Race for Life Fundraising Ideas

Race for Life is a series of fundraising events run by cancer charity Cancer Research UK. One in two people will develop cancer at some point in their lives. It’s a sobering statistic, which is why Race for Life participants sign up to run, jog or walk a 5km or 10km course in return for sponsorship.

More than 400 Race for Life events take place across the UK and are open to everybody. You can sign up and set up your Race for Life campaign today – or wait until you’ve read through our Race for Life fundraising ideas. The first Race for Life event took place in London’s Battersea Park in 1994. Since then, Race for Life has grown into one of the UK’s biggest fundraising events. To date, more than 8 million people have run Race for Life and raised over £860 million for charity.

What is Race for Life?

Race for Life is a series of events by Cancer Research, which encourage runners, joggers, walkers – anyone who wants to be involved – to raise money towards curing cancer. There are a range of different events and they take place country-wide, meaning they are inclusive for all ages and abilities. 

3k events

The Race for Life 3k events are a perfect entry into raising money through a fitness challenge. Whether you’re a novice runner or fancy a walk, they are inclusive for all and a good challenge for even young members of the family. They take place up and down the country over the summer. You can search for 3k Race for Life events here.

5k events

The Race for Life 5k events are a great next step into your Race for Life challenge journey. A 5k is a brilliant way to set a good PB or challenging enough if you’re a novice runner to get you going – but won’t take all day if you prefer to travel at a slower pace. They are also taking place up and down the country over the summer. Take a look at 5k events near you here. 

10k events

A 10k is a great challenge for rookie runners and seasoned racers alike. If you’re used to running distances, the Race for Life 10k could be a good event to challenge yourself to a faster time, or if you’re new to the tarmac then it’s a great distance to build up to after you’ve entered. You can take a look at Race for Life 10k events near you here.

Pretty Muddy

The Pretty Muddy Race for Life events are a brilliant, fun way to fundraise – and everyone can get involved. They consist of a 5k race with obstacles and plenty of mud! There’s also a specific Pretty Muddy kids event which is held on the same day as the adult version, where children age 5-12 can enter (as long as they are 1.2 metres tall). Have a look at Pretty Muddy events here.

How to enter Race for Life

It’s easy to enter a Race for Life event. You can have a look on their website to find a location and event that suits you and then enter through there. The prices for each different event and options for children’s entry is also on there. 

1. Strut your stuff in a fashion show

Team up with your local Cancer Research UK shop and put on a fashion show. Persuade your not-so-shy-and-retiring friends to model the second-hand clothes that are currently for sale, charge for tickets, and sell drinks and nibbles. One surefire way to up donations is to find some adorable children to model any children’s clothes.

You could also invite some local fashion boutiques along and request that you earn commission on the sale of any clothes.. End the show by strutting your stuff in your Race for Life t-shirt to remind everybody why you’re fundraising.

2. Host a big night in

Entice friends to donate by hosting a big night in complete with movies, popcorn and lots of pillows. Give guests a choice of five films that they vote for by donating. The film that wins the most donations is screened for everybody’s viewing pleasure.

Cancer Research UK has a handy ‘Girls Night’ fundraising pack available to download online. If just six friends donate £5 to your blockbuster evening, you’ll raise £30, which could pay for one day of a trial discovering ways to improve radiotherapy for women with cervical cancer.

3. Put on a disco

Younger teenagers love nothing more than donning their sparkles and hair gel for a disco, so contact your local village hall about the possibility of hosting one in aid of Race for Life. Procure disco lights and speakers from friends and family and make your own Spotify playlist.

Enlist volunteers to help sell tickets (reduced price in advance, full price on the door to encourage early sales) and run a soft drinks and sweets stand to fuel all that dancing. Tell local schools about the event and ask if they could promote it on their email newsletter.

4. Brave the shave

One of the most popular Race for Life fundraising ideas is the head shave. Sadly, many people undergoing chemotherapy for cancer lose their hair. Stand in solidarity with cancer patients by shaving your head in return for donations and donate your hair to a children’s cancer charity like the Little Princess Trust.

5. Organise a community auction

Ring round local businesses and ask if they have any products or services to offer up as auction prizes in exchange for promotion among the community. Friends, colleagues and neighbours may have skills to auction off, too, such as a couple of hours of weeding or baking a delicious Victoria Sponge.

Once you have enough prizes, start promoting the auction with fliers and social media posts. Ensure everybody knows when and where the auction will take place. Village halls are often a good bet but you could also run it online. Make it clear that all proceeds will go towards your Race for Life effort, as this may elicit further donations.

6. Host a pub quiz

Take your Race for Life fundraising to the pub. Pop into your local inn and ask if you could host a quiz there one evening. Request that they donate a bottle of wine as a winner’s prize, in exchange for you promoting the event and encouraging quizzers to frequent the bar throughout the evening. Failing that, get arty and make a prize yourself.

Raise funds by asking people to donate as much as they can in place of an entry fee, with a suggested minimum of £2. Throw in a few questions about cancer stats – somewhat of a downer, perhaps, but it’ll keep the focus on the point of the evening, which is to fundraise for much-needed research.

7. Organise a dress swap

One of the more eco-friendly Race for Life fundraising ideas is the dress swap. The idea is that everybody brings a bag full of second-hand dresses in good condition to swap for the same number.

Charge a small entry fee (we recommend £5), plus a further £1 for every extra dress that attendees want to take home. Spread the word offline and online and be present at the event to tell guests all about your Race for Life fundraising effort. This idea could also work well with books.

8. Race for Life online fundraising

Every two minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer. Chances are, everybody you know has been affected by the disease, whether they have been treated for it themselves or know somebody who has. Many of us have lost loved ones to cancer.

It’s unsurprising, therefore, that Race for Life fundraising campaigns often attract generous donations.

Friends and family will want to help in any way they can, especially if you have a personal story to tell, which is why savvy Race for Life participants set up a GoFundMe to make donating quick and easy.

  • Double your fundraising goal

Last summer, Kelly Marie Smith smashed her £400 target on her Race for life fundraising page on GoFundMe. She ended up raising £885 – more than double her goal – in sponsorship, thanks to the generosity of her donors and the ease of using GoFundMe. Kelly bravely tackled Race for Life’s ‘Pretty Muddy’ obstacle course.

  • In memory of a loved one

Grace Wilson tripled her £500 goal while fundraising to run the Race for Life in memory of her dad, Tony, who died from melanoma last March. Grace racked up 67 donations on her campaign, which was shared more than 143 times.

  • Friends find strength in numbers

If there’s a group of you taking part in Race for Life, why not team up and take advantage of GoFundMe team fundraising?

  • Supporting a loved one through treatment

Self-confessed non-runners Samantha Tanner and Katie Owen ran the Race for Life in Blackheath last June to help support their ‘beautiful friend’ Michele through breast cancer treatment. Sam and Katie took the time to share Michele’s hard-hitting story on their GoFundMe. They successfully beat their £200 target, raising £385.

Start making a difference today

GoFundMe makes fundraising faff-free for you and your donors. It’s and, unlike many other charity fundraising platforms, we don’t take a cut of the Gift Aid from charities.

Setting up your GoFundMe campaign could not be simpler and there’s a treasure trove of expert fundraising tips on our blog.

GoFundMe’s experts offer round-the-clock advice and you can download our mobile app to monitor fundraising progress on the move.

GoFundMe is optimised for social sharing, so get posting your GoFundMe fundraiser on all your social platforms and watch the donations roll in, safe in the knowledge of our GoFundMe Guarantee.