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Posted: March 19, 2009  :

(RWire) Athletics: "Athon" Fundraising Tops $1.75 Billion in 2008

Run Walk Ride Thirty survey shows top thirty charity programs raised $1.76 billion, up 7.6%

DALLAS - (March 4, 2009) - Dollars raised by people willing to exercise for a good cause in the top 30 programs grew by a healthy 7.6% in 2008, but executives are concerned about repeating such growth in this recessionary environment, according to the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council, the leading authority on athletic event fundraising.

The top thirty "athon" programs generated more than $1.76 billion in gross revenue for charity last year, up from $1.64 billion in 2007, the council's third annual "Run Walk Ride Thirty" study reports.

"The economy is the #1 concern of the executives who manage these events," said David Hessekiel, president of the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council. "The president's call for increased public service may help drive participation, but everyone in this field will have to work even smarter to grow in 2009. Sharing best practices is what the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council is all about."

By raising $430 million in 2008, the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life dwarfed all other competitors in the field. The top five programs in 2008 were:

$430.0 million (+5.9%) - Relay for Life American Cancer Society
$125.5 million (+0.4%) - Team in Training Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
$115.0 million (-0.9%) - March for Babies March of Dimes
$113.1 million (+19.8%) - Race for the Cure Susan G. Komen for the Cure
$110.0 million (+26.5%) - Breast Cancer 3-DayNational Philanthropic Trust

"The top five demonstrate the diversity in this field," said Hessekiel. "With a short walk, a 5K run, a relay, a 60-mile weekend walk and an endurance program there's an activity for everyone from the couch potato to the driven athlete."

The Breast Cancer 3-Day led the top 30 rankings for percentage growth by expanding 26.72% from 2007 to 2008. The top five programs by percentage revenue growth were:

26.7% to $110.0 million - Breast Cancer 3-Day National Philanthropic Trust
20.5% to $11.7 million - Arthritis Walk Arthritis Foundation
20.0% to $60.0 million - Making Strides American Cancer Society
19.8% to $113.2 million - Race for the Cure Susan G. Komen for the Cure
19.2% to $56.0 million - Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Avon Foundation

The top five programs in terms of absolute dollar growth were:

$24.0 million - Relay for Life American Cancer Society
$23.2 million - Breast Cancer 3-Day National Philanthropic Trust
$18.7 million - Race for the Cure Susan G. Komen for the Cure
$10.0 million - Making Strides American Cancer Society
$9.0 million - Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Avon Foundation

It took at least $6.3 million in revenue to make it into the top 30 this year, a spot claimed by The Rodman Ride for Kids, a Massachusetts-based, 25 to 100 mile bicycle ride that raises money for children's social service programs.

When program executives were asked how they hoped to drive growth, the top two strategies cited were increased corporate team recruitment followed by providing individual participants with tools to raise more funds.

The Run Walk Ride Thirty is primarily based on survey responses from the professionals who manage well-known athletic event fundraising programs. If a nonprofit does not participate, the council seeks out public information to obtain key statistics. A study summary is available at RunWalkRide.com. A CD with extensive survey data is provided to dues-paying members of the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council.

For further information, contact the Council at (914) 921-3914 or :info@runwalkride.com.

Ryan Lamppa, Running USA Media Director
(805) 696-6232; Fax = (805) 659-0016
Ryan@RunningUSA.org
www.RunningUSA.org.

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