Cause and Effect

A lean fundraising machine puts money where Billy Starr wants it: fighting cancer.
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This story appears in the January 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »
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A star in the world of big-dollar fund-raising, Billy Starr founded the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge bike-a-thon with one goal: to raise money for the Jimmy Fund of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. His entrepreneurial spirit took root after his mother died of melanoma in 1974.
As one of the most successful athletic fundraisers in the U.S., PMC has grown from 36 riders raising $10,200 in 1980 to 4,300 cyclists raising $26 million--half the Jimmy Fund's annual revenue--today. Ninety-nine cents of every rider-dollar raised goes to the fund. Starr accomplishes this by running a lean operation: He keeps his staff to a minimum, uses credit card pledges to ensure fundraising commitments are met on time and maintains a slim operating budget of $2.5 million generated largely by corporate sponsorships and merchandising. "Every year, we have grown," says Starr, 54. "I run the PMC with one thing in mind: making money for the fund."

Edition: June 2017

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