Over the years, as we’ve spent more time on our phones and computers, peer-to-peer fundraising has become one of the core avenues through which individuals donate to and advocate for the nonprofits they love. It’s now one of the core online giving tools that nonprofits look for when searching for software solutions that will help them carry out their mission.
In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into the different types of peer-to-peer fundraising and how nonprofits can leverage this strategy to maximize revenue.
- What is peer-to-peer fundraising?
- Types of peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns
- Benefits of peer-to-peer fundraising
- How to get started with peer-to-peer fundraising
- Marketing peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns
- Peer-to-peer fundraising ideas
- Top peer-to-peer fundraising platforms
- Tips for your next peer-to-peer fundraising campaign
To start, we’ll revisit the basics to make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to peer-to-peer fundraising.
Peer-to-peer fundraising (sometimes shortened to P2P fundraising) is a fundraising strategy in which individuals organize personal campaigns to raise money on behalf of a nonprofit organization.
These campaigns are generally started by nonprofits, with the organizations recruiting volunteers to launch personalized campaign pages. The volunteers then reach out to their network of friends and family to collect donations for their campaigns.
What is the difference between peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdfunding?
While these two fundraising strategies share some important characteristics, peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdfunding are two separate strategies.
Both crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising require your nonprofit to rely on your network of supporters reaching out to their friends and family (usually by leveraging social media) in order to raise money on behalf of your nonprofit.
The difference lies in how your campaign is set up and the way that it’s shared. While crowdfunding campaigns empower your supporters to share the same campaign page across multiple sites and platforms, peer-to-peer fundraising empowers your volunteers to launch their own personalized pages to raise funds on your behalf.
[alt text: While crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising are similar, they do have some key differences.]
This means that your peer-to-peer fundraisers can create a campaign page that includes personal information about their connections to your organization. Personal connections like this further encourage new supporters to give to the campaign due to their relationship with your fundraisers.
There are two primary types of peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns: rolling and time-based.
Rolling peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns operate without a time limit. They’re designed to raise a certain amount of money, and those funds don’t have to be raised by a set deadline. These campaigns may be tied to an event, but they’re more often operated independently.
An example of a rolling campaign is a continuously running peer-to-peer fundraising campaign dedicated to raising money for recurring expenses. For example, if you want supporters to have the option to raise money on behalf of your nonprofit at any time, you might set up a rolling campaign on your site that allows them to create a personalized campaign whenever they want and dedicate the revenue to your annual fund.
Time-based peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are more common. These fundraising campaigns require that the funds be raised by a specific deadline. These campaigns are popular because they create a sense of urgency for your supporters to reach their personal goals and to help your nonprofit reach your overarching goal as well.
These types of peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are often tied to events. For example, an organization may launch a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign leading up to its annual walkathon. This increases the revenue associated with the campaign and further spreads the word about the event itself, encouraging additional signups.
Hosting a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign can be a very lucrative strategy for your nonprofit. It allows you to cast a wide net and gain donations from many different people at once. Plus, you have motivated and loyal supporters on your side helping raise even more money for your cause!
It’s not all about the additional funds, though. Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns also offer several opportunities for nonprofit organizations outside of raising money.
These campaigns create opportunities such as:
- Expanding your network. Because your supporters are reaching out to their friends and family, you’re able to naturally expand your network to those new supporters. They’ll get a sense of your brand and what your organization is about through their connection to the fundraiser who started their own campaign page.
- Allowing supporters to get more involved. If you’re always reaching out to your supporters and asking for money, your supporters may start feeling like ATMs. Asking them to participate and volunteer to raise money on your behalf is not only easier on their wallets, but it also provides a new and unique way for them to show their support.
- Engaging supporters virtually. Understandably, people have different comfort levels with regard to attending in-person events given the global pandemic and social distancing recommendations. Luckily, peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns can be launched and hosted entirely virtually. This means you won’t alienate any of your supporters by only offering an in-person event or campaign.
- Growing your social media presence. Because these campaigns often spread like wildfire on social media, they naturally grow your nonprofit’s social media presence. Imagine a supporter runs across a campaign page started by one of your supporters via Facebook. After donating, they decide they want to learn more, so instead of closing the platform and opening a new window, they decide to navigate to your page on the same platform, where they view and follow your Facebook page.
Before you launch your campaign, choose which goals are most important for your organization, both in terms of revenue and the above opportunities. That way, you can make decisions that will best target those specific goals and outcomes from the campaign.
For example, you may decide to use your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign as a way to engage your current support base and increase your retention rate. In this case, you might set goals around what percentage of your current support base in your CRM solution you want to participate in the campaign. Then, you can specifically focus on encouraging supporters to participate, stewarding them, and showing your appreciation as they raise funds for your mission.
Here’s how to start your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
1. Determine your campaign’s goals.
Chances are, you’ll have more than one goal that you’d like to accomplish. Determine all of your goals, then rank them in order of priority.
For example, you might decide that you have four goals for your campaign:
- Raise money.
- Steward existing supporters.
- Expand your social media presence.
- Expand your brand recognition.
From here, you need a revenue goal that will meet your needs. Let’s say that you want to raise $20,000. If you recruit 20 volunteers, you can encourage them to set a goal of raising $1,000 each for your campaign. If they’re successful, you’ll hit that $20,000 goal.
2. Choose a peer-to-peer fundraising platform.
Pick the software platform that will best help your nonprofit reach your peer-to-peer campaign fundraising goals. Look for a solution with customizability, gamification tools, and other features that will help you create the best possible campaign. Later, we’ll dive deeper into some of the options available.
If you already have a peer-to-peer platform on hand, start adding your campaign’s details to your main information page. This should cover the basics of your campaign, including your overarching goals and what the funds raised will support.
3. Recruit your peer-to-peer fundraising volunteers.
After you know the campaign details, you can start broadcasting those details to your dedicated supporters. Present the campaign objectives and goals to them and start recruiting supporters to fundraise on your behalf. Offer the opportunity as a way to get involved with your nonprofit.
After you’ve recruited your supporters, provide them with training about how to best launch their own campaign pages and make the most of the opportunity. Focus on helping them create their own fundraising appeal. People tend to give money to a person rather than an organization, meaning their unique words and appeals will drive more support than a more generic message from your organization.
4. Support your fundraisers.
Support your volunteer fundraisers during every step of your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Provide training before the campaign starts to show them the best ways they can set up their own campaign pages. Then, take additional steps throughout the campaign to show them how to take their campaign to the next level.
For instance, you might recommend:
- Making the first donation to the campaign to kick things off. This shows other supporters that they’re not starting from scratch
- Reposting the peer-to-peer fundraising page at regular intervals on their social media accounts
- Using groups on social media to reach more people with similar interests
- Leveraging other platforms like email and word of mouth to reach new audiences
Regularly check in with your supporters to see how they’re doing and check in on their progress toward their individual goals. This will keep their motivation high as they continue to raise funds for your organization.
5. Celebrate reaching your goal.
When you hit your goal, celebrate! Reach out to all of the supporters who helped fundraise on your behalf and thank them for their involvement.
On a smaller scale, when individual fundraisers hit their goals, reach out to congratulate them! Encourage them to continue raising money for the campaign in this same message so that they know they can keep going and surpass their goal.
6. Thank all of your supporters.
After the campaign ends, it’s time to say a lot of thank yous. Don’t forget that those who raised funds for your organization are the true heroes of your campaign. Thank every donor for getting involved, and don’t forget to praise those who made those donations possible.
To show your appreciation for your fundraisers, consider the following:
- Write emails and letters thanking them for their support.
- Provide prizes for your top fundraisers.
- Send updates about the project they raised funds for.
- Send a survey to get their feedback on the campaign.
- Create a special event for these fundraisers or invite them to participate in a VIP activity at an existing event.
Reach out to everyone who donated and thank them for the contributions that made hitting your goal possible—just be sure you don’t lump these two segments together. Instead, create personalized communications depending on how they participated in your campaign to reach everyone on a personal level.
To show your appreciation for your donors, you might consider the following:
- Sending additional newsletters or information about your mission
- Following up with them via a phone call to say thanks
- Sending handwritten thank you notes
These appreciation strategies will close out the campaign and make sure it ends on a high note for everyone involved. It will also encourage people to get more involved in the future, increasing your organization’s retention rate for these types of campaigns.
7. Track key campaign metrics.
Directly after the campaign, build a report of the key metrics that determine your campaign’s success.
Some of the metrics you might decide to analyze include your:
- Average donation size
- Supporter retention rate
- Number of new donors who contributed
- Marketing platform success rate
- Average amount raised per fundraiser
Analyze these metrics and identify opportunities for improvement. Then, make a note of these opportunities for the next campaign. We recommend conducting this analysis directly after the campaign so that the details are still fresh in your mind.
Marketing is a necessary part of any fundraising campaign, and it plays a significant role in your peer-to-peer campaign as you need to market to multiple audiences at once.
First, you’ll need to market your campaign to recruit volunteers to raise funds on your behalf. Then, you’ll need to continue marketing to help reach your campaign goal.
Target specific segments in your CRM. These segments will help you engage the appropriate audience with tailored messages designed to earn their support. You can even break these segments down further depending on the size of your campaign.
Reach out to your existing supporters when recruiting for your campaign. Prioritize getting in touch with those who have volunteered for these types of campaigns in the past, those who have shown significant interest in the organization, and those who have previously supported campaigns funding similar programs. These supporters will be highly likely to pick up the torch and create their own campaign pages.
After you’ve locked down your volunteers, reach out to all of your engaged supporters, alerting them about your campaign. Again, leverage segments to be sure you’re reaching these supporters with the right message. You may direct them to the campaign’s main giving page or refer them to supporters on whose campaign pages they can donate.
Luckily, there are a number of platforms you can use to reach supporters, no matter how they may engage with your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
Consider how you can use:
- Social media. Social media is the perfect platform for long-form content, including stories, photos, videos, and combinations of the three. Advertise your upcoming opportunity on your social media platforms and provide links for supporters to get involved.
- Email. Email is one of the most used platforms for communication in the nonprofit sector. Write thoughtful emails to various segments, personalizing each one to capture the supporters’ attention, and direct them to create their own peer-to-peer fundraising pages.
- Direct mail. Send letters to your supporters (just make sure that they’re personalized). Direct them to online opportunities where they can sign up to become a peer-to-peer fundraiser. If you have an event associated with the campaign, go ahead and invite them in this letter as well!
On each of these platforms, use storytelling strategies to capture the reader’s attention and encourage them to get involved. The hero of your story, for instance, could be the constituent that you’re working with to build a home. Then, you can explain how their success is vital to your organization’s mission.
In your peer-to-peer campaign, explain and teach the basics of storytelling to your fundraisers. They can then leverage these principles on social media and other marketing platforms to gain their network’s attention.
Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns can take many forms. Consider your development plan and the type of campaign that will best fit your needs.
Here are a few of the most common fundraising ideas that you can use for your peer-to-peer campaign.
Use your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign to spread the word about the event and encourage participants to launch their own personal campaign pages. That way, even those who can’t attend are able to participate and support your cause.
Similar to your 5K race, you can encourage your walk-a-thon participants to raise funds for your cause before and during the event. Direct supporters to set up peer-to-peer pages and ask for pledges based on the distance they walk (i.e. $5 per number of laps or miles).
Sports tournaments are exciting opportunities that encourage people to come out and support their local teams. Ask each team to set up their own fundraising page as a part of your peer-to-peer campaign so supporters can cheer on their favorite team and show support by contributing to the campaign. The team that wins the tournament and the one that raises the most money for your nonprofit should receive a reward.
Raising money for a single sports team is another great way to leverage a peer-to-peer fundraiser. Let’s say your nonprofit organizes a pick-up kickball game to raise money. Each team member can go out and raise funds in their own personalized campaign page leading up to the big game. Be sure the winner gets a prize!
Read-a-thons are perfect peer-to-peer fundraising opportunities for kids. Encourage them (with the help of their parents or guardians) to set up a campaign page and ask for sponsorships for the number of pages they read in a set period of time.
Your nonprofit’s holiday party is an exciting time for your organization. Invite supporters to attend and raise money leading up to the event. You might even offer a discount for entry (if you require an entry fee) for supporters who raise a certain amount of funds.
Merchandise campaigns are special types of peer-to-peer campaigns where you sell merchandise to raise donations. Your supporters create their own campaign page connected to your organization. Then, when the supporters’ friends and family make a donation of a certain size, they’ll receive a t-shirt, mug, or other branded merchandise.
To host an effective peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, you’ll need a platform that allows you to customize each campaign page and raise funds for the organization. We recommend the following platforms.
Kindful, a Bloomerang product, is our favorite peer-to-peer fundraising platform on the market. With Kindful’s comprehensive peer-to-peer fundraising platform, you can empower team leaders to customize their pages and encourage their network of friends and family to contribute.
Use this platform to encourage your fundraisers to customize their fundraising page with goals, images, and a message that resonates with their following. For instance, you can tell your fundraisers to share their connection to your cause on their fundraising page. This strategy is effective because, as we mentioned above, peer-to-peer donors tend to give to the person rather than the organization.
The best part about Kindful? It integrates with Bloomerang. This integration allows your nonprofit to collect and track key metrics about the campaign, save engagement details directly to individual donor profiles, and ensure you reach out to follow up with each donor after the campaign.
Bonfire is a t-shirt fundraising platform that offers peer-to-peer functionality as a part of its merchandise fundraising tools. Your nonprofit can design a t-shirt, sweatshirt, mug, or other merchandise items to be provided as a part of your campaign.
When someone contributes a certain amount of funding for your campaign, they’ll receive a merchandise item in return for their gift. This adds an additional incentive to give and to donate a certain amount.
Donately is an online giving tool that offers several donation options for nonprofit campaigns, including peer-to-peer fundraising. The peer-to-peer fundraising pages offered by Donately are simplistic in design, which makes it easy for supporters to share their individual campaign pages with their network of family and friends.
The platform comes with a self-service donor dashboard so that supporters can monitor their campaigns and make sure they’re on track to reach their goals.
If you’ve been working in the nonprofit sector for a while, you’ve likely heard of Classy. This platform is one of the most well-known in the industry for peer-to-peer fundraising. Classy offers a quick and easy-to-use platform that helps fundraisers get up and running quickly with their own donation pages.
Classy allows your organization to send automated emails, reminding supporters to reach out to their network of friends and family on a regular basis for donations or to provide training materials to boost the campaign further.
OneCause is a fundraising platform that specializes in nonprofit auctions but also offers the tools necessary for a number of different fundraising campaigns. Leading up to your auction, you can take advantage of their other peer-to-peer functionality to maximize revenue.
If you frequently host auctions alongside peer-to-peer fundraising opportunities, OneCause might be the platform for you!
Qgiv also offers a number of fundraising tools that your organization can use in various campaigns, including for your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Their campaign pages are also easy to use and customizable to encourage more donations.
They offer gamification tools like leaderboards and fundraising thermometers. This provides further incentives for donors to give and motivation for your fundraisers to continue reaching out to their networks.
SalsaLabs offers peer-to-peer fundraising as a part of their suite of fundraising tools, SalsaEngage. In addition to peer-to-peer fundraising, this platform offers digital marketing tools, advocacy software, and online fundraising pages. This means you can combine these tools to maximize your campaign’s fundraising potential.
If your organization is looking for a comprehensive fundraising platform to meet several of your fundraising goals, SalsaLabs is an option to consider.
Peer-to-peer fundraising can be challenging, especially if you’re new to it. That’s why we’ve compiled several tips that you can use to maximize your campaign and help you succeed.
Here are our top tips for success:
- Remember your fundraiser is the true hero of your event. In your follow-up communications after your fundraiser, prioritize thanking these supporters and stewarding them. They are the heroes who raised the money during the campaign, so they deserve recognition. This will help retain these supporters and engage them for the long haul.
- Encourage fundraisers to personalize campaign pages. Provide training materials for your supporters, instructing them on how to personalize their campaign page. Advise them on what content works best for peer-to-peer pages. For instance, images that feature the fundraiser at a nonprofit event would be ideal, but there are lots of options for the feature image. The message should also be personalized so that your fundraiser engages their network of followers with a story about their personal experiences with your cause.
- Leverage fundraising thermometers. Fundraising thermometers allow your donors to see exactly how much impact their gifts have toward your goal. This provides an incentive for donors to give. Choose an attractive thermometer and feature it on various campaign pages and on your nonprofit’s website.
- Use leaderboards to gamify the campaign. Turn your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign into a competition by adding leaderboards to the mix. Rank your leading fundraisers for everyone to see and celebrate your top earners. After the campaign, award the winner with a prize.
Using the right online giving tool is essential for ensuring you can enact these various peer-to-peer fundraising tips. Prioritize the features that you want as a part of your peer-to-peer campaign, then be sure the software you ultimately use has those features included.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a useful fundraising tool that your organization can use to raise funds, increase your retention rate, and ramp up to fundraising events. Not only that, but as a virtual campaign opportunity, it’s the perfect fundraising opportunity to raise money in the midst of a pandemic.
Use the tips and tricks in this guide to make sure your fundraising campaign is as effective as possible to maximize your funding and engagement. If you’re looking for even more information about fundraising and how peer-to-peer fundraising will fit into your overall strategy, check out these additional resources:
- The Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Strategic Planning. See how peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns will fit into your nonprofit’s strategic plan by reviewing this guide.
- A Guide to Donor Retention. Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns provide an engagement opportunity for your supporters. See how increasing your donor retention rate just a little bit can make a huge difference with this guide.
- Donor Segmentation | Comprehensive Guide + Tips for Success. One key to success for your peer-to-peer fundraising is reaching out to your target audience with a message that resonates with them. This segmentation guide provides further insight.
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