Being charitable about controversy.

The first I was aware of this event was an events thread on ‘Electric Run Ireland 2014. And I though “m’eh its a fun run” and thought no more of it until someone mentioned it to me last week which led me to start looking for info, it coincided nicely with people winging about the €70 entry fee for Dublin Marathon, hence the reason for the post on Instagram:
Let’s be clear, this is a fun run. For fun. It’s expensive but so is a nightclub and this is what this seems to be, a healthy nightclub of sorts.
Electric Run is the World’s Premier Nighttime 5k run/walk experience, where the participants are an integrated part of the show. Featuring immersive “Lands” of light and sound that transport the participant into an electric wonderland, Electric Run promises to transport the mind, body and soul to a new world in a healthy and drug-free way.
I’ve a mini-gripe about it being marketed as a ‘5k run’ because it does devalue a real 5k run.
There is a whole can of worms around commercial events Vs athletics club events Vs golf clubs hosting 5k etc. etc. and if you want to engage in a debate about the merits of each, go join, it is a discussion site & you can vent at will over there.
However you can’t fault a commercial entity in making money. That’s why they are ‘commercial’.
The issue is when a commercial entity piggy backs or hijacks a charitable cause to ADD to the marketing blurb of the event. To extend the ‘reach’ in modern Social Media parlance of the event and to create engagement as “OMG, I had such a great time at the 5k which was really a 3.8k, like, but, like it was so AWESOME!!” across all Social Media platforms (Electric Run has over 1 million fans on Facebook, 17.5k on Twitter, 24k on Instagram)
Ok fine, a charity can do with the publicity, spread and support. We know that. But then again there is huge controversy about charity structures, management, payments etc at the moment (not alleging anything about this chosen charity BTW) so people have heightened sensitivities.
When an event broadcasts:

We’re so excited to have the Irish Cancer Society as our official charity partner for Electric Run Ireland!

you do expect there to be something in it for the charity and the usual thing is “a portion of the entry…..” which leads to being called out on what the portion is. In this case the organisers were very clear and deflected all responsibility for charitable donations –

Charity Entries Open 9am, Wednesday 12th February. Simply use the promotional code SMILE to get your reduced rate entry when you register at and the Irish Cancer Society will be in touch to help you with your fundraising.

Leaving the charity responsible for getting in touch with the participants.

What about the participants?

In fairness prices went from €29.50 pp for a team of 4 to €43 for late registration individuals. Ridiculously expensive for a 5k, but for a couple of hours dancing around a loopy course with friends having a bit of craic, it’s alright. (remember drug-free event? Craic is not crack 😉 ) If I was 18 or 19 or 20 it could be the sort of thing I might have gone to, as a party, not because it was a ‘run’.

Somehow I doubt there was much running based on the course and so as a ‘runner’ I don’t like that misrepresentation. I also suspect that not too many of the participants looked past the glitzy glamour of the front page and read down the charity stuff.
Sure we’re all guilty of not reading the small print from time to time so hard to fault people looking to pay for the privilege of a bit of fun.
When the news broke about the level of return to the charity ( there was a whole lot of teeth gnashing and outrage about a rip off event organiser.
I can’t agree with that. The event organisers delivered what they said they would.
Are the participants to blame? The question is how many thought that some or their fee was going to charity? How many actually thought about that or cared? I’m guessing not many, so they are not to blame for misdirection.
That kind of only leaves the Charity to consider.
I think the time is right for Charities to go their own way. Instead of piggy backing on existing events and getting a portion (remember 0.5% is a portion) contribution, they should employ Event Organisers, professionally, to run events for them. “We will pay you €x for every participant that takes part” rather than receiving a token.
Everything would be far more transparent (maybe, maybe not depending on the charity) people would also have the right to know how the money is being allocated. People could decide with their feet which charitable cause they want to support.

2 thoughts on “Being charitable about controversy.

  1. Reblogged this on Running Matters and commented:

    It looks like the spectre of “Charity Events” is raising its head again with races being promoted as having ‘Charity Partners’.

    As I said in this original post there is no issue with events being commercial and making money but when it is not explicitly stated that: “none of your entry fee goes to our charity partner” I wonder why events are allowed use the ‘Charity Partner’ angle.

    What are your thoughts?



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