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How one UK charity leveraged Facebook Challenges to raise over £5.7 million

Children's Health
United Kingdom
Solutions used:
Facebook Challenges
GivePanel Partner

When it comes to making a difference through charitable work, there are few organizations as impactful as Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity (GOSH Charity). And, as a dedicated partner of GivePanel, their approach to fundraising stands out in a big way.

In the last few years, GOSH Charity has harnessed the power of Facebook Challenges to reshape their fundraising landscape, developing a Facebook Challenge program that is testament to their innovation, teamwork, and adaptability. 

We caught up with Emily Martin, their Virtual Events Team’s Senior Fundraising Manager, to find out how they scaled Facebook Challenges to raise over £5.7 million.

Set the scene

Who is Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity?

For almost 175 years, Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) has been at the forefront of pediatric care and innovation. A renowned children's hospital based in London, its legacy is built upon a commitment to treating some of the UK's most seriously ill children.

GOSH Charity supports the hospital by funding its most urgent needs. These include:

  • Research into children’s health: The charity helps drive essential research projects, pushing the boundaries of medical knowledge and advancing treatments.
  • Rebuilding and refurbishment: Continuous improvements to the hospital's infrastructure helps improve the experience of being in hospital for seriously ill children and their families.
  • Life-saving medical equipment: Cutting-edge medical equipment enables doctors to take advantage of developments in medical science and technology to provide the best care possible for children.
  • Support services for children and their families: Funding from GOSH Charity enables GOSH to provide a range of services to ease the burden on families and support children and young people through treatment.  Services include the hospital’s dedicated Play team, a chaplaincy team, and family accommodation so families can stay close to their child’s bedside during their time in hospital.

GOSH Charity's fundraising efforts are as diverse as its impact. With a bustling events calendar, including owned events, third-party, and virtual, they embrace a multifaceted approach to generating support for their cause. 

Amidst GOSH Charity's array of fundraising endeavors, Facebook Challenges have emerged as a significant new income stream, so much so that the team have developed a dedicated team of three sitting within the wider Mass Participation team to manage them throughout the year. These Challenges not only raise vital funds but also amplify GOSH Charity's brand awareness across digital landscapes.

What people are saying
I think the beauty of Facebook Challenges is that they're digital, so you can adapt them very quickly. If the ads aren’t performing as expected, you can quickly change it and switch up the creative. Setting them up was so easy, because once you have a Facebook and Instagram account it’s just a case of setting up a Facebook Group. The low cost of creating a Facebook Challenge combined with our high fundraising totals result in an often-impressive ROI.
- Emily Martin
A year of testing

Building a Facebook Challenge Program

 A Facebook Challenge is a virtual event that runs solely 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!

GOSH Charity kicked off their exploration into Facebook Challenges with a walking Challenge in March 2021 with Emily playing a pivotal role in launching their first virtual event. With support from her team, she navigated the uncharted waters of Facebook Challenges, learning as she went along. This initial Challenge exceeded expectations, raising just under £600,000, and the early success lit the path for what would follow.

GOSH Charity rapidly expanded its Facebook Challenge program in a short space of time. In 2022, the team launched an incredible 16 Facebook Challenges, each building on the learnings of the last. While not all Challenges raised the same level of income as the initial Challenge, having a broad program of events meant GOSH Charity could test, learn, and implement different Challenge types, appealing to a varied audience. Here are five things to note about what they discovered in their year of testing:

  1. Dedicated team 

In January 2022, GOSH Charity developed a dedicated team of three to manage and deliver Facebook Challenges in-house. This self-sufficient team developed a streamlined approach, making them agile and quick to act on Challenge updates throughout the year. Emily notes that the collaboration within her team has been key to their success; their shared insights drove innovation and Challenge improvement, showcasing the value of expertise and collective effort.

  1. Upskilling 

In order to manage all aspects of the Facebook Challenges, the team concentrated on upskilling, including Facebook ad management with the support of GOSH Charity’s digital team and Get Your Stories Straight. This empowered the organization to increase the number of Challenges they were investing in and supported fundraising growth.

  1. Partner collaborations

GOSH Charity's collaboration with external agencies was pivotal in executing successful Facebook Challenges. They partnered with Bluestep Solutions for efficient merchandise fulfillment and logistics whilst GivePanel was instrumental in data management, email automation, and providing valuable insights. Additionally, their collaboration with Get Your Stories Straight brought insights from other charities, ad creative and guided their decision-making process, whilst enhancing the effectiveness of their Challenges. This strategic partnership approach ensured GOSH Charity's Facebook Challenges were well-rounded and impactful.

  1. Finding their niche activity

GOSH Charity's second-year strategy focused on a "Test and Learn" approach, aiming to identify the most effective Challenge types for their audience. They experimented with a range of activities, including dog walking, cycling, yoga, and sit-up Challenges, analyzing the data to uncover what resonated best. While some Challenges didn't yield the desired results, others displayed promise and this approach aligned with their cultural shift towards innovation and the willingness to explore new avenues.

Successful Challenge types for GOSH Charity included swimming, running, and squat Challenges with each resulting in various success metrics; swimming Challenges stood out with higher average gifts whilst squat Challenges attracted a large number of sign-ups. This strategic testing approach enabled them to tailor their Challenges to their audience for maximum impact.

  1. Understanding their audience 

GOSH Charity's tactical testing approach played a crucial role in understanding their audience for Facebook Challenges. They strategically managed audience ad targeting to prevent overlap and ensured a balanced approach to Challenge ads to avoid overwhelming supporters. Recognizing the extensive reach of Facebook's user base, they capitalized on the ability to cast a wide net. This approach translated into remarkable success in consistently acquiring new supporters. Each Challenge brought in a significant number of completely new supporters, underscoring the program's continuous growth and ability to engage fresh audiences.

The GivePanel difference

Meeting supporters where they are

GOSH Charity joined GivePanel as a customer in 2020 as a solution for community fundraising needs; the team required a way to manage Facebook donations, connect with their organic Facebook Fundraisers, and thank supporters. However, the collaboration evolved in early 2021 as GOSH Charity embarked on a journey to integrate Facebook Challenges into their fundraising strategy.

With GivePanel you can run virtual events and challenges entirely on Facebook and manage all your data with ease. Our Facebook Group event registration forms sync with Facebook transaction data so that you have all your data in one place. 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.

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!

The collaborative journey of GOSH Charity and GivePanel exemplifies the power of innovative tools and dedicated teams coming together. The results are clear: strong fundraising achievements and heightened brand awareness.

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The results

The Challenge in numbers

Over £5.7 million
Total Raised (excl. Gift Aid)
Total Registrations
Total Group Members
Opt-in Percentage

Final thoughts

Top tips from the GOSH Charity team

Facebook Challenges have become an important part of GOSH Charity's fundraising, cementing their place within the digital pillar of their fundraising approach. As Katie Gray (Head of Mass Participation) notes, the value they bring extends beyond income:

“As well as income these Challenges generate great brand awareness. We’ve had nearly 250,000 sign-ups from lead form completions. That’s 250,000 people who've clicked on your ad and who've engaged with your brand. The Challenges have been a great acquisition tool and they bring in a  different audience to our usual participants. They have enabled us to speak to the whole country and get people from all over the UK involved. So that's been fantastic.” 

For teams looking to develop their own Facebook Challenge program, GOSH Charity have three top tips:

  • Be fearless when it comes to testing - encourage a mindset of experimentation without the fear of failure, emphasizing the importance of learning from setbacks, making necessary adjustments, and trying again. 
  • Pivot! Pivot! - your team needs to be able to swiftly adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of platforms like Facebook. Ensure that you’re set up to do so, either with your team’s own skillset or through partner collaborations.
  • Collaborate for impact - work together to foster not only idea sharing but also effective execution and don’t forget to look at the bigger picture! Look beyond income metrics and consider the broader impact and data collected.

The achievements of GOSH Charity's Facebook Challenge program are noteworthy. With an impressive fundraising total of more than £5.7 million to date (excluding Gift Aid), the impact on brand awareness and supporter engagement has been strong. Their journey showcases that the right mix of innovation, collaboration, and adaptability can lead to fundraising success and a broader positive impact.

Emily Martin
GOSH Charity

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