Growth has been slower than anticipated - but there is cause for optimism
The pandemic and the cost of living crisis continue to impact on mass events – crucial cash and awareness-raising campaigns for the charity sector.
Covid and its attendant restrictions decimated the mass participation calendar, despite a temporary shift to online participation.
Now the cost of living crisis has dealt another blow, with people having less cash to spend.
However, there is some good news in that positive signs after the lows of the pandemic are there, with the number of charity events and the amount they raise beginning to recover, but more slowly than had been anticipated.
Events company Massive has just released its Massive 25, a run-down of the top mass fundraisers of last year.
It says that 2022 was being watched especially closely as it was the first full events year since Covid restrictions were lifted.
The top 25 events raised £114 million in 2022, compared to £119m in 2021.
Massive says this decrease was driven primarily by two factors: a lack of rollover places, as last year people participated in events which had been postponed because of the pandemic, and a decline in virtual challenges, as supporter behaviour changed after lockdown.
Facebook ‘challenges’, for example, declined hugely.
But Massive says it is encouraging to note that social and in-person events – while yet to return to pre-pandemic levels – are continuing to recover.
In terms of recovery, it has been the longest and most well established events which have fared the best.
In that respect, there was little innovation in the events sector, with only three new events breaking the top 25.
The fastest growing campaigns were all previous bankers, with the top three compared to the previous year being Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day (up 67%), Cancer Research UK’s Relay for Life (up 53%), and Breast Cancer Now’s Afternoon Tea (up 31%).
Overall, the top three highest-grossing events were Cancer Research UK’s Race For Life (£22.4m), Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning (15.6m) and Movember (12.5m).
Scotland’s Kiltwalk fundraiser sits in a very creditable fifth place, at £8m.
The report also found that there were overall lower numbers of participants, but the average value per fundraiser increased for most in-person events.
As for next year, the report’s authors state: “As the cost of living crisis continues, 2023 will be another difficult year and we expect acquisition to continue to be a challenge. But, with the pandemic behind us, we will see people continuing to return to in-person connection.
“We’re predicting continued slow but steady growth for both in-person events and social campaigns.
“And we’re not alone in our optimism: almost two-thirds of this year’s top 25 are predicting increased income in 2023. So, if you’re feeling optimistic, you’re in good company.”