2015 Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Top Thirty Benchmarking Survey Results

P2PCanada_30_4cTwenty of Canada’s 30 largest peer-to-peer fundraising programs posted revenue declines in 2015 — a trend that is prompting many Canadian charities to rethink their approaches and experiment with innovative new programs.

Fundraising revenue at these 30 bellwether programs totaled $254.1 million in 2015, according to the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Top Thirty Benchmarking Survey sponsored by Plenty.

A Big Drop - P2P Canada Top 30That figure is down 8.6 percent from 2014 — a significant drop that is somewhat offset by growing totals at a number of newer and smaller programs.

But rather than pulling back in the face of these declines, a number of Canada’s biggest charities say they are stepping up their investments in peer-to-peer fundraising.

“2015 was a wake-up call for many nonprofits,” said David Hessekiel, president of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada. “Many organizations are seriously examining their peer-to-peer initiatives, investing in new concepts and overhauling existing programs.”

Some of these new or revamped efforts include:

  • JDRF Canada this spring has rebranded and reformatted its popular spinning event as JDRF REvolution Ride — a move that it hopes will help it reverse a trend that saw its revenues decline by more than 19 percent in 2015.
  • The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada has expanded its popular Ride for Heart in Toronto to include a 5k and 10k run and a 5k walk. The move is an effort to get more people to participate in the event — since it has reached its capacity for bikers.
  • The Canadian Cancer Society, which has seen revenues decline steadily for its longstanding Relay for Life walk, has invested heavily in encouraging supporters to play host to their own do-it-yourself fundraising efforts. Its Cancer Fighters program — which provides supporters an online platform to raise money for the organization by taking part in their own activities — has become a significant source of revenue for its chapters. Its Ontario chapter, for example, reports that it is raising about $3 million annually through do-it-yourself fundraising programs.
  • Parkinson Canada is testing a new program called Life Lists Challenge, which aims to engage younger peer-to-peer fundraisers. Participants agree to take part in a structured adventure challenge such as bungee jumping or sky diving and collect pledges from friends for completing the challenge.
  • Supporters of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation are being encouraged to shave their heads as part of a unique P2P event called #NoHairSelfie.

Challenging Conditions

http://www.p2pfundraisingcanada.com/wp-content/uploads/gains-losses-p2p-canada-top-30-UPDATED.jpgThese examples show that Canadian charities aren’t sitting still in the face of the challenges that face their P2P programs — namely the poor economy and a growing number of competing programs.

Among the 12 largest programs, only the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Jump Rope for Heart campaign posted an increase in 2015.

Canada’s largest-grossing peer-to-peer fundraising program was the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, a series of four cycling events that raised $40.1 million to support cancer research in 2015.

It topped the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, which raised $34 million from more than 100,000 participants in 331 locations. The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s CIBC Run for the Cure was third, raising $21.5 million.

But while these programs are Canada’s largest, each actually saw its revenues decline significantly in 2015 — a common trait among the top 30. Revenues were down 5.4 percent for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, 19.4 percent for Relay for Life, and 12.2 percent for CIBC Run for the Cure.

Signs of Hope

walks-still-rule-p2p-canada-top-30 (v2)Despite the tough conditions, 10 of Canada’s 30 largest programs thrived in 2015 — posting revenue gains even in the face of a challenging economy.

The fastest-growing program in the top 30 was the Coldest Night of the Year, a winter walk series organized by Blue Sea Philanthropy in 80 communities that raised $3.3 million in 2015, an increase of 32.4 percent. It marked the second year in a row that Coldest Night has been Canada’s fastest-growing program.

Coldest Night also offers signs of encouragement for Canada’s P2P fundraising fortunes in 2016. Organizers of its February event say that it generated more than $3.85 million in donations — or roughly 17 percent more than the amount raised in 2015.

A number of other programs posted significant growth in 2015. SickKids Foundation’s Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk raised $2.3 million, an increase of 21.5 percent. Another Blue Sea Philanthropy program — Ride for Refuge — posted an 11.1 percent increase, to $2 million.

The growth of these programs shows the continued promise of peer-to-peer fundraising — especially as mobile and online fundraising technology continues to evolve.

“We’ve seen a true democratization of peer-to-peer, where your success isn’t driven by the type of event you run, but rather your ability to produce excellent experiences for volunteer fundraisers,” Hessekiel said. “You no longer have to be among the largest or most established organizations to raise money.”

Top 10 list

  1. Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation ($40.1 million)
  2. Relay for Life, Canadian Cancer Society ($34 million)
  3. CIBC Run for the Cure, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation ($21.5 million)
  4. The Terry Fox Run, Terry Fox Foundation ($19.4 million)
  5. Movember Canada, Movember Canada ($16.4 million)
  6. Jump Rope for Heart, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada ($14.6 million)
  7. MS Walk, MS Society of Canada ($9.6 million)
  8. MS Bike, MS Society of Canada ($9.1 million)
  9. Big Bike, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada ($8.8 million)
  10. Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women’s Cancers, Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation ($7.5 million)