If you’re already a seasoned runner, cyclist, swimmer or adventurer, choosing to use your event to raise funds for charity adds a whole new dimension to the challenge. And if you’ve never done anything sporty before, it’s a great motivator to get up off the couch. Along with the satisfaction of helping someone else, racing for charity will do wonders for your own fitness. You’ll enjoy a feeling of real accomplishment.
Why is racing for charity a win-win?
- You’ll make a difference
Regardless of how much money you raise for your chosen charity, you will make a difference. You’ll help real people (or animals), save a life, contribute to the health of the planet, or help build a better future for mankind. If that sounds a bit grandiose, remember the words of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
- It boosts your motivation
Training for a marathon, cycle tour or mountain climb takes an incredible amount of time and effort. Getting up early on a cold, dark morning to run or cycle before work requires strong discipline. Yes, your reward will be finishing the race or challenge. But, if a charity is relying on you – and your friends and family have sponsored you – you won’t want to let them down. And that will give you the extra motivation you need to get up and get going. The motivation factor can be a real help when your training is getting tough, or even considering giving up altogether.
- You want to ‘give back’
If ‘your’ charity that has helped you or a loved one in some way, raising funds for them offers an opportunity to give something back. Other friends or family members may even want to join in and help raise even more money for your chosen charity. Wouldn’t you want to know that, because of your efforts, the charity will be able to help more people like you and your family?
- You’re part of community of like-minded people
In big events such as the Comrades Marathon, Cape Town Cycle Tour, or planned charity events such as Cycle for Smiles, there is a great sense of camaraderie amongst fellow fundraisers. It’s a great opportunity to meet other like-minded people – whether they are representing the same charity or another cause. Sharing your experiences and motivation reminds you why you are doing this.
- Support from your charity
Organisations like Operation Smile South Africa provide plenty of support for their fundraisers. Apart from making sure your event and fundraising challenge are publicised far and wide, they can offer fundraising tips and a secure platform on which to raise funds. So you don’t need to handle any cash yourself. Some charities provide branded sportswear to identify you as part of their team. Joining a fundraising team offers additional support. Especially if there are team meet ups, Facebook groups, and regular email communications to ensure you never feel alone on your journey to the finish line.
- Support from your friends and family
On race day, you’ll have more supporters cheering you on than if you are racing for yourself alone. Everyone who’s supported your fundraising drive will be encouraging you, whether they are standing at the side of the road or sending you messages on social media and WhatsApp. All this support is a huge motivation to push on through the rough patches and finish the race or challenge.
- You’ll get fit
If you’ve never participated in a run or cycle race before, and you’re only entering an event because you want to help a charity that’s close to your heart, your decision to fundraise will motivate you to start training. And that means your fitness will improve. Racing for charity not only helps raise much-needed funds, it’s also an investment in your own physical health and well-being, including your mental health. Exercise combats depression and anxiety, helps you sleep and boosts self-esteem – especially when you are doing it for a greater purpose.
- Personal satisfaction
There’s nothing to beat the good feeling you get from helping others. Choose a charity doing work that you feel is important, and that has a good track record of delivering help where it’s needed. If you don’t know which to choose, have a look at what our Operation Smile fundraisers are doing, and why. Knowing that you’re making a difference – giving a child born with a cleft lip or palate a beautiful new smile – is incredibly rewarding and has a powerful effect on your sense of self-worth. Doing good literally makes you feel good.
What people say about racing for a charity like Operation Smile
“I’m fundraising to support this great cause, because it is something very close to my heart. My beautiful niece was born with a number of facial deformities including a cleft lip and palate. Organisations like Operation Smile make it possible for her to show the world her beautiful smile.” Idrees Ismail
“I smile a lot, and people smile back. Smiling people are happy people. That’s why I walked 500km from Mossel Bay to Pringle Bay to raise funds to help put a smile on a the face of a young child born with a cleft lip and palate.” Robert Bolus
The idea to cycle for charity came to Dan Meyer at 2am one morning.
“I had a bicycle in my garage and I just thought, ‘Maybe I should go cycling.” So he rode 3 588km across Europe to put a smile on children’s faces.
“Making Operation Smile my beneficiary made the most sense – they do incredible work and I’m really happy to be part of the charity,” he said.
Dan isn’t stopping there. His next challenge is to cycle the West Coast of America from Calgary in Canada to the Mexican border, around 4 500 km away. This will take him through some of the toughest off-road trails, and includes traversing the Rocky Mountains. His adventure will be largely solo and unsupported. So he will need to carry everything (food, water, clothing, tent) with him on his bicycle.
Read more about Dan’s Smile Cycle.