Boston Marathon Raises Millions for Charity

Boston Marathon
In 2014’s Boston Marathon, 3,150 runners donned charity bibs, set off to run across the city and ended up raising $38.4 million, almost twice the $20 million raised in 2013.

2014’s marathon, which took place April 21 (Patriots’ Day), had a total of 32,408 runners. The $38.4 million tally counts only contributions raised by the 3,150 participants running for charity that were given slots by race sponsors, The Boston Athletic Association and John Hancock Financial. Other runners qualify for the race based on their race times in “feeder” marathons. These runners can and do raise money for the charity as well, but the BAA does not track the contributions.

For the past three years, John Hancock Financial has partnered with CrowdRise Inc. to capture fundraising with an online platform. Through that medium alone, nearly $28 million was raised.

Organizations who raised the most include Miles for Miracles, the American Liver Foundation and the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation, a charity formed by the parents of one of the Boston Marathon bombing victims. Participating charities range from local to international. Regarding the latter, the Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A ., an organization focused on ending poverty in Africa and Asia, raised more than $61,000, demonstrating the global impact of the race.

The Boston Marathon’s success highlights how interconnected marathon participation and charitable fundraising are becoming. Many of the major marathons—Chicago, New York and London, in addition to Boston—raise staggering amounts of money for charity each year. Inspired by that degree of success, other major marathons have recently inaugurated their own charity programs. For instance, Tokyo Marathon created its “TSUNAGU” charity program in 2011, which raised more than $2 million in 2013. Smaller marathons can also have a huge impact as well: in 14 years the Safaricom Marathon in Kenya has raised $4.2 million toward alleviating poverty in that country.

Those who are considering running a marathon for charity should heed one warning: marathons are not fun runs. Charities have been accused in the past of overcrowding running fields with poorly trained participants, which both hurts the prestige of the race and, more importantly, leads to injuries. New runners should instead consider a 5k or 10k race, which can still serve as an opportunity to raise money. Anyone wishing to find a race in the U.S. can do so here:

In 2013, 541,000 runners in the U.S. completed marathons, of which more than 1,100 were held across the country. The number of participants is in the millions globally, and the 2014 Boston Marathon demonstrated the fundraising potential of just 3,150. Undoubtedly, event organizers will continue to try to tap into the potential that this group has to alleviate human suffering through a self-imposed human suffering over the course of 26 miles.

– Ryan Yanke

Sources: Boston Ghlobe, Boston Athletic Association, Crowdrise, New York Times, Running USA, Tokyo Marathon 2014, Safaricom
Photo: Washington Post