How To Create The Perfect Non-profit Challenge

Over the last month or so, our Facebook feeds have been filled with people pouring ice water on themselves. Just the other day, I even saw a (slightly odd) video of Robert Plant taking the challenge – and challenging Paul McCartney, Elton John and Peter Gabriel to do the same. 

Now, with the success of the ice bucket challenge, every non-profit is trying to figure out how they can do something similar. So, to help with that venture, I thought it would be useful to take a closer look at what made that challenge so successful, and help you create one for your organization:

1. Find the perfect challenge
The ice bucket challenge had everything going for it. It was easy to do – no need to train, purchase anything, or even leave your home to participate. It was humbling – a bit uncomfortable to do, but you were proud to do it. And, it aligned with the charity — educating people about the loss of sensation that comes with ALS.



2. Call out individuals
Rather than asking participants to “spread the word,” participants were asked to challenge three specific people (in the post and in the video). This was a direct challenge, making it that much more difficult to ignore – especially as Facebook displays the challenge to all of the friends of those who are called out.

3. Add urgency
By telling people thy have 48 hours to act, the challenge quickly gained momentum. Without this, it would have likely faded quickly.

4. Time it perfectly
It didn’t hurt that this challenge came out in the heat of the summer. Pouring a bucket of ice water over your head in 90-degree temperatures doesn’t seem like that bad an idea … until you do it.

5. Make it visual, entertaining and quick
Watching these 5-7 second videos of friends pouring water over themselves was entertaining (the first few, anyway). Much more powerful than a text post or generic, impersonal image.

6. Start with with people of influence
The challenge started with a few respected and influential individuals who were authentically connected with the cause. You never know what will take off, but in order to get people to follow, you need to start with leaders. 

So, there it is. Just follow those six very simple steps and you will have the perfect challenge for your organization (yeah, right.). I look forward to seeing your challenge take off. In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to get people to go bald on Oct. 17 to fight cancer.

Have a great day!

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