Marathons are money-spinners, whilst mud and obstacle challenges are in decline, says sports fundraising report

Mud, obstacles and beer sports fundraising events in decline, according to report
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12 July, 2019


A new report on fundraising through sports challenges has shown that Tough Mudder-style events are becoming less popular, but sponsorship pages for longer distance events (such as marathons) have generated higher value donations than ever before.

The Sports Fundraising Market Snapshot report, by events management company Massive and, analysed mass participation events from around the UK in 2018. It found that:

  • MOB events (those involving mud, obstacles and/or beer) accounted for 2% of sporting fundraisers in 2018, a decrease of 4% since 2017, and part of a three-year pattern of decline.
  • Shorter charity sports events, such as 10k runs, are increasingly popular, but there’s a significant decline in the value of donations raised by these short-distance runners.
  • In contrast, longer-distance events have seen an increase in the value of average donations.
  • Overall, 6% more sports fundraising pages were launched in 2018 than in 2017. 
  • Bath Half Marathon was the 10th most popular sports fundraising event.
  • Whilst the majority of events in the top 25 were charity runs, two cycling events and three treks also made the list.
  • The top 25 sports fundraising events collectively raised £150 million for charity.

In a five-year analysis of charity sports events, Massive and Just Charity noted the number of fundraisers rose by 30%, but the number of donations rose by only 15%.

It’s clear from the report that donors are moving away from the trend of novelty or extreme events, maybe because they are so popular now and it can feel as though there’s a new one popping up every weekend. Donors perhaps feel more compelled to donate to classic long-distance challenges because of the intense training and dedication required, though you can still add the novelty factor by dressing up to do your marathon or trek.  

It would be interesting to see whether VCSE organisations in and around Bristol have noticed a similar pattern. Has your fundraising team spotted trends like these? Is it hard for individual fundraisers to generate high donations for short-distance events?

If you’ve considered organising a sports event for your charity or community group, but you need help promoting it, take a look at September’s Marketing and Campaigns half-day course. This will help you get ahead of the competition in a busy market.

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