For superfit marathon-runners longing to do social good along with their exercise, a partnership between actor Ed Norton's Crowdrise fundraising organization and the ING New York City Marathon is making life much easier.
This week, organizers of the marathon -- one of the top racing events in the world -- announced a continuing partnership with Crowdrise, Norton's fundraising site, which will allow marathon runners to sign up with a charity of their choice and use social networking to raise funds.
Charitable giving has long been a component of the marathon, which is affiliated with over 200 charities that support a wide range of causes. Yet this marks only the second year that runners can choose their own charity and use Crowdrise to raise funds online in conjunction with the race. The site offers multiple resources, including social networking, online donation infrastructure, and fundraising and tracking tools. Runners can use the site either to fundraise for an existing charity team, or to start a new one and raise money for the cause of their choice.
Norton -- an avid runner himself -- first had the idea for Crowdrise after running the NY Marathon in 2009 as part of a Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust charity team. "We had three Maasai warriors on the team and we knew people would really connect with their story," he said. "We wanted to use social networking to give people a really easy way to access that -- one that would build a crowd around it."
The site provides its users with "the tools of modern culture to turbo-charge their fundraising efforts," Norton said. Having sat on the boards of numerous charities, Norton has spent "decades watching the reality of how organizations try and raise money." After attending his fair share of expensive galas and "rubber chicken dinners," he decided to take Crowdrise in a different direction. "My interest in online, grassroots, crowd-sourced fundraising is basically this: it's massively more efficient," he said.
According to the organizers of the NYC Marathon, the race raised $30.8 million for charity last year. This year, they are hoping to raise at least $1 million per mile -- making the inevitable shin splints, muscle soreness and leg cramps that much more worthwhile.