Popularity of novelty fundraising challenge events fell last year

A report from the event-management firm Massive says events such as Tough Mudder accounted for 2 per cent of participation-event fundraisers in 2018, down from 4 per cent the previous year

Tough Mudder (Photograph: Gary Mather/Alamy)
Tough Mudder (Photograph: Gary Mather/Alamy)

There has been a steep decline in the popularity of novelty fundraising events such as Tough Mudders over the past year, figures from the event-management firm Massive show.

The number of people fundraising through events involving mud, obstacles and/or beer has fallen for the third year running, according to Massive’s Sports Fundraising Market Snapshot 2019.

People taking part in MOB events, which incorporate fundraising with fun and party-like experiences, accounted for just 2 per cent of participation-event fundraisers in 2018, down from 4 per cent the year before.

Last year, three events featured on Massive’s list of the top 25 participation events by income: Tough Mudder North West, Tough Mudder London West and Tough Mudder London South. This year, none of them made it on to the list.

"Our sense is that, after a meteoric rise in the popularity of these events for fundraising, the market is settling down and, as a result, MOB events’ best years as significant fundraisers may have passed," the report says.

Overall, the study’s top 25 mass-participation sports events raised a total of more than £150m in 2018, an increase from £135.5m the year before.

But the report says that, although the number of fundraisers signing up for shorter distance challenges of 10k and less has grown quickly, the average amount they have raised has fallen, in some cases by as much as 25 per cent.

Conversely, whereas the numbers of people taking part in longer-distance events such as marathons grew much more slowly, the average value of their fundraising pages increased.

The report said this suggested that, "in world where almost 200,000 people run a parkrun every week, peers are less inclined to sponsor those completing shorter distances".

It added: "Our sense is that those charities who can support and inspire runners to feel safe to step up to higher-value more challenging distances will have the potential to unlock significant levels of fundraising activity."

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