Exercising for a good cause regained its fundraising momentum in 2010 after a very challenging 2009, according to the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council, the leading authority on athletic event fundraising.
The top thirty “thon” fundraising programs generated $1.65 billion in gross revenue for charity last year, up $28.1 million or 1.74% from 2009 levels. Twenty of the top 30 programs experienced revenue growth, a welcome change from 2009 when 20 groups experienced revenue shrinkage, the council’s fifth annual “Run Walk Ride Thirty” study reports.
“We’re not out of the woods, but a combination of better program management and a somewhat better economy made 2010 an up year,” said David Hessekiel, president of the council which held its annual conference in Atlanta. In contrast, revenue for the top 30 programs dropped by 7.6% in 2009.
Increased participation at the same time that nonprofits trimmed 961 underperforming walks and runs from event schedules demonstrates improved program management, Hessekiel said. More than 11.3 million people participated in the top thirty programs in 2010, an increase of more than a quarter million compared to 2009. Nonprofits staged or sent participants to 36,968 events in 2010.
Twenty of the top thirty programs experienced revenue growth in 2010, the mirror image of 2009 when 20 programs brought in lower revenue, according to the survey, a summary of which can be found on www.runwalkride.com .
The top five programs by total revenue in 2010 were:
$416.5 million (-0.1%) Relay for Life American Cancer Society*
$121.9 million (+1.3%) Race for the Cure Susan G. Komen for the Cure
$102.3 million (+2.3%) March for Babies March of Dimes
$ 97.0 million (-2.0%) Team in Training Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
$ 90.3 million (-0.2%) Start! Heart Walk American Heart Association
“The top five demonstrate the diversity in this field,” said Hessekiel. “With a short walk, a 5-K run, a relay and an individual endurance program, thon fundraising offers healthy ways to help others for everyone from the couch potato to the driven athlete.” said Hessekiel.
It took gross revenue of $7.8 million for the Pelotonia Ride to snag the 30th spot on the 2010 list, a first appearance for Columbus, Ohio ride to raise money for cancer research.
Looking ahead, survey respondents forecast a median revenue growth figure of 6% in 2011, aggressive growth compared to this year’s 1% increase.
The Run Walk Ride Thirty is based on survey responses from the professionals who manage major athletic event fundraising programs. A study summary is available at www.runwalkride.com . A CD with extensive survey data is available for purchase on the group’s website and is provided at no cost to dues-paying RWRFC members.