Cycle for Survival Sets New Template for Successful P2P Fundraising

Courtesy of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Cycle for Survival — the fast-growing athletic fundraising campaign that has raised more than $155 million for rare cancer research— has been named the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum’s Program of the Year.

In 2017, Cycle for Survival attracted more than 30,000 riders who raised $34 million for the hospital — an increase of more than 13.3 percent from the $30 million it raised in 2016.

The record fundraising total for Cycle for Survival follows years of explosive progress. Cycle of Survival has more than quadrupled in size since 2012, when the still-emerging campaign raised $8.3 million.

Its growth also signals a shift in the evolution of large peer-to-peer fundraising programs. Even though revenues for the 30 largest peer-to-peer fundraising programs declined by 2.77 percent in 2016, according to the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum’s annual survey of U.S. campaigns, a wave of newer campaigns have been surging.

While established national programs such as Relay for Life and March for Babies have long been the dominant P2P players, Cycle for Survival is among a group of programs that have established new templates for peer-to-peer fundraising.

“Cycle for Survival has provided a blueprint for how a startup program can grow into a blockbuster,” said David Hessekiel, founder and president of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum. “While the program is around a decade old, Memorial Sloan Kettering has done a masterful job of carefully building a brand that makes its participants feel like they are truly making a difference.”

Peer-to-peer fundraising is the practice of having a nonprofit’s supporters take part in an activity such as a walk, bike ride or challenge and reach out to their friends, family members and colleagues for donations. Collectively, P2P programs raise billions of dollars annually for thousands of nonprofits nationwide.

Like many successful P2P programs, Cycle for Survival was created not by the charity, but by a supporter.

Jennifer Goodman Linn — a Memorial Sloan Kettering patient and a member of Equinox in New York — started the campaign with her husband, Dave, after she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Working with Equinox, Jennifer and Dave held the first Cycle for Survival fundraising event in 2007.

Two years later, Memorial Sloan Kettering became the owner and operator of Cycle for Survival, and made Equinox the official founding partner. Today, Cycle for Survival has indoor team cycling events in 16 cities — and they have raised $150 million and counting — all of which has funded research and clinical trials at Memorial Sloan Kettering to find treatments for rare cancers.

“Cycle for Survival’s continued growth and impact are testaments to our determined and passionate participants; the brilliant and dedicated doctors and researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering; and our unparalleled partners, especially our generous founding partner Equinox,” said Katie Klein, Director of Fundraising Evens at Memorial Sloan Kettering. “The Program of The Year award reflects this extraordinary community committed to beating rare cancers. We are so proud to receive this distinguished honor.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering will receive the Program of the Year award at the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum’s annual conference in Miami on March 2.