Fundraising events in which people participate digitally rather than in person have entered the list of the top 25 highest-earning mass-participation events for the first time.
The participation event that raised the most money for charity in 2016 was Cancer Research UK’s more traditional Race for Life, which topped the list for the fourth year in a row with £48m raised, according to a report compiled by the events company massive.
Second on the list was Macmillan Cancer Support’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, which raised £29.5m. The grant-making cancer charity Walk the Walk came in third with £8m raised through its Moonwalk event.
Massive has been compiling the list since 2013, but this year has been the first time that virtual-participation events – in which people track their physical activity online to raise money and awareness of a cause – have made it onto the list.
The British Heart Foundation’s MyMarathon, in which people run the 26.2 miles of a traditional marathon at a time and place, and in a way, that suits them, was the 19th biggest fundraiser, raising just over £1m. And at number 21, CRUK’s Walk All Over Cancer, which allows people to complete walking challenges, also raised about £1m.
Macmillan also had a virtual event in the top 25: its Outrun event, in which people choose how far they will run over the course of a month, raised £902,000.
The report says: "Outside the top 25 we’ve seen virtual events launched by a range of charities, based around running, cycling and walking.
"Whilst these campaigns have significantly lower overheads than physical events, whether these types of activity can achieve the scale and longevity of their physical equivalents and how developments in technology will enhance these opportunities remains to be seen."
Macmillan and CRUK dominated the table, accounting for 11 of the events on the list and almost three-quarters of the total income reported by all the events combined.
Events that had been running for more than 10 years made up a third of the table and accounted for 76 per cent of the income, but 10 of the events featured had begun since 2012.
Although these newer events account for a total of only £25m of fundraised income, the report says their income is growing while income for the older events tended to fall in 2016.
The fastest-growing events were the Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk, which grew by 69 per cent to raise £6.6m, Macmillan’s Brave the Shave, which grew by 62 per cent to £7.2m, and another Macmillan event, The Longest Day, which grew by 39 per cent to £1.6m.