Charity Challenge Events

August 23, 2016 Blackbaud Team

Charity Challenge events are consistently raising the highest funds per person on peer-to-peer fundraising platforms, with the average funds raised per person for their supported charity last year at $6,654*. On top of that, each person spends the best part of a year advocating on behalf of a cause that they are passionate about; these are highly engaged significant donors.

What is a charity challenge?

A charity challenge is a physical challenge involving a team of supporters who have had to raise a minimum amount to participate and cover their travel costs. These events typically include treks, cycle rides, and international marathons taking place in Australia or overseas.

Background please!

The first charity challenge was a cycle ride through Israel in 1992 for a UK charity. Since then, the challenge event scene exploded in the UK with most major charities running multiple events per year, and competing in the general public space to try and acquire as many new supporters as possible and engage large teams of people. It was not many years before the market saturated and although still popular, UK charities have had to become more creative with their promotional strategies.

How is Australia and New Zealand different?

Here in Australia and New Zealand, we have had a strategic approach by focusing these events on donor development, and by recognising that people who can envisage raising a few thousand dollars for a cause already have an affinity with that charity. Therefore marketing strategies have targeted charity databases, social media networks and alliances such as corporate partners. Hence a very good ROI.

Who are these participants?

Research conducted in 2015-2016 by More Strategic has determined that the key motivator for someone to Climb Kilimanjaro, run the New York Marathon, trek the Great Wall of China or tick off a myriad of other bucket-list items is the Charity. With ages typically ranging from 30’s to Baby-Boomers, these people are in your networks and just waiting to be asked.

Key ingredients for success

Here are some of the basics that you need to have in place for success:

  1. Timing Never launch an adventure less than 12 months out from the departure date.
  2. Marketing Launch with an integrated marketing campaign, be consistent and track who responds so you can develop a long-term targeted strategy.
  3. Outsource Response management and lead conversion can take up too much of your time. Same goes with fundraising and fitness coaching. Success relies upon regular support calls which can turn into life-coaching conversations and eat up a lot of resources.
  4. Focus your team on donor development. Thank, acknowledge, and remind people where the money is going and how they are contributing to your cause – build your relationships
  5. Be a part of it. Make sure one of your team goes on the adventure. This is your event, your supporters, and that uninterrupted time away with them is gold.

What to avoid

Here are some of the areas to avoid, which can be detrimental to your brand and success:

  1. Open challenges Travel agencies offer these as a way of filling adventures. Even if a group does depart, you have a mix of causes and often non-charity challenge fundraisers in the team. This can be disappointing and lacks the essence of what these events are all about. Also, many are canceled due to low numbers causing donor discontent.
  2. Do your homework. Your chosen agency will be dealing with your charity brand. Therefore, a thorough review of their reputation and track record, risk management, donor care, customer care, and contingency planning is critical. Key areas to consider are medical, insurance, responsible tourism and crisis management.
  3. Focus. Launching multiple adventures at once can cannibalise your own success. Trying to fill more than one adventure at a time is very challenging so focus your launch on one adventure and do it well. Once the team is close to full, only then can you consider your next launch. Otherwise, adventures may get canceled or travel costs might increase which leads to donor frustration. Look at it from your supporters’ point of view: they will fatigue at the sight of so many events on offer.



With success in the millions of dollars from these events, Australian and New Zealand charities are setting the benchmark and we are witnessing significant growth this year alone. This is an exciting space for a charity to be in, taking their supporters on an incredible journey to the next level of giving. *Inspired Adventures results 2014-2016

Justine Curtis is the Founder and CEO of Inspired Adventures and Inspired Travel. Together these agencies have been leading the way in adventure fundraising for the past 12 years. A passionate fundraiser and leader in this field, Justine and her team are nurturing a new breed of passionate supporters for many of Australia and New Zealand’s small medium and large NGO’s. For more contact Justine on +61 2 8014 7619 or

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