The JustTextGiving Fittest Fundraiser challenge has ran its last mile. So how did our runners get on? And, moreover, what fundraising tips did they pick up?
October marked the end of the remarkable JustTextGiving Fittest Fundraiser competition, which took in seven of the UK’s most popular runs, and saw three tireless fundraisers covering hundreds of miles for charities they care about. Since then, we’ve been catching up with our recuperating runners to see what they made of the whole experience.
The JustTextGiving Fittest Fundraisers – Sophie Mullins, Grant Counsell and Dan Bowsher – have raised a fantastic amount of money during the past six months. But all that cash doesn’t come easy.
We wanted to find out what their biggest challenges were, how many fundraising tips they picked up and to see what they enjoyed the most about the whole experience.
Sophie’s fundraising journey
At the start of the campaign, Sophie set herself a target of £500 for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research, although that soon changed. “I quickly changed my target to £1,000,” she tells us. “I’m currently at £952.50, so I’m feeling very proud.”
As the year progressed, Sophie found herself enjoying different aspects of the Fittest Fundraiser – the company of her cohorts in particular. “Towards the end of the series I most looked forward to catching up with all the friends I made along the way.
“I felt so proud of how much Dan and Grant improved throughout the races. It’s clichéd but I did feel I was part of something special.”
So how exactly did Sophie manage to double her initial target? She explains: “Don’t give up. People don’t like being badgered but they also, often, just don’t get around to donating.
“Social media is great for this as you’re not putting people of the spot, but, as more people within their network sponsor you, it sort of snowballs. So post ‘thank yous’ on Facebook and Twitter.”
Grant’s training challenge
Sophie wasn’t the only one to smash her initial target, though; Grant also found huge fundraising success for Cancer Research UK. “I’ve achieved much more than I initially targeted with regards to fundraising,” he tells us.
“I’ve never done anything like this before and have had to continually badger and remind people and ask for donations. To raise anything significant you need to be prepared to make a nuisance of yourself and continually ask for donations.
“The runs themselves have been the most enjoyable part, Grant explains. “The whole competition has been made more enjoyable by having the support of Dan and Sophie and being able to share the experience.
“Completing so many events has been a challenge, so having a plan for training and making sure I’ve put the miles in has been important.
“I’m not sure I would have got to the end of this without a reasonably strict plan.”
Dan’s donation tips
The Fittest Fundraiser was more than a success for all three participants and their charities, with Dan also beating his fundraising target for the James Hopkins Trust by what he modestly describes as “a fair margin.”
“You never quite know how people are going to respond when you’re asking them to donate,” he says, “but I’ve had lots of support from friends and family to bring that money in and it means a lot.
“You have to be pretty determined to get the money in and stick at it, but it’s worth it.
“Keep in mind that the events themselves are the catalyst for getting money in,” Dan adds. “It’s almost like people only believe you’re actually going to do it just before the event, so they want to congratulate you with donations afterward.”
Raising money wasn’t the only thing that Dan took away from the Fittest Fundraiser, though; he mentions his fellow competitors as a particular highlight:
“Meeting Sophie and Grant, and sharing the entire experience with them, was brilliant.
“Meeting Sophie and Grant, and sharing the entire experience with them, was brilliant. For completely different reasons I think they are both very inspiring people and I’m very proud to have been part of the project as a result. It was great to go through the year with two people so focused on making a success of it, and even better to see them achieve it.”
When it comes to raising money with JustTextGiving, Dan has a number of top tips for aspiring fundraisers. He explains: “Because the text code such a visible thing, make sure you share pictures and videos if you can. It’s a great way of making it easier for people to see how they can support you.
“Use Facebook and Twitter – as well as any other channels at your disposal – to keep people up to speed with your progress, and increase the frequency of posting when the event’s just around the corner.”
And as a final piece of fundraising advice, Dan echoes Sophie, concluding: “Don’t forget to say thanks to people! Tagging people on Facebook or Tweeting them shows you appreciate it and might entice a few more people to chip in.”
An epic journey… To see just how far all three of our JustTextGiving Fittest Fundraises have come, you can check out their story right from the start here.