Covid-19-hit Race for Life loses top spot in mass-participation event earnings table

Cancer Research UK's flagship fundraiser had held first position every year since the list was initially produced in 2014

The annual moustache-growing event by the men’s health campaign Movember was the highest-earning charity mass-participation fundraising event in 2020, according to new figures.

Data produced by the events company Massive shows that Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life was knocked off the top spot for the first time as the coronavirus pandemic restrictions forced the cancellation of vast swathes of in-person charitable activity in 2020.

Race for Life had topped the annual top 25 list every year since the rankings were first produced in 2013, but its income dropped from £34.7m in 2019 to £6m last year, according to a report published today.

It shows that total income for the events almost halved from £143m in 2019 to £74.6m last year.

Macmillan Cancer Support’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning remained in second place on the list, but income from that was down to £10m, compared with £27.5m in the previous year.

But Movember’s Grow your Mo campaign raised £11.5m in 2020, the report says, up from £11m in the previous year and putting it in top spot for the first time.

The report says the rise in funds was “likely down to a continued focus on the cause and innovation around the offer to participants”.

It says the charity could have benefitted from changes in behaviour during lockdown, with home workers more keen to take part in the moustache-growing challenge and participate in the month-long the charity’s Move for Movember campaign, which raised an additional £4.2m.

It meant Movember overtook CRUK as the second-highest-grossing charity in the top 25, behind Macmillan, which had five events on the list, raising a total of £21.6m.

Massive said video- and boardgaming events featured in the top 25 for the first time, with Macmillan’s Games Night In boardgaming campaign raising more than £1m, while its Game Heroes streaming event raised more than £900,000.

The report says the top 25 also featured its first Facebook challenge in the form of Bone Cancer Research Trust’s 2,000 Burpees in November raising £950,000, placing it in 24th place on the list.

“Facebook events delivered strong results this year, with very low costs and the potential to easily recruit new audiences, although they did also have slightly lower average fundraising values than equivalent events on other platforms,” the report says.

The report says Massive expects physical events will remain the best way to engage supporters, but “things won’t go back to how they were”.

It says: “Instead, we expect more hybrid events, with opportunities to participate both virtually and in person, with virtual potentially used as an additional way to take part, and as a way to recruit new supporters, keep more existing supporters engaged, build a sense of community, and get more individuals to move on to higher value physical events.

“Charities showed huge innovation and originality in 2020 and 2021 and we expect that to carry on, as the sector builds on the learnings from the last two years.”


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