Income from top 25 mass participation charity events could drop by £100m this year

16 Jul 2020 News

Fundraising income from the 25 biggest mass participation events organised by charities in the UK could fall by £100m in 2020, research by an agency has found.

The 25 events raised £143m in 2019, according to Massive. This was the highest figure in the past five years, but the pandemic will now most likely result in an unprecedented drop in income.

Top 25 events raised £143m in 2019

Massive said that 2019 was a successful year for mass participation events fundraising, coming after income from the top 25 events had declined for two years in a row. The events collectively raised £143m in 2019, up from £133.6m in 2018, £135.5m in 2017 and £139m in 2016.

Massive said that “prior to Covid-19 disruption, early indications suggested that 2020 would signal another year of growth”.

The agency now estimates that this year’s losses could be in the region of £100m just for the top 25 mass participation events run by charities. If sporting events are included which are not charity-owned but which raise millions for charities every year, such as the London Marathon, the impact could pass £400m in 2020.

Top events

The largest event in Massive’s top 25, Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, saw its income decrease to £34.7m. Race for Life’s fundraising total has been decreasing for a few years in a row, from more than £50m in 2015.

Cancer Research UK has cancelled all its 380 Race for Life events this year due to the pandemic, after having initially hoped to postpone them to the autumn. The charity is holding a digital fundraising event instead, called #RaceForLifeAtHome.

Macmillan’s Coffee Morning came second, and income was up from 2018, to £27.5m. Movember, which had been falling down the list for the past five years, was third in 2019, raising £11m.

The Alzheimer’s Society’s Trek 26 and Macmillan’s Mighty Hikes were the two fastest growing events, increasing their fundraising total by 113% and 57% respectively. Mighty Hikes raised £9.1m and Trek 26 raised £1.6m in 2019.

Treks have become quite popular in recent years, and Massive says that neither of these two events appeared in its top 25 three years ago. Some charities will now try to turn them into digital events. 

The Alzheimer’s Society, for example, is asking people to take part in its signature Memory Walk by walking locally and fundraising on either 20 September or another date. Memory Walk is also included in Massive’s top 25 and raised £4.7m in 2019.

BHF’s De-Chox and CRUK’s Dryathlon fell out of the list, while Battersea’s Muddy Dog Challenge was a new entry and marked the first time an animal charity made the list. It raised £1.1m in 2019.

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