Charity is a lucrative business


Earlier this year, I took part in a Swimathon at my local pool organised by a company called Swimathon.

For a small entry fee, you get to swim for X distance over a period of time (in this instance, 3 hours maximum), alone or taking it in turn as a team and you ask people to sponsor you and the money raised go to a specific charity.

The purpose of those events being to raise money for charity, I personally did it because I had started swimming and setting myself a challenge seemed a good idea so I elected to do the longest distance solo, which was 3 miles/5 km.

I’ll be honest, I don’t think I will ever do one of those challenges, I didn’t like the pressure it put on me to swim swim swim in preparation and it has put me off swimming ever since I did the event (and continue to pay for a swimming membership I don’t use anymore grrr).

Still I am pretty proud I did it (200 lanes in 2.3 hours was my result I believe, not bad for a middle aged, unfit overweight smoker).

After the event, they published the results and when I was browsing them to see where I fitted in the whole lot that had taken part (not the last by any stretch phew!), I noticed how many people had done it, and my mind started to twirl away, trying to get my head around the entry fees income and the event running cost.

Something didn’t add up.

So I emailed them asking for details about their figures, also bringing to their attention their website was skewed in some of the results display.

I eventually got a nice email back (the email address from the website didn’t seem correct, but that’s another story), thanking me for bringing the display problem up to their attention but I didn’t get my answer on the finance question. I wanted hard figures, I got “Well there’s the cost of the medals and tshirt we send to participants to take into account and there’s staff to pay and a (apparently not so good) website to run” etc.

Medals, bought by the thousands, are pennies to buy, T shirts probably a little but still nothing when bought in bulk by those people, staff, yes of course, but how many do you employ and to do what?

Stuff (life) got in the way and I didn’t reply to the email.

This week though I decided it was time to revisit and replied to that “medals cost” email explaining what I was after. The person who answered me was still very evasive so I asked if they had official financial figures published anywhere please.

No reply.

This morning, after doing my maths exercise on Elevate, I decided to look for myself.

And yes, right there, on their website, are their financial statements.

Here’s a screenshot of the interesting bit:

Adding up all the salaries that seem a bit over the top for running such an event (any above £40 k for instance), using the lower number of each brackets, and only of the “Group” (not a clue what “Association” means), this is how much of the event has “raised” for the rich:

swimathon 2


Now, I am confused again, those figures still don’t add up. How would my mere £12, times thousands of participants, go even anywhere near to cover that?

Bet they charge the charity the event is being run for too. I haven’t got the heart to look through the reports to check though.

No more swimathon for me.



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