Fundraising Challenge Events – what needs to change
The Future of Fundraising Challenge Events
Having worked with countless fundraising organizations and charities over the years, I have seen a real shift in how participants and their supporters perceive challenge events. There have been huge changes in how these events are run, how they are marketed and how public perception of them has changed.
Fifteen years ago it was a relatively novel concept for someone to trek Macchu Picchu, climb Kilimanjaro or cycle from London to Paris and raise money for charity. However, due to the number of companies that offer such challenge events, there are few people that have never done such an event or at least know someone who has.
Are supporters however becoming reluctant to sponsor participants due to the proliferation of such events? For example, I’ve spoken to countless cyclists who began their cycling journey on a sponsored sportive or longer event and have continued to cycle as a result. Many are then (sometimes quite rightly) reluctant to ask for sponsorship for subsequent cycling challenges, and have been shunned with the response “I’m not paying for you to go on a cycling holiday (again)”.
I don’t think this is right. These people are still challenging themselves, still spending hours fundraising for a charity that they are passionate about and still raising the profile of their efforts, why shouldn’t people sponsor them?
In my opinion, this reluctance has undoubtedly been caused by charities and event organizers blurring the numbers, about merging the actual costs of the challenge with how much is actually going to the charity. In my opinion this is certainly not a sustainable approach to fundraising and things need to change if charities are going to build sustainable fundraising events in the future.
So what’s the solution?
I believe that transparency is the key. I’ve spoken to hundreds of fundraisers on events that don’t really understand where their sponsor’s money is going when they partake in charity fundraising events.
For example, a woman I met at Dover whilst waiting to board a ferry on a charity London to Paris cycle was convinced that all of the support vehicles, signage, hotels, meals, ferry to France and Eurostar back to London came to a grand total of £99. This was however just the commitment fee she had placed upon signing up to the event. Whether the organisers or the charity in this case were to blame for this misinformation is unknown. However, surely if people know from the start where their sponsor’s money is going from the first instance, then there is simply no room for such ambiguity.
When individual people choose to partake in a trip run by my company More Adventure, they pay for the trip themselves then we help them set up a page to collect sponsorship (again, explaining that some of the funds raised will go to JustGiving or BT My Donate). This approach offers transparency from the start for both the fundraiser and their supporters.
A positive change to end
On a slightly more positive note, the advent of social media has had a huge impact on these adventures. Using social media to create interest and promote a fundraising challenge is widely used by both charities and individual fundraisers. The ability to contact key personnel within the corporate world or to build a healthy following or tribe for an event has never been easier. With the potential for such a wide audience and reach, it has never been more important to be clear with the numbers involved.
There have been plenty of positive changes within the charity fundraising challenge sector, with millions of pounds being fundraised each day. If we are to create a sustainable fundraising approach however, we need to offer fundraisers, supporters and sponsors with clarity throughout the process.