducks, firemen and even a camel running. But in the run up to the race, the story broke about charging VAT on runners' entries if they were 'buying' a place via charities.

These 'golden bonds' caused a stir in another way. There was a sense of amazement among many sections of the general public that charities have to buy places in the first place.

This isn't a criticism of the race organisers, rather a reflection of the lack of understanding about the true cost of fundraising. While it would be nice to have free places for charities, it's a fact of life that the marathon is a business and has considerable overheads.

As members of the donating public, we are all guilty of switching into blinkered mode when we give, expecting all of our contribution to go straight to the cause in question.

Ethics and reputational risk raised their head during the marathon. Jeffery Archer ran, intending to break the record for the most raised for a marathon.

Some charities had to think long and hard about the balance between the benefits of receiving funds from his efforts and the possibility that some people might regard an association with him in a negative light.

In many ways, the marathon captured most of the key issues currently facing fundraising, and yet managed to be a fantastic celebration of giving. The commitment and passion shown by all of the runners, in fancy dress or not, is the public face of a huge amount of hard work, both by the fundraising runners and the charities being supported.

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