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A Nonprofit’s Guide to Peer to Peer Fundraising

Last updated: August 10, 2023

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Have you ever grown a moustache for Movember? Shaved your head for St. Baldrick’s? Donated to a child’s school walk-a-thon?

These are just three out of hundreds of examples of peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns. Peer-to-peer (or P2P) fundraising works by asking individuals to raise funds through their networks for a cause. This can take several forms, often involving some sort of event to engage the community.

P2P can be a relatively low-cost, yet highly effective way for nonprofit organizations to fundraise. It relies on participants tapping into their own networks, meaning people will often hear about the cause for the first time through someone that they know. These campaigns can be very successful, with 39% of Americans saying they’ve donated to charity based on a request from a friend or family member.

There are many good reasons to consider peer-to-peer fundraising as part of your own campaigns – here’s how they work:

How does peer-to-peer fundraising work?

Peer-to-peer fundraising at its core is about recruiting other people to fundraise for you through their networks. Campaigns are often associated with an event, such as an “a-thon” or a challenge that the participant fundraises for in return for doing something.

  • Teams in Oxfam Trailwalker undertake to fundraise a certain amount ahead of participating in the 100-kilometer race.
  • Dry July participants give up all alcohol for the month of July and request donations for cancer charities.
  • Walk a Mile in Her Shoes participants walk a mile in high heels to raise funds and awareness for gender-based violence.

Sometimes campaigns aren’t associated with a particular event or pledge but are there to honor a person or milestone event. For example, Facebook users can set up a fundraising or campaign page for their birthdays, or, sometimes people will fundraise for a particular cause in memory of someone who recently passed away.

How can you successfully leverage P2P fundraising? Here are some tips:

Carefully define your target audience

You need to be able to drive enthusiastic, active supporters, so a key step is to consider who those people are and what will appeal to them. How do factors like age, interests, income, and demographics factor into your planning?

If you’re hosting a run or physical challenge of some sort, you need to think about who participates in such things and whether they’re likely supporters of your organization. Anything based on social media will obviously only include people who use the platform/s you choose.

Fundraising Intelligence can help you to drill down into who your audience is and what your campaign and fundraising strategy should look like.

Set goals for your campaign

What do you want to achieve with your campaign and how will you achieve it? For example, some organizations set a minimum goal amount for each fundraiser, although this should be in line with the type of campaign you’re running.

A team in your adventure race might need to raise $1000 to participate in return for an amazing experience, whereas a minimum goal for someone “giving up” something for a month might be $100.

Give participants what they need to be successful

What tools will your P2P fundraisers need in order to successfully raise money, seek and get donations? This might include things like:

  • Software that enables fundraisers to each have their own page to request donations.
  • Marketing materials so people understand what the initiative is all about. This might be web pages or even physical marketing materials like pledge cards and brochures.
  • Email setup – all donors should immediately get thank-you emails. You can also send updates and add donors to your list for further marketing later.
  • Key information for participants on how they can be successful, how/where to find donors, and how to promote their campaigns.

Have a thorough event plan

If your fundraiser involves some sort of event, you’re going to need a robust event plan. Physical challenges require facets such as first aid, course safety, aid stations, and refreshments. Your event might involve special equipment, permits, merchandise, and sponsorships. You might need an emcee, volunteers, and cleanup crews.

One thing to consider is that repeat fundraisers can end up raising a lot of money for your organization. While the median raised by one-time fundraisers is $222, return fundraisers raise $501. The average raised by those who participate for at least five years is $4425.

Where are we going with this? The bottom line is you want to create the best possible experience for your fundraisers so that they’ll want to return. Have a thorough plan and understand what “great experience” will mean for them.

Always follow up

As part of your campaign plan, you should always have a follow-up for participants. Firstly, all should be thanked for their efforts, and secondly, you should let them know how they have impacted your mission.

Thirdly, ask for feedback. This can be very helpful if you’re planning on running a P2P campaign as a regular event and want the participant’s views on what went well and what could be improved.

Benefits of P2P fundraising campaigns

There are several benefits of peer-to-peer fundraising for nonprofits:

Expand your reach

A major advantage of P2P fundraising is that it helps your organization to reach more people than you might otherwise in a regular campaign. P2P allows you to tap into the networks of your fundraisers and cast a wide net. There may be people out there who have never been reached in your typical campaign activities, yet are supportive of your cause.

Even people who wouldn’t typically be supporters of your organization will often step up to support a friend or family member. When kids post a link to the school walk-a-thon, all sorts of people donate who may not have done so if directly approached by the PTA.

Reach more for less

Marketing costs to reach a wide audience can soon add up. P2P fundraising will typically involve some sort of cost to reach the people who will be your fundraisers, but once they sign up, you reach a wide audience through them sharing their link for donations. It’s essentially free marketing for your organization.

Boost your brand awareness

Another advantage of P2P fundraising is that you can grow awareness of your cause by leveraging the networks of your fundraisers. It’s an opportunity to instill positive brand identity and trust in a wider audience of. You may find that by supporters sharing your cause, you can grow more regular donors over time.

Grow an enthusiastic group of supporters

Many people become enthusiastic repeat supporters of P2P initiatives, especially if they have enjoyable experiences of the fundraiser. This is great for building long-term relationships with donors and volunteers so that you repeatedly hold successful campaigns.

You raise funds quickly and easily

P2P fundraising campaigns allow nonprofit organizations to maximize their use of time and resources. Instead of relying on staff hours to drive campaigns, supporters put their time into the fundraising process (staff should still support the supporters in this!). Funds can be raised more quickly and easily than if the organization asks directly because people are supported by family and friends.

As an added bonus, nonprofit staff can often be working on other campaigns or initiatives at the same time, helping to drive the mission forward.

Wrapping up

Peer-to-peer fundraising can be a great return on investment for nonprofits. Statistics show that you can reach a wider audience and generate more donations over time as repeat supporters come back for the fundraiser.

To run a successful P2P fundraiser, you should spend time on careful planning and ensuring that all the elements are in place for success. This includes running a campaign that will appeal to your target audience, along with giving them everything they need to successfully raise funds.

Kindsight can help nonprofits to identify appropriate target audiences for their P2P campaigns through our intelligent insights. To see how Kindsight can help your next campaign, request your free demo here.


Written by Admin

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