Sunday, 17 October 2010

Many a little makes a mickle!

Charities! What a subject to cover...

History of IL and charities
First of all: Whatever happens at ILP charity wise is absolutely non-commercial, private and voluntary. It was clear from the beginnings that one of the purposes of the website would be charity work. So in 2007 I did my first single Race for Life run, and in the two years that followed we had IL teams doing their best until we hit the brick wall, not being able to increase our impact anymore. A new strategy was needed!

A Critical Note: How to Charity?!
Although the 2009 Race for Life season was as much fun as usual I feel that we have to re-think our approach to charity, and on discussing the matter I found an open mind with the ladies.

Thing is: We did it twice now, everybody knows that we can do it, and 5k (3miles) is not considered a worthy challenge anymore by many sponsors.

There are so many charities out there competing for less funding available, so that unfortunately many sponsors want to see some pain and sweat delivered for the money they donate and the stakes are higher than ever. Even 10k are not considered a lot anymore, it has to be at least a half marathon, and the newest thing seems to be a track to the South Pole.

Although I like all the media via which news are spread so quickly, I nevertheless feel that in this case they contribute to undermining the humble efforts of normal people. So many celebrities are taking on challenges involving severe physical effort like hiking to Kilimanjaro, or walking 1000 miles in 1000 hours for which skilled teams are needed to bring them through the experience safely. Those events have strong coverage in the news and the internet and they are starting to become the norm.

These are fantastic challenges, great causes, huge amounts are collected, and they are once in a lifetime opportunity for the people doing it. Just that the bit regarding the supporting teams, the medical help the sponsors who pay for just that, gets easily forgotten.

Another way to raise attention is to become a bit frivolous. Just mix up the Midnight Walk and the Moon Walk and you might be ending up in very different kind of event.

This might all sound a bit petty, but this year’s experience with the Race for Life fund raising is supporting my new insight. One person I asked to sponsor me put it quite bluntly and I am sure there are others who think the same, but are just too polite to say it: ‘You are doing it again? Why? We all know by now that you can do it!’

I can’t argue with that!

And the next question I cannot answer either: What makes ‘Cancer Research’ better than ‘Heart foundation’, or ‘Alzheimer’s Research Trust’?

I don’t know; apart from the fact that I have committed to the one and not the others, nothing I guess. They are all important and as long as there are people out there collecting money for each of them they all will live.

However, in order to be successful, one has to take into account the ways people think. It clearly doesn’t work for our sponsors that we are doing the same thing over and over again.

They need variation – They will get variation!

It is just a matter of how to achieve that. I personally cannot take on challenges which stretch my physical capabilities to the limits. And I will not push others to do so. How can I promote a healthy lifestyle - pushing the envelope: ‘Yes! But not in a way that it is harmful for the body’, and then announcing participation in charity events which will most likely will kill my joints and do all sorts of harm. That just doesn’t go together.

If someone from the IL gang would like to do something like this I am happy to support her in any possible way, but it is not for me.

Three years of Race for Life have been a wonderful learning curve. I never will forget that it was Race for Life encouraging me to ‘get my bum up’. But now it seems that it is time to move on.

Moving on to environmental charities
Well, in my eyes this is the subject that needs to be addressed with highest urgency as otherwise we will not have to worry about the rest anymore. Once I stared diving into those charities I was baffled by the number of different organisations. That was the moment to follow my heart and I chose two main charities which are interrelated: OLT - Orangutan Land Trust and
BOS-Borneo Orangutan Survival. The sport and challenges blog 'Bloody Hell... ' tells the stories about the activities and ideas I am following up on to support those.

And then there are some others which I think do wonderful work. It is charities driven by the most inspiring women I know, and hence they deserve articles here to spread their word.

BOS-Borneo Orangutan Survival

UK Branch - Grainne McEntee

OLT - Orangutan Land Trust

Michelle Desillets

Land Empowerment People

Leap Spiral

Working for great apes and humans

Jane Goodall

Raw Wildlife Encounters

Jessica McKelson

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