2007 Run Walk Ride 30 Overview

Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council Study of 30 Top-Producing Athletic Events shows 12.1% revenue growth to $1.64 billion in 2007.


Charity survey shows top thirty programs raised $1.64 billion, up 12.1%

ATLANTA (February 28, 2008) – Dollars raised by people willing to exercise for a good cause grew 12.1% in 2007 and are expected to grow at a similar rate in 2008, according to the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council, the leading authority on athletic event fundraising.

The top thirty fundraising “thon” programs generated more than $1.64 billion in gross revenue for charity last year, up from $1.46 billion in 2006, the council’s second annual “Run Walk Ride Thirty” study reports.

“The executives who manage these events are optimistic that they will raise even more money in 2008 in spite of challenging economic times,” said David Hessekiel, president of the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council, which is holding its annual conference in Atlanta today.

“There’s growth at both ends of the spectrum from well-established megaprograms to up-and-coming new programs,” Hessekiel said. Key factors fueling the expansion include technology (improved online fundraising tools), societal values (doing good is very much in vogue) and the professionalization of athletic event fundraising as demonstrated by the formation in 2007 of the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council, he said.

By raising $406 million in 2007, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life dwarfed all other athletic charity events whose participants solicit acquaintances for sponsorship donations. The top five programs in 2007 were:

$406 million...(+8.3%)...Relay for Life American Cancer Society
$125 million...(+9.7%)...Team in Training... Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
$116 million...(+5.6%)...March for Babies... March of Dimes
$106 million...(+18.1%)...Start! Heart Walk ... American Heart Association
$95 million...(+26.5%)...Walk to Cure Diabetes...Juvenile Diabetes Reserarch Fndn.

“The top five demonstrate the diversity in this field – there’s an activity for everyone from the couch potato to the driven athlete,” said Hessekiel. “Three of the events are traditional, short-format local charity walks. Relay for Life, in contrast, engages teams of people to walk around a path for up to 24 hours while Team in Training prepares supporters to participate in far flung marathons, half marathons, triathlons and 100-mile bike rides.”

Walk Now for Autism led the top 30 rankings for percentage growth by expanding 49.2% from 2006 to 2007. The top five programs by percentage revenue growth were:

49.2% to $27.0 million... Walk Now for Autism... Autism Speaks
46.2% to $9.5 million... Buddy Walk... National Down Syndrome Society
34.6% to $35.0 million... Light The Night... Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
34.5% to $10.8 million... AIDS LifeCycle... AIDS LifeCycle
27.1% to $94.5 million... Race for the Cure... Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Ninety percent of the top 30 events saw revenue growth in 2007. The top five programs in terms of dollar growth were:

$31.0 million... Relay for Life... American Cancer Society
$20.1 million... Race for the Cure... Susan G. Komen for the Cure
$19.9 million... Walk to Cure Diabetes... Juvenile Diabetes Research Fndn.
$16.3 million... Start! Heart Walk... American Heart Association
$11.0 million... Team in Training... Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

It took at least $6.8 million in revenue to make it into the top 30 this year, a leap of $800,000, 13.3% more than in 2006. The AIDS Walk NY took the 30th spot.

In spite of the difficult economic climate, survey respondents are optimistic they can continue to bring in more money for their nonprofits in 2008. All 32 of the respondents to this question forecast their revenue would grow. The average was 12%, but predictions ranged from 1.5% to 100%.

Recruiting more teams and increasing the amount each participant raises were the two growth strategies most commonly cited by study participants.

The Run Walk Ride Thirty is primarily based on survey responses from the professionals who manage well-known athletic event fundraising programs. If a nonprofit does not participate, the council seeks out public information to obtain key statistics. Learn More