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4 Lessons from the Best Charity Fundraising Challenges

27 May, 2019

Charity challenges are an amazing way for organisations to build awareness, spread their message and raise funds for important causes. Every month, there are numerous ways for supporters old and new to get involved with charities in creative ways, from virtual activities to picturesque hikes to obstacle courses with dogs.

In addition to raising critical funds, we can also view these challenges as case studies and learn a thing or two about the ingredients of a successful charity event. Here, we look at four successful charity challenges and highlight a few lessons that your charity can consider when planning your next big challenge.  

Macmillan Cancer Support Mighty Hikes: Reward Participants with Fun Stuff

The Macmillan Cancer Support Mighty Hikes is a series of one-day hiking marathons that take place across the UK. This year, there are eight lovely hikes to choose from; each one involves trekking the distance of a classic marathon, but in some of the UK’s most picturesque locations. All Mighty Hikes take place over different weekends; this makes it convenient for planning AND it opens up the possibility for super supporters to sign up for multiple or all events to raise even more money.

Another Mighty Hikes perk is the great freebies. All participants receive a free lunch and plethora of goodies, including a Macmillan walking top, regular check points with drinks and snacks, medical assistance and a finisher’s medal and bubbly.

Macmillan Might Hike

Takeaway: Make your challenge rewarding in myriad ways. This could be the reward of completing a physical challenge, but it could also be the reward of a picturesque view or great giveaways, like clothing, keychains, badges and bags. People love helping charities, but they also love free stuff! Any branded merchandise you create will also help extend the visibility of your charity long after the challenge ends.

Walk for Parkinson’s: Something for Everyone

Walk for Parkinson’s isn’t a single event but rather a series of walks that takes place across the UK. The charity hosts local events of varying lengths to raise money for a cure and help improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson’s.

What’s great about Walk for Parkinson’s is that no one walk is that grueling, so people of all ages and fitness levels can participate. The location of the walks is another perk of the challenge; many of them take place in parks, the countryside and historic places. The challenge also offers an easy way to search for activities by area.

Takeaway: Make it easy for everyone to get involved by offering something for everyone. If you’re planning a longer walk or run, consider adding a shorter version as an option.

Muddy Dog Challenge: Know Your Audience (Be They People or Dogs)

This challenge lets our four-legged friends in on a good cause. The Muddy Dog Challenge is a 2.5 KM or 5 KM obstacle run for adults, kids and dogs. You can enter alone or with your canine companion. The challenge raises money for Battersea, a charity that provides care for thousands of lost, abandoned and unwanted dogs and cats.

It sounds like a great race – it promises to be “wet and muddy” and some of the obstacles include a Doggy Ball Pit, a Canine Crawl and Muddy Mayhem. For everyone, there’s also music, food and drinks. Multiple Muddy Dog events take place in multiple locations, including Exeter, Windsor, Cheltenham, Nottingham, Manchester, Tunbridge Wells, Newcastle and Leeds. The challenge also offers a great list of fundraising tips as well as a fundraising kit.

Muddy Dog Challenge

Takeaway: Know your audience. Battersea knows that their supporters love their pets, so they created a unique challenge for a day of fun (and fundraising) for both humans and dogs. Who is your audience? Children? Animal lovers? Elderly households? Think about what might be especially appealing or interesting to your supporters and come up with a list of activities they would enjoy as a starting point in planning your challenge.

Walk All Over Cancer: A Virtual Activity That’s Still Engaging

Rather than one big, in-person event, this fundraising event from Cancer Research UK asks participants to walk throughout the entire month of March, on their own terms. The #WalkAllOverCancer challenge encourages participants to walk 10,000 steps a day for a month – to both promote a healthy, active lifestyle and to raise money for critical cancer research. (If you’re curious, 10,000 steps is about 5 miles or 8 KM; participants could rack up to 150 miles by the end of the month, which is approximately the distance from London to Manchester!)

The challenge is a great way to get people involved from various locations, while providing the flexibility that people need in their busy lives. Notably, while the activity takes part individually and virtually, it gives participants the chance to engage with the larger community by connecting over social media. The charity challenge site aggregates and shares photos from across various social media sites.

Takeaway: Photos and testimonials are compelling! If you host a virtual activity like a walk or run, encourage participants to connect on social media and make it easy for people to snap and share their experiences. Also provide your participants with the tools they need to get started, such as training plans or information on where to get equipment, like a pedometer.

If you’re giving people flexibility in how they complete a challenge, be sure to share plenty of creative ideas. Walk All Over Cancer, for example, suggests that participants achieve their daily goals by walking their commute, taking the stairs instead of the lift, going for weekend walks with family and friends and giving the dog some extra walks.

We hope this post inspires you to think creatively about your next charity challenge. In all cases, make sure your website provides clear and helpful information. If there’s multiple events or dates, provide an easy way for people to search by time or location and to sign up for challenge updates. Keep your participants engaged and excited on social media in the days before and after the challenge and offer fundraising tips and materials to raise the most money possible.

We’d love to help you put together the perfect package of merchandise for the best charity challenge possible, too. Please get in touch with us today, and we hope to see you at one of the above events!


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