February 29, 2008

Donations to Walkathons and Other Athletic Fund-Raising Events Rose 12% Study Finds

Charities collected $1.6-billion last year through 30 of the biggest marathons, walkathons, bike races, and similar fund-raising events, according to a new survey That was about 12-percent more than they raised in 2006.

In the events, participants ask people to sponsor them by pledging money that’s paid when participants finish the competition.

Conducted by the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council, a Rye, N.Y., group for event organizers, the survey was the second annual study of its kind and the first to allow year-to-year comparisons. Most of the events were organized by health and medical charities, although one relief charity that holds a walk to fight hunger raised enough to be included in the study.

$406-Million to Fight Cancer

Most of the events reported the overall amount they collected, not what they raised after expenses.

Returns ranged from $6.8-million generated by the AIDS Walk NY, which raises money for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and other charities, to a high of $406-million raised by the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Rounding out the top five were the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training event ($125-million), the March of Dimes March for Babies ($116-million), the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk ($106-million), and the Walk to Cure Diabetes ($95-million) by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Despite a bumpy economy, all of the organizers in the survey predicted that their events will raise more money this year than they did in 2007. Projected increases for 2008 averaged 12 percent.

David Hessekiel, president of the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council, said that many of the events are likely to keep growing despite an economic downturn. Many of the charities are continuing to find ways to grow, especially by spreading the reach of national events and eliminating local events that are not lucrative.