40acts Lent campaign generates over 2.9 million acts of kindness

This year’s 40acts challenge, a campaign by charity Stewardship over the 40 days of Lent, has resulted in over 2.9 million acts of generosity.

The campaign began on Ash Wednesday in February and invited people to undertake on simple generous or kind act each day over Lent. This year 75,000 people too part, the highest participation in the five years in which the annual campaign has run.

#Chocolatetuesday proved popular

One of the most popular challenges of this year’s campaign was #chocolatetuesday, on which thousands of people slipped chocolate bars into people’s handbags, gave out free chocolates on trains and buses, or bought in sweet treats for their class at school.

Other good deeds included cleaning graffiti from buildings, writing letters of encouragement to those in prison, surprising strangers with flowers or a free coffee in cafes, and inviting neighbours round for ‘pudding parties’.

40acts was created to encourage people “to make living generously a daily habit”. It explicitly highlights that generosity extends beyond money to include people’s time, skills, words and even hugs.

The 40acts campaign concluded on Holy Saturday last weekend, when participants were challenged to carry out one last anonymous act of generosity that took them “beyond their comfort zones”.

Inspiring participation in 40acts

Participants signed up to receive the daily 40acts emails and were invited to join the 40acts community on Facebook ), Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. This year the 40acts Facebook group more than doubled in size from 12,000 to 25,000 and its Instagram community tripled from 900 to 2,700 sharing their photos online. In addition, 2,000 new Twitter followers joined the conversation.


Stewardship  provided tailored materials to ensure schools, churches, groups, students, families and individuals could take part.

Alexandra Khan, part of the 40acts team at Stewardship, said:

“It’s been a phenomenal year. The 40acts community is an incredible mix of people from all over the world. We’ve loved hearing their stories, seeing new friendships forged, and watching a ripple of generosity happen throughout Lent. For the last 40 days, the motto was ‘do Lent generously’. But now? Now it’s time to ‘do Life generously’.”

Last year the campaign won the Christian New Media Awards 2014 for ‘Innovative Use of New Media in Outreach’ and ‘Most Creative Use of Social Media’.

Watch Stewardship’s report on the 2015 40acts campaign:

 Here is a report from Stewardship itself

40acts 2015 – the story behind the numbers

Easter seems like a lifetime ago, now. The only remnants of it are a couple of chocolate eggs in my ’naughty cupboard’ at home, and the fast-fading ’DO LIFE GENEROUSLY’ paste-up that I walk past on my way to work.

Five years into 40acts, I’ve gotten used to the rhythm of the campaign: we set our goals, spend months planning, and then Christmas seems to happen faster than any of us expect. Cue a frantic January as we ramp-up to the start of 40acts, and then a seven-week rollercoaster. We’re still screaming with our hands in the air by the end of March, usually.

When you’re one of the people behind the wheel of a vehicle like that you sometimes need reminding of the impact it’s having in real life. Or at least, I do.

For one of our weekly all-team meetings, just after 40acts ended, my colleague Fiona handed out some stories that our 40acts challengers had shared at the end of the campaign.  

About three lines in, I suddenly remembered again exactly how 40acts redefines ‘success’.  

It wasn’t in the numbers.

It wasn’t in the press coverage.

It wasn’t in the amount of hashtag mentions or Facebook shares.

Behind all of the impressive figures (and 75,000 people signed up to do Lent generously isimpressive), there were real communities and individuals across the world really being transformed.

We wanted to share just a fraction of those stories with you.


“On Chocolate Tuesday, I took a bar into my local coffee shop, staffed by a young woman who appeared cool, aloof and disdainful. I gave her the chocolate, explained why I was giving it to her, and then watched her just collapse. She said that no-one had been kind to her for months, and this was the nicest thing a stranger had ever done for her. Her world was a mass of hurt, disappointment and fear. We talked and talked, hugged, and I gave her a hanky. I don’t know if we’re friends yet, but we’re on our way, and 40acts was the start.”


“Bless the boss. We have a new headteacher at the school I work at and she has had a tough year cleaning up the mess left by the previous boss and has seemed quite unapproachable by many. I simply sent her an email saying well done for all the hard work she has been doing. She sought me out the next day with tears in her eyes and gave me a hug. Such a simple act and it made her feel appreciated.”


 ”I have found, as Lent progressed, that I felt ’lighter’; as if some burdens were falling away, or as if some tight knots were unravelling. It gave me renewed confidence in my walk with God and a much more positive perspective on witness and service. I shall miss its guidance and support.”


“I put together ‘cheer’ bags to give to homeless begging on the street. They contained a snack, money, and a brochure from our church. One day I saw homeless man by a store. He was not asking for anything but I could tell he needed help. At first I passed him by but later felt I should help him. I went back and gave him the cheer bag. He had such a surprise expression. I will never forget his eyes. They were so thankful and humble. I am the one who received the blessing.”


“Day 9: mix it up. I took time out to help the Polish delivery driver who delivered the bread delivery to work. He seemed stressed and so I asked if he was ok and he said it was his first day and he didn’t really know what he was doing so I went out to his van and explained how all the stickers and delivery notes were set up so that he knew which baskets to deliver on which drop. He was really grateful and it felt good to spend an extra 5 mins helping someone rather than just thinking of my own schedule and work.”


“I heard it mentioned on UCB and took the time to find out about it and shared the idea with our church. On day 1 my wife was diagnosed with cancer. 40acts helped me to focus on others rather than become engulfed in self pity. [My wife] started treatment last Tuesday. I expect that a years time the cancer will be a distant memory but 40acts and the generosity it helped develop will have become a way of doing life better.”


40acts is over for another year, but you can still join us on Facebook or sign up in advance for next year’s challenge!