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Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: A Guide For Nonprofits

Terry Ibele  12 April 2017  0 comments

peer to peer fundraising small nonprofitsThis is a guest post by Abby Jarvis, Communications Coordinator for Qgiv.

If you were told to raise $5,000 by the end of the month, could you do it?

This was the challenge of Laini Brown of the Hilltop High School Football Booster Club. She needed to raise an extra $5,000 to purchase new football helmets for her club by the end of the month.

It was a daunting challenge. Her club had never raised that kind of money in such a short time. A friend of hers who was successful at raising money suggested holding a peer-to-peer fundraiser. 

In this post, I'll detail how Laini used peer-to-peer fundraising to raise money for her club, and best practices so that you can do the same


What is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising (or P2P for short) is a fundraising strategy that uses the networks of your existing supporters to raise money on your behalf. You may already be familiar with peer-to-peer fundraisers: Fun Runs, Movember, and The Ice Bucket Challenge are all classic examples.

The graphic below shows how one supporter can rally their network to donate much more money than they could on their own — and why peer-to-peer fundraising can be so effective.

peer-to-peer fundraising

Laini decided to give peer-to-peer fundraising a shot. Here’s what she did:

  • She gathered the whole club and made a short video stating their need (new helmets) and their goal ($5,000).
  • She asked the 100 club members to email the video out to at least 10 contacts and ask for donations. 
  • She setup peer-to-peer software to collect donations from her supporters.

As soon as the emails were sent, over 1,000 people heard about the clubs fundraising goal. On top of this, many members posted the video to social media, where it was shared many more times.

Donations began pouring in. By the end of the month, Laini had raised more than $8,000 dollars, far surpassing her goal.

That’s the power of peer-to-peer fundraising. Nonprofits who give their supporters tools to share with their networks, just like the video that Laini gave to her members, are able to exponentially increase the amount of people who hear about their cause and end up donating.

If this sounds a little like crowdfunding, which is another fundraising strategy you may have heard of, there are some fundamental differences between crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising. Check out this post to learn about their differences and determine which one is right for your organization. 

If crowdfunding sounds more appropriate for what you're trying to achieve, here's how to get started with it and what tools to use.

If you've decided to try peer-to-peer fundraising after all, then keep on reading! 


7 Strategies to Make Your Peer-To-Peer Fundraising a Success

Chances are you’ve already run a peer-to-peer fundraiser, because simply asking a friend to tell their friends about your cause is the most simple version of one. 

However, if you would like to raise thousands of dollars like Laini did, there are seven key strategies that will help make your next peer-to-peer fundraiser the best success:

  1. Use the Right Software to Make Donating Easier
  2. Empower Your Supporters to Increase Donations
  3. The Best Way to Brand Your Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser
  4. Distribute Tools to Increase Promotion
  5. Create Friendly Competition
  6. Double Donations with Corporate Match Programs
  7. Double Donations From New Donors


1) Use the Right Software to Make Donating Easier

Do you know if your current donation software will work with a peer-to-peer fundraiser?

I’ve seen some nonprofits jump into a peer-to-peer fundraiser without the right donation software only to find that they’re leaving a lot of money on the table.

Take for example the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver who held a cycling event (a type of peer-to-peer fundraiser) to raise money for homeless shelters.

Most people wanted to give money on behalf of individual cyclers, but their generic donation page didn’t allow for this. They set up a makeshift process to accommodate this, but it was so cumbersome that many people gave up trying to donate. On top of this, the whole thing became an administrative nightmare to manage.

What the Catholic Charities discovered was the main difference in a peer-to-peer fundraiser: people donate to other people, not to the organization. That’s why it’s important for your fundraising software to let your supporters take the lead in three ways by:

  1. Giving your supporters an individual donation page and allowing them to tailor the message.
  2. Making it easy for supporters to receive donations from their network.
  3. Making it easy for your supporters to transfer funds to your organization.

Luckily, the Catholic Charities used peer-to-peer fundraising software the next year. Not surprisingly, their donations increased over 100%.

If you’re looking to implement peer-to-peer fundraising software, here’s a list of the most profitable ones. Just make sure that the option you go with makes it easy for your supporters to take the lead by allowing them to:

peer-to-peer fundraising small nonprofits
  • Write out their own personal story and their connection to your organization.
  • Show a fundraising thermometer of their individual goal and progress.
  • Upload any relevant videos or photos.
  • Add social media sharing buttons to make it easier to connect with their network.


2) Empower Your Supporters to Increase Donations

If you’ve never run a peer-to-peer fundraiser before, there are two management tactics to avoid.

One is sending your supporters off, free to do as they please without any management. The other is micromanaging their every move. Both actually decrease your fundraising potential.

Part of running a peer-to-peer fundraiser is trusting your supporters to do their best, but also knowing when to give them tools, encouragement, and friendly reminders to help them meet their individual goals. 

From my experience, here are some management practices that can help your supporters raise more money in a helpful way:

  • Send reminders about registering for your peer-to-peer event the week of and the week before the event.
  • Update your donor database with new information gleaned from your supporters’ participation in the fundraiser.
  • Offer support to individual fundraisers who are struggling to meet their goals.
  • Send regular updates about the overall progress everyone is making.
  • Provide your most dedicated supporters and donors with additional opportunities for engagement, such as membership programs.
  • Offer information packages or webinars to train your supporters in setting up their donation pages and asking for donations.

Doing these activities can not only help you increase donations by helping supporters meet their individual goals, but also help build long-term loyalty with them.


3) The Best Way to Brand Your Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaign

Donations made on a branded donation form are, on average, 38% larger than contributions made through generic pages. Plus, when a supporter gives through a branded page, they are nearly 70% more likely to make a second contribution. The main reason is that branded donation pages appear more trustworthy and make a donor feel more comfortable about their donation going to the right place.

When you allow your individual supporters to customize their own donation pages, you will still want to hold on to some branding. Here are some simple ways to ensure a consistent message and design across all your supporters’ pages.

  • Provide Suggested Copy: Not every supporter will want to write out their personal story (and who could blame them? Sometimes it’s hard to know the right thing to say). Your organization should provide templates with suggested copy for donation pages, emails, and social media posts. The copy should be easy to customize to an individual so that your message is consistent, yet personal.
  • Design a Template: Most peer-to-peer software will allow your organization to create a template or design scheme for each individual donation page. Ensure that the colors and fonts you choose reflect your nonprofit. Most importantly, make sure that your nonprofit’s name and logo are integrated into the template.
  • Focus on Your Cause: To really empower your supporters while staying on-brand, you’ll need to provide them with toolkits that detail how this fundraiser will help your cause. Include at least one high-quality photo of the recipients of your nonprofit’s aid, as well as a specific story of how your nonprofit will help them. Supporters can use this material when they ask for donations.

Branding is about more than aesthetics; it’s about building recognition and trust between your organization and your donors. 

And while you’re at it, make sure your own donation page is branded in the best way with these 28 best practices you can follow.


4) Distribute Tools to Increase Promotion

Imagine half your supporters ask for donations on Facebook, while the other half ask for donations over the phone.

Wouldn’t you want everyone to do both?

The best way to encourage your supporters to ask for donations in as many ways as possible is to make it easier for them to do so.

Unfortunately some people don’t feel very comfortable when it comes to asking for donations in certain ways. Imagine, for example, that you get tongue-tied asking for donations on the phone, so you try to avoid it. However, you might give reading a prepared script a try if it was provided. In the same way, you can provide tools to your supporters to encourage them to ask in different ways:

  • Write a suggested script for phone calls that supporters can reference
  • Create a hashtag so that supporters can easily consolidate posts across multiple social media channels
  • Write up an email template that supporters can fill in with their information
  • Create an “about” page for the fundraisers that supporters can link to when they need to share more info
  • Write out tweets that your supporters can use
  • Give your supporters images that they can share on Facebook

By giving your supporters peer-to-peer fundraising tools, you help them hit the ground running in whichever channel they choose.


Fundraising event checklist download


5) Create Friendly Competition

To keep your supporters motivated and engaged throughout your fundraiser, try creating friendly competition. Here are a few ways to do just that:

  • Create a leaderboard, which displays the top fundraising individuals or teams in real time.
  • Create fundraising badges, which supporters can earn for reaching certain fundraising milestones and display on their personal donation pages.
  • Recognize on Social Media your most dedicated supporters for their service to your cause.

In all these strategies, it’s important to note that the rewards are based on showcasing supporters’ accomplishments. Just be cautious of rewarding fundraisers with tangible gifts or flashy prizes. You don’t want prizes to overshadow your cause.


6) Double Donations with Corporate Match Programs

Many companies will match the amount of money that one of their employees raises through a peer-to-peer fundraiser. 

It’s an easy way to double the amount of money you raise.

Make sure your supporters ask their employers if they match donations, or send them a tool (like the matching gift tool displayed here) so they can conduct a search for their company on their own.


7) Double Donations From New Donors

Many nonprofits skip this last strategy and end up leaving a lot of money on the table. 

The problem is that many first-time donors in a peer-to-peer fundraiser don’t know very much about your organization, and they’re not in a mindset to keep giving. They only donated to support their friend.

But don’t let that discourage you. With the right approach, you can welcome these new people into your organization and nurture them into a position where they’re ready to give again.

Here are three easy tactics to engage these people from day one:

  • Email new donors a personal welcome message: Invite them to your website, or give them your contact details to learn more. You can even send them a link to your membership application to sign on those interested right away.
  • Use donation receipts as engagement opportunities: Once donors confirm their gifts, direct them to additional opportunities for engagement right on their receipts. One common approach I’ve seen is to invite them to participate in an event, or another fundraiser.
  • Invite donors to follow your social media channels: With social media, you can recognize donors for their contributions and showcase your organization at the same time.

The key is to engage donors so that they don’t vanish once your peer-to-peer campaign ends. Show them that they’re valuable partners to your organization, and you want to work with them.


Make Your Next Peer-To-Peer Fundraising Campaign a Success

Whether you’re a peer-to-peer expert or just getting started with your first campaign, these seven strategies can help you raise thousands. Best of luck running your next peer-to-peer fundraiser!


Additional Resources:


Abby Jarvis peer-to-peer fundraisingAbby 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. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.

Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot]

Posted by Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 12 April 2017 at 1:22 PM
Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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