Blog       How the Australian Heart Foundation raised over $110,000 with their first Facebook Challenge

How the Australian Heart Foundation raised over $110,000 with their first Facebook Challenge

If your organization is new to Facebook fundraising, it can be pretty difficult to sell the dream based on the data that Facebook provides. You might have seen other nonprofits’ incredible success and want a piece of that infamous blue pie for yourself, but how do you convince your team that Facebook fundraising is not only a viable income stream but also an opportunity to connect with new supporters and diversify your fundraising efforts? 

Australia’s Heart Foundation found the answer in Facebook Challenges and GivePanel. 

Who is Heart Foundation? 

Heart Foundation is an Australian not-for-profit who, for more than 60 years, has been working to improve the lives of those with heart disease through prevention, research and support for all Australians. Since 1959 the charity has funded research projects worth over $670+ million and they have become largely a household name throughout the country, with over 110,000 followers on Facebook.

Prior to joining GivePanel in 2021, Heart Foundation had focused their digital activity on website hosted peer-to-peer events, however the social media team had found there was a disconnect between their website events and supporters creating fundraisers on social media, namely Facebook. 

Seeing this opportunity, the team needed a way to illustrate the impact of fundraising on social media so that they could harness the support of the wider organization and develop Facebook as a new source of income. 

Fast forward to April 2022, the same team has successfully raised over AU$110,000 with their first ever Facebook Challenge

We spoke with Jesse Lewis, Social Media Lead at Heart Foundation, about their first Facebook Challenge 3,000 Squats in April.

What is a Facebook Challenge?

Okay, let’s get one thing straight. If we’re going to spill the tea on Heart Foundation’s case study, you’re going to need to know what Facebook Challenges are. They’re kind of a big deal and at GivePanel, we’re seriously passionate about making them work for our customers.

You only need to look at our latest Facebook Fundraising Benchmark Report to find out why; we found that across our UK and Ireland charity customers, Facebook Challenges resulted in an average ROI of 4.2. Not only that but for GivePanel’s top 40 Facebook Challenges, the average raised was over £650,000 per Challenge in 2021. 

So, how does it work? 

It’s all thanks to the rather awesome triad of Facebook ads, groups, and fundraisers that when combined, create a virtual fundraising event that can be held entirely on Facebook itself. Add to the mix the new GivePanel Registration Forms with 1-Click Fundraiser Activation and a sprinkle of GivePanel on-page messaging ability, and your supporters find themselves on a fundraising journey like no other. 


And for you?

Well, in comparison to traditional fundraising events, this method means lower acquisition costs, more fundraisers, and no fundraising platform costs. Sound blissful? Check to see if the dream can become a reality with our latest Facebook Challenge quiz to find out if your nonprofit is a match for this type of fundraising. 

5 things to know about 3,000 Squats in April

New to the world of Facebook Challenges, Heart Foundation ran their very first one in April 2022 and it’s fair to say had a pretty stand-out start, raising a grand total of AU$119,879 from 630 Active Facebook fundraisers

Here are 5 things the Heart Foundation team did to make the Facebook Challenge model work for them:

1. They chose a Challenge format that fit their cause and audience

Okay yes one squat is enough to put fear into the hearts of many, never mind 3,000 but for Heart Foundation’s audience, it was a match made in heaven. 

Why? Having noted that squats were one of the top performing UK Challenge formats, the team also consulted their internal health team who agreed that this exercise was accessible for their audience both in terms of their demographics and potential stages of rehabilitation. In addition, the squat was the ideal candidate for creative content to advertise the Facebook Challenge, which leads us neatly to our next point. 

2. The team ran their own photoshoot for their Facebook ad creative

Yep, that’s right. Willing volunteers from Heart Foundation’s roll call came together in a park to capture an bank of imagery that they could use throughout their Facebook Challenge, ensuring that the photos captured were ‘Challenge-first’ but also reflective of their own brand. 

Jesse commented that doing this gave them “enough versatility to talk about a bunch of different stuff while keeping it true to the energy of the campaign.” From sumo squats to jumps squats you name it, they captured it.  

Screenshot of a Heart Foundation Facebook Challenge Facebook ad which has a photo of a young woman who is outside in a park setting. She is wearing a Heart Foundation red t-shirt and is smiling, demonstrating a squat position.

3. They created an engaging content schedule to last

As well as their glute-burning photoshoot, Heart Foundation prepared a content schedule in advance of their Facebook Challenge launching. This meant they were able to keep supporters engaged through a range of captivating content, including Instagram reels and informative posts.

engaging content schedule to last

4. Volunteers stepped up to the plate

Heart Foundation enlisted the support of five volunteers to support the fulfilment of their Facebook Challenge t-shirt incentive. This allowed the team to focus on quality group engagement whilst also utilizing the organization’s volunteers in a meaningful way with the ability to feedback on the impact their support had made. 

Jesse shared a story of one older supporter who, despite having volunteered for over 20 years, was still blown away by the 3,000 Squats in April result and was signing up to support the next Challenge before the first had even finished. Now that is a life-long supporter. 

Photo of a Heart Foundation volunteer, an older woman with short hair and glasses. She is holding up a Heart Foundation red t-shirt and is standing infant of boxes of packaged t-shirts that are ready to send.

5. Challenge Champions developed organically

Rather than sourcing Champions prior to the event starting, the team found their Group Champions organically throughout the Facebook Challenge and onboarded them after seeing their enthusiasm for taking part. These Champions posted engaging content in the group, supported others on their journey, and set the tone for a high-energy event. 

Teamwork makes the difference

So at this stage, you might be thinking, “well that sounds awesome but how do I manage that in my own nonprofit?” And you’d be right to ask, because resourcing a Facebook Challenge properly is key to its success. 

Whilst Facebook Challenges are awesome, they also require a LOT of work. From planning and acquisition, to content creation and managing the group, your team will have their hands full and, depending on whether you fulfil thousands of incentives in-house or not, that could also be quite literal.  

From start to finish, Heart Foundation managed their 3,000 Squats in April Facebook Challenge entirely by themselves through a team of six staff and five volunteers. 

Here’s what the team looked like: 

  • One Digital Lead – working as the Project Manager to oversee the Facebook Challenge campaign.
  • Two Social Media Team Members  managing advertising, group content, comment moderation, and creatives for the promotion of the Facebook Challenge. Responsible for the initial set-up within GivePanel including messaging and custom fundraiser links.
  • Three Community Fundraising Team Members  one lead, one manager and one coordinator managing group participation and stewardship of fundraisers.
  • Five Volunteers  responsible for the packing and sending of the Facebook Challenge incentives.

Make Facebook Challenges work for you

Scratching your head on how you’ll make a Facebook Challenge work in your own organization? 

The GivePanel top tip is always to start small and scale, especially if you’re just starting out with Challenges on Facebook. Make sure you match your ambition to the size of your team (or budget!) so you can get a feel with your first one of what you’ll be able to manage yourselves and what you might need to outsource in order to grow. 

And don’t forget, as well as providing the GivePanel platform to help manage your day-to-day fundraising and view your data in a clear, easy-to-understand format, GivePanel also partners with social fundraising experts to support you throughout your Facebook Challenge with hands-on messaging support and reporting. 

So, ready for your first Facebook Challenge?

Read the full success story

If you want more insights into Heart Foundation's success, read the full success story on their 3,000 Squats in April Facebook Challenge.

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Ready to take your Facebook fundraising to the next level? Book a 30-minute demo with one of our Facebook fundraising specialists and find out how GivePanel can support your nonprofit.

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