The economy of walking for cures (Infographic)

 Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the breast cancer charity, has announced it will be cancelling seven its fundraising walks planned for next year. The popularity of the non-profit dropped drastically after it said it would cut funding to Planned Parenthood last year.

What’s lost for a charity when walkers stay on the sidelines? And how much do these walks cost?  

Imagine you’re a charity trying to raise money. You could just ask people. But David Hessekiel, President of the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council, says there is another way.
 
“If I’m doing direct mail as a way of fundraising, I reach out to you," Hessekiel says. "But when I engage you in fundraising through a walk or a run or ride or a swim or a climb, I’m getting you to ask all of your friends and neighbors to fundraise. That multiplication effect can raise a lot of money."
 
Hessekiel says that last year the 30 largest “thon” events, as they’re called, brought in just under $1.7 billion. But the charities don’t get to keep all that mone.  After all, someone has to pay for the permits, water stations, porta-potties.

“Of course, everybody wants a t-shirt,” Hessekiel says.
 
Robert Evans, founder of EHL Consulting , a group that helps non profits with fundraising, says these are “very expensive events.”

“There are special event producers, there are special consultants, there are trade show and technology vendors,” he says.
 
Evans notes walkathon costs can eat up to fifty cents of every dollar a charity raises, a lot more than what he says is considered a fundraising best practice. And, heaven forbid it rains.

“When one of these events gets cancelled, it’s almost irreparable harm,” Evans says.

A thunderstorm can mean thousands of disappointed participants.  But, David Hessekiel says,  your friends will still give when they know you were willing to sweat for charity.


Take a look at this infographic of the top fundraising events for 2012 from Run Walk Ride:

2012 Run Walk Ride 30title=

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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