Study: New Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Initiatives Surge, Many Established Programs Struggle
(Press release, Feb. 24, 2015) — Peer-to-peer fundraising programs are growing quickly among groups that lead events that fall outside of the traditional run, walk and ride event model. But a number of longstanding, high-profile programs are continuing to see declines, according to the peer-to-peer fundraising industry's annual roundup.
Overall, contributions to programs listed in the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Thirty — the ranking of the 30 largest peer-to-peer fundraising programs in the U.S. — totaled $1.62 billion in 2014. That figure represents a 2.47 percent drop from 2013.
That decline was driven, in large part, by struggles at two of the dominant charities in the peer-to-peer fundraising world.
The American Cancer Society, which has been in the midst of an organization-wide restructuring, reported that its popular Relay for Life series experienced a fundraising decline of $45 million in 2014, to $335 million.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure, still dealing with the aftermath of a 2012 controversy concerning its relationship with Planned Parenthood, saw its Race for the Cure series drop from No. 2 to No. 4 on the list after posting a decline of 10.8 percent, or $11.5 million. The drop was even more pronounced for a second Komen program — the Komen 3-Day walk series which declined 38.1 percent, from $42 million in 2013 to $26 million in 2014.
Combined, the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen for the Cure saw a decline of $72.5 million in those three programs. "The American Cancer Society and Komen took some big hits in 2014, but the $519 million+ they raised from peer-to-peer fundraising last year demonstrates the tremendous support they continue to enjoy," said David Hessekiel, president of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum, which authors the study.
The declines at some of the largest peer-to-peer programs also obscure the growth that is happening at many smaller and newer peer-to-peer programs. Many of those programs are built around regional cycling events or individualized activities such as growing mustaches or shaving heads rather than traditional walks.