Total Raised
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Remittance Rate
Average Raised

From Challenges to Milestones: Dementia UK's Walk 31 Miles in May Challenge

United Kingdom
Solutions used:
Facebook Challenges

At the forefront of social fundraising stands Dementia UK, with its unwavering commitment to harnessing the full potential of virtual events as a means of raising crucial funds in an increasingly challenging market. 

Acknowledging the vast potential of Facebook fundraising and with a keen focus on Facebook Challenges, Dementia UK has committed long-term resources and effort to nurture its virtual events program. Its dedication has resulted in remarkable outcomes, showcasing the power of its well-established, optimized campaigns. To shed light on its latest triumph, the Walk 31 Miles in May Challenge, we sat down with Lucy Brown, Dementia UK's Virtual Events Manager, to delve into the details of its success.

Set the scene

Who is Dementia UK?

Dementia UK is the specialist dementia nursing charity that is there for the whole family. Its nurses, known as Admiral Nurses, offer life-changing support for families affected by all forms of dementia. Admiral Nurses work on Dementia UK's free Helpline, in virtual and face-to-face clinics, and in communities throughout the UK. They provide health advice, practical strategies for coping with the changes that dementia brings, help with planning for the future, and vital emotional support. They are also behind every piece of information and advice on Dementia UK's website.

Dementia UK currently has over 440 Admiral Nurses, but with someone in the UK developing dementia every three minutes, the charity urgently needs to increase this number so no one has to face the condition alone. The charity receives no Government or public sector funding, so relies entirely on fundraising, donations and gifts in Wills to fund its services. And at the heart of this lies its expert Virtual Events Team, helping to fund the charity’s vital services.

Having found success with Facebook Challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, Dementia UK chose to invest in this area by creating its Virtual Events Team. This has, in turn, led to the organization being at the forefront of leveraging social media, particularly Facebook, to build a long-term, sustainable and repeatable program of virtual events. In the 2023/24 financial year alone, it is running seven Facebook Challenges.

Dementia UK’s campaign, Walk 31 Miles in May, proved that its decision to focus on this type of fundraising was a smart choice.

What people are saying
The dashboard on GivePanel is super helpful for a quick overview of an event. Seeing what's being raised, what our opt in is - those top line figures which are really good to see.
- Lucy Brown
The Challenge

100 Miles in May

 A Facebook Challenge is a virtual event that runs predominantly on Facebook and leverages the power of social networking through ads, groups and fundraisers. This means: 

  • Lower acquisition costs
  • More fundraisers
  • And a chance to meet supporters where they already are!

Dementia UK achieved a remarkable feat with its virtual event, Walk 31 Miles in May, which invited supporters to walk a distance of 31 miles throughout the month, aiming to complete around one mile each day. The activity was designed to be inclusive and achievable for everyone, having trialed various Challenge concepts previously. 

The journey of the Challenge, from its creation to its performance, offers valuable insights into Dementia UK's innovative approach to fundraising and community engagement. Here are five things to note about Walk 31 Miles in May:

  • Adaptive Strategies - Dementia UK ran a similar Challenge in April 2022 but this didn’t meet the expectations of the team. Keen to test and learn, they shifted the Challenge to May which aligned with both the team’s capacity and supporter preferences. This adaptability played a significant role in the Challenge's success.
  • Exceeding Expectations - Despite initial uncertainties, the Walk 31 Miles in May Challenge surpassed projections in 2023. The fundraising effort achieved an impressive milestone, raising over £1 million. This success marked its highest fundraising achievement since the height of the pandemic.
  • Changing Income Curve - Lucy notes that 2023 virtual Challenges have seen a shift in where funds raised are at their highest, with the post-Challenge time period seeing a significant boost compared to previous years. Lucy equates this with supporters opting to include traditional in-person fundraising methods, making it accessible for all donors.
  • Group Dynamics: Unsurprisingly, managing a group of nearly 17,000 supporters comes with its challenges. Dementia UK maintained active engagement by leveraging a dedicated in-house team of three part-time Facebook moderators, with Lucy noting that investing in moderation is a “no-brainer”.
  • Engagement-Focused Approach: Dementia UK recognized the strong connection between group engagement and successful fundraising. To ensure a positive group culture from the start, it is recommended focusing on active engagement before the first day of the event. The team’s content planning emphasized engaging posts that encouraged conversations and photo sharing, fostering a sense of community camaraderie.


The GivePanel difference

Meeting supporters where they are

 When it comes to managing Facebook fundraising, Dementia UK saw a world of potential in GivePanel. Its decision to embrace GivePanel's support was grounded in a strategic understanding of where its supporters were. 

GivePanel equipped Dementia UK's team with the tools and resources it needed to navigate the world of virtual fundraising, enabling effective management of various fundraising aspects, including:

  • Reporting - GivePanel gives you the analytics and reports you need to track campaigns and enables you to build custom imports for your CRM. All of this saves significant staff time, allowing you to focus on what matters – fundraising!
  • Email journeys and messaging - Our fundraiser engagement and messages tools mean that you can give Facebook fundraisers the experience they deserve resulting in more contact details collected and funds raised.
  • Dashboard tracking - GivePanel’s user-friendly dashboard provides quick and easy access to essential overviews, making the management of virtual events a breeze. This intuitive interface ensured that Dementia UK had a clear view of its progress and engagement levels.

The results

The Challenge in numbers

Group Members
Remittance Rate (of registrations to Active Fundraisers)
Average Raised per Active Fundraiser (incl. Gift Aid)
Total Raised (incl. Gift Aid)

Final thoughts

Top tips from Dementia UK

Dementia UK's journey with Facebook Challenges, especially the resounding success of its Walk 31 Miles in May Challenge, has offered valuable insights into the world of virtual fundraising. We've distilled some top tips from the Dementia UK team to help you build and manage a Facebook Challenge program that's bound for success:

  • Timing and Context Are Key: Understand the timing and context in which you launch your Challenges. Dementia UK found that the need for community during lockdown greatly contributed to the success of its Challenges, so consider how your Challenge aligns with current events and community needs.
  • Diversify, but Repetition Works: Dementia UK initially hesitated to run similar Challenges more than once in a year, concerned about repeated asks from the same audience. However, it found that supporters are generally happy to be asked again, as long as it's not immediately. Use Facebook's algorithm to reach new audiences and balance repetition with timing to avoid overloading your supporters.
  • Engagement is the Catalyst: Building a passionate and engaged community is the backbone of successful virtual fundraising. Regularly communicate with your supporters and maintain a positive group culture. Ensure posts encourage conversations, comments, and photo sharing to create a sense of belonging.

These insights from Dementia UK's journey are a testament to the power of community, adaptability, and strategic planning in the world of Facebook Challenges. By applying these tips and expertise, you can foster a thriving fundraising program that brings people together, no matter where they are.

Lucy B headshot - CIOF conference
Lucy Brown
Dementia UK

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