Fundraising income from UK’s 25 largest charity events grew by 16% in 2023

08 Jul 2024 News

Cancer Research UK

The UK’s 25 largest charity-owned mass participation events “bounced back strongly” last year to collectively raise £132m, according to new research.

Figures from the latest Massive Top 25 list show that the events brought in 16% more in 2023 than the year before, when the top 25 raised £114m,

It follows a slower-than-expected recovery in 2022 compared with £119.5m in 2021, despite it being the first full year without any Covid-19 restrictions.

Four biggest events brought in £77m

The four biggest challenges – Cancer Research UK (CRUK)’s Race for Life, Macmillan Cancer Support’s Coffee Morning, Movember and Macmillan Cancer Support’s Mighty Hike Series – maintained their spots last year. 

Together, these events brought in £77m, representing a 25% growth on 2022 and accounting for more than half of all income generated by the top 25. 

Two new events joined the list for the first time, the Skipping Challenge (entering the list at number five) and Big Hike (number 24), both from CRUK, raising £7m and £1.16m respectively.

The fastest-growing events were Breast Cancer Now’s Afternoon Tea (66%), Macmillan Cancer Support’s Sober October (53%) and Royal Marsden Cancer Charity’s Banham Marsden March (50%). 

Meanwhile, the number of Facebook and virtual challenge events dropped for the second year in a row, with five making it into the top 25 in 2023. 

Total income from virtual challenges decreased by 13% while social activities and in-person events increased by 21% and 16% respectively.

Challenges and opportunities

Last year “wasn’t without its challenges”, the report says, with high inflation contributing to higher event delivery costs.

“Some teams are reporting rising cost per action on digital channels and the challenge of standing out in a crowded market," it says.

“With Meta remaining the predominant channel for event marketing, teams are wary that additional fees and changes to the platform could impact fundraising.”

However, the report adds that despite these challenges, “the appeal of mass events continues to grow”, with the top 25 attracting 900,000 participants in 2023. 

“And while some reports suggest people may be holding back on charitable giving due to the cost-of-living crisis, average fundraising values for events in 2023 remained stable and are even increasing in some areas. 

“With inflation rates coming down, and the Office for National Statistics forecasting increases in levels of disposable income, the outlook for the year ahead is promising.”

Most charities in this year’s list said they expected further participation growth and an increase in fundraising value.

2023 marked ‘an impressive resurgence’

Since 2013, events company Massive has produced the list to help charities benchmark their events and get insight. 

John Tasker, partner at Massive, said: “2023 marked an impressive resurgence for the mass participation fundraising sector.

“Despite economic pressures, we saw significant growth in participation numbers across the top 25 events, with over 900,000 people taking part in just the 25 most successful events.

“The attraction of accessible in-person events and social activities appears to be as strong as ever. 

“There was a strong performance from almost all walking challenges in the top 25 this year, in contrast to Facebook and virtual challenge events which dropped for a second year.”

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