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Relay tops 2017 Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Thirty; Making Strides surpasses Race for a Cure

According to the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Thirty, Relay For Life still ranks #1, and Making Strides income surpassed Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure in 2017. The 2017 Top 10 are pictured above, and ACS events rank #1 and #9.

The Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Forum released its annual survey on March 1, the day its annual conference opened in Miami. It was attended by Susan Petre, our VP, Staff Events & Innovation, and both she and Maria Clark, senior VP, Volunteer Events, are featured in the event's kickoff video about peer-to-peer fundraising (P2P) created by Charity Dynamics.  (P2P refers to the practice of having a nonprofit's supporters take part in an activity and ask their friends, family members, and colleagues for donations. Charity Dynamics is a consulting and technology company that specializes in P2P fundraising.)

"I definitely walked away feeling, and hearing from so many of our peers, that the American Cancer Society continues to be seen as THE leader in this space," said Susan.

The survey shows that 20 of the top 30 events suffered declines in revenue, including all the top 10. It says these campaigns raised nearly $1.45 billion dollars in 2017, down 6.6% compared to 2016. The survey says these fundraisers have seen their collective revenues drop each year since 2012.  

Relay For Life has been experiencing a decline in revenue over the past decade after raising more than $400M in 2008.  However, the survey says "most large programs are raising more money per participant, and many charities are moving beyond staging massive national-level campaigns and are focusing on producing a mix of programs that engage more targeted audiences and generate higher margins. As a result, their flagship campaigns are growing more efficient — and they are able to reach new fundraisers with innovative programming that keeps them more engaged."

The survey also notes: "In the past, peer-to-peer fundraising was dominated by large national health charities that played host to multi-city events. But the landscape has shifted in recent years with the explosion of social media and do-it-yourself fundraising, in which individuals can easily launch their own campaigns to raise money for their favorite charities."

Sound familiar? We've been putting more power in the hands of our volunteers for several years. "As the peer-to-peer fundraising landscape changes, we are building new ways, and providing new resources, to empower our volunteers to support the ACS in ways that resonate with them and their communities," commented Maria.

The survey discusses Relay For Life at length, including our $49 million, or 17.56 percent, decline from 2016 to 2017.  "The campaign, however, was much more efficient than it was in previous years. The American Cancer Society reported that it produced 930 fewer Relay For Life events in 2017 than the 4,500 it produced just one year earlier. With that smaller footprint, each Relay For Life participant raised an average of $115 in 2017 — up more than 11 percent compared with the $103.33 the average participant raised in 2016. At the same time, the organization is working to cultivate a number of smaller, more nimble programs." It then goes on to talk about the success of Real Men Wear Pink, which raised $7 million last year, up from $5.5 million in 2016.

"Today, success is measured by your strategy and your ability to meet your key audiences where they are with programs that connect with them. Because of that, we're seeing a number of leading nonprofits move away from having one or two signature events, and toward a portfolio of campaigns that give their constituents a variety of ways to participate and support the organization," said Donna Wilkins, founder of Charity Dynamics.

Here are some other interesting tidbits:

  • Making Strides has now passed Komen Race for the Cure in terms of revenue. Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which had two events in the rankings, faced significant decreases in both campaigns. The Komen Race for the Cure series, which raised about $61 million, saw revenues decline nearly 19 percent from 2016. The Komen 3-Day event raised $16 million in 2017, down just over 19 percent. In both cases, the charity held the same number of events as in 2016.  Komen has dropped to 10th place and could possibly be out of the top 10 events next year. 
  • Relay is still nearly twice as big as the Heart Walk in terms of revenue. Heart is down overall this year. Between their youth programs and the Heart Walk, they posted a combined 11.7% decline. That wipes out much of the combined 13.9% increase they reported last year.
  • Walk to End Alzheimer's posted a second consecutive year of growth.
  • The Pan-Mass Challenge, a bike-athon to support Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, raised $57 million in 2017, making it the largest single event based on participants' fundraising in America. It enjoyed a nearly 14 percent increase over 2016's total.
  • Children's Miracle Network Hospital's dance marathons raised almost $39 million in 2017, growing nearly 20 percent, faster than any other campaign in the top 30. It also saw the biggest jump in the number of participants from year to year, at 20 percent.
  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Cycle for Survival increased more than 13 percent last year, for a total of $34 million. The event is one in which teams of four participants ride stationary bikes in back-to-back 50-minute sessions.
  • The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society sustained the biggest drop in donations. Its Team in Training events raised just over $24 million in 2017, a drop of nearly 28 percent. However, the charity's Light the Night events increased 8 percent in 2017, to $74 million, even as the charity held 10 fewer of the events last year than in 2016.
  • The American Diabetes Association, which held five fewer Tour de Cure events in 2017 than it had the previous year, saw revenue drop about 21 percent.

PHOTO: Pictured in the smaller photo, left to right, are Maria Clark and Susan Petre. 

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