Unleash the power of peer-to-peer fundraising to introduce new donors to your cause, mobilize your supporters to action, and energize your community
The digital age has had a major impact on the nonprofit world in the last few decades. Smart organizations are developing strategies to keep up with new opportunities for new money. They are adjusting their communication channels and exploring new ways to garner support.
If your organization is not fundraising online, you’re leaving money on the table.
One of the smartest ways to raise money online is through peer-to-peer fundraising (P2P). P2P empowers supporters to take action. They can express their connection with your cause through personal fundraising pages. They open their social networks and rally their friends and family around a meaningful cause.
The end result? You, the nonprofit, gain a broader reach and more revenue.
You can use this type of fundraising to raise more money and widen your donor base.
P2P is malleable. You can use it for a time-limited campaign. Or, you can ask your supporters to fundraise for their birthdays, anniversaries, or athletic milestones. No matter how you choose to use it, this type of grassroots fundraising offers a way to create custom, brand-centric campaigns. They are all designed to engage supporters and boost results.
The digital age has had a major impact on the nonprofit world in the last few decades, causing
What Is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?
Peer-to-peer fundraising equips volunteers and nonprofit champions to create personal fundraising pages. They work best when they are part of a bigger campaign.
“Fundraising Ambassadors” set their own goals. They create personal pages with direct URLs for easy circulation. These personal pages contain their names, personal messages, and photos.
The Fundraising Ambassadors ask their family, friends, and acquaintances to make donations.
This type of fundraising is highly effective because it relies on personal connections and trust. It yields more money than traditional fundraising because people give to people, not to organizations
This type of fundraising is highly effective because it relies on personal connections and trust. It yields more money than traditional fundraising because people give to people, not to organizations. In other words, P2P fundraising puts the “human” back into distant, impersonal cultivation.
Lots of different types of organizations can use P2P to raise money. Schools, synagogues and churches, camps, and alumni-based organizations are well-positioned for P2P success.
Why Is Peer-to-Peer So Powerful?
Peer-to-peer campaigns tap into all the key drivers of human motivation.
There is a big goal involved, which creates a sense of challenge and victory. There is public accountability, which increases volunteers’ motivation to fulfill their commitments. There is competition between the Fundraising Ambassadors to reach their goals. And there is social influence, especially when Ambassadors use social media to reach their networks.
P2P campaigns empower people to put their beliefs in a cause into action. They equip Fundraising Ambassadors with the tools to be creative. By creating their own pages online and working toward personal fundraising goals, they open up a new world of possibilities for the organizations they support.
The personal goal is a key ingredient in the P2P recipe. Goals help Ambassadors stay focused and motivated. They gamify the fundraiser because no one wants to fall short.
Beyond setting a goal, Fundraising Ambassadors receive a unique and customized page. Their progress is placed side-by-side with other peers fundraising for the cause. The result is a community of volunteer fundraisers who feel a shared sense of responsibility and motivation. Together, they will reach their individual goals. Together ,they will encourage their peers to do the same. Together, they will make the campaign a big success!
Depending on the demographics of your Fundraising Ambassadors, you can expect an average individual to raise anywhere from $400 – $2,000. Of course some individuals raise much more.
Who Peer-to-Peer Is Good For?
Peer-to-peer campaigns are human powered.
Nonprofits with a deep network of connected people are the best candidates. For example: there are churches and synagogues, schools, camps, and educational programs. There are nonprofits that have a large alumni or volunteer base. And there are nonprofits that have a base of people who feel truly passionate about the cause.
P2P is great for nonprofits that make a transformative impact on the lives of the people they serve. When the impact is life-changing, nonprofits can rally volunteers. Take Save a Child’s Heart for instance. SACH performs life-saving surgery on children from countries without cardiac pediatric surgeons. People who love Save a Child’s Heart LOVE Save a Child’s Heart. These volunteers are more than willing to fundraise on behalf of a cause they love.
Peer-to-peer can also be beneficial for nonprofits with a smaller network of people. Often, small organizations can add a complementing mechanism to their annual campaign. Board members, for instance, often make the best Ambassadors.
Nonprofits can also use team fundraising for small groups of people. You can segment your Ambassadors by location or graduation year, for instance. This segmentation will generate a sense of excitement and competition among volunteers.
How Do I Rally My Community?
As any leader knows, getting people to move and do is one of the toughest jobs on the planet.
Below are three tactics that we have developed over the course of thousands of crowdfunding campaigns.
Rally Event – Hardest
Invite your community to a “rally event” and give them food, music, drink, and inspiring speeches. At the event they will hear about the incredible impact of your nonprofit. In return, you will make them feel incredible for their role in being part of your organization’s community.
Then you will speak about the campaign itself. Share the transformative and visionary impact that it will make. Ask them to join you in this incredible cause by committing to a fundraising goal.
Lay out informational packets in front of them so they can sign up on the spot, while emotions are high.
Pros: Rally events create the physical context for a community of volunteers to unite. They tap into many levels of motivation and emotion. They yield the highest number of volunteers and individual-driven fundraising dollars
Cons: Requires lots of time and effort to implement, some built-in costs to host the event
More on Rally Events later on.
Mobilize Pollinators – Medium
Generally speaking, prospective volunteers are scattered across a variety of social networks. As a result, you should map out your key social connectors. Then, you can recruit one, two, or three people to be in charge of rallying people within those micro-communities.
For example, a school might appoint somebody to head up recruiting volunteers from each class year. Another volunteer may be in charge of recruiting school parents. And another one may be in charge of teachers.
You can supplement these efforts through additional marketing channels. Different volunteers can make calls, send emails or texts. You can invite people to informational sessions. You’ll do what you can to generate excitement and interest.
Pros: Mobilizing pollinators enables nonprofits to tap into existing social influencers/connectors. They empower leaders to take responsibility to secure volunteers. They are relatively easy to implement
Cons: Slow build-up of volunteers; requires a dedicated cohort of pollinators
Casting a Wide Net – Easiest
Use various marketing channels to encourage people to sign up as team fundraisers.
You can hang signs in the lunchroom or post posters on the community board. You can make announcements at weekly meetings, set up virtual kiosks, or send out mass emails.
Pros: Easy to implement, minimal investment, fast to roll-out
Cons: Marketing this way does not create a sense of a community of volunteers. It is likely to have the lowest rate of success for securing volunteers. And volunteers may not raise as much money because they don’t feel that sense of togetherness.
What Makes For Good Rally Events
Timing is everything. Time your rally event well, and you build momentum. Time it poorly, and you’ll have to spend reenergizing your community later on.
Let’s say your campaign is in 10 weeks from now. The rally event should not take place until the last three or four weeks.
- Fizzle Effect: Setting the event too soon can create a ‘pin in balloon’ effect. You’ll announce the campaign. You’ll create energy and excitement. Then time will go by. The excitement will fizzle out before the campaign actually gets started.
- Disorganization of the Organization. Campaigns require multiple moving parts operating at the same time. The right people and parts must enter the process at the right time. Rally events that happen too early waste crucial time and energy. Worse yet, you can lose the trust of your volunteers if you don’t project confidence in your game plan.
You must be able to answer all of the questions that those invited to the rally event will ask. What’s the campaign goal? What are the dates of the campaign? What payment processors will you accept?
The likelihood of knowing that information when the campaign process has just begun is small. Holding off on the event until later allows for the “organization of the organization.”
Knowing the audience in advance allows you to cater the event to them and their needs. You can now organize a program (location, speakers, food, entertainment, content) and work to get the event exactly right for this group.
An additional key component for the rally event is answering the following questions:
- What information about the campaign do I need to share with this group?
- Campaign goal
- Campaign dates
- Matching information, if relevant
- How the money will be used
- Resources you’ll provide to Fundraising Ambassadors
- What am I asking this group of people to do?
- Take a goal!
When we know the answer to this set of questions we are in a far better position to execute on the event and on the next item on the list: Materials.
Once I know what the nature of the event is and who the audience will be, I can properly prepare content.
It is important that the right materials reach the right people and it is important that those people feel valued.
By giving your volunteers proper materials in their hand, you give them the sense that this is a serious campaign. You show them an organized team that is ready to fundraise a significant amount of money.
Using P2P with Your Annual Events
Every event has a lifecycle and needs a refresh after a while. P2P is the solution to revitalize your events. Empower your supporters to become active fundraisers. Give them proper tools so you can expand your networks and boost revenue. This works for gala dinners, walk/run-a-thons, and traditional annual fundraisers.
A well-planned strategy can:
- Keep top supporters involved pre, during and post event
- People want to be asked for more than just money. Ambassadors will feel CLOSER to your organization AFTER they have volunteered for you. Raising money for your organization feels good. Giving of social capital is a great way for people to feel more invested in your cause.
- Expand your event’s reach to a larger social audience
- If your organization could use an influx of new donors (and what organization couldn’t?), P2P is a great way to introduce new people to your cause. Because they will come by way of your current supporters, there is a high likelihood that they will share similar values and passions.
- Add a fun element with gamification, excitement, and competition
- There is an energy that comes with P2P campaigns. Ambassadors want to hit their goals. Volunteers want to push their team to the finish line. There is a sense of camaraderie that infuses organizations with energy and enthusiasm
- Generate new engagement and revenue opportunities even before the event begins
- A gala event is a one-night affair. But a P2P campaign ensures that its impact begins well before the night begins and ends well after the lights go off.
Equipping your Ambassadors for success
It’s good to let the people helping with fundraising tell their own story and find the best way to get support from their own friends and family. But, it’s also good to have guidelines for them so they feel supported and are never staring at a blank piece of paper.
Give Fundraising Ambassadors guidance and templates for their campaign page. Show them examples of fundraising messages they can text or email their friends. Provide them with guidelines about how to write an inspiring social media post. Explain best practices to them. That way, when they share messages, pictures, and videos, they are doing things efficiently and with high standards.
A little direction goes a long way. Plus, doing these extra things first will prevent confusion. They will make sure your organization has a consistent look. A little organization will make the whole fundraising process a good experience for everyone involved.
When we hear stories from people we know, it feels more real and honest than stories from an organization. People trust their friends and family. When they hear about something from them, it makes them want to help. Empower your Fundraising Ambassadors to tell their own stories. Let them share in their own authentic words why they care about your cause. People will be more likely to give when they understand why the cause is important to someone they know.
The more genuine and authentic and personal the “ASK” feels, the more people will give. If it feels cookie-cutter and formulaic, people won’t feel like the ask is real.
You would be surprised as to who you might consider as a potential donor. There are the obvious people in your world: some friends and maybe some family members. But would you consider your college roommate or your neighbors or your gardener? Well, the Memory Jogger serves that purpose as it gets you to consider the full range of people in your own “giving-hood.”
Who Are The People In Your GivingHood?
As Fundraising Ambassadors consider who they are going to ask for money, they must also determine how much they can ask.
The goal of these exercises is to get your mind moving. You may need to see it to believe it, but your friends and family WANT to help you. People you haven’t been in touch in years will surprise you. But they won’t give if you don’t ask.
Where to start
If you’re new to peer-to-peer fundraising, don’t be discouraged! We’ve compiled some tips to help you maximize your campaign and achieve success.
- Make sure volunteers are at the center of your appreciation efforts and personalize campaign pages. They deserve just as much of your gratitude as your donors do. In fact, if you invest in your Fundraising Ambassadors, they’ll help you raise even more money next year.
- Utilize fundraising thermometers and leaderboards to gamify the campaign.
- Arm your Fundraising Ambassadors with the tools they need.
- Make it clear exactly what you are raising money for and what the net impact of a donor’s generosity will be.
The beauty of peer-to-peer fundraising is that you can marry it with any other type of fundraising. It could be event-based, matching or part of a day of giving. It could be a drive for monthly donations or part of a capital campaign.
P2P will introduce your organization to a host of new supporters. Afterward, it is your responsibility to form relationships with those new supporters. If you THANK them for their support and then REPORT back as to how their donations were used, you can ASK them again in the future for gifts.