Rising to the fundraising challenge

“Want to bet?” It’s hard to imagine a more motivating sentence than these three simple words. People love a challenge. From friendly wagers to giant corporate projects, it’s human nature to want to rise against the odds, overcome a hurdle, and emerge from the other side triumphant.

One thing that Australians love almost as much as a challenge is getting behind a good cause. So, when presented with the opportunity to combine those two, it’s no wonder that people jump at the opportunity. With March already upon us, thousands of Australians are gearing up for the World’s Greatest Shave. The event, in which people get sponsored to shave or colour their hair, has gone from strength to strength and is now one of the nation’s biggest fundraising events, raising over $200 million since it began in 1998.

World’s Greatest Shave is just one of many fundraising challenges that have become household names over recent years – and when you look at the three key characteristics of a challenge event, it’s easy to see why they’re often such a success.

They tell a story
Not only do good challenges tap into that primal desire to prove oneself, they also tell a story about the cause they’re supporting. By tying the challenge to the ethos or mission of the charity behind them, participants and those supporting them feel a strong connection to the cause. For example, the 40 Hour Famine Backpack Challenge raises money to help young refugees and involves living off whatever essentials you can carry in a backpack for 40 hours. The challenge echoes the experience that many refugees go through, who are forced to flee with nothing but what they can carry on their back. So not only do participants raise money, they also raise awareness in a meaningful way that’s sure to resonate with people.

They’re cost effective
Most challenge campaigns don’t involve large costs, as participants participate on their own time. There’s also no need to spend money on equipment or logistics as you would with a large-scale fundraising event, and as they’re particularly popular amongst millennials and the social-media savvy, your marketing almost takes care of itself – which brings us to…

They’re social media friendly
If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s around, does it make a sound? Similarly, if people participate in a challenge and don’t post it to social media, did it happen? Fundraising challenges are almost custom-made for shareability, meaning your cause is likely to reach a large audience organically as people post about their participation and give updates on their progress. Using a unique hashtag for your challenge will not only help people see who else is participating and create a sense of community, it will help you to collate images and stories that you can use in social media posts, emails and marketing campaigns of your own.


  • Base your challenge around a unique feature of your cause so that participants raise awareness while they’re raising funds
  • Keep costs down by choosing a challenge that doesn’t require you to create any physical materials and that participants can complete on their own
  • Encourage people to share their progress on social media so your cause reaches their audiences
  • Use a hashtag to collate images and posts for future marketing campaigns