10 Tips for Online Challenge Event Fundraising

Robert McAllen - 11.16.09

At October's Blackbaud UK Relationship Management conference, I discussed Challenge Event Fundraising and the best ways to get the most out of these events.  I'd like to share some of the findings but first some background.  The average UK gift is around £10 (Source CAF) with the average Challenge Event gifts around the £34 mark (Source Justgiving/Bmycharity) so events like this are a pretty effective means of fundraising.  So why is the average Blackbaud gift for this stuff in the UK sitting at £69 for 2009?  Well there is so much more you can do with these if you optimise your output and ask in the right way.

So I've taken part in a Challenge event or two in my time and you'll see from the video clip below (See me at the beginning of the video...looking breathless) but I've also worried that we could have raised more with better tools at our disposal and have spent the last year since climbing Ben Nevis looking at different ways that we could get more from it.  Have a look at my earlier post on Challenge Event fundraising as a whole.

Click here to view the Ben Nevis Challenge Video.

So here are my ten top tips, in no order, for successful challenge eventing.

No 1 - Let People tell their story

Give your eventers the correct tools to explain what they are doing, why they are doing it and let them keep their donors and friends up to date.  Great tools for this are blogs, videos, twitter, facebook etc.

No 2 - Learn from other people's successes and failures

If you have previous challenge eventers then give them a voice.  Let them pass on tips and hints and especially contacts.  Don't have your eventers constantly reinvent the wheel but don't let this stifle innovation.  Your previous eventers gave a lot when they took part in their event and hopefully they've built an affinity with you - take advantage of that fact.

No 3 - Constant updates keeps folk interested

Static info on a web page is boring.  Encourage your eventers to give regular updates.  Let them share the pain of the late nights training in the pouring rain.  This encourages repeat giving where someone may give a gift but then see how much effort your eventers are putting in and give a little more.

No 4 - Video Helps

Video is a very powerful tool.  The above video gave huge amounts of publicity for the event and if you search on You tube for 'Ben Nevis Challenge' you'll find loads more from various media agencies.  You Tube has some great tools for Not for Profit orgs to use.  Check out a fabulous article by Frank Barry on the NetwitsThinktank on this subject.

No 5 - Competition is important







Give people a goal that is not just financial.  Get them competing against each other.  Create hierarchies so that companies, families, friends etc can compete against each other.  Create league tables.  Have a look at this great example from Oxfam Ireland.  They actually exhibit a number of these tips right on this page.  Have a look at some examples of a typical hierarchy you can build (above).

No 6 - Family can get involved

Never under estimate sibling rivalry but also don't under estimate the fact that if one family member is fundraising for you, especially if it's in tribute to someone, then another may as well.  Give people the ability to create sub pages from a main fundraising page so that a son can have their own page where they can fundraising for their parents.  This is a great way of building a family unit which will fundraise for you.

No 7 - SMS is a powerful tool

Use SMS to speak with your eventers but also to help them fundraise.  MS Society used the Blackbaud SMS tool to great effect during last years London Marathon.  The SMS feels like a far more personal tool and is less likely to be ignored as spam.

No 8 - Make sure you thank the right people

Offer thanks to everyone who takes part.  Thanks should go from the organisation as well as the individual.  Learn about the donors.  Find out if they are giving because it's an event or giving because they feel an affinity for the cause.  Ask questions of them - Your friend did it?  Why don't you?

No 9 - Social Media is very importantBrian Solis - The Conversation

This is vitally important nowadays.  Offer your eventers the chance to twitter their achievements.  Offer some instruction on this.  Can you offer video?  Do your bloggers know each other and actively encourage traffic?  Get people talking...and keep them talking.  Brian Solis' fabulous image - The Conversation is great for looking at the different platforms you could be using.



No 10 - Are you helping them achieve their physical goals?

Helping and nudging them with training plans and recommended training techniques really does help.  There are plenty of sites dedicated to achieving physical goals and if you look at the Oxfam site again they have some excellent training tips as well as route maps etc.  Encourage people to work together to achieve these goals and create a network.  Some free tools like SportsTracker are excellent for building a network around this stuff and it keeps everyone motivated.

Using these tips can really help to build a great online strategy for challenge eventing and helps to encourage fundraising, networking and builds the profile of your event.

I'd love to hear if anyone else has other tips for this type of thing?  Please leave a comment below!


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