Monday, 31 March 2014

Fun RUN raises up to €250k but only €12k goes to cancer charity as organiser says it a ‘commercial’ event

Mail on Sunday March 30, 2014

A fun run listing the Irish Cancer Society as its ‘official charity partner’ and urging participants, ‘Let’s beat cancer together’, was paid up to €250,000 in entry fees – none of which went to the charity.

Over 7,000 people wearing Day-Glo running clothes and glow sticks took to the streets of Ballsbridge in Dublin 4 last Saturday for Ireland’s first Electric Run.

Runners at the Electric Run unaware it was not for charity

Many could have been under the impression that at least part of their entry fee – which ranged from €30 to €43 – was going to help the Irish Cancer Society. This was not the case.

Anyone seeking to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society was given a reduced entry fee of €20 and encouraged to raise funds separately.

Only 88 of the 7,000 entrants chose this option. Their separate fundraising efforts made a total of €12,000 for the Irish Cancer Society. This was the sum total the charity received as a result of the race. None of the income of up to €250,000 earned from the 7,000 runners’ entry fees went to the charity.

The revelation comes amid growing disquiet over charity-linked runs with a motion now set to go before sports body Athletics Ireland calling on races to publicly declare how much money will be donated to good causes.

Last week’s Electric Run was part of a series put on around the world by a US company which has seen over 300,000 people take part.

Anyone seeking to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society was given a reduced entry fee of €20 and encouraged to raise funds separately.

The races were started by Dan Hill from Utah and organised through his Electric Run firm. But the race in Dublin was organised by Irish firm Run Ireland. Compared to traditional runs, Electric Run has a festival atmosphere described as an ‘electric wonderland’. It takes place at night with DJs playing dance music and the runners dress in neon and brandish glow sticks.

The Irish event’s website exclaimed: ‘We’re so excited to have the Irish Cancer Society as our official charity partner for Electric run Ireland!’ It went on to explain how to raise ‘more’ money for the charity and what the charity could do with it.

The Electric Run’s official Facebook page also stated: ‘We’re delighted to announce that Electric Run Dublin has partnered with the Irish Cancer Society and Just Giving. So put your hands up if you want to raise money for this very worthy cause. Let’s beat Cancer together!’ The Irish Cancer Society told the Irish Mail on Sunday it did not receive a single cent from the entry fee.

A spokesman said: ‘It puts our name out there. It has a real value to us, that’s free support – 88 people out of 7,000 isn’t much but it is €12,000 compared to nothing with no staff, resources, time or investment. That does help us.’ When asked if the website gave the impression the Irish Cancer Society was receiving some of the entry fee, he said there was no intention to confuse anyone.

A spokeswoman for Run Ireland said: ‘It wasn’t a charity race. It’s a purely commercial race… We’re very transparent. It’s absolutely not a charity event, it’s a commercial event.

‘The charity of choice we have allowed to use our database to raise money is the Irish Cancer Society.’ Richard Donovan, the chairman of Ultra Running Ireland, criticised the lack of transparency in commercial races but added: ‘It’s not just the commercial operators who are to blame: there must be a question mark over certain charities that allow their name to be used in a misleading manner.’

By Warren Sword
Mail on Sunday March 30, 2014