How to Organise a Successful Charity Challenge
June 18th 2019
Charity challenges are a wonderful way to spread your organisation’s message and raise critical funds. Today, these challenges take the shape of everything from traditional “fun runs” to festivals for people and their pets to serious mountain treks.
Do a quick search on a site like Charity Challenge, and you’ll find interesting charity challenges nearly every weekend of the summer, all across the country. Want to get in on the action? There’s still time for your charity to plan and host a challenge this year, too! In this post, we share some tips and advice to help you organise a successful charity challenge this summer and beyond.
Set the Big Picture and Pick a Place
Begin by thinking big. Gather your team and stakeholders for an informal planning session to identify the big picture purpose of the challenge. Ask questions such as: Why is our charity putting on this event? What is our goal? For whom is this event for? Where will we host it? What is our budget? Ask people to come to the meeting with ideas or examples and use a whiteboard or other visual display to capture ideas and encourage a creative dialogue. Understanding the what, why and who behind your event will lay a solid foundation for structuring and promoting your event.
One of the earliest decisions you’ll need to make is the location. With so many spaces available, it can feel a little overwhelming to narrow your search. A good rule of thumb is to select your venue and activities with your audience in mind. Where are they? What do they care about or what sort of activities would appeal to them? If you’re organising a challenge in support of a youth charity, for example, you may want to organise a fun run or sports-themed day and host it in a public park. If you’re interested in a more formal gala event for your VIP donors, look to book a special restaurant or summer rooftop space.
TIP: Remember, the most popular venues book early; be sure that you have a firm commitment in place before you promote the location of the event.
A great example of catering to your audience is Battersea’s Muddy Challenge, which perfectly targets its pet-loving supporters and incorporates their pooches as part of the challenge. The challenge includes an obstacle course for adults, kids and dogs as well as an all-day celebration of music, food and events at multiple locations in the UK.
Get People Involved
Now that you’ve painted the big picture and picked a place, it’s time to focus on the people. An effective approach to boost overall participation is to partner with others to magnify your event. For example, Run Every Day January, or RED January, teamed up with the mental health charity, MIND, to run a challenge asking people to do something active every day for the 31 days of January.
Draw from your existing relationships with sponsors or supporters to see if these groups will make a financial or in-kind donation to spread awareness of your event. Offer to co-brand the event with both of your logos to encourage partners to participate in exchange for their own exposure and positive public relations. Often, the right partners will also help offset specific costs, such as the venue or catering fee.
TIP: Lean on your volunteers! Encourage your volunteers of all ages to help. Reach out to people who have participated in the past, and put out frequent calls and information sessions to encourage new volunteers to get involved. If you’re still working to grow your volunteer base, try reaching out to local parishes, schools or businesses to spread the word.
Promote your Charity Challenge
Share your challenge on all of your existing channels, including email, social media and traditional media. In addition, send a press release to local media outlets and bloggers and consider adding your challenge to community event listings to help reach beyond your existing network. In your promotion, highlight what makes your event unique and why it matters.
Think back to your big picture plan and your target audience – what other channels exist to reach them? Get creative! If you’re planning a charity run or walk, for example, reach out to local running teams and fitness clubs or visit local sporting goods stores to see if you can hang posters or leave brochures. Is there another race happening in your area? See if you can set up a booth or table at it to promote your own upcoming event.
Tip: Provide your volunteers and participants with easy-to-use tools to extend the visibility of the event and encourage peer-to-peer fundraising. Prepare a toolkit that includes FAQs about the challenge, talking points and fundraising forms. Print and/or post these online in helpful formats like postcard-size flyers or downloadable PDFs. Great digital examples include Cancer Research UK’s fundraising tools and Walk for Parkinson’s fundraising tips.
The Big Day
The more preparation you can do ahead of your challenge, the better. This includes developing a clear plan for the day of the challenge; the plan should articulate people’s role and responsibilities and include the contact information of your key staff. For the challenge participants, be sure to have clear information (like maps) online and at the venue, and plan to be on-site to help with common questions and day-of activities like registration, parking, signage, directions and stopping points or water stations.
Make it Memorable
Last but not least, most charitable challenges today come with some sort of special giveaway or memorable merchandise. These small tokens will help show your gratitude and provide a unique souvenir for participants. Running vests or jerseys are a perfect choice for a charity run or walk. We offer a popular vest made from technical moisture-wicking fabric; we can help you design a vibrant version of it that features the name, date or logo of your charity challenge. Or how about a special cotton t-shirt just for your volunteers or staff – branded shirts will also help participants more easily identify your team.
We hope this post provides you with a few ideas and tips to plan the best possible charity challenge. One parting tip to share is to have fun. These challenges are an opportunity to showcase the personality of your charity with others – no matter what you do, we hope you find joy and inspiration in your planning! We’d love to hear more about your goals and vision for your challenge; please reach out to us at any time and we can brainstorm some unique activities and venues together.