The JustGiving Awards:

JustGivingAs you all probably know, registration for the London Marathon 2010 filled in record time this year. 2 days and 16 hours after the website opened the ballot places were already filled, a full 15 days quicker than the previous year. I check twitter very regularly for those talking about the London Marathon and the number of people raising money for charity with JustGiving is phenomenal. With so many trying to raise money it can be easy to forget the reasons that these people are inspired to do what they do.

If there ever was a frank reminder of those, not just running the marathon, but who decide to perform magnificent feats in the name of charity, then the JustGiving awards was it.

Last year, JustGiving came under some scrutiny in the media. The spin was that people were claiming to be emotionally blackmailed into donating via online charity sites such as them. An unnamed Daily Mail columnist (no surprises there) would not be bullied into donating via the web when she could just as easily donate her cash and know that all of her money was going straight to her charity.

Standing ovation for Phil PackerBut when Major Phil Packer manages to raise over £1.3 million for Help for Heroes, or a campaign to stop X-Factor from claiming yet another Christmas #1 raises over £100,000 for Shelter in less than 2 months, you have to face facts. Since its inception in 1999, JustGiving has helped over 8,000 charities raise over £450 million. None of this would have been possible without the ease and speed at which users are able to donate online.

But, JustGiving admit themselves that they would be nothing without their fundraisers. So what better way to show their appreciation than by throwing their first ever awards ceremony in London to celebrate the amazing people that give up their lives for others.

There were four categories; Most Innovative Fundraiser, Most Popular Fundraiser, Most Successful Fundraiser and the Incredible Achievement award.

Most Innovative Fundraiser Winner – Simon Painter and David Wood
Si and Big Dave, dressed in orange prison jump suits, blagged their way from Manchester to Luanda, Angola armed with nothing more than their passports. So far they’ve raised over £2,500 for the KidsCan Cancer Research Centre and they hit this target with a heap of donations from strangers on their 30 hour journey, who’d seen the JustGiving link printed on their sleeves. I was sat on the table next to these guys and after winning the award it was clearly a very emotional moment. But that didn’t stop them all from getting on Twitter! Youtube video of the moment they won here.

Most Popular Fundraiser Winner – Sophie Atay
When Sophie Atay was 15 months old her mother felt a lump on her tummy. She was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer called stage four neuroblastoma and the antibody treatment that would give her a better chance of survival would cost over $500,000. But after Sophie’s story was featured in the media, 40,000 people went to her JustGiving page and her total now stands at over £500,000. She was unable to be at the event as she is now in New York undergoing the treatment.

Most Successful Fundraiser – Phil Packer
I ran the marathon last year with Phil and I smashed his time! Well, when I say ‘ran with him’, I really mean that I ran the same marathon as him. And when I say ‘smashed his time’ it might be worth mentioning that Major Packer lost the use of his legs after a spinal cord injury sustained while fighting in Iraq. After being told by doctors that he’d never walk again, Phil walked the London Marathon 2009 over the course of 14 days but has also completed a number of other challenges (including rowing the Channel!), raising over £1.3 million for Help For Heroes.

N.B. Instead of reeling off an acceptance speech, Phil probably raised about £1000 for Robyn Higgins that night by suggesting people raise their hands if they would like to donate £10 to her cause. He also pledged to donate £100 himself

Incredible Achievement Award Winner – Will Hemsley, Jonathan Hughes and Nick Mclelland
(AKA Ride2Recovery)
After Will’s brother suffered spinal injuries after a stabbing in 2008, him and two friends decided to organise the challenge of the century to raise money for Aspire and Spinal Research. 24 rugby-playing lads completed a 600-mile bike ride through England, France and Switzerland and have so far raised over £78,000.

Overall, a smashing, emotional roller-coaster ride of an event and a great chance to meet the JustGiving team. The big message I’ve taken from the night is not to forget the reason you’re running for your charity. A more heartfelt and genuine story is likely to result in much more donations. The stories told at the awards put my fundraising idea to shame so it’s time to get my finger out and start getting down to the real reason I’m running.

Well done to all award winners and all nominees.

P.S. An added bonus to the evening. I finally got to meet ‘Rhino Head’ Becki Button (famous in the London Marathon tweeting world of 2009). She was fasten-ating. Get it?

Nice buttons...

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