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New opportunities for charities

London Marathon Events today (21 January) announced a series of new initiatives that offer charities a wide range of opportunities to engage with the London Marathon, the world’s biggest one-day annual fundraising event.

Hugh Brasher, Event Director of London Marathon Events, said: “With the national vaccination programme underway, we are delighted to announce our exciting plans for the world’s first 100,000-person marathon. The London Marathon is the most popular marathon on the planet, with a world-record 457,861 people applying in the ballot for a place in the 2020 event, and the incredible success of the 2020 virtual event shows the huge appetite to be part of the world’s greatest marathon.

“The new 2021 virtual event for 50,000 participants offers exciting additional fundraising opportunities for our charity partners. In addition, we have brought forward our plans to increase the size of the in-person event and are planning for 50,000 participants, an increase of more than 7,000 on our previous record, which again offers big fundraising potential for charities.

“In 2019 we began the complex process of reviewing our allocation of guaranteed charity entries (the Golden Bond, Silver Bond, Charity Ballot and One Year Bond schemes). This is the first review for more than 20 years, during which time the London Marathon has become established as the world’s biggest annual one-day fundraising event, setting a new world record for 13 successive years.

“In announcing the results of that review, we are delighted that more than 1,000 additional charities each year will now be able to access guaranteed charity places and that charities created in the past 20 years will, for the first time, be able to access guaranteed places. Previously, those charities only had access to the Charity Ballot, which offered one place every other year.”

2021 Virgin Money London Marathon

The 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 3 October is set to be the largest marathon ever held, with 50,000 participants in a virtual event around the globe and 50,000 on the traditional course from Blackheath to The Mall.

Brasher said: “We have been working for many years on plans to increase the London Marathon to 50,000 and the need to reallocate all the runners from the 2020 event accelerated this plan. This devastating pandemic has meant many more people are now understanding the physical and mental health benefits of being active and the new hybrid London Marathon offers great increased fundraising opportunities for charities.”

Charities will be contacted with the opportunity to request places in the virtual event. The deadline for applications from charities is 16:00 on Thursday 4 February and allocations to charities will be confirmed on Friday 5 February, ahead of the public ballot results announcement on Monday 8 February. Charity places will be available at the standard entry fee of £28 (£38 for entries from outside the UK).

Unsuccessful applicants in the public ballot will have an exclusive window to enter the virtual 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon from Tuesday 9 February before general entries open on Tuesday 16 February. All finishers will receive the coveted official medal and T-shirt.

New Charity Bond scheme

In 2019, London Marathon Events started its first detailed review of the Golden Bond, Silver Bond, Charity Ballot and One Year Charity Bonds scheme, which included extensive consultation with charities and other key stakeholders. More than 80 per cent of charities that responded to a survey agreed/strongly agreed that the allocation of bonds should be reviewed.

The main features of the new Charity Bond scheme are:

  • From the 2026 London Marathon onwards, charities that currently hold Golden Bonds will retain 80 per cent of those places (four out of the five places in each Golden Bond) and the Golden Bonds will be held for four years rather than the current five
  • From 2024, any charity that does not currently hold a Golden Bond will be able to apply in a new ballot for two-year charity places
  • From 2026, any charity that does not currently hold a Golden Bond will be able to apply in a new ballot for four-year charity places
  • There will be no One Year Charity Bonds from 2026 onwards, as these will also be reduced to 80 per cent of current levels and become Golden Bonds (on a four-year term) from 2026
  • The current Silver Bond scheme (one place every five years) will end in 2025. Charities will be able to apply for the new two-year charity places, so long as they do not hold a Silver Bond place for 2024 or 2025
  • The Charity Ballot (500 one year places) will continue and will be open to any charity that does not hold any guaranteed charity places
  • There will be a further review of the system at the end of 2029, with any changes then implemented from 2034
  • The review means that approximately 2,500 charities will engage directly with the London Marathon every year (up from the current 1,500)

Due to challenge of reallocating places from the cancelled mass 2020 London Marathon into the 2021, 2022 and 2023 events, there will be no One Year Charity Bonds available for the 2022 London Marathon, but all existing One Year Charity Bond holders will be able to renew their One Year Charity Bonds in 2023, 2024 and 2025.

“This was an exceptionally complex challenge in a very difficult year and we would like to thank all the charities and others who have worked with us to review the scheme,” said Brasher. “The London Marathon, for many charities, is the biggest fundraising day of the year and the demand for places from charities is huge. We had to balance our responsibilities towards charities that have worked with us for decades with opening up the London Marathon to other charities for the first time in more than 20 years. We believe that our new scheme does that and gives our existing long-standing charity partners certainty on places up to 2033.

“The past 10 months have been incredibly challenging for both charities and mass participation event organisers. We have not been able to stage any mass participation events since March 2020 but we have worked hard to support our charity partners through 2020 with a range of very successful virtual events, including The 2.6 Challenge, My Prudential RideLondon, the virtual Vitality London 10,000 and the virtual 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon. We look forward to continuing to support our charity partners by delivering world-leading mass participation events – both virtual and in-person – that enable charities to raise millions through fundraising.”

All charities that hold guaranteed places in the London Marathon will be emailed by the end of January with confirmation of the number of places available to them from 2022 to 2033. Please note: any queries will be answered after 15 February, after the public ballot announcement.

For more charity bond review FAQs click here.

Charity Advertising Partnership Programme for 2022 London Marathon

London Marathon Events has taken its charity advertising partnership programme in-house for the first time and it will be managed by the expanded Charities Team, headed by Kenneth Foreman.

Charities will be offered a new streamlined four-level programme for the 2022 London Marathon and future events, featuring a range of advertising opportunities and support on the new London Marathon website, which includes marathon-specific training advice from Martin Yelling and exclusive opportunities to recruit ballot runners - alongside guaranteed places designed to maximise fundraising opportunities in the event, build awareness and create a wider pool of fundraisers for London Marathon Events’ charity partners.

Kenneth Foreman, Head of Charities at London Marathon Events, said: “Our new Charity Advertising Partnership Programme is simpler and better value than before. The new London Marathon website, which will have many more features and great functionality added over the coming months, will be a hugely powerful marketing tool.”

The Charity Advertising Partnership Programme for the 2022 London Marathon will open in early February with existing advertising charity partners offered a priority window to join the programme. There will be an opportunity for new charities to enter the programme from the end of March.

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