Next Sunday, tens of thousands of people will take part in the Virgin London Marathon raising money for hundreds of charities, including Barnardo's. I'm always inspired by how much people will do to raise money for their favourite causes. When it comes to the Marathon they don't just go that extra mile, but an extra 26!
The desire to help others runs deep in this country and all charities - and those who fundraise on their behalf - want to tap into it. But with 180,935 registered charities in England and Wales there are a vast number of causes competing for people's goodwill - and their hard-earned cash. And with so many fundraising events on offer, donors are increasingly looking for activities which offer them the greatest personal reward.
A few years back it may have been enough for our marathon runners to ask friends and family for sponsorship. Now that only gets them so far in meeting their fundraising target. Many of our fundraisers hold a movie night or have a "dry" night out and ask people to donate the money they saved. Others charge to do chores such as spring cleaning or hold a "Zumbathon".
As a nation we have become more demanding. This has led to deeper questioning about where the money goes - both from fundraisers and their sponsors. We have to provide almost instantaneous feedback to show how the money has made a difference; this is something audiences have come to expect.
A competitive fundraising climate with 'market-savvy' donors creates a demand for bigger and tougher challenges. It puts pressure on charities and fundraisers to stand-out and show why they are most deserving of support. I welcome that - I want everyone to know where their hard-earned money goes when they donate to us.
Last week I attended Third Sector's Leaders in Fundraising event in London. It was clear that charity CEOs need to play a leading role within our organisations to champion the profound changes taking place in fundraising.
We need to back a diverse range of fundraising approaches. We need to help donors see how their support makes a real and sustainable difference. We need to make fundraising the business of all our staff, volunteers and supporters.
Year after year, we need to be inventive with our fundraising mix to meet the increasing demand for our services. At Barnardo's we go beyond the established marathons and cycle challenges to hold Dirty Dozen Races and High Atlas Summit Treks to match our fundraisers' enthusiasm. In Edinburgh there is even a Kiltwalk!
We endeavour to provide tailored support from the moment a fundraiser signs up to an event. Our fundraising teams build up personal relationships with those who raise money for us. We offer training, nutrition and sports injury programmes, media opportunities and even celebrity-led sessions to make them feel special. We work in partnership with each individual and do all we can to support them in meeting their targets.
Every event has its own personality, tempo and satisfaction. The greatest success comes when we connect donors with those who use our services. For every individual donation, every legacy made and every challenge signed up for - it's always our job to show our supporters - whether mums, students or pensioners - how their support transforms young lives.
Good luck to the chickens, the crocodiles and everyone else running for charity this weekend. However you're dressed, and however long you take to finish the Marathon, you make it count. I will be there cheering you on.Suggest a correction