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Mass participation event income up by almost 60%

two women in pink do CRUK's Race for Life
CRUK’s Race for Life takes top spot in the Massive Top 25

The UK’s 25 largest mass participation fundraising events raised more than £119.5mn for charities in 2021, up almost 60% on the previous year, new figures show.

The massive Top 25 shows that for the first time ever, every event in the Top 25 raised more than £1mn with the average raised by events climbing from £3mn in 2020 to £4.8mn in 2021.

And, while overall income for the top 25 events is still down from pre-Covid levels of £143mn in 2019, this year’s results indicate that mass participation fundraising events are starting to show a recovery.

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Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life takes top spot this year raising £19.6mn with Macmillan Cancer Support World’s Biggest Coffee Morning in second place with £13.2mn, followed by Mighty Hikes in third position, at £12.3mn.

The fastest growers in 2021 were:

Accessible events that provided opportunities to reconnect and socialise again proved particularly popular, with walking challenges accounting for more than 40% of the total Top 25 income. Those events that were less ‘social’ in their nature saw income fall as people prioritised getting outdoors and spending time with others. Movember’s Grow your Mo and Macmillan’s Brave the Shave for example saw income fall by more than 20%.

And, while in-person events weren’t possible until the second half of 2021, the higher average value seen from these events meant that they accounted for more than half of the income generated by the Top 25.

John Tasker, Partner at massive, said:

“This year’s Top 25 shows positive growth for the sector, which is really encouraging and welcomed. It’s evident from the Massive Top 25 that events which got people together, outdoors, performed strongly. After the last two years, people were seeking connection and opportunities to come together for a good cause.”

Looking ahead to 2023, the report suggests that mass participation events will continue to be affected by the cost-of-living crisis, with charities needing to work even harder to recruit participants and maintain the value of donations.

Tasker commented:

“Whilst we now expect (& hope!) to stay free of Covid restrictions, it’s unreasonable to expect income this year to bounce back to the levels we saw pre-pandemic in 2019. The years ahead will undoubtedly require fresh and innovative thinking. Doing what worked previously and expecting the same results is unlikely to deliver success. But if we’ve learnt anything from the previous 18 months it is that people still want to give and that every situation brings new opportunities for those that are ready to adapt and take risks.”

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