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This blog by Tris Lumley, NPC’s Director of Innovation and Development, details a running challenge that Tris is tackling at the time of publication. Plus, his quick thoughts on how to build a giving strategy. If you’d like to support Tris’ fundraising efforts, you can donate here and if you’d like to follow his virtual race progress, you can track him here.

For many people, running a marathon goes hand in hand with raising money for charity. The big marathon events like the London Marathon are huge fundraisers for charities, and the current wave of cancellations of running events has left a lot of charities with gaping holes in their funding.

But for me, running has always been for my own personal enjoyment, not for charity. My day job is working for a charity, NPC, and leading the fundraising for our innovation and think tank work. If anything, running has been about getting away from work, and being free from the stresses of daily life.

In fact, when I started running in October 2018 for the first time since my school days, running became a replacement for much less wholesome stress management strategies—swapping booze and food for fitness and running. Fast forward two years, and I’m fundraising through my running after all. And running a lot—more than a marathon’s distance every day right now.

The challenge

Like lots of other people, the lockdown has been an impetus for me to run more. It’s hard not to notice the throngs of runners out on the pavements and trails these days. Like them, I guess, I found getting out for a run became an essential aspect of life under lockdown—a change of scene, getting the blood flowing, just the feeling of movement. And soon I found myself looking for challenges to commit to and test myself.

I found my challenge in the form of the John O’Groats to Land’s End Virtual Race. 825 miles of virtual running through Scotland and England, racing the other 150+ competitors from all across the UK (and some from further afield). The running takes place wherever the runner wants, the goal is to reach the target distance within the given timeframe. With three months to complete the race, starting from 20 June, I had found my challenge!

Who to fundraise for?

I decided that because this is such a big challenge, I should use the opportunity to fundraise. So now the question was, who to fundraise for? Lots of time spent running means lots of time to think. And as a charity geek for the last 16 years, I had a lot of thinking to do about who to raise money for. I’ve been talking to philanthropists for all those years about how to develop a giving strategy, build a giving portfolio, and choose charities to support. I had to take this part of the challenge just as seriously.

The first charity is The Running Charity. It helps young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to rebuild their lives through running. And it’s my personal pick. Running has been part of a personal transformation for me, helping me build self-belief, explore my mental and physical limits, learn and grow. So, when I heard about The Running Charity it instantly clicked—if I can benefit so much from running, how much more valuable could it be to young people facing much more difficult circumstances than I?

The second organisation I’m fundraising for is Edge Fund. It’s an exciting and radical initiative that I’ve held up as an example of promising funding practice for years—a fund that involves applicants in the decision-making process, based on the hypothesis that those people have the experience and perspective to make better decisions than those that have the money to give away. I love Edge Fund in its challenge to us all as donors to question our perspectives, our bias, and our power. For example, when distributing funding to local organisations and projects in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, those organisations have the knowledge to drive decision-making about allocating funding, much more than I do.

And the third organisation is NPC—the charity I’ve worked at for 16 years. Yes, I’m biased. But I’m proud of the work we do to help the charity sector develop, grow and transform. Like helping the government develop the Justice Data Lab, which helps any organisation working with people in the justice system to assess the outcomes of their work (for free). Or building a Covid-19 interactive data dashboard with our partners at Turn2us and Buttle UK, to share data about the needs that they’re currently addressing across the country. These resources have the potential to benefit all the many thousands of charities across the UK, rather than having to work alone to crack these challenges for themselves.

Support my fundraising

So that’s my own little fundraising portfolio—a balance of a personal connection with The Running Charity, challenging the status quo with Edge Fund, and work that can help the whole charity sector with NPC. It’s a group that makes sense to me, and that I’m proud to fundraise for. It’s a group of organisations and causes that I want to succeed for, which is why I’m running as hard as I can, and writing about them now.

If you’d like to support my fundraising efforts, you can give here—your donation will help make a difference in an exciting range of ways! And if you’d like to follow my race, you can track me here. At the time of writing this, I’ve covered 485 miles out of 825, and I’m keeping in the leading pack of 5 or 6 runners. Running more than a marathon a day isn’t easy, I’d love to have your support to make it achieve as much as possible for the charities I’ve chosen to support!

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