Fundraising events ‘moving closer to pre-pandemic levels’

Analysis of the 25 biggest charity events in the UK during 2021 is suggesting that this year’s figures will see fundraising return to close to pre-pandemic levels.

The resumption of in person events, following a series of lockdowns during much of 2020, has seen income from the 25 biggest events increase by 30%, according to figures for last year.

During 2021 a total of £96.75m was raised through events staged by 13 charities, including Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK.

Events to take place in 2021 included Macmillan Cancer Support’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, which raised £13.2m, more than any other fundraising event that year. The charity’s Mighty Hikes event raised £12.3m and was the second ranked event.

Another was Cancer Research UK’s Walk All Over Cancer, which raised £10.4m and was the third highest ranked fundraising event, according to the analysis by events firm Massive.

It anticipates that the return of more major events this year post lockdowns, will increase fundraising income further to levels not seen since the health crisis.

“With all restrictions on in-person events now lifted and major series like Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life back, 2022 is likely to see us move closer to pre-pandemic levels of fundraising,” said Massive.

Popularity of walking events

The return of charity walking events is a key factor in the increase in fundraising income. These proved popular in 2021 with charity supporters, keen to meet friends again following Covid lockdowns. Walking events accounted for half of income among the major events analysed.

Scotland’s Virtual Kiltwalk, which raised £6.2m, and Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk, which raised £2.65m, are among the most lucrative walking fundraising events of 2021.

“The standout theme from this year’s Top 25 is the success of accessible events that provided opportunities to reconnect and socialise again, meaning that walking challenges accounted for more than 50% of the total Top 25 income,” added Massive.

Cost of living fears

But while fundraising income is set to improve “it’s unreasonable to expect income in 2022 to bounce back to pre-pandemic” levels. This is because of “the looming cost of living crisis”, which is “already and will continue to have an impact on events”.

Massive does add that “while volume of donations may be difficult to maintain, the value of gifts will remain high” although participants “are likely to be more selective about what they sign up to”.

As a result, charities will need to work even harder to recruit participants and inspire them to fundraise,” said Massive.

“The most successful events need to develop their messaging and supporter journeys to improve conversion and maintain the value of donations.”

“The years ahead will undoubtedly require fresh and innovative thinking. But if we’ve learnt anything from the previous 18 months it is that every situation brings new opportunities for those that are ready to adapt and take risks.”

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