In a year where charity virtual events really took off, we look back over the very best
Virtual charity fundraising events have become a major source of revenue for charities of all types and sizes in 2020, thanks to a wave of creativity and innovation that has sprung from necessity.
Fundraising on digital platforms is nothing new, but 2020 has seen them taken to a whole new level, emphasising community, inclusiveness, and social togetherness.
As we eventually move beyond the need for social distancing, charities will continue to reap the benefits of running events in the digital world. This is because online fundraising events can be:
Here are just a few of the biggest virtual charity event successes we’ve seen from UK charities in 2020.
This year’s London Marathon may have been cancelled, but that didn’t stop charities going all out to get their supporters celebrating the spirit of the marathon virtually.
For the fortieth anniversary race, runners could download the official app and clock the 26.2 miles within a 24-hour period on 4 October 2020, from home or a course of their choice.
The app helped bring the marathon experience to life, with exclusive audio commentary featuring famous voices providing a memorable soundtrack to the day.
Over 45,000 racers raised an impressive £16.1 million for charities, with the charities themselves going the extra mile to make the marathon experience engaging and personalised.
Charities took the opportunity to make the event more inclusive and get new supporters taking part. Running the event virtually also meant participants could be creative with the challenge, with charities as far from London as Hospice of the Valleys in Wales encouraging supporters with ideas on their website.
Ideas suggested included being dropped 26.2 miles from home and running back, competing each mile with a different friend, walking the 26.2 miles together and creating a unique course visiting the homes of family and friends.
As part of the Virtual London Marathon, the ‘2.6 challenge’ was created to help charities get access to much-needed funds before the delayed October 2020 race.
Supporters were encouraged to get involved to fundraise for charities of their choice on a theme of 2.6 and share their adventures on social media – whether running 2.6 miles, building a 2.6 metre tower of Lego, or using a running app to trace the numbers 2 and 6 on a digital map.
The virtually-enabled inclusive sporting events didn’t end there, with many charities inspiring their supporters to stay active during times of lockdown.
Guide Dogs’ ‘Walk Your Socks Off’ fundraising challenge encouraged supporters to clock up 100,000 steps in a week any way they could, from online Zumba classes to climbing stairs to doing household chores.
They collectively raised over £76,000 thanks to a thriving online community, including a popular supporter Facebook group sharing their stories and highlighting their ‘star steppers’ with rewards and milestone mentions.
Deprived of their usual organised sports events, fundraisers for Comic Relief charity event Sport Relief still managed to raise a staggering £40,540,355 so far. They raised money through a mix of its annual telefon, at-home active challenge events, and online gaming.
The charity encouraged supporters to run fundraising events through sponsored online gaming. Their ideas included streaming live gaming sessions on Twitch with people donating to interact with and change the outcome of a game, holding a tournament with friends with part of the winners’ proceeds going to the charity, and throwing a virtual games night party with prizes for the best costumes.
In another fundraising event for Comic Relief, celebrities took part in a livestreamed comedy game of Dungeons & Dragons over YouTube.
Dungeons & Dragons is a roleplaying game and pop culture staple that allows participants to become fantasy heroes such as wizards, elves, and dwarves and delve into an imaginary world where anything is possible.
For a minimum donation of £1, the public were able to have a say in the decisions of comedians Nish Kumar, Sue Perkins, Sara Pascoe, and Ed Gamble as they adventured through the Dungeons & Dragons world, throwing twists and turns for them to overcome by taking part in polls.
People voted on parts of the game like which character could fall victim to a curse, what monster they wanted players to battle, and magic items to help them in their quest.
The celebrity faces, social connection, and interactive element proved to be such a hit that it drew in over £25,000 in funds and a second game with a new line up of comedians took place in December 2020.