What can we learn from ten years of mass participation events?

For the past ten years, we’ve been monitoring charity mass participation across the UK in our annual Top 25 report. It’s been an exciting decade of growth – but not without its challenges. 

Life’s changing – new technology, financial pressures from the cost-of-living crisis, global pandemics. These have undoubtedly impacted mass participation fundraising and have sparked doubts around the future of events. 

To ease these concerns, we’ve reflected on ten years charity mass participation and shared our learnings from a decade of data and insight. 

What can we learn from ten years of mass participation events? 

While we’re still seeing the knock-on effect from COVID and the cost-of-living-crisis, it’s easy to start doubting the event fundraising model. But we’ve seen ups and downs like these in the past. The sector has always recovered after challenging times, and it will again.

The key takeaway: now is the time to invest in events. Take advantage of this time of uncertainty, invest, and give yourself the upper hand for when the sector picks back up. 

The model has never let us down before

It’s tempting to think the model is broken and we’re better off investing in other areas of fundraising, but this isn’t true. 

Over the past ten years, the 25 biggest charity owned mass participation events in the UK mass participation have done so much more than just deliver in-year income (although they’ve done that too). Events have:

  • Reached and engaged over 38 million new participants, helping to build a diverse supporter base.
  • Sparked 450 million conversations among supporters, increasing brand awareness and engagement at mass scale.  
  • Delivered income of over 1.3 billion, while leaving participants with a sense of pride that they’ve made a difference as part of a collective. 

We just need to work smarter 

The model isn’t broken, we just need to work smarter during these tough times. 

To keep succeeding we need to:  

  • Focus on community building. 
  • Embrace new technologies.
  • Deliver better digital experiences.
  • Shift the focus from in-year income to longer-term value.

What does the future hold for mass participation events? 

The future’s looking bright for mass participation events. Despite the current challenges fundraising events have been, and continue to be, one of the most effective ways for charities to recruit new supporters, build brand awareness and engagement, and deliver in-year income. 

The charities that succeed will be the ones who invest in their events during these rocky times. By doing this, they’ll put themselves in prime position when the sector is back to full strength.  

As the specialists in mass participation and armed with a decade of insight, we’re expertly placed to help you maximise the potential of your events and achieve even greater success for the next ten years to come.  Get in touch if you have any questions or need support with your events or campaigns. 


Our insight