Pandemic slashes mass participation fundraising income in half

The extent of the slump in charity revenue, due to the cancellation of mass participation fundraising events amid the Covid-19 pandemic, has been revealed.

Latest data shows that income from the top 25 events fell by just under a half, from £143m in 2019 to £74.6m in 2020.

During a pandemic-hit 2020, 19 of the top 25 events that took place the previous year were not able to go ahead as in-person fundraisers. Instead, many were able to pivot their fundraising online as virtual events, allowing people to take part in private events close to home to maintain social distancing.

The findings have been revealed by campaign and project management agency Massive, which has been compiling it's Massive Top 25 fundraising events list since 2013.

Its research also details the changing nature of fundraising, with 11 of the Top 25 events in 2020 new to the list.

This includes first appearances for video and board game events including Macmillan’s Games Night In, which raised more than £1m. Another was Macmillan’s streaming campaign Game Heroes, which was the joint fastest growing campaign in 2020.

Meanwhile, the first Facebook challenge in the Top 25 was run by the Bone Cancer Research Trust. “This may be a sign of things to come,” said Massive’s report.

“Facebook events delivered strong results this year, with very low costs
and the potential to easily recruit new audiences, although they did also have slightly lower average fundraising values than equivalent events on other platforms,” it added.

Movember Foundation’s Grow Your Mo event has emerged as the top fundraiser during 2020. It raised a total of £11.5m.

“Part of the renewed success of Movember is likely down to a continued focus on the cause, and innovation around the offer to participants,” said the report.

The second biggest event was Macmillan Cancer Support’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, which raised £10m.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK)’s Race For Life was pivoted online and raised £6m to take third place. The charity cancelled last year’s in-person event, which will return from late summer and during the autumn this year.

Massive points out that with many events cancelled this year “we expect our next Top 25 to still bear the scars of Covid”.

Increase in hybrid fundraising events expected

It will not be until 2022 when physical fundraising events return to being a key way for charities to engage with supporters, “but things won’t go back to how they were”, warns Massive.

It added: “Instead, we expect more hybrid events, with opportunities to participate both virtually and in person, with virtual potentially used as an additional way to take part, and as a way to recruit new supporters, keep more existing supporters engaged, build a sense of community, and get more individuals to move on to higher value physical events.

“Charities showed huge innovation and originality in 2020 and 2021 and we expect that to carry on, as the sector builds on the learnings from the last two years.

“The market and the world will have changed significantly when charities run mass participation events next year. But we expect they will be more than equal to the challenge.”

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