This month in Facebook virtual challenges… September 2022

Dan Papworth-Smyth
4 min readOct 10, 2022

Observations of what’s going on in the world of Facebook virtual challenges

First up, sorry for the delay with this one. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so things are really busy with exciting things at Breast Cancer Now.

September smashed previous records I’ve seen in terms of the sheer number of challenges around. There were at least 61 challenge Groups, way past the previous highest I’d recorded at 50 back in March 2022, with a combined total of around 150,000 members. Walking challenge Groups this month again made up the largest share, the second largest proportion I’ve seen it make up again since March 2022.

These numbers are all the more impressive when you consider that most charities understandably paused their marketing, including challenge recruitment, for the days following the Queen’s death but also for her funeral too.

While we’re seeing this large growth in the number of Groups (3x increase), it’s only leading to a 50% increase in total Group members when compared to October 2021. It’s an interesting disparity growing, with very few charities unlocking the higher volume groups each month 5,000+ members, and even fewer getting past 10,000. This month five charities made it past 5,000 (two of them on their first challenges I believe), but only two of those made it past 10,000. The vast majority of challenges I’m now seeing are now in the 500–3,000 Group member range.

  • In last month’s update I wrote about the new native challenge functionality within Facebook, and already we’re seeing updates. From what was previously just a list of people taking part in a challenge, we now have a leaderboard of your top fundraisers for the event. This is visible on the right of your challenge surface when viewing on Facebook. Useful for getting a bit of competition going if you want to highlight your star participants!
  • Big thanks to Tom at Cancer Research UK for sharing the latest income performance from their walking and skipping challenges, with more than £1m and £570,000 respectively after just over a week of the challenges. That’s from Groups that were 18,000 members, and 30,000 members (one of the largest I’ve ever recorded). You can also watch a recent session with Meta’s Anita Yuen, and Nicola Smedly from CR UK talking about their performance using Facebook’s fundraising tools, and how their recent yoga challenge raised £350,000. Really appreciate both of them sharing this insight.
  • Speaking of Cancer Research UK, it’s great to see their launch of a Harry Kane-fronted keepy uppy challenge under their Bobby Moore fund brand, following in the footsteps of Macmillan with Wim Hof which I’ve previously mentioned here. This isn’t the only football-themed Facebook challenge as we approach the World Cup, Diabetes UK have also got a 100 Kick-ups a day challenge live, and Macmillan too to tap into World Cup fever.
  • Last time I mentioned about the WhatsApp supporter stewardship offered by Sands in their recent challenge, and I wanted to quickly share something I saw as part of that — virtual rewards. Using Facebook AR filters as a way to drive challenge engagement is a really interesting proposition. When we started out with challenges at Breast Cancer Now, I was always really into Facebook Frames for a similar reason, but they have since been discontinued for the vast majority of organisations. Here’s a little preview of me using this one which I was directed to through WhatsApp…

Just a quick update this time but will hopefully be back with more from across the Facebook virtual challenge space next month. As always, please share if you find these useful, and you can go back to the previous month’s updates here: August, July, June, May, April, March, February

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Dan Papworth-Smyth

Head of Digital Engagement at @BreastCancerNow, formerly of Breast Cancer Care and @TeenageCancer. Sometimes I take photos too. Views are my own.