JDRF Canada Reboots Its Ride

2016 - Ride - Mura Teaser - EngLike many organizations that manage long-running peer-to-peer programs, JDRF Canada faced a dilemma with its 27-year-old spinning event, JDRF Ride for Diabetes Research.

The campaign, which drew 15,000 participants in 2015, raises significant money for the organization — an estimated $4.6 million last year. But that number has been dropping by between 15-20 percent annually in recent years, as many former participants have opted to take part in charity campaigns that offered more variety.

For Colin Jenkins, JDRF’s national director of peer-to-peer fundraising, the choices were simple: keep charging ahead with a still-popular event or give the Ride a reboot.

Charging ahead would ensure that the organization continued to draw millions each year from the campaign — even if the annual returns would likely continue to drop.

Not surprisingly, he and his team chose the reboot — a rebranding and reformatting of the event that is designed to give participants more flexibility and give JDRF new opportunities to attract sponsors and new participants.

“We saw the trend and knew that if we did nothing, it would continue to fall another 20 to 30 percent each year,” Jenkins said. “But we also had a great event that raises a lot of money, so we weren’t going to just walk away and not do it anymore.”

The rebranded event, which was unveiled publicly this week, is called JDRF Revolution Ride to Defeat Diabetes and is designed to appeal to a wider range of riders.

While the original JDRF Ride was built for corporate teams who took turns riding a stationery bike as a relay team, the rebranded event opens the door for individuals and for family teams to participate. It also includes a number of spinning formats in which teams can ride for varying lengths of time, can compete against teams from other cities, and can participate in virtual rides from any location.

The campaign also gives participants the option of taking part in an in-person ride at one of seven locations in the United States. These events carry a higher fundraising minimum — between $2,000 and $6,000 — and are designed for more avid riders.

All told, JDRF Canada will be playing host to 19 different spinning and riding events this fall as part of the rebranded campaign.

And while organizers expect to lose about 20 percent of the 15,000 people who participated in last year’s event, they are seeing a wave of interest from new riders and have signed on a new national title sponsor for the event, Sun Life Financial.

With the new sponsor and increased early interest from new riders, Jenkins says he and his team are optimistic that they will breathe new life — and new revenue — into an event that needed something new.

“We’re cautiously optimistic, for sure,” Jenkins said. “We’re excited to see success and hopefully be able to share what we learn along the way.”