It is said that Facebook has 936 million active users each day and with 500 million tweets tweeted a day you can imagine how powerful and persuasive social media is and the affects it has on others.
When a charity uses social media to launch a campaign, the reach of that will be far greater than any other, such as posters and adverts. When people get behind a charity campaign using social media, the possibilities are endless. But do charity challenges really raise donations or are they just a bit of fun?
If you take a peek at the charity challenges and campaigns over the last few years, it’s easy to see the impact that these have had.
In 2013/2014, the ALS society in Canada and the US started a challenge that quickly went viral. The 'Ice Bucket' challenge was very simple, set up a camera, fill a bucket with ice cold water, find a friend to pour the bucket over you, set camera to film, nominate 3 other people and prepare yourself for a very cold shock, all in the name of charity! After all of that a £5 donation was sent to the charity via text or online. This quickly became a viral sensation and each video's likes and shares were increasing by the minute, as the popularity of the challenge grew, spreading across the world. Here in the UK, £7 million was raised for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and Macmillan Cancer Support within a very short period of time. With celebrities following suit, the challenge was so massive that almost everyone can say that they either took part, or were nominated (or managed to escape with just a donation)!
More recently, the #nomakeupselfie filled our timelines with nominated images of women without any makeup on. Initially a trending hashtag without any charity backing, Cancer Research UK asked for participants to donate £5 for breast cancer research, this was quickly adopted and within 6 days the charity had raised an impressive £8 million. For a charity with no government backing into research this was incredibly welcomed by Cancer Research UK. This wasn't just a challenge for women, many men got involved posting pictures of themselves wearing makeup and sending proceeds to Prostate Cancer UK.
Every November, ‘Movember’ takes place, giving men across the country an opportunity to sport some comic facial hair all in the name of charity. Men's health charities are the focus of this particular campaign which was set up in the early 2000's, with Prostate Cancer UK taking a leading role. In 2014 alone, Movember raised a staggering £20.4 million.
Other charity campaigns and challenges sneak into our timelines each year, for example Save The Children run the 'Christmas jumper day' each December, a day where people are encouraged to sport their Christmas jumpers - the more grotesque the better - in a bid to donate at least £2 to the charity. Heavily participated by work places and schools up and down the nation, last year Save The Children raised £4 million, a total which was then doubled by the UK Government.
So, with so many charity challenges and campaigns, can there really be any cons to this seemingly positive phenomenon? First of all, not everyone likes to publicly show their support for charities, some people find it a private affair and something that doesn't need drawing attention to. There is also an aspect of peer pressure, in that perhaps you are nominated to do a challenge that you don't actually want to participate in, but feel you should because your friends have done it. And of course there may also be some people who don't actually donate at all but just take part for the fun of it.
Despite this, it is quite clear that these sort of challenges do raise vast amounts of money for charities that may otherwise have taken them years to raise. Many charities receive little or no UK Government backing, so to receive a staggering £8 million in just 6 days for example, has an unimaginable effect on a charity, especially when considering the very little promotion the charity has had to do. We'd say that going by the success, it’s pretty clear that people like to have a bit of fun in the name of fundraising.
Personal challenges are also a great way of raising money for a charity. Especially when you can get a large following behind you, we all have friends who may have gone to great feats in the name of charity. Bike rides across the country, shaving hair off, running marathons or climbing mountains; these challenges all raise large amounts for charity that are gratefully received.
However you choose to raise money for charity, be it taking part in a viral challenge, a personal challenge or a private donation; you are supporting the work of the charity and making sure they can continue their work for many years to come - and to that we say "Well Done"!