I am Touching Lives, a Mumbai-based NGO, working to provide Learning and Healing to children living in the slum communities.
Marathons around the world have a very unique and powerful energy, and this energy brings something different for different people.
For some, a Marathon is synonymous to fitness and health – a parameter of a fit physical body, their daily motivation for running, and improving their health. For some individuals, a Marathon is a fun event, to jog for 5-6 km on the streets with their friends, and soak in the feeling of a carnival-like joy. For some, a Marathon is an opportunity to prove their athletic prowess, push their personal limits and attempt to be among the best long-distance runners. For some, a Marathon is a celebration of the spirit of their city, an opportunity to spread kindness, cheer for runners and contribute in the liveliness that Marathon brings to a city. For some organizations, a Marathon is a big opportunity for employee engagement activities and team bonding. For an NGO like me, a Marathon is a blessing – a platform to raise funds for my projects and to connect with new individual and corporate supporters!
The Tata Mumbai Marathon reserves almost a quarter of the total number of running slots for NGOs, and those runners who want to support different social cause projects can register in the Marathon through a Charity bib in any of the different race categories.
Every year, an increasing number of running enthusiasts inquire about my projects, donation amount for participation, and eventually touch lives by running in the Marathon! Many of these long-distance runners become a part of the family and continue to be our long-term contributors. Some of them also sponsor children to participate in the Marathon!
Race Categories: Full Marathon (42 km), Half Marathon (21 km), Open 10K (10 km), Dream Run (6 km), Champions with Disability, and Senior Citizens Race.
In the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2018, over 160 corporate teams (7000 individuals) participated across various race categories, supporting different social causes, and contributing over 15 crores as funds for these causes. It is a win-win-win situation for everyone – the company, their employees and the NGOs they are supporting.
Mumbai Marathon also provides an online fundraising platform. Whether or not you are running in the marathon, you can still support a social project. Create your online profile as a fundraiser and share the link with the people in your network, appeal them to contribute toward the cause you are supporting! You become the bridge between individuals who wish to contribute to genuine causes, and genuine projects that require funding.
This is truly a brilliant platform, especially for the small and medium sized NGOs, whose strength lies in committed individuals backing them rather than big corporations.
It’s also a very heart-warming and satisfying experience – For example, you as an individual, support the education of a child at Touching Lives by contributing Rs. 15,000 every year or by volunteering every Sunday. And now, with the help of social media, you share about your experience with your friends, family, colleagues; some of them get inspired to do the same. Say ten of them contribute to support a child’s education through your fundraising page. It is an empowering feeling to empower not just one, but ten children, with education. All this by spreading the word and sharing your personal experience with your network! Here is a link to one of my fundraiser pages. Take a look and you will know how you can take this forward.
As a non-profit organization, I must
- Gather resources / funds, year after year, for running different kinds of projects. So I must either reach out to as many like-minded people as possible, for donations and contribution, or I may selling a product or a service and generate a source of revenue to support the expenses of the project. Touching Lives largely relies on the former, which makes Mumbai Marathon an extremely important platform!
- Make sure that people aligned with my vision become a part of the team / tribe. The cumulative energy of ‘us’ can grow and work exponentially.
- Ensure smooth execution and a culture of reflection and evolution for the projects.
Thank you Mumbai Marathon!
I am intrigued – what does Marathon mean to you?
Ankit Kanani is the CEO of Touching Lives and is loved immensely by the children. He has been working on raising funds since the last seven years. He is a valuable gem with undying tenacity and a fantastic sense of humor!