I do a decent amount of fundraising for my high school and college, and we frequently employ “challenges” as a means of hitting our goal. For a fundraising campaign, that usually takes the form of finding a large donor to give matching gifts, or $X for everyone who gives more than $X, or $X for any new donor — something like that.
We did a fun challenge program at Return Path this December that worked out pretty well for everyone, company and employees alike. We’ve been working the team pretty hard the last 4-5 months, and we wanted to give everyone some kind of fun noncash bonus as a thank you. We also had two major milestones that we as a company really wanted to hit before the end of the year, one financial and one operating. The challenge was that if we hit both, we’d officially close the company for all business days between Christmas and New Year’s to give people basically a free week off as a reward for a good year as well as the “icing on the cake” of the challenge. To make it seasonal yet nondenominational, and to pay a little homage to Seinfeld, we called this the Festivus Challenge.
The good thing about both milestones is that while not 100% of the company was involved in hitting them, huge percentages of the company were involved in at least one — and both were pretty high profile. So it was a good rallying cry.
In the end, we missed one, but we not only made the other one, we actually blew threw it and went way above and beyond on the success metric, so we ended up giving three bonus days, the day before Christmas and the two “dead” Fridays. Everyone is getting a four-day and five-day weekend back to back, and some people will just end up taking three vacation days to get a full 12 day holiday.
This was a fun one — we may have to do it again next year if there’s a good challenge lurking in our business.