Challenges on Facebook: The 2024 Essential Guide for Nonprofits

Adam O’Brien
March 2, 2023

Updated on September 25th, 2023

Meta’s social fundraising tools were first launched in 2015, when the platform equipped users with the ability to create a fundraising page and donate directly to organizations via a native “Donate” button.  Since then, these simple but mighty tools have helped organizations amass a whopping $7 billion in donations on Facebook and Instagram. 

It’s easy to see, then, why the power of social giving can’t be overstated. It becomes even more staggering when you consider the “digitization of giving” we've observed over the past two years. COVID-era Challenges on Facebook, for example, brought thousands of people together into solid digital communities that helped organizations raise hundreds of millions of dollars, propelling missions forward when in-person events were impossible. 

And such efforts continue today. Post-COVID, social giving – defined as socially-native, designed-for-digital fundraising – has emerged as a prominent and lasting new fundraising method, allowing nonprofits to experience both peer-to-peer engagement and mass social media-driven revenue in one centralized solution. 

In this context, nonprofits hoping to get the “digital-first” approach to fundraising right must utilize Challenges on Facebook to connect with their current and future social supporters. This comprehensive guide to Challenges on Facebook will discuss why it’s the ideal solution for non-profits, exploring: 

Before we discuss the logistics of hosting a Challenge on Facebook, let’s take a step back and explain what Challenges on Facebook are.  That way, you’ll have the comprehensive foundational understanding you’ll need to host one for your nonprofit.

Click through to learn how GoodUnited can help your nonprofit design and host high-impact Challenges on Facebook.

Overview of Challenges on Facebook

What is a Facebook Challenge?

A Challenge on Facebook is a social media campaign where nonprofits leverage native Facebook fundraising tools to encourage followers and supporters to take a specific action or activity, like a 30-mile walk, within a set timeframe.

The goal is often to raise awareness, engage the community, and fundraise for a cause on a global scale.

Participants can also join a Facebook group created specifically for the Challenge to connect with other participants and your nonprofit. This is where the magic happens. In these groups, participants connect with like-minded people, finding a sense of community and camaraderie that drives regular engagement and takes online fundraising potential to a whole new level. 

Here’s an example to help you visualize this type of fundraiser:

Participants sign up to complete a month-long Challenge in support of a non-profit that promotes heart health. Their challenge is to walk 30 miles that month - or about a mile each day - and they are encouraged to track their progress and share it with the group and their Facebook friends. While participating, they raise funds for the heart health nonprofit through a Facebook fundraiser. 

If you want more detail, don’t worry - we’ll explore numerous real-life examples later in this guide... or you can enter a cheat-code and check out this digital event we hosted that covers everything you need to know about Challenges on Facebook:

Why are Facebook Challenges for nonprofits effective?

Since 2020, Challenges on Facebook have become much more popular – thanks, in part, to the digital-first “new normal” of fundraising that emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But this rise in the popularity of Challenges isn’t just about the pandemic. Instead, the increasing popularity of these fundraisers can be linked to many tangible benefits. Specifically, Challenges: 

  • Have low registrant acquisition costs, allowing your nonprofit to build its donor file efficiently. Costs per lead in Messenger are $5.19 in 2023 - and cost per opt-in is $29, both of which are well below the P2P industry average of nearly $600 per registrant.
  • Are an additive fundraising method. GoodUnited’s research has shown that over 90% of Challenge participants are new to the nonprofit. Rather than drawing existing support from your other campaigns, then, Challenges engage a new audience you haven’t connected with previously. This broadens your reach and opens up opportunities to coach this new audience into becoming long-term stewards of your mission.  
  • Establish a repeatable revenue stream. You can repeat Challenges over and over again, conducting them yearly (or every few months) with the same audience or expanding into new regions and territories. In other words, you can use them as a forecastable way to collect and increase revenue over time.
  • Open the door for continued engagement. Challenges open the door for one-on-one conversational messaging in Messenger. These messages have over an 80% open rate and allow you to continue conversing with participants throughout the year to build relationships that last.
  • Create a digital community with Facebook groups. While digital-first fundraising is the future, it can be challenging to replicate the emotion of in-person events and activities. With Challenge groups, participants truly connect with one another, sharing tips, sending encouragement, and experiencing a real digital community. That’s why these groups, on average, convert 75-85% of leads. 

In short, Challenges on Facebook allow your nonprofit to: 

  • Grow your audience organically online
  • Engage with supporters near and far, and; 
  • Acquire subscribers and cultivate meaningful relationships with social supporters

 But if you’ve never hosted a Challenge before, how do you get started?

Are Challenges on Facebook safe for participants?

Naturally, some people may question the safety of Facebook Challenges. This is largely because a Challenge brings individuals who may not have previously met into an online community. In that community, participants use conversational messaging to communicate about their progress and experience with the Challenge. There is some worry that, by sharing this information with strangers, participants put themselves at risk.

That said, there is no risk associated with Challenges on Facebook as long as participants follow internet safety best practices. For example, individuals shouldn’t share personal information, such as home addresses, workplaces, contact details, or exact locations. Additionally, they should be mindful of the photos they post—for example, not sharing internal images of their homes.

Consider sharing internet safety guidelines with Challenge participants and setting initial rules to join the group. Group admins can require participants to agree to ground rules on privacy and conduct to ensure everyone’s safety. While it’s likely that individuals joining a nonprofit fundraiser have only the best intentions at heart, there is no harm in taking additional precautions.

How Do Facebook Challenges Work?

There are a number of key components to keep in mind when planning a Challenge on Facebook for your nonprofit.

Key components of Challenges on Facebook include parameters, participants, digital community, Facebook ads, and conversational messaging.

Challenge Parameters

Challenge parameters describe the basic, logistic aspects of your Challenge. Parameters include:

  • The duration of the Challenge, which can range anywhere from one day to a month or longer. 
  • A Challenge activity, such as walking a set number of miles per week or reading a number of books per month.
  • Fundraising goals, both for the overall campaign and for the individual Challenge participants. 
  • Participation goals, such as how many registrants you want to join the Challenge or the corresponding Facebook group.

Building off our earlier example, you might host a Challenge on Facebook with the following parameters:

Participants sign up to complete a month-long walking challenge (duration) in support of a nonprofit that promotes heart health. They’re challenged to walk 30 miles a month (challenge activity) – or about a mile a day – and they track their progress online, sharing milestones in the group and with their Facebook friends. While doing so, they raise funds for the heart health nonprofit. 

The nonprofit hopes to raise $20,000 in donations total, and it sets a goal of $100 for each Challenge participant (fundraising goals). They hope to connect with 2,000 people total (participation goal).

Challenge Participants

Once you’ve laid your foundation, it’s time to establish the participant experience, which includes how participants will:

  • Connect with other participants. Connection is key, as it drives meaningful action like completing the activity and raising funds. This is done through the Challenge group, which we’ll cover more in-depth in the next section. 
  • Raise funds. This will be handled via individual Facebook fundraisers hosted by participants on behalf of your nonprofit. Here is where you can truly build a relationship with your participants and realize the value of coaching and providing education via Facebook Messenger. 
  • Complete the Challenge activity. This is often done independently and from their own locations. That said, with GoodUnited’s Challenge Teams, participants can form teams and invite their friends and family to join them - both of which expand participation and increase engagement over time. 

Remember that many registrants (90%+) will be new to your organization when they join a Challenge. Consider sharing educational guides with participants to ensure they know how to engage with the Challenge and continue supporting your nonprofit afterward. Specifically, you could create a guide exploring: 

  • How to start a Facebook fundraiser
  • How Facebook fundraising works
  • How to have a fulfilling participant experience
  • Educational information about your nonprofit and cause

Digital Community

One major reason that Challenges on Facebook are so successful is the digital community aspect. This community space is created using Facebook groups (which generally have engagement rates ranging anywhere from 80% to 200%)! 

Essentially, your nonprofit creates a closed group for all leads to join for the duration of the Challenge. Throughout the fundraiser, you can then share the following with participants in the group:

  • Discussion starters
  • Encouragement
  • Fundraising and Challenge activity tips
  • Fundraiser updates

Participants can respond to your posts as well as make their own. They can also create “check-in” posts to discuss their progress each day and chat with others who are participating in the Challenge.

Facebook Ads & Fundraiser Recruitment

Once you’ve defined the parameters of your event and the participant experience, as well as created the foundation for your digital community, it’s time to market the fundraiser so new supporters can find it and join. 

This is done using Facebook Ads. With Facebook, you can create engaging ad campaigns that invite individuals to sign up for your Challenge. When prospective registrants click on the ad, they’ll be directed to sign up for the fundraiser and join the corresponding group.

Conversational Messaging

Challenges on Facebook open the door for continued engagement, and conversational messaging is how that engagement takes place.

Conversational messaging describes one-on-one conversations between your nonprofit and a social supporter. These conversations take place via Messenger, where your nonprofit can chat with individual supporters just as one would chat with a friend on the platform.

Challenges are an efficient and effective acquisition source to reach new supporters. Once you reach them, these supporters are given the opportunity to subscribe to ongoing messaging. 

This is exactly what you want. Messenger is where you can share fundraising tips, encouragement, and reminders with individual supporters (if you want to streamline this process, use our Challenge Hub to bring team management, fundraising, activity tracking, and editing into a single interface that connects directly with Facebook Messenger).  

You can also ask questions and share surveys to learn more about each participant— including asking for their contact information, which Meta can’t provide you with (though GoodUnited can).

These conversations can continue long after the fundraiser itself is completed and allow you to grow a personal relationship with each individual social supporter.

Are Challenges on Facebook Safe?

More recently, questions have arisen regarding the safety of Challenges on Facebook.

This is largely because Challenges, by nature, bring individuals who haven’t met previously together in one large online community. In that community, participants check-in and share information with others who are essentially strangers to them. There is some worry that, by sharing this information with strangers, participants put themselves at risk.

That said, there is no risk associated with Challenges on Facebook as long as participants follow internet safety best practices. For example, individuals shouldn’t share deeply personal information, such as their home addresses, workplaces, contact details, or exact locations at any given time. Participants should also be mindful of the photos they post— for example, not sharing internal images of their homes.

Consider sharing internet safety guidelines with Challenge participants. While it’s likely that individuals joining a nonprofit fundraiser have only the best intentions at heart, there is no harm in taking additional precautions

Our Process: GoodUnited Challenges on Facebook

GoodUnited is a conversational messaging platform, specifically designed to help nonprofits engage with their supporters on Facebook.

We work directly with nonprofits to bring Challenges on Facebook to life, and to turn them into sources of repeatable revenue and lifetime supporters. 

Here’s how we help nonprofits run a more effective Challenge on Facebook:

GoodUnited’s social giving solution includes many resources to boost your Facebook Challenge results, detailed in the text below.

  • We work directly with nonprofits to bring Challenges on Facebook to life, and to turn them into sources of repeatable revenue and lifetime supporters. 
  • Here’s how we help nonprofits run a more effective Challenge on Facebook:
  • The GoodUnited Challenges module: A Challenge dashboard, same-day revenue reporting, and social donor and fundraiser profiles are all included. Monitor and optimize your Challenge performance and identify top social supporters.
  • In-Channel Messaging: Identify, target, and retarget social subscribers across through Facebook Messenger, connecting with them where they spend time.
  • Supporter Insights: Turn unstructured social fundraising data into actionable insights, identifying who your social supporters are and what drives them to take action. Understand your supporters’ propensities to participate in another event and give again, and recommend supporter-specific opportunities year-round.
  • Professional & Managed Services:  In-house growth resources create the strategy and manage the execution of messaging experiences to ensure maximum return on investment. This includes A/B testing, data science, and more.

Understanding Ongoing Innovations in Digital-Native Fundraising

The world of social giving is rapidly developing and we’re continuing to improve our product and services alongside it. 

We aren’t making shot-in-the-dark guesses at what will work in the fairly new realm of social giving. Instead, we carefully test our hypotheses and slowly roll them out across nonprofit partners.

  • Why are you doing this fundraiser?
  • Why did you join this Challenge?
  • What is your connection to the nonprofit’s mission?
  • How was your experience, especially when compared to in-person fundraising?
  • Did you know [X fundraising tip]?

The answer to these questions (and more) in Messenger allows us to continue elevating our nonprofit partners’ social fundraising efforts— both adjusting their strategies overall and hyper-personalizing each individual participants’ experiences.

For example, you could discover which types of Challenge activities participants most like to complete, how frequently you can host repeat fundraisers, and even the best wording to use to encourage return participation. And, you can understand participants on a personal level to share relevant information and experiences year-round (and for multiple years down the road) to foster ongoing engagement long after the campaigns are finished.

This testing doesn’t only take place in Messenger. For example, we can use polls and questions in groups to understand participants’ preferences and we can explore data on ad performance to understand which ads best inspire action.

The goal of this testing is to ensure that by the time any updates find their way to you, they’re tried and true. This process has allowed us to make numerous enhancements to GoodUnited’s social giving solution in the past year, including:

To help nonprofits make the most of Challenges on Facebook, GoodUnited has made many innovations in our social giving solution, listed below.

  • A dashboard view to compare Challenge fundraisers side-by-side
  • Fundraiser stories that visualize what motivates your supporters
  • One-click Challenge builder to empower supporters to quickly create fundraisers that are consistent with your nonprofit’s branding
  • An activity tracker that allows supporters to track their Challenge progress directly on Facebook
  • Challenge teams that ignite competition and boost virality
  • A referral button that empowers Challenge participants to engage their friends in the fundraiser

These efforts allow us to better support the fundraising efforts of nonprofits like yours.

5 Facebook Challenge Ideas to Begin Brainstorming

If you’ve encountered Challenges on Facebook in the wild, you’ve likely seen some variation of common run/walk/ride activities. However, there are a wide variety of Challenge activities that you can incorporate into your fundraising lineup to surprise your supporters with an exciting new fundraising activity.

Consider incorporating any of the following 10+ ideas into your next Challenge on Facebook (or, if you want some help, use our professional services to help you develop a strategy that fits with your brand & audience and helps ensure success).

Month Long Challenges

These Challenge activities take place over a long period of time. Oftentimes, they test your participants’ physical fitness by encouraging activities like: 

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Biking
  • Calisthenics (burpees, sit-ups, push-ups, etc.)

Generally, physical challenges are measured by either distance (i.e. number of steps or miles) or time (i.e. completing a 20-minute calisthenic workout).  We recommend distance over time for most activities (except reading, of course). Month-long Challenge activity is often the most popular for nonprofits. Physical challenges, in particular, are incredibly motivating due to the fact that participants usually want to show off, improve upon, or test their physical abilities.

Short-Term Challenges 

You can also engage your supporters in short-term, high-intensity physical challenges, which include things like: 

  • A standard 5k or 10k 
  • A half-marathon 
  • A marathon 

These Challenges, particularly the 5k and 10k, are often more appealing to people who are short on time but still want to participate in a community-based fundraising activity. They can also be planned around special occasions, like the Thanksgiving “Turkey Trots” or 5ks on Earth Day. 

Brand-Based Challenges 

Brand-based challenges can drive engagement while spreading awareness for your organization. They can include activities that match your mission or speak to a certain segment of your audience, like: 

  • Dog walks for animal welfare organizations 
  • Branded baking challenges for communities that are used to things like bake sales 
  • Activities suited for kids 
  • Healthy cooking challenges for a heart health organization 
  • A golf tournament to reach more male audiences

The list goes on. 

Wellness Challenges

As another way to improve the well-being of your supporters, wellness challenges ask participants to slow down and practice mindfulness. This includes tasks such as:

  • Journaling
  • Meditation
  • Making healthy decisions (such as removing traditionally unhealthy foods from one’s diet)

Our society is moving faster than ever, and wellness-based challenges task participants to break the cycle – even if it’s for a short period of time. Participants will enjoy the refreshing change of pace and, ideally, adopt the wellness practice into their regular routines long after the Challenge is completed. 

An important thing to note, though, is that – unlike physical challenges – wellness challenges don’t usually drive revenue. Instead, they’re often ideal for acquisition, building community, and educating supporters. 

Comedic Challenges

Comedic challenges task your participants with embarrassing themselves in some manner, all with the goal of advancing your cause.

Often, the “embarrassing” task is minimal— the goal isn’t to outright humiliate participants. For example, this could be a:

  • “No Shave” challenge in which participants are tasked with growing out their beards or mustaches.
  • Wacky clothing challenge, in which participants wear their silliest outfits one day per week.
  • Extreme conditions challenge, such as the famous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Comedic challenges are especially effective because they generate conversation. When an individual asks a participant about why they’re wearing wacky clothing or growing facial hair, the participant can share the message behind their actions.

Bonus! We’ve written numerous guides with ideas for social fundraisers. Check out our peer-to-peer fundraising ideas, virtual fundraising ideas, and virtual event ideas to continue brainstorming for your Challenges on Facebook.

3 Elite Challenges on Facebook Results to Inspire Your Team

We’ve discussed how Challenges on Facebook would work in theory. Now, let’s explore four real-life examples of nonprofits that incorporated Challenges into their fundraising strategies with great success.

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project completed their first Challenge with GoodUnited in an effort to build better relationships with their supporters on social media. The result? 30x their initial revenue projection and an engaged community of passionate supporters.

The Results:

  • 22,772 leads
  • $1,300,000 in revenue
  • $3.29 cost per lead (CPL)

Read the full case study here.


Through a month-long 30-Mile Walk/Run Challenge and calculated community management, Make-A-Wish saw a hugely successful pilot event, amassing nearly 3x their projected revenue and a 109% increase in average fundraisers on the platform.

The Final Results:

  • 10,667 leads
  • $216,967 in revenue
  • 196% return on investment (ROI)

Read the full case study here.

American Diabetes Association

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) completed a Challenge on Facebook with GoodUnited aimed at supplementing revenue from traditional fundraising and increasing visibility into the ADA facebook fundraising donor audience.

The FInal Results:

  • 12,463 leads
  • $179,583 in revenue
  • $3.21 cost per lead (CPL)

Read the full case study here.

Wrapping Up: Incorporating Facebook Challenges Into Your Strategy

Challenges on Facebook are the ideal way to connect with the digital generation of social supporters and raise your relationships for long-term engagement. To begin planning a Challenge for your nonprofit, consider partnering with a social giving solution such as GoodUnited. To learn more, contact us here.

In the meantime, explore the following additional resources:

  • How to Sign Up for Facebook Giving Tools: We've got the inside track on how to apply, set up, and utilize Facebook Giving Tools for your 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization - a required first step for any nonprofit that is looking to run a Challenge on Facebook.
  • Facebook Fundraising for Nonprofits: Unfamiliar with the world of Facebook fundraising and looking for a full primer on the channel? This is the resource for you.
  • Facebook Fundraising Bootcamp: Facebook fundraising got you sweating? It's time to squash the uncertainty - watch this free on-demand webinar today.
  • Facebook Challenge Teardown: Curious about what it takes to launch, refine, and monitor a Challenge? This on-demand webinar follows our team looking at real-life Challenges and talking through ways level-up that are applicable for any nonprofit.
Contact GoodUnited to learn how to incorporate Challenges on Facebook into your fundraising strategy.