An important announcement from People’s Events’ and People’s Run 2 Remember founder/national director, Jim Cowan:
After much soul searching, I have come to the extremely difficult decision to end all of my involvement in the organisation and management of charity fundraising events.
It is forty years since I organised my first charity event, a sponsored cycle ride for the Stoke Mandeville Appeal, and the charity fundraising landscape has changed almost beyond recognition in that time.
It has been a fantastic journey, during which events I dreamed up, created, organised and managed have raised in excess of £1.5 Billion for a range of good causes.
But there have been negatives, negatives which have finally driven me to call it a day. Small things, but nonetheless important, like rarely being thanked, being taken for granted and, although not the reason for doing it, receiving next to no recognition or appreciation.
Beyond that, I feel the charity sector is also overdue for reform.
There are too many charities raising funds for the same, or similar, causes meaning funds raised are overly diluted paying for double, triple, and more offices, staff and other overheads. There are far too many CEOs and other employees earning obscene salaries. And, vitally, there are too many charities lacking the transparency to make readily available what percentage of the funds raised go where intended and not on ‘overheads’.
Back in the 1990s, I came up with the idea for and created the Race For Life. I organised the very first one in Battersea Park in 1994 before being told by the charity concerned that I was no longer needed. I later learned that employees of that charity had claimed the idea as their own and built successful careers on the back of that lie. I swore at the time if I was exploited in such a way again, that would be it.
In 2014 I was told that the official charity of the Poppy Run wanted to take their fundraising “in a different direction.” I relaunched the event as the People’s Run 2 Remember, supporting other armed forces charities only to find out last year that the original charity had launched their own event, also called the Poppy Run, an identical copy of my own series. Worse, these new Poppy Runs were often in the same towns and on the same day as the People’s Run 2 Remember. I leave others to judge the ethics and integrity of one armed forces charity setting up in direct competition with others, or what their well-paid events department are actually paid for?
Of course, some charities, although far too few, have been exceptions to all of the above and I do not wish to tar all with the same brush. In 40 years of fundraising with and for over 100 charities, I thank the following for being a joy to work with (in alphabetical order to avoid showing preference):
- ABF The Soldiers’ Charity
- Action For Pulmonary Fibrosis
- British Red Cross
- Muslim Hands
- RAF Benevolent Fund
- Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity
- Scotty’s Little Soldiers
- Special Olympics
- Stoke Mandeville Appeal
To our politicians, especially as we head towards a general election, I say; please look at this sector. It does a lot of great things but there are far too many abusing that system and hiding behind the word ‘charity’. Please, consider looking more closely and act to reform before public confidence is completely undermined.
What do I mean? Consider this; a recent charity television campaign implored viewers, through use of heart-breaking images, to donate “just £2 a month.” That same charity would need nearly 10500 people to subscribe to that appeal for twelve months just to pay their CEO’s salary, and then without expenses and other on costs. Surely transparency should dictate that same charity (and all charities) should clearly state on this and every other appeal what percentage of funds raised go to overheads and what percentage actually reach the intended beneficiaries?
To anyone continuing to fundraise for whichever cause is near to your heart, I wish you well and will always be available for help and advice where needed and where time allows.
Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has supported, helped at, or otherwise supported the many events I’ve been involved in over the years. I will never be able to thank you enough.