Mary Clarke completed Depaul’s 10,000 Steps a Day Challenge last year while raising €1,800 for people who are homeless in our services. Read on to find out about the secret to her fundraising success.

I first became interested in homelessness when I lived in New York in the 1980’s. There were so many people living on the streets in Manhattan and I would always stop and chat to them on my way to and from work. I organised a clothes drive for the homeless in New York at one point with a group of friends. We put up posters in our workplaces asking for donations and it was a great fundraiser.

Last year I saw an ad on Facebook for a challenge in support of people who are homeless and that’s how I got involved with Depaul. I figured that it might be something that I could do as I had fundraised before for various causes and I wanted to get involved in supporting homeless people again.

I really enjoyed taking part in the challenge, everyone in the Facebook group was so friendly and supportive. I calculated how many miles I had to do to reach 10,000 steps every day and then used google maps to create walks to meet that goal. I incorporated my walks into my walk to and from work and sometimes I walked at lunchtime and in the evenings. I am lucky enough to live near the River Dodder in Dublin and did some fantastic walks along its banks.

I shared selfies and photos of numbers of steps reached on my Fitbit, or even of things I had seen on my walks because I wanted everyone who had donated to know that I was actually actively doing the challenge. I never actually asked anyone to donate but just shared all these pictures in my Facebook Fundraiser.

I had hoped to raise €200 but people were so incredibly generous that I kept raising my fundraising target. People that I had known over thirty years ago in New York donated very generous amounts as did people that I have known from every part of my life. Not everyone was in a position to donate but their supportive comments really kept me going through my walks.

My main advice to anyone who is thinking about taking on a fundraising challenge is to let everyone know that you are doing it and that you would welcome all support. It’s not a competition, the only person you’re competing with is yourself. Some days will be a lot harder than others so be gentle with yourself don’t beat yourself up if you don’t reach your daily goal.

I would totally recommend doing a fundraising challenge to anyone, it helps people who are homeless, it’s good for your mental health and it’s so good to get outside!