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Perfecting Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: Tips for Your Next Event

August 26, 2016

If you've been paying attention, you know the future of philanthropy includes peer-to-peer fundraising.

Fundraising_thermometerIt makes sense. Peer-to-peer fundraising (P2P) is one of the best ways for nonprofits to involve their supporters in the fundraising process, raise significant amounts of money, and acquire new donors — all at the same time.

Below, I cover the five steps that every nonprofit looking to run a successful peer-to-peer event should consider. In order, they are:

  1. Establish your budget and goals;
  2. Identify the best peer-to-peer fundraising platform;
  3. Enlist your most enthusiastic supporters;
  4. Equip your supporters with the right tools; and
  5. Gamify your event or campaign.

1. Establish your budget and goals.

As is the case with any fundraising campaign, you need to establish a budget and financial goals for your peer-to-peer fundraiser before you dive into planning the event itself.

While your goals should be achievable and realistic, don't underestimate the power of peer-to-peer fundraising.

Let's say you have a hundred supporters who are willing to reach out and ask their friends, family members, and co-workers to make a donation to your organization. If each person solicits only two people, you've essentially tripled your potential donor base at a fraction of the acquisition cost associated with other methods.

Don't forget, though, that because most peer-to-peer fundraisers are tied to events like walkathons, marathons, or other group activities, you'll need to factor the cost of the event itself into your budget.

Other costs you may need to consider include:

  • marketing materials
  • merchandise (water bottles, t-shirts, etc.)
  • snacks and drinks for participants
  • staff time
  • set-up and tear-down costs
  • unexpected surprises!

How this helps: Any fundraising event or campaign needs a budget and a revenue goal. Make sure your peer-to-peer fundraiser has both and be clear-eyed about the costs.

2. Identify the best peer-to-peer fundraising platform.

Before online fundraising became commonplace, peer-to-peer fundraising was done at the office or door-to-door by supporters who would ask you for a donation or sponsorship for the event they would be participating in. Peer-to-peer fundraising platforms have changed all that.

With peer-to-peer software, your nonprofit can enlist the help of supporters in your local community or halfway around the world — and they can use it to solicit donations from anyone, anywhere, as well.

The best peer-to-peer platforms enable your supporters to:

  • tell their own story
  • customize the layout of their individual pages
  • add pictures and videos to their pages
  • display their fundraising progress with a "thermometer"
  • link their individual page with your nonprofit’s donation form
  • share the link to their page via email and social media channels

Great peer-to-peer software also is easy to use.

Be sure to pick a platform with:

  • solid integration options
  • analytics and reporting functionality
  • mobile donation options
  • merchandise storefront add-ons
  • easy support and set-up

How this helps: A peer-to-peer fundraising campaign is only as good as the platform you select. Make sure you select one that works for your organization and your supporters.

3. Enlist your most enthusiastic supporters.

Here's a truth: not all of your supporters will want to be a part of your peer-to-peer fundraiser.

While it would be nice to enlist the help of everyone in your donor database, your most loyal and enthusiastic supporters are likely to be your best bet for peer-to-peer recruitment.

Think about it: someone who has given dollars to your organization on a consistent basis or has volunteered repeatedly over the years is a much more promising peer-to-peer candidate than someone who made a small, one-time gift a year and a half ago.

With that in mind, take a look at your donor profiles and determine who would be the best fit for your event or campaign. With the right donor management system, this should be an easy task. Simply filter for past giving and engagement.

How this helps: For it to be a success, your peer-to-peer event or campaign will need a strong base of supporters. If you've kept accurate and up-to-date records on all your donors and volunteers, finding the right supporters to target should be a breeze.

4. Equip your supporters with the right tools.

Some of your supporters may have experience in peer-to-peer fundraising, but the majority of them probably have never asked anyone for a donation. So not giving them the tools they need to be successful would be like sending them on a road trip without a map.

Here's what they'll need:

Email Templates

In order to standardize the communications process and ensure that your supporters are sending the right messages to their peers, you should provide them with customizable email templates.

These templates should include information about:

  • the campaign's background
  • your nonprofit's mission
  • a supporter's personal ties to the cause
  • event details
  • how to give

All templates should be brief and to the point. In our busy world, no one has time to read a wall of text.

Social Media Templates

Social media is the other major channel for peer-to-peer fundraising. In order to maintain a cohesive communications strategy, you should provide your supporters with easy-to-use templates for their social media updates.

While these templates can be similar, in terms of language, to your email templates, the copy should be shorter and more succinct. Social media users are used to brief updates and won't appreciate paragraph upon paragraph in their newsfeeds.

Be sure to create different templates for different platforms and encourage your supporters to use the sites they visit most often. (It doesn't make sense to provide your supporters with templates customized for Facebook if they spend most of their time on Instagram!)

Training and Support

The type of training and support you offer your supporters will depend on the type of peer-to-peer platform you settle on. Some providers offer video tutorials with their products, while others are available by phone or email to answer questions.

Whatever the case, make sure your supporters know how to use the platform — and how to get help if they need it.

How this helps: Giving your supporters the right tools is essential for a successful peer-to-peer event or campaign.

5. Gamify your peer-to-peer event/campaign.

Peer-to-peer events and campaigns often require a comprehensive and intensive fundraising effort. In the case of a campaign, they can go on for months, and it's not unusual for the enthusiasm of supporters to flag as the campaign moves toward its conclusion.

You can help lessen this "fundraising fatigue" by gamifying your peer-to-peer campaign.

"Gamification" just means you incorporate various game-like elements into the campaign.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Encourage team fundraising: Supporters who work as members of a team tend to raise more money than supporters who work alone. And you can spice things up with a little friendly competition by encouraging your supporters to form teams to compete against one another.
  2. Use leaderboards: Leaderboards are digital score keepers that are used to display your top fundraisers on your organization’s peer-to-peer fundraising page. More often than not, your supporters will take note and start to jockey for one of the top spots, raising more money and having more fun in the process.
  3. Incorporate fundraising badges: Whenever a supporter meets a personal fundraising goal, she should receive a "badge" that she can display on her own individual donation page. It's a simple way to incentivize fundraising and reward your stand-out supporters.

How this helps: Gamification encourages your supporters to solicit more donations from their peers and helps make fundraising, well, more fun!

Taking these five step will go a long way to ensuring that your next peer-to-peer event or campaign is both fun and a success. And who can argue with that?

Headshot_abby_jarvis_for_PhilanTopicWhat other steps has your organization taken to ensure the success of its peer-to-peer fundraisers? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer-to-peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes.

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