Charity fundraising experiences: The best way to engage a new donor base?

Maintaining a long-term and consistent donor base is a vital skill for charities to master. As existing donors age and drop off databases, engaging with a younger and more tech-savvy audience is a powerful tool in developing sustainable engagement. However, knowing how and in which ways to do this can feel like a challenge in itself.

Young, professional audiences are less likely to resonate with traditional charity marketing methods such as direct mailers or community collection boxes, which have been a staple for many charities generating income. This is encouraging charities to look at new, digital avenues that utilise channels that have become a part of daily life for this target audience, as well as exploring the immersive and gamified experiences these platforms offer to drive action and meet user expectations.

This doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning existing fundraising activities entirely though. The digital world is also providing us with new ways and opportunities of maximising on activities such as events to draw in this new demographic.

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In-person events have been a key driving force for charity fundraising for the last 40 years with the London Marathon and Great North Run at the forefront. These incredible sporting challenges have raised >£1bn since their inception and follow a similar format to bring in new and existing supporters. However, lockdown forced us all to think of these differently and find ways to adapt these events to a digital setting that would continue their success.

During lockdown, we teamed up with the mass participation industry leaders (including London Marathon and The Great North Run) to create The 2.6 Challenge. This empowered individuals to create their own challenges, guided by the concept of ‘2.6’. As a result, we saw huge traction and participants coming up with challenges such as 2.6hr cookathons, 26 hour sing-a-longs, children doing 26 keeps ups, and just about everything in between! The idea was to widen involvement opportunities and to be as inclusive as possible. In just over two weeks, this brand-new digital campaign generated £11.2m for over 3,900 charities across the country, proving there was a willingness to support charities in a different way. This inspired the thought that perhaps more creative events could encourage wider participation and open new doors to charitable giving. 

The 2.6 Challenge was a great learning curve and left us with the aspiration to take this further. Over the last few years, we have developed a whole host of different fundraising campaigns, which has led us to one of our most exciting and ambitious ones yet.

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Working with Tommy’s, the largest charity in the UK carrying out research into the causes of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, we have launched The London Skyscraper Challenge. The event – which challenges participants to run up 42 flights of stairs inside the Leadenhall building before either abseiling 170m back down or zip wiring across to the Gherkin – has already gained a huge wave of excitement at pre-registration stage. Combining stamina, strength, and thrill-seeking, The London Skyscraper Challenge has it all. Above all else, it is an experience.

Skyscraper Challenge Event Director, Rachel Hodson, explained:

“Since we revealed the Skyscraper Challenge we have been overwhelmed by the response. Pre-registration interest has been phenomenal and the buzz on social media reflected that people are incredibly excited about the event. When event entries opened the response was fantastic, with many of our charity partners filling their places on the first day.” 

With the event taking centre stage, the London Landmarks Skyscraper Challenge also blends in digital engagement tools to boost awareness and action, bringing the whole experience to life every step of the way. It’s a win-win for charities that are looking to increase income and integrate internal processes such as CRM systems, ecommerce and social channels, while meeting the expectations of younger supporters through a wholly interactive experience.

What this has taught us is that the opportunities are out there for charities to create and host their own innovative, interactive and immersive campaign experiences for their supporters. By embracing digital elements that enhance promotion, integration and inspire a wider demographic of audience, charities can find new, major sources of income and build lasting relationships with younger supporters for long-term growth.


If you would like to find out more about how we can collaborate and support you with your next campaign, then reach out to Jack at Let’s make waves!