John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk


As I've mentioned before, my big plan for this year is to cycle from Land's End to John O'Groats. This isn't a sponsored event, in the same way that I didn't get sponsored to go cycle camping in Breton last summer; it's something that I want to do, so I don't need a "bribe". Having said that, if you feel inspired to give money to the charity of your choice then please go ahead.

If you would prefer to sponsor someone, one of my St John Ambulance colleagues (from the Cycle Response Unit) is also doing the end to end cycle ride, raising money for Action Medical Research:
I think that's a good cause, but I have mixed feelings about this type of sponsored event.

The Action website has more info about their UK End 2 End challenge, including a brochure. Page 8 has the terms and conditions, with some interesting small print. Quoting item 3: "You must make it clear to all prospective sponsors that a certain amount from your sponsorship money goes towards payment for you to take part in the challenge. The cost of the trip is estimated at £1,245."

The fundraising target is £2,000. If the donors are taxpayers, they can claim Gift Aid, which will add 25% to their donation; however, this only applies to the balance raised (after the cost of the trip has been deducted). If someone hits the target exactly, and all their donors are taxpayers, it gets broken down like this:

Cost of trip£1,245.00
Gift Aid£188.75
Total donation£943.75

If you donate £10 with Gift Aid, you might expect the charity to get £12.50. Instead, £4.72 goes to charity and £6.23 goes towards the ride costs. You may notice that £4.72 + £6.23 = £10.95 (not £12.50); that's because Gift Aid only applies to part of your donation. This may also be relevant if you're a higher rate taxpayer and you want to include this in your tax return.

So, is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. I'm guessing that the charity gets more money this way than they would if they just relied on donations; 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing. Also, if someone exceeds their fundraising target then a proportionally smaller amount will go towards the ride costs, e.g. if someone raised £10,000 then about 87% of that would go to the charity. However, I certainly think that it's important for sponsors to know where their money is going, so that they don't feel misled.

I'm just using the cycle ride as an example here, because I've seen similar events elsewhere. For instance, you can do a sponsored bungee jump or parachute jump, where a portion of the sponsorship money goes to the event organisers and then it's free for you to actually do the activity.

There are alternative ways of raising money. For instance, the Children in Need FAQ says: "For every penny you give us, a penny will go towards projects helping disadvantaged children and young people here in the UK. We are able to make this promise because the charity uses its investment income and Gift Aid to cover all running costs."

Coming back to my LEJOG trip, I'm covering all the costs myself, e.g. paying for accommodation along the way. So, I'm slightly reluctant to chip in for someone else to do the same trip; it feels a bit as though I'm paying for someone else's holiday. Would it be fair to ask them to pay for their own costs and then give all the sponsorship money to the charity?

Nick Radford recently wrote an interesting blog post: The difference between "traveling" and "a holiday". I think that my trip will fall into the "traveling" category, since I'm deliberately taking the scenic route; I want to actually see what the various parts of the UK are like, rather than driving along identical motorways. I think that it will be a challenge, but it should also be rewarding. The Action tour may fall into a third category, since they'll all be cycling further than me every day and I think they'll stick to main roads. So, if they're giving up their time and putting in a lot of effort, it might be unreasonable to expect them to be out of pocket at the end of it as well. This could be the equivalent of operational feeding at an SJA duty, e.g. Notting Hill; we do long hours, and don't get paid for it, so I don't feel guilty about accepting a free meal.

I think this may come down to a question of motivation. At the risk of sounding sadistic, I'd prefer to sponsor someone to do something that they wouldn't do for fun. For instance, I sponsored someone to do an abseil a while back, and I almost got vertigo just by looking at the photos. Similarly, I sponsored someone in Durham who shaved off half his hair; he then had to wait a month or so for it to grow back and look roughly even on both sides. This is also why I'm not asking for sponsorship on my ride, because I think it sends the wrong image of cycling (as suggested by a Guardian comment and Sheldon Brown).

Looking at the London Marathon, if you're not an international athlete then you pretty much have to be sponsored in order to take part. So, I'd be willing to help someone out there if it was a particular ambition; also, I'm guessing that the admin overheads are relatively low. However, that's not the case for most sponsored events.

So, what should you do if you want to raise money for charity without spending loads of your own money in the process? You could pick a cheaper event, e.g. Movember. If it would cost too much to cycle 1000 miles, how about going 20 miles on a pogo stick? One other option is to get sponsored for delivering a service, e.g. "Bob a Job Week" in the Scouts (although apparently that's now gone).

So, what do the rest of you think?
Tags: charity, cycling, lejog, tax

  • Broken chain

    This time last year (April 2017), the chain snapped on my touring bike. To be fair, it had lasted 3118 km, and these are essentially consumable…

  • WNBR 2015

    I've been involved with the World Naked Bike Ride since 2009. This year, I took part in three rides: London, Brighton, and Bristol. I also did a few…

  • Free stuff

    I'm having another clear-out, to get rid of some of my accumulated clutter. If anyone would like any of these items (free of charge), just let me…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 1 comment