What is peer-to-peer fundraising? How is it different than crowdfunding? How does it work?
“Peer-to-peer fundraising” is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but you’d be surprised how many people only have a vague idea of what it is and how it works! We’ve zeroed in on the 4 most important aspects you need to know.
The Definition of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Sometimes peer-to-peer and crowdfunding are used interchangeably, but that’s not quite right. Peer-to-peer fundraising is a specific type of crowdfunding that empowers an organization’s supporters to fundraise on their behalf, soliciting donations from their social networks. Sometimes it’s called P2P, social fundraising, or team fundraising.
Crowdfunding campaigns involve a fundraiser (a nonprofit organization or an individual) directly soliciting donations from donors. A crowdfunding campaign will have one central page that the organizer shares to collect donations.
A peer-to-peer campaign, however, has multiple pages run by different people collecting donations. As a result, all the money goes to the same place and you’re growing your donor base.
The Benefits of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
While a peer-to-peer campaign may seem more complex (and it is), there are certain benefits to using peer-to-peer campaigns that you don’t get with direct crowdfunding.
Peer-to-peer campaigns can help grow your donor base by using existing supporters to bring in new supporters. Your nonprofit can’t solicit one of your supporters’ family members to support your cause. But your supporters can certainly talk to their own family members and friends about your nonprofit and encourage them to donate to a page they’ve set up on your behalf. You could call it the Faberge Method of Donor Acquisition.
Peer-to-peer campaigns help you reach new audiences that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Ultimately, this makes peer-to-peer fundraising perfect for nonprofits looking to grow.
It’s no secret that testimonials are a powerful fundraising tool. Your nonprofit may have incredible programs and services that are essential to your community. Yet, no amount of numbers and charts will be able to have the impact of real people sharing how your nonprofit has made a difference in their lives. With peer-to-peer fundraising, testimonials are built in. This means your supporters will use their fundraiser pages to tell about their personal connection to your nonprofit.
Peer-to-peer campaigns add a bit of friendly competition and a feeling of success to the fundraising process. Ideally, we would all spend time raising money for causes that are important to us. But the truth is, most of us are busy and have other things to be doing in our spare time. However, adding the possibility of winning bragging rights for being the top fundraiser or getting a cool prize is often enough to get people to throw themselves into nonprofit fundraising with gusto.
If you’re not sure what “gamification” means, think of Fitbit. They took something many people don’t get excited about (walking) and added the ability to earn badges. For some reason, that alone was enough to motivate the chronically-sedentary masses to go for daily walks. Humorist David Sedaris has a hysterical essay about the lengths he went to (including wandering his neighborhood picking up garbage) just to earn awards from Fitbit. So, gamification proves we don’t grow out of working for gold stars after elementary school. Peer-to-peer fundraising capitalizes on this. It motivates regular people to step out and start fundraising for causes that matter to them by making it fun and engaging, just like Fitbit has done with walking.
Grassroots and boots
Peer-to-peer fundraising helps nonprofits build grassroots support and puts more boots on the ground. Considering that you can add to your workforce without adding to the payroll; this is pretty powerful. Through peer-to-peer campaigns you’re able to expand your reach and build support for your cause in your community.
Types of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaigns
We don’t want to blow your minds with too much information, but there are actually different types of peer-to-peer campaigns.
These are peer-to-peer campaigns built around an event hosted by your nonprofit. Some examples would be charity walks, marathons, galas, fashion shows, and so on. Go Endurance’s Ironman 70.3 Michigan campaign uses the IRONMAN 70.3 MICHIGAN racing event as an opportunity to raise funds, bring awareness, and be active in the community. This a great example of an event-based peer-to-peer campaign.
Rolling campaigns exist outside of your organization’s planned fundraising events. These typically center around a supporter’s life event, such as a birthday or a wedding. Over the past several years Terrance and Kyle have raised over $125,000 through rolling peer-to-peer fundraisers for the Georgia State University Foundation. As with their campaign, My Birthday Fundraiser: Starting a New Chapter, they celebrate their birthday asking for donations toward scholarships in lieu of presents or a party.
These kinds of campaigns are magical when they happen! All the nonprofit has to do is accept the funds and start stewarding the new donors. Providing resources and support for rolling campaigns like Terrance and Kyle’s can keep them coming back to fundraise for your nonprofit year after year.
These types of peer-to-peer campaigns are obviously tied to a timeline. Examples would be end-of-year fundraising, funding a specific project, or emergency appeals. The Kilgoris Project hosts an annual Back-to-School Challenge to fund their work of educating and feeding 1,775 school-age children within a Maasai community in rural Kenya. Not only have they continued to increase their goals the last few years, they continually surpass them!
Giving days are 24-hour giving marathons like #GivingTuesday. Learn more about giving days on Mightycause!
As you can see, there are lots of ways to run a peer-to-peer campaign! The different kinds of campaigns we’ve seen at Mightycause are as diverse as the nonprofits that use our platform.
How Peer-to-Peer Campaigns Work
There are four stages of a peer-to-peer campaign for a nonprofit:
This is the most critical phase of a peer-to-peer campaign for nonprofits. You’ll be doing a lot of the planning you normally do with a fundraising campaign (coming up with messaging, timelines, and strategy). However, you’ll also be doing extra work to set your supporters up for success as they fundraise for your nonprofit. You’ll want to prepare resources for them like email templates, social media posts, a template fundraiser page, sample emails, outreach tips, and more. In addition, you may even want to put all of this together into one toolkit that they receive after signing up to participate. You’ll also want to come up with incentives and a strategy to keep everyone motivated throughout the campaign.
Once you’ve got all your ducks in a row, you can start recruiting your fundraisers. Who they are is up to you, but most commonly, volunteers, board members, and social media followers should be among the people you ask. If you’ve never done peer-to-peer fundraising before you may want to identify potential ambassadors and reach out to them directly. Being personal and encouraging them to get involved, instead of just putting out an open call through email or social media, can make a big difference.
Another important component of recruitment is making it clear exactly what you’re asking people to do. Make sure that the people who sign up to fundraise for you understand peer-to-peer fundraising, your expectations of them, and what they’re signing on to do.
Equally important is staying in contact with your fundraisers throughout the campaign. Monitor their progress and celebrate fundraising milestones with them. Also make sure to be a resource for your fundraisers, support and encourage them. You may need to nudge a few fundraisers to publish their pages or raise funds. (Mightycause’s team management tools make this easier than ever.) Mightycause provides tech support for your nonprofit, fundraisers, and donors but your nonprofit will have to provide moral support!
Your nonprofit will probably get lots of people who made donations because a friend or family member asked them to donate. Your fundraisers did their job. Now it’s your responsibility to get donors engaged in your nonprofit.
Prepare a strategy to follow up with the donors you’ve acquired and keep them interested in your cause. Emails are great, and more personal gestures like handwritten thank-you cards can also go a long way! Remember, you’ll also want to continue cultivating your relationships with your fundraisers so that they will come back to fundraise for you in the future.
Don’t wait to grow your donor base, increase your donation flow, and engage your community. Start planning your peer-to-peer campaign now.
To learn more about peer-to-peer fundraising, download our Event Fundraising Handbook. Whether you host an annual fundraising event, or you’re looking to host your first peer-to-peer event, Mightycause’s Event Fundraising Handbook has everything you need to plan your event!
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