Organisers of mass-participation events across the country have today launched a new virtual fundraiser to support UK charities during the Covid-19 crisis.
The 2.6 Challenge aims to raise £67m by the end of April and is using the strapline “save the UK's charities”. The central day of the campaign will be 26 April, when the London Marathon was scheduled to take place.
Last year the marathon raised £66.4m for charity. This year’s event has been postponed to October due to Covid-19.
As part of the Mass Participation Sports Organisers (MSO) group, London Marathon Events has announced a virtual fundraiser to support charities instead. The public is being asked to take part in a 2.6 Challenge by running, walking or doing any other physical activity as long as it complies with social distancing guidelines, while donating or fundraising for a charity of their choice.
In order to reach the target, 2.6 million people would need to raise or donate £26 each, or 260,000 people would need to generate £260 each.
Charities have been encouraged to get on board with the campaign and ask their supporters to take part. Organisers have provided a marketing toolkit to make it easier for them to promote the initiative to their supporters.
Organisers said sports bodies and celebrities will also be supporting the campaign, including former England cricket captain Andrew Strauss.
Funds will be raised through the Virgin Money Giving and Just Giving platforms, which are both partners in the event. People can choose between donating to a specific charity or donating to a central pot managed by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).
Funds from the central pot will be distributed to all participating charities, based on how much each has raised independently.
‘As inclusive as possible’
Organisers said the challenge is not just for runners or athletes, but can work for anyone.
Nick Rusling, co-chair of MSO and chief executive of Human Race, said: “The 2.6 Challenge can be anything that works for you. You can run or walk 2.6 miles, 2.6km or for 26 minutes. You could do the same in your home or garden, go up and down the stairs 26 times, juggle for 2.6 minutes, do a 26 minute exercise class or get 26 people on a video call and do a 26 minute workout – anything you like.
“We want people to get active, have fun and raise money to help Save the UK’s Charities by giving money or raising funds for the charity close to your heart.”
Conservative figures from NCVO estimate that the sector will lose more than £4bn in 12 weeks due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Organisers said that while they are conscious that the fundraiser will not “save” UK charities by itself, they are hoping it will strongly convey the message to the public that charities need support.
Hugh Brasher, event director at London Marathon Events, said: “The work that you [charities] do is so important to society. We are well aware of the huge issues the sector is facing at the moment and we really want to try and help.
“The London Marathon is the largest one-day annual fundraising event in the world, and normally on 26 April thousands of charities would be benefiting, over £66m would be raised and there would be so many positive stories.
“We are trying to make it as inclusive as possible, for charities of whatever size. Everyone can get involved.
“It really starts to build the conversation that Britain needs to understand the importance of the work that you do – that you do now, that you have done previously and that you will be doing in the future.”
The campaign is supported by the Charities Aid Foundation, the Institute of Fundraising, the Small Charities Coalition, the Office for Civil Society, Sport England, sportscotland, Sport Wales, Let’s Do This, Virgin Money Giving and JustGiving.