Notable for its success in attracting donations through its walk program over the last two years in spite of the pandemic, NAMI was named the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Organization of the Year today at the annual conference of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum.
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
The NAMIWalks Your Way series registered a 31% revenue increase in 2021 over its 2020 performance to bring in $13,142,375. That achievement made it the 28th largest peer-to-peer fundraising program in America in 2021, according to the just released Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Top Thirty study. That fundraising total also exceeded the series’ 2019 pre-pandemic revenue performance, a fundraising feat accomplished by very few leading programs.
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 other real or virtual challenge and reach out to their network of friends, family, neighbors and colleagues for donations. Collectively, peer-to-peer fundraising programs raise billions of dollars annually for thousands of nonprofits nationwide.
“At a time when the pandemic exacerbated our country’s mental health crisis, it’s wonderful to see that NAMI rallied its supporters to hit new fundraising heights for its signature peer-to-peer fundraising program,” said David Hessekiel, president of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum.
NAMI leaders credited the organization’s success at pivoting during the pandemic from a traditionally in-person walk series to a mix of totally virtual and virtual/physical hybrid events to a number of factors including: a successful rebranding from “NAMIWalks” to “NAMIWalks Your Way;” increased national appreciation of the depth of the mental health crisis; and tremendous cooperation among departments at the national level and between national and local program leaders (in 2021 virtual or hybrid events were held in 122 markets.)
“The greatest strength of NAMI is found in our name: our Alliance,” said NAMI CEO Daniel H. Gillison Jr. “We’re very proud of the Herculean efforts of our state offices, affiliates, volunteers and participants, in collaboration with our own NAMIWalks staff, to achieve these remarkable results. And during this time of unprecedented challenges, we’re so grateful to the donors who helped make it all possible.”
“Every year we’re honored to showcase the best programs and organizations in the nation,” said Matt Glass, partner & chief creative officer at Eventage which sponsors this award. “NAMI and their walk program have shown true resilience and creativity in building a powerful platform for people nationwide to speak out about mental health.” Glass presented the award and interviewed NAMI executives at the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum in Atlanta on March 2.
Past winners of the peer-to-peer fundraising organization of the year honor include the Pan-Mass Challenge, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Alzheimer’s Association, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Children’s Miracle Network Research Hospitals, Terry Fox Foundation, ALS Association and Dana-Farber Cancer Research Center.