Peer-to-peer fundraising has basically revolutionized certain types of special event fundraising practices. The essence of P2P is utilizing the relationships your event participants already have by allowing them to reach out, usually electronically, for sponsors who underwrite their participation. It is not uncommon for such fundraising practices to double or triple the amount raised for events using this practice. That is phenomenal for the nonprofit because the mission impact of such events can be doubled or tripled.

If Only We Worried About Donor Retention

Alas, like so many wonderful new technology enhancements to traditional practices, certain shortcuts to raising additional dollars can have a downside or two. In this case, the new donors usually have more of a relationship with the event participant than they do with the charity running the event. I know I have personally been guilty of ignoring the solicitations from the charity after the event even though I sometimes made a generous donation. In a few cases, I did not even recall ever donating to the charity!

I do not have any statistics to quote here, but my guess is the renewal rate for those first time donors, via peer-to-peer fundraising, may be lower than the already dismal renewal rate of regular first year donors.

Ideas to Improve the Peer-to-Peer Donor Retention Rate

The ideas suggested below are based upon my personal experiences and what inspired me to make that all important second gift and in a couple of cases upgrade my giving. My ideas are not based upon scientific research. However, all of them might be considered common sense in most circles of fundraising.

Here are ones I found useful in creating a more in-depth relationship with me (in no particular order):

  1. The next communication (after the electronic thank you) outlined the mission of the organization in a personalized manner. In addition, the economic impact of the event on the mission was spelled out, usually with a chart or graph.
  2. The person who I sponsored sent a personalized word of thanks a few weeks after the event. It further stated what the charity’s mission personally meant to them.
  3. I was invited by the charity to become a regular subscriber to the one of their newsletters in the format I desired.
  4. I was sent a one off email asking if I would like to visit the charity at some point in the future.
  5. When I said yes to a visit a personal call was made to me to establish the details.
  6. The first follow-up gift solicitation was more than 6 months later, but less than 9 months

Lo and behold! A relationship was formed between myself and the charity via the practices above. It did not seem manipulative in any way. In fact, it felt normal and good.   Perhaps there is a nugget or two in the items above, which can help your organization move your peer-to-peer fundraising into a donor retention dream come true. Just think how powerful combining the immense outreach and growth in new donors peer-to-peer can bring with better than average donor retention results.

Imagine the impact those events can have long term!

The Art & Science of Digital Donor Retention

Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.