After 15 Years and $646 Million, Avon Sunsets Walk Series

Avon Walk

Creative Commons photo by Margi Levin via Flickr

The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade — which raises and grants money to help end breast cancer — has decided to sunset its signature P2P campaign, AVON 39, The Walk to End Breast Cancer.

In announcing its decision, Avon said it plans to unveil a new fundraising program in the spring.

“This program will build off the success and learnings we’ve gained with the AVON 39 walks, and will engage passionate supporters like you who are committed to this fight against breast cancer,” Avon said in an online letter to its supporters.

While it has not yet announced the format for its new program, the decision offers a high-profile example of how P2P fundraising is changing.

Large, national-scale walk events like the AVON 39 once dominated the P2P fundraising landscape. However, many of the largest walks have seen participation and revenues decline in recent years, while a crop of new events have blossomed.

Today, walks share the stage with rides, virtual events, and so-called do-it-yourself campaigns.

In 2016, the AVON 39 series was the nation’s 14th-largest P2P fundraising program, according to the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Thirty. It raised $39 million at 7 walks held in big cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

All told, the campaign raised more than $646 million and saw its peak in 2008, when it generated $56 million.

Since then, it — like many other large national walks — has seen its revenues decline.

The organization had started collecting registration fees and donations for its 2018 walk series prior to the announcement of the decision to end AVON 39.

Those who have already registered and raised money have the option of donating the funds to the organization or receiving a refund.

But while AVON 39 and many other large walks have struggled in recent years, it is important to note that fundraising walks still generate billions for nonprofits in the United States and Canada.

Four of the five largest P2P campaigns in the United States are charity walk events — led by the American Cancer Society’s massive Relay for Life series, which raised $279 million in 2016.

And a number of organizations in both the United States and Canada are seeing significant gains in their fundraising walk revenues.

Longstanding programs like Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Purple Stride, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night Walk, and Aga Khan Foundation’s World Partnership Walk are thriving.

What’s more, a number of newer programs, such as Blue Sea Philanthropy’s Coldest Night of the Year, have been among the fastest growing programs in North America in recent years.

Still, the Avon decision is a reminder that the P2P landscape is changing — and we’ll be looking forward to seeing what form its new campaign will take.