When I completed the Ben Nevis Challenge to raise money for Epilepsy Action, I managed to raise £700 for the charity – which was about £150 more than was expected. But the truth is that a few years before that, I walked along Hadrian’s Wall for charity too. For that trek, I didn’t raise anything like as much, and failed to hit the target I had been set.
So, what was the difference between my charity walks?
Looking back now, I believe I wasn’t confident enough to take on the Hadrian’s Wall walk for charity. Don’t get me wrong; I completed the walk. But I was depressed. I was too shy. I didn’t ask enough people for money. When Epilepsy Action made me aware of my failure to reach the fundraising total, I felt very guilty.
So, what did I do differently when it came to Ben Nevis? At that time, I felt much more positive about my life in general and I was more confident. I mentioned my need to raise money to the four hundred-plus people who had befriended me on Facebook. I wasn’t too shy. I reminded them plenty of times that by supporting me, they’d be supporting a charity. And as time continued, more and more of my friends started to donate.
"a few years before, I walked along Hadrian’s Wall for charity. For that trek, I failed to hit the target I had been set."
Asking people for money takes a lot of nerve, and energy. If you want to take on a walk for charity, then you should first measure your life out at the moment. Are you happy and confident? Can you put the time in? If the answer is no, perhaps you should do something for yourself first.
Tell people how the money will help
I was supporting Epilepsy Action, so I told others more about epilepsy in general – it’s a complicated condition and can be a serious problem for a lot of people worldwide – and about the specific work of the charity. Epilepsy Action promotes wider understanding and awareness of epilepsy, they provide support and advice for people with epilepsy and they support research and decisions that will make life easier for those with the condition. You can give examples of where the money will go: £6 can help experts support someone newly diagnosed with epilepsy. £25 can protect existing epilepsy specialist nurses from NHS cuts. £180 could fund an awareness session at a school.
Epilepsy Action is the UK’s largest charity that supports epilepsy, but when I hear about how much money they receive every year, I’m never too satisfied with the amount.
" I mentioned my need to raise money to the four hundred-plus people who had befriended me on Facebook. I wasn’t too shy"
Don’t forget your workplace
When in the workplace (as we often are) it’s so useful to talk to your colleagues. Tell fellow staff about your charity walk – they will only see you as a better person! Send emails, place posters. Your challenge could be a useful talking point at the water cooler and for your career later in life as well.
Looking back, I do wonder whether I exploited my work enough. I certainly wasn’t the loudest guy in the office. I was friendly enough to keep my co-workers happy. I gathered a few donations from people. But still, I was much too shy to grab myself loads of sponsors.
Gift Aid is a big boost
Gift Aid is a useful tool if your money comes from a UK taxpayer. If so, each payment will lead to the funded charity reclaiming 25% back from the taxman. Using online sponsorship websites, this can be done automatically for you, but you can do it with paper form donations as well.
"Epilepsy Action is the UK’s largest charity that supports epilepsy, but when I hear about how much money they receive every year, I’m never satisfied"
Something to remember
Asking people for charity donations for something you want to do might feel a bit odd at first. But a charity hike is a positive thing and you need to tell other people about it! You should feel pride in your decision to raise the money through a personal challenge and the donations of others.
And after completing the challenge, remind yourself that you’ve done something so good for others. There’s no doubt that it’ll help pick you up if you’re ever down.