Though several other US marathons include a higher percentage of charity runners, few rival Boston’s fundraising power – or its local connection. The BAA’s 35 official charity groups range from medical research foundations to youth organizations, and all are based in and benefit the greater Boston area. In total, they are expected to raise more than $11.5 million this year.
John Hancock, the Boston-based financial firm that sponsors the race, is working with Internet fundraising site Crowdrise to support its 109 nonprofit partners this year, which are expected to raise $7 million.
These partnerships with the BAA and John Hancock are coveted slots. Each year, hundreds of local charities apply to be part of those official fundraising programs. Barbara Sicuso, director of the BAA’s registration services and charity program, describes a rigorous evaluation process in which each charity’s impact and status as a partner is reviewed annually.
Some have complained about the advantage given to charity runners and others slots gifted by the BAA to nonqualifying competitors. Others say allowing nonqualifying runners into the race has weakened the “elite” status of the marathon – although these runners make up a small share of participants.