Macmillan’s Adrenaline Rush: A challenge event delivering returns

Macmillan’s Adrenaline Rush: A challenge event delivering returns

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Macmillan Cancer Support’s Adrenaline Rush event is now in its second year and going strong. Joe McDermott shares the secrets to the event’s success


Planning a challenge event on the scale of Adrenaline Rush is obviously a huge undertaking. What are some of the key issues around organising mass participation events?


There is a great deal of competition in the market these days due to the sheer number of events now taking place, so one of the biggest challenges can be actually getting people to take part in your event.

This is also true from a fundraising perspective, as the more mass participation events there are, the more fundraising asks from friends and family people are likely to get.


How does Adrenaline Rush address these challenges?


In marketing the event, we’ve highlighted the fact that Adrenaline Rush is challenging, but also a great deal of fun, as well as an opportunity to do something amazing for people affected by cancer. We’ve also emphasised that while the challenge isn’t going to be easy for anyone, the majority of people are going to be able to take part and enjoy it.

To combat fundraising fatigue, we designed the series in a way that Macmillan raises money by taking a percentage of registration fees - 35% of all entrance fees from this year will go directly to Macmillan to help ensure that no one faces cancer alone.


What were the results and insights from last year's Adrenaline Rush, and how will these impact on the 2016 event?


The insight we captured last year has reinforced the fact that Adrenaline Rush has a broad appeal, which is partly due to its accessibility to everyone. We were delighted with the number of people that took part in the 2015 event, and received some brilliant feedback.

We were, however, slightly below our registration target, but this was mainly down to the performance of the two winter ‘Ultra’ events - the last two events of the series, which took place in October and included a half marathon distance.

This year, we’re sticking to 5km and 10km options, which worked well for the initial four summer events and are a better fit with the fun and accessible feel of the series.


Have your targets changed this year?


We see the potential to grow the events, so the registration targets for this year have gone up to reflect this. We also want to attract more groups and teams to take part, so we’re offering clearer team discounts, and working closely with the regional fundraising teams to get more of Macmillan’s corporate partners involved.


What key fundraising lessons have you taken forward from last year's event?


We had always expected participants to be event driven rather than cause driven, hence why some of the registration fee came straight to Macmillan rather than us relying on individuals fundraising. We were proved right, so for Adrenaline Rush 2016 we’ve increased the percentage of registration fees that go directly to Macmillan from 25% to 35%, as well as still encouraging people to fundraise on an individual basis.


What tips would you give to other charities considering holding a challenge event?


Know the audience you want to attract and what to expect from them. Research the market thoroughly, and keep an eye on any current trends, making an educated guess as to how they are likely to develop. Also, it’s worth working with an experienced events organiser (we partnered with Inmotion Sports), as this will give you confidence that your event is of a high standard.


Joe McDermott is challenge events programme manager at Macmillan Cancer Support


Macmillan Cancer Support’s urban obstacle race series Adrenaline Rush is back for a second year this summer, now with energy-packed events set to take place in 8 city locations across the UK. 35% of entrance fees go directly to Macmillan to help ensure that no one faces cancer alone.

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