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Charity challenge events

Events organised by challenge event companies offer fundraisers the opportunity to raise money for a cause by completing an endurance task, from a sponsored walk to a long-distance cycle ride.

These events can take place in the UK or overseas. They usually require the fundraiser to pay an entry fee or contribute to the cost of the challenge on top of the money they raise for the charity.

If a challenge event is not wholly organised by a charity or its volunteers, there are usually two ways that companies are involved:

  • A company offers an event directly and members of the public can take part to fundraise for a cause.
  • A charity contracts a travel company to book a tour (such as a Kilimanjaro trip) and asks its volunteers/supporters to take part.

For the public 

Most charity challenge events are well organised and can raise many thousands of pounds for good causes. However, some can be poorly managed or at worst, fraudulent.

Here are 10 tips to give you confidence in fundraising with a charity challenge event company:                                                                                                              

  1. Do a quick web search of the company's name and previous events they may have held. If a high number of participants have given poor feedback, this could be cause for concern.
  2. Before you sign up with a challenge event company, check the terms and conditions of any agreement. Is it clear what happens to your fee if an event is cancelled for any reason?
  3. Ask the company whether they have public liability insurance to cover the risk of cancellation or disruption, personal injury or property damage.
  4. If the event is overseas, check that the trip is ATOL protected.
  5. Is the company registered with the Fundraising Regulator? Registration is voluntary but it shows they support our Code of Fundraising Practice.
  6. If the event is being run for a particular charity, check whether the charity is aware of the company and the event.
  7. Check the company’s record with Companies House. Have they filed their accounts on time?
  8. Ask who is responsible for health and safety at the event and what policies are in place to ensure the safety of participants.
  9. Check if the challenge company has permission from the site manager to run their event. This will be the local authority for public sites or the landowner/manager for private sites. Is the site manager satisfied with the information provided by the challenge company before the event?
  10. If you complain to a charity challenge company and are unhappy with the response you receive,  you can refer your complaint to the Fundraising Regulator using our complaints form

If you think that a challenge event company is fraudulent, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or through their website at www.actionfraud.police.uk

For charities and challenge event companies

Section 15 of the Code of Fundraising Practice requires charity events to be appropriately risk assessed and insured, with relevant permissions from the site manager.

If a charity is working with a third party to organise the event, there should be a written agreement setting out the responsibilities of each organisation and who is liable if a problem arises.  

The IoF has further guidance on the requirements for for charities on challenge events.

The NCVO’s “Knowhow Non-profit” site also has guidance for charities on organising fundraising challenges.