The Top International mass participation events

As a team we have been researching new peer to peer fundraising events for more than 5 years, speaking to the charities and event managers behind the most successful mass participation fundraising events in the UK.

Understanding what lies behind great events and hearing first hand about the biggest innovations in the sector allows us to keep our clients up to date on the latest trends in event fundraising.

The massive Top 25 has reported on the UK’s most successful mass participation fundraising events since 2013 and is one of our key events market insight reports. Our friends in the USA, Canada and the Netherlands produce similar reports into the state of mass participation events and peer to peer fundraising.

Therefore, we wanted to look at how fundraising events compare around the world, what lessons event providers can learn from the world’s most successful peer to peer fundraising events and even how we compare to others as a nation of fundraisers.

Here are our Top 10 findings:

1. Peer to peer fundraising is big, across the combined totals from the surveys of the most successful fundraising events in the USA, Canada, The Netherlands and the UK more than £1.2BN was raised in 2018.

2. When it comes to mass participation, walking and running related activities lead the way, accounting for just over 60% of total income across the four nations.

3. Across all territories, cancer is the most popular cause when it comes to peer to peer fundraising events. Of all the income raised from the biggest events, cancer accounts for more than all of the other causes combined at 51% of total income.

4. Compared to the USA and Canada, the UK has the highest proportion of fundraising going to cancer related charities at 75%, compared to the USA which sees just over 45% of funds going to fight cancer.

5. Mass participation events in the UK support a much narrower range of causes than in other countries. This suggests that there is a huge opportunity for other causes to enter the peer to peer fundraising market. Outside of the UK, Motor Neurone Disease (ALS), Diabetes and MS charities all have events in the lists of most successful fundraising events.

6. While big in other countries, dance events (Children’s Miracle Network Hospital’s Dance Marathon US $43M), skipping (Jump Rope for Heart CAN $13M) and gaming (Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Extra Life $13.5M) are all yet to feature in the UK’s top 25 biggest fundraising events.

7. Relative to other nations, cycling is the activity most underrepresented in the UK top 25. Cycling fundraisers take part in 10 of the 20 most successful events in in the Netherlands, 6 of the top 30 in the USA, 7 of the top 30 events in Canada, but only 1 mass participation cycling event makes the top 25 in the UK.

8. Mass participation cycling events are amongst the world’s most successful fundraising events. The Ride to Conquer Cancer ($42M) is the biggest fundraising event in Canada and closer to home, Alpe d’ Huzes (€12M) is the biggest peer to peer fundraising event in the Netherlands.

On average, UK participants in mass participation cycling events raise at least 60% less than the average rider from the other countries we looked at.

9. Relay for Life in the USA is the most successful fundraising event in any of the countries we looked at by income. As a format, it features in the lists of the biggest and best events for four countries and is top 3 in all but the UK.

10. Mass participation fundraising events are most popular in Canada. Where relative to population, Canadians raise more from their top fundraising events than the other 3 countries.

Despite ranking above Canada and The Netherlands in CAF’s World Generosity Index the UK raises the lowest figure from events relative to population, suggesting that however crowded the market may feel, the evidence suggests there’s still opportunity to develop and deliver new and successful mass participation fundraising events and campaigns here in the UK.


Our insight