Dryanuary. Veganuary. You might have seen these words pop up on your social feeds in the last few months, and even though a few might be tongue-twisters, they’re all for a good cause! They’re “challenge campaigns”, and they’re held by nonprofits to raise both funds and awareness for various causes. These campaigns especially appeal to Millennials and younger people because they give individuals or groups of friends the power to choose how they participate. They’re a bit more unique than the typical fundraiser, and the social challenge side of the fundraiser is really attractive to potential participants.
Challenge campaigns can be extra beneficial because they’re low cost and don’t require too much setup. Instead, the event is typically done on the participants’ own time, and your nonprofit has a lot more flexibility to put budgeting towards other needs. As a bonus, challenge campaigns can also provide a wealth of collateral, especially since younger participants love to share their progress over social media.
Need a real-world example of a challenge campaign success? Look no further than FebFast, an Australian fundraiser that’s just getting ready to start in February. For the entire month, participants can “pause for a cause” – they choose something to give up, be it alcohol, sugar, or something else. Donors sponsor participants to keep their momentum going, and participants can look forward to kick-starting healthier habits after the month is done. The money raised goes towards disadvantaged youth in Australia, which means everybody wins!
There’s also the Live Below the Line global campaign, which challenges participants to eat and drink on a certain dollar amount every day (for example, in the US the challenge is $1.50 a day for five days straight). Not only does this peer-to-peer (P2P) campaign raise funds to help fight poverty, but it also brings awareness of the struggles that homeless individuals go through.
Along those same lines is World Vision‘s 30-Hour Famine, which is popular with students as a fun team-building exercise as well as a way to raise money. It’s all about giving young people perspective on poverty worldwide, which can hopefully have a lasting effect – and even create donors for life.
Ready to get started with a challenge campaign? Here are a few tips you can take away as you begin planning how to engage your supporters:
Determine what’s unique to your community.
What sets your cause apart from other nonprofits? What matters most to your cause? Getting to the root of these questions can help you shape what sort of fundraising challenge you can pose to your community. For example, if your nonprofit focuses on support for people with cancer, consider a head-shaving event. If your nonprofit is a food bank, try asking your community to do a “Brown Bag Challenge” where they bring their own lunch to work and donate what they’d usually spend. There’s definitely a unique angle that your nonprofit can spin into a challenge campaign – you just have to find it.
Poll your supporters.
If you’re still unsure about what kind of challenges your donor base would appreciate, send out a quick survey and ask! It could be that certain demographics would be more into a head-to-head social challenge (like a competition to see who can eat less sugar), while others would want something where they could hold themselves accountable (like a no-alcohol challenge for a month). You’ll want to make sure you’re choosing a challenge that everyone will enjoy taking part in.
Harness the power of social media.
Because some challenge campaigns are done on the participants’ own time, you’re going to need to put more effort into connecting with them online and ensuring that their efforts are being noticed. Establish a hashtag for your campaign and make sure you have plenty of branded collateral (logos, images, etc.) that they can use – putting together a campaign kit is super useful here. Throughout the duration of the challenge, keep track of what content your supporters are posting, then amplify it on your own channels. It’s also smart to put together a website to track the campaign’s donations – FirstGiving can help you with that!
A challenge campaign might just be an opportunity to break you out of a P2P event rut and bring renewed enthusiasm and engagement with your supporters. By giving them a unique type of fundraiser with flexible options – plus something that appeals to the connected, competitive social nature of millennials – you could find a P2P concept that hits all the right buttons.