Pan-Mass Challenge raises $50 million amid coronavirus pandemic, struggling economy

December 27, 2020
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As charities and nonprofits face the uphill battle of raising money during the coronavirus pandemic and a down economy, the Pan-Mass Challenge this year surpassed expectations and shattered its goal.

The PMC raised $50 million this year for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund, the bike-a-thon announced on Monday.

The $50 million smashed its fundraising goal of $41 million. Last year, the PMC donated a record-breaking $63 million to Dana-Farber.

PMC’s leaders — knowing the impact of the pandemic and economy — lowered expectations to $41 million for this year. On Monday, officials said they were ecstatic to raise $9 million more than their goal, helping support Dana-Farber’s immediate patient care needs, breakthrough discoveries and COVID-19-related cancer research.

“The PMC community really stood up,” said PMC founder and executive director Billy Starr.

“The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to many aspects of our daily lives this year — but cancer stops for nothing, and the PMC refuses to stop, either,” he added.

Unable to hold its traditional bike-a-thon due to the pandemic, the PMC pivoted to a virtual experience called “PMC 2020 Reimagined” — which was designed to encourage riders to move forward with individual activities on or off the bike. More than 9,600 participated in the summer-long PMC 2020 Reimagined campaign.

PMC 2020 Reimagined ended up generating the highest event weekend fundraising results the PMC has ever experienced — $4 million from July 31 to Aug. 3.

This year’s $50 million gift includes $4 million of funding that was fast-tracked to Dana-Farber in May to kickstart its COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for patients and their families. PMC funding also helped Dana-Farber transition to telemedicine, and invest in patient and visitor safety protocols amid the pandemic.

“This year more than ever, I am extremely grateful for the unwavering commitment from the Pan-Mass Challenge and its riders, volunteers and donors,” Laurie Glimcher, president and CEO of Dana-Farber, said in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unexpected challenges for the cancer community and this incredibly generous gift will make an unparalleled impact on our work in the fight against cancer.”

This year has been a challenging year for nonprofit fundraising across the state, said Jim Klocke, CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.

“But what’s encouraging is people are still giving,” he added. “They might not be giving as much, but there’s a lot of giving going on and a commitment to giving … That’s needed now more than ever, with many people in a difficult place because of the pandemic.”

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