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Fundraising heroes: How I worked with local businesses to raise £24,565 for the National Autistic Society

How to fundraise through your work network

Marathon fundraiser Andrew Jay smiling and giving a thumbs up with his fundraising teammates Inger and Luke

Andrew Jay ran the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon and, through working with local businesses, raised a massive £24,565 for the National Autistic Society in the process. Here he explains how he did it and how other fundraisers can work with companies to boost the amount they raise.

What is your advice for first-time marathon runners who may feel overwhelmed by the fundraising challenge?

Just like the run itself, you should see fundraising as a challenge. And just like preparing for the run, you have to start early and not stop. Tell people what you are doing and get them to be part of your journey. If you are trying to raise a serious amount of money, then you need to go the extra mile, whether that’s organising events or working with businesses who might be able to donate more than individuals.

How did you get so many donations from businesses?

I run a business myself, so I asked for support from my supply chain. I worked out our biggest suppliers in terms of the money we spend with them and asked them to donate specific amounts. It was that scientific. Be bold. If you don’t ask and keep chasing for support, you won’t get it.

How would you recommend people without connections approach companies for support?

I would suggest getting a t-shirt or running vest produced for the race and asking companies to sponsor you in return for their logo on the top. Go to them with a set price in mind, which works better than saying ‘what will you give me?’ Point out that not only are they supporting a great cause, but they’ll also be getting their company’s brand on a t-shirt that will be seen by thousands, or maybe even millions if you get on television. They might even be able to put it down as a marketing expense!

What other advice do you have?

You have to immerse yourself in the cause you are running for. Getting a charity place at the Virgin Money London Marathon is a privilege and you won’t be successful unless you truly understand the good work your charity does. I started by finding the local representative of my charity, the National Autistic Society, and attending local support meetings. Whatever the cause, there will be local representatives and you will find hugely enthusiastic volunteers who will be keen to help with your fundraising. Making personal connections can also lead to companies supporting you. For example, the local florist may have a connection to your charity and they might donate a prize for a raffle or a pub quiz.

What difference has your fundraising made?

I’m happy to have contributed to the National Autistic Society’s Anderson School in Chigwell, which opened in September 2017. It’s a state-of-the-art facility with noise dampening and special lighting systems in all the classrooms to help the 128 students there feel comfortable. The aim is to help these young people learn and give them the best chance in their future life. To see the money we raised make a difference is hugely rewarding.

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