The Christmas Challenge is the Big Give’s flagship online match funding campaign which raises millions for charities in just a few short days.

Charities have been unsurprisingly quick to realise the strength of this opportunity, capitalising on the powerful match funding incentive to raise funds for their causes. With the implementation of charity-led improvements to the campaign, appetite can only be set to continue to grow.

Leveraging the power of match funding for your cause

The Big Give, an online donation platform that specialises in match funding campaigns, is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, the Big Give will be working with charities to raise even more money than in previous years. This is no mean feat when you learn that its flagship campaign, the Christmas Challenge, has raised over £78 million for more than 2,800 charity projects since it launched. Last year the campaign launched on #givingtuesday and over £7.2 million was raised in just 7 days when over 300 charities worked together to simultaneously raise funds for their causes.

How the campaign works

In a nutshell, online donations to participating charities are doubled by funds secured in the run up to the campaign. These funds come from two sources: a Champion (a Trust, Foundation, Philanthropist or Corporate sourced by the Big Give) and Pledgers (charities’ major supporters). Charities use this matching pot to double donations made online during the campaign which kicks off on #givingtuesday once again. The Christmas Challenge stands out because it so neatly brings together all types of charity supporters into one campaign, allowing charities to develop multiple income streams as they raise funds.

Charities are responsible for selecting a project to fundraise for, and marketing this to their supporters. In 2016, these projects collectively raised an impressive £1.3m for the international development sector. Send A Cow, a #givingtuesday partner, won 1st prize in our Christmas Challenge Awards which recognised the most successful charities taking part in the campaign. They have spoken about their Christmas Challenge experience:

We were really excited to take part in The Big Give Christmas Challenge because we knew from previous experience that matched funding can be popular.  However we were really amazed at how all our audiences got behind the campaign from individuals to churches and volunteers.  It was so positive to see how an integrated channel approach to drive online response worked so well with what is, in the main, a direct mail recruited audience.  For pledgers, encouraging others to support Send a Cow was very rewarding and deepened their relationship with us, particularly as we could talk to them throughout the campaign and with feedback afterwards. We are now successfully taking this learning into creating more matched funding opportunities across our Individual and major donor programmes as a result. ~ Vickie Wood, Head of Individual Giving at Send a Cow

The evolution of the Christmas Challenge

The Christmas Challenge campaign has evolved since its conception in order to improve the experience for charities and donors alike. Significant changes to the model were successfully trialled in 2016 following an extensive charity consultation. For the first time, match funds were ring-fenced for participating charities according to their own individual fundraising targets. This ensured that funds lasted longer than in previous years when charities had been competing with each other. Secondly, the campaign was simplified by the release of all match funding in one go so that a donation could be doubled at any time during the campaign. In previous years there had been a stop-start structure to the campaign, necessary because of its competitive nature. The Big Give also removed the fees for charities to ensure even greater value for money for those taking part.

The results

The changes have made a significant positive impact on the benefit to charities, which corresponds to research commissioned by the Big Give in 2016 (see full report). Survey results show that match funding helps to:

  • Get more people giving – 95% of charities who took part in the 2016 campaign received donations from new supporters
  • Get people giving more –  63% said that current supporters gave more than they usually would
  • Build fundraising capacity – the benefits go beyond the financials with 83% increasing their confidence in fundraising.The Big Give provides coaching and resources in order to help charities make the most of the opportunity.

Join the movement of online match funding

Charities can apply for the Christmas Challenge 2017 by visiting Applications close on 7th July.

Rachel Earnshaw, Charity Relationship Manager, The Big Give @BigGive