Striking while the iron’s hot – PA Research Foundation’s foray into Facebook Challenges

the challenge

The PA Research Foundation (PARF) are a small to medium sized Brisbane-based charity that provide seed funding to talented researchers with big ideas. They supported Professor Ian Frazer’s early work, which ultimately led to the development of the world’s first cancer vaccine, Gardasil.

After working with FED for almost a decade on their individual giving program, PARF indicated they were keen to grow their community fundraising portfolio, which to date had relied mostly on corporate partnerships. Initial discussions involved developing a brand-new Peer-to-Peer (P2P) event, but the investment and risk was a little daunting.

how we tackled it

In November 2021, FED suggested PARF pilot a Facebook Challenge, where participants are recruited to a virtual event that leverages Facebook’s native fundraising tools. While the lower investment was appealing to an organisation like PARF, who aren’t as well known outside of South East Queensland, the endeavour was not without risk—at the time, the Facebook Challenge concept was still in its infancy in Australia.

FED proposed the concept of ‘100 Squats a Day in April’, ensuring the Challenge would be easy to grasp, easy to access (no special equipment required) and yet, of course, difficult enough to be worthy of a donation.

Participants were recruited via Facebook Ads with registration incentivised with the offer of a free t-shirt that read ‘Challenge Accepted’. Fulfillment and group moderation was managed inhouse to maximise net income. All group content was scheduled and written by FED, then deployed by Give Panel. The Give Panel platform also allowed for PARF to capture participant data, filling a gap in the current Facebook Fundraising Tools’ offering.

PARF’s Facebook Challenge pilot was launched on 1 March 2022 with cautious optimism. While typically unheard of in the first year of a P2P event, it was hoped the event would generate enough income to break even.

the result

The pilot grossed almost $150,000 and generated an ROI of over 2.5—surpassing everyone’s wildest expectations.

Though the Facebook Challenge landscape is rapidly evolving, PARF’s pilot is testament to the success that’s possible when agility and trust converge. We consider love seeing the magic that happens when clients take a leap of faith—and incredibly proud when the endeavour proves worthwhile.

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