Top Peer Events Raised $1.3 Billion

The 30 largest peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns in the United States raised $1.37 billion during 2019, down 1.25 percent overall, but 60 percent of the top events reported revenue increases compared to 2018.

The Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum released the annual Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Thirty survey, sponsored by Charity Dynamics, during its conference last week in Austin, Texas.

“While it’s easy to look at the top-line revenue number and assume that peer-to-peer fundraising is struggling, this year’s survey tells a much different story,” said David Hessekiel, president of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum in Rye, N.Y. “The majority of large programs experienced strong gains in 2019, even as many organizations are shifting away from managing one central campaign in favor of hosting multiple smaller programs that appeal to more diverse audiences,” he said in a press release announcing the results.

Eighteen of the 30 events overall posted revenue gains in 2019. Walk campaigns had a particularly strong year with 10 of 16 walk programs in reporting increases. The St. Jude Walk/Run to end Childhood Cancer posted the highest percentage increase (22 percent) and qualified for the top 30 for the first time ever, ranking No. 30 with $14.2 million in revenue. The fundraising minimum for walkers was raised from $100 to $289, in addition to a renewed focus on sponsorships, according to Danielle Dodman, who manages the event.

Charities seem to be embracing Facebook Fundraisers for their events while also shifting away from a single program to hosting multiple campaigns.

American Cancer Society (ACS) overhauled its signature Relay for Life program, reducing it by more than 300 events in 2019 to 2,200. Relay for Life raised $161.4 million last year, down almost 13 percent from $184.8 million in 2018 but still ranking No. 1. ACS’ other event, Making Strides for Breast Cancer, posted revenue gains last year, totaling $64.6 million, up from $63.5 million, to rank No. 8.

Not including Relay for Life, the remaining 29 events would have been up collectively, 0.51 percent, or $6 million, instead of down $17 million, 1.25 percent.

The Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) integrated with the Facebook Fundraiser API for the first time in 2019. It reported more than 30,000 new donors and $3 million new donations. PMC set a new record for largest single-event fundraiser with $70 million, up almost $11 million or 18 percent from 2018, and ranked No. 6 in the Fundraising Thirty.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals was recognized as the P2P Professional Forum’s 2019 Organization of the Year. Its Dance Marathon series (No. 12) raised nearly $44.5 million, up 2.1 percent, while the gaming series, Extra Life (No. 29), increased revenues by 11.1 percent, to $15 million.

The top 10 U.S. programs by total gross revenue in 2019 were:

  • Relay for Life, ACS — $161.4 million, -12.7 percent;
  • Heart Walk, American Heart Association — $132.4 million, +7.9 percent;
  • Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Alzheimer’s Association — $98 million, +1.2 percent;
  • Light the Night Walk, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society — $80 million, +4 percent;
  • American Heart Association Youth Programs, American Heart Association — $74.3 million, -11.9 percent
  • Pan-Mass Challenge — $70 million, +18.1 percent;
  • Bike MS, National MS Society — $65.5 million, +.01 percent;
  • Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, ACS — $64.6 million, +1.7 percent;
  • JDRF One Walk, JDRF — $62.2 million, -1.7 percent
  • March for Babies, March of Dimes — $48.9 million, -22.4 percent.