How high can you climb?

In just twelve weeks we created and launched a groundbreaking app for people to raise money for children's cancer research by challenging themselves to a virtual climb-athon.

Participants had the month of October 2020 to get climbing - whether it was indoors going up and down their own stairs, or outdoors walking, running or cycling up steps and real hills - our app automatically monitored your elevation progress, while keeping you motivated and encouraging you to share your achievements to raise as much money as possible.


New ways to think about fundraising during coronavirus lockdown

North of England Children’s Cancer Research (NECCR) is a children’s charity formed in 1979 by a small group of parents whose lives had been changed forever by childhood cancer.

One of their flagship fundraising events, the famous Children's Cancer Run, has raised millions over the last 33 years. Sadly, the coronavirus pandemic meant that this year it had to be cancelled.

The charity came to Qrious to answer the question: could we do something innovative and engaging that used design and technology to rapidly create a successful virtual event?

COVID has proven to be a difficult time for almost all charities, including ours - meaning a 65 - 70% drop in annual income for NECCR. Childhood cancer hasn’t stopped for Covid, so we have been forced to think about fundraising in new ways. We wanted to create something where people could still enjoy a challenge, whilst being inclusive to the many varying needs of our supporters and still adhering to government guidelines

Janet Price, Fundraising Manager


Rapid innovation with users and stakeholders

We began with our QLAB design sprint, our intensive two-week process for answering critical questions about the project through design, prototyping and testing.

This is always a highly collaborative, battle-tested activity where we work together with our clients to understand outcomes and constraints, then rapidly research, design and test possible solutions with real users.

Together we agreed a strategy and KPIs and understood the NECCR context. We also brought in experts to give lightning talks, and researched the different kinds of technology available for elevation tracking.

Prototyping our ideas in our innovation lab

As early as week two, we had created a working prototype that was automatically tracking our climbs as the team ran up and down their own stairs at home, and started to visualise the ideal journey that users would go on from choosing a challenge to celebrating a milestone achieved.

These activities were to prove critical as we shared our ideas and got feedback from a group of real families and fundraisers who would have otherwise been taking part in this year’s children’s cancer run. Their advice and ideas helped steer us in the right direction, ensuring that this virtual event would be accessible, enjoyable and raise as much money as possible.

With this in mind we created six challenges to choose from, ranging from local peak Tosson Hill (440m) right up to Mt. Everest (8840m),


Virtual ways of working

Reflecting the fact that this was a virtual fundraising event, as well as working within the constraints that Covid has put on us all, our shared Qrious-NECCR team had to also run all of our usual innovation, design and user research virtually. We were able to make use of helpful SAAS technologies to ensure that this virtual agile process worked really well.

Having come from a previous tech background, I knew the possibilities of what we could achieve, but also knew it would be a lot of work and require a positive attitude from all parties. I came to Qrious with an idea of what we wanted, and they quickly helped us to refine the idea and set realistic expectations of what could be achieved in the short time frame that we were working to

Heather Peacock – NECCR Marketing

Every fortnight we were able to share our progress with the NECCR team to received feedback, make quick strategy and product decisions, and ultimately to ensure that the app met user needs.

Making it a success

Since the app was launched, it’s been downloaded over 200 times – how fantastic!

We were absolutely delighted with the end result of The Climb app – it was a great proof of concept project to see what we could achieve in this new virtual event space, and what we ended up with was something that was well designed, functional, fun and engaging. It has helped us to raise around ten thousand pounds for children’s cancer research here in the North East (which doesn’t quite compare to the Children’s Cancer Run yet!) but has the potential to be a permanent additional fundraising tool for the charity going forwards. The team at NECCR are all very grateful for the time, effort and positivity Qrious have donated to help support this vital cause

Heather Peacock – NECCR Marketing

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