Reasons to Run for Charity

Since the first London Marathon in 1981, runners in the race have raised more than £1 billion for charity, making it the largest annual one-day fundraising event in the world.

Running the London Marathon and fundraising for charity has never been more popular – participants continue to raise money for causes close to their hearts.

There are two ways that you can run and fundraise:

With a Charity Entry

Secure a guaranteed charity entry and pledge to fundraise. If you're a runner who's looking to get a place in the race via a guaranteed charity entry, visit our I Need a Charity Place page to find out more.

With a Ballot Entry

Use your ballot place to fundraise for charity. All you need to do is search our I Have a Ballot Place listings, choose a charity to fundraise for and get in touch with them – they'll be delighted that you want to run for them and you'll find that running for charity is fantastic fun and really rewarding.   

Many charities also offer amazing runner-support packages to ensure you enjoy every step of your London Marathon experience. These packages include all sorts of benefits like a T-shirt to run in to training advice, cheering points at the event and a post-race party with free sports massage for when you've done all the hard work.

Here are a few more reasons why you might want to use your ballot place to raise money for a great cause:

Purpose and motivation

Raising money for charity can give purpose to running the Virgin Money London Marathon and serve as a goal to work towards. If you're running just for the sake of it, you may start to doubt yourself and feel tempted to give up when the going gets tough. You'll be more inclined to get up and go training in the cold, wet winter months when you know you're supporting a good cause.

Keep it personal

Remember, when you run for charity you're helping real people and changing lives. Why not run for a cause that's close to your heart? Maybe there's a charity that's helped you, or a loved one, through difficult times?

You can make a difference

Every year charities buy places in the London Marathon then give them to runners who agree to raise a minimum amount of money – these are called charity entry places and you can find out more about them at Runners Looking for Charities to run for. By using your ballot place to run for charity, the charity gets all of the money you raise and won't have to spend anything on your place. However much you raise, your contribution will make a massive difference to your charity and the people it helps.

As well as raising money, running for charity can help raise awareness. You'll be seen by hundreds of people wearing your charity's logo on race day, and everyone who sponsors you will learn more about the charity and the great work they do. Charities rely on this kind of public exposure to build a good reputation and encourage people to donate.

If you'd be interested in using your place in the Virgin Money London Marathon to raise money for charity, please check out , the official fundraising website for the race.

Get the Gift Aid

When friends and family sponsor you, extra money can be added to their donations as Gift Aid if they're UK tax payers. This won't cost them any more because Gift Aid is reclaimed from the Government, but your charity will certainly appreciate the difference. For more information please check out Virgin Money Giving, the official sponsorship website for the Virgin Money London Marathon.

You've got their support

Charities will usually offer lots of support and guidance to their runners – before, during and after the race. This can be anything from a training plan to a massage at the finish line.

Your chosen charity will do the utmost to look after you from the outset with a complete package to support you throughout both your fundraising and training.

A typical package could include any of the following:
  • A fundraising pack with tips and advice to help you raise more money.
  • A training plan compiled by a running expert. This type of plan usually lasts for around 18 weeks, detailing the type and intensity of exercise you should be aiming for each day. Even if you're completely new to running there will be a training plan to suit you.
  • A training pack with tips and advice on a range of topics like your running kit, footwear, injuries, warming up, stretching and nutrition.
  • Regular newsletters and charity updates. These will usually relate to the time of year and how far you are from race day – for example, it's helpful to get some motivational tips and words of encouragement in winter when you may not feel like training in the cold and wet weather.
  • Some charities will provide email support, so if you've got any queries you can get in touch with their running expert. This is great for getting advice which is more personal to you – for example if you've suffered a running injury.
  • A vest or T-shirt to wear on race day.
  • A runner's goody bag.
  • Support from a charity representative in your local area.
  • Information about online fundraising.
  • A forum to chat with other runners online.
  • A carbohydrate party so you can build up your energy stores before the race.
  • A reception after the race, often including a free sports massage.

Please note these packages will vary from charity to charity, and some will have more ballot place runners than others. But one thing is guaranteed - whichever charity you choose to support, they'll be really pleased to hear from you.

What will happen on race day

Here's an example of the kind of extra support you might receive on Race Day if you decide to run for charity.

Please remember, different charities will offer different things to their runners, and that will vary depending on the size of the charity you're running for.

Before the race

Most charities will give you a T-shirt or vest with their logo on to wear for the race, and if it's wet or cold, some charities will provide protective clothing for their runners while they're waiting around - like waterproofs, caps or ponchos.

Make sure you've got your own clothing with you too though – you'll be able to leave your kit bag at the baggage trucks before the race starts and pick it up at the finish line.

During the race

Most charities will have cheering points around the Virgin Money London Marathon course, where supporters of the charity will offer encouragement from the sidelines. This will give you a huge boost and keep you motivated as the going gets tough.

Some charities will also offer help to friends and family who come to watch you on the day. They can give tips like where's the best place to watch the race from, and provide them with clothing, flags, balloons – anything that helps promote the charity and spurs on their runners.

After the race

Although you'll be buzzing when you cross the finish line, there are also some practical things you'll need to consider too, like meeting up with friends and relatives and collecting your kitbag. Many charities will provide a reception area just a few metres from the finish to help guide you through this part of the day.

Some charities will also provide a post-race package to help you unwind. You could look forward to a massage, shower, hot food or even just a chat with your charity's other ballot place runners.

Be part of a team

When you run for a charity, you're surrounded by like-minded people running for the same reason. There's always a great sense of camaraderie among the charity runners, and you receive plenty of support from the sidelines too.

To give you a true idea of what it's like to run the London Marathon for charity, we've put together some quotes from past ballot place runners:

 €œWhen you run the London Marathon for charity, take everything that you've ever heard about the marathon experience, double it, and you're somewhere near the true sense of achievement. €
Peter Roberts, Plymouth

 €œA great experience that I will never forget. So proud to have helped the National Autistic Society. Thank you for the overwhelming support I received. €
Geoff Hurst, Hampshire

 €œThank you so much for giving me the opportunity to run the marathon. It was an amazing day from start to finish. The emotional highs and lows were incredible. The support throughout was brilliant, especially the Anthony Nolan gang at all the different spots. Sincere thanks again. €
R Sagoo, London

 €œRunning the London Marathon was possibly the most rewarding experience of my life, and the way the RNID events team treated us runners enhanced the day so much. The support throughout the run was incredible - at every point I began to feel myself lagging, there they were, a troupe of RNID supporters, shouting support, waving, and smiling. This was exactly what was needed to make me pick my feet up again and keep going. To be greeted at the end as we were, with massages and showers - not to mention tea and lots of biscuits - rounded it off in the best possible way. With the RNID events team behind me, I think I could achieve anything! €
Jane Francis, Haywards Health

 €œThank you for organising such enthusiastic support! Every time I ran past an NSPCC cheering point there was a roar of encouragement and shouting of my name - it felt so good, it helped me no end. That was my first ever marathon and it was the most amazing experience. Thank you for enabling me to do it and give my support to such a worthy charity. Thank you! €
Emily, London