Peer-to-peer fundraising, also called “social fundraising” or shortened to “P2P fundraising,” can be an easy way for nonprofits to raise a significant amount of money and expand their donor base.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this concept, peer-to-peer fundraising is essentially when supporters solicit donations from their networks to raise money on your organization’s behalf. Participants will set up an individual fundraising page, set a goal for how much they want to raise, and start asking friends and family members for donations.
Not only is peer-to-peer fundraising good for raising money and growing your donor base, but it’s also a great opportunity to engage your existing supporters in a way that doesn’t require them to donate.
If you’ve determined that a peer-to-peer campaign is the way to go for your organization and want it to be successful, you’ll need to:
- Determine what kind of campaign you want to run
- Identify your key fundraisers
- Use a great peer-to-peer platform
- Empower your supporters
- Research matching gifts opportunities
- Tell a story
- Keep track of your donor acquisition and retention
1. Determine what kind of campaign you want to run
Did you know there are different types of peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns out there?
It’s true! Each type of campaign allows your nonprofit to cater its approach to meet your particular fundraising needs. While there are many types, we’ll talk about the three most popular kinds of peer-to-peer campaigns:
Time-Based Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Time-based peer-to-peer fundraising is pretty self-explanatory: it’s a fundraising campaign that takes place within a fixed amount of time.
Usually these campaigns will span a few weeks, but they can last as long as a year!
Time-based fundraisers are often paired with an event at the end of the campaign (think 5Ks, bike rides, or walkathons). When friends and family give to their loved one in this type of peer-to-peer campaign, they are often sponsoring that loved one to participate in the event.
For more information on time-based campaigns and how they work, check out BidPal’s foolproof guide to peer-to-peer fundraising.
Rolling Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Rolling peer-to-peer campaigns don’t have a definitive end date. As a result, they can, in theory, go on forever and are usually intended for general fundraising purposes.
Rolling campaigns are a great opportunity to grow your donor base and explain your nonprofit’s mission to a lot of people at once.
The trick with this type of campaign is to ensure that your fundraisers are motivated to continue fundraising for a longer period.
Giving Days are a growing trend for nonprofits who want a challenge. If you’re familiar with or participated in #GivingTuesday, then you know how successful these single days of giving can be. The short time-frame to reach a goal is a great motivator for supporters and fundraisers who are more likely to stay focused for the shorter duration.
When organizations participate in a Giving Day, they set a monetary goal that needs to be raised in 24 hours or less.
The Giving Day is usually organized by a larger organization, and many nonprofits participate in the fundraising sprint. They typically rely on their friends, supporters, and donors to spread the word about their participation to their social networks.
Many nonprofits who participate in Giving Days can raise a significant amount in donations, especially if their participation in the event gets a lot of attention on social media.
These three types of peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns can be used interchangeably and with great success depending on your nonprofit’s particular needs and goals.
Take a look at your current fundraising standing and determine which type of campaign is right for you!
2. Identify your key fundraisers
Once you’ve decided which kind of campaign you’re going to launch, you’ll need to identify your main supporters and invite them to participate in your fundraiser.
Starting with donors that have supported you in the past is important because they’ll be the people who spread the word about your campaign. In turn, this will help you attract even more fundraisers and donors so that you can gain traction quickly (which is especially important for time-based events!).
The truth is not every supporter will make a great peer-to-peer fundraiser or be interested in participating. When it comes to identifying key supporters, you want to look for supporters that have:
- A strong connection to your nonprofit.
- A good sense of your mission and the specific project for which you’re raising money.
- A strong personality and a go-getter attitude.
- A giving history with your nonprofit.
- A network of easily-reached potential donors.
It’s important to note that successful peer-to-peer fundraisers don’t need to have all these qualities. That being said, these characteristics will help you find the most likely candidates. You might already know people qualified and up for the task and can picture a loyal supporter who has given both money and time to your organization over the years.
But if you are left with a giant question mark over your head, don’t worry. Just dig into your CRM or donor database to look at past giving history and nonprofit involvement.
It’s also useful to reach out to donors who have previously expressed interest in having a larger role in your organization. Maybe a loyal donor wants to do more than give money. Maybe a volunteer wants to have a bigger role.
Whoever you choose to spearhead your P2P campaign, you’ll want to make sure that they also have a social network of potential supporters. You might have the most loyal supporter in the world, but they’ll be most successful if they have an active social media presence with friends and followers that might be interested in your cause.
Choose supporters who have a mix of the aforementioned qualities to give your nonprofit the best chance at growing your donor base and raising a lot of money.
3. Use a great peer-to-peer platform
A determining factor in the success of any peer-to-peer campaign is the platform a nonprofit chooses. The platform will be the place where your nonprofit creates its main fundraising page as well as where participants will build their individual pages.
Think of it this way: on average, each crowdfunding donation is about $90. With a great peer-to-peer platform, your average individual donations could be even more than that!
Additionally, a great peer-to-peer platform can be the difference between acquiring a handful of donors or doubling or tripling your donor base.
Because a great fundraising experience is necessary if you want your participants to actively raise money for you, look for a platform that has the following features:
- Individual or team pages: Each individual fundraising page should be unique to your participants so that they can share their reason for supporting your cause, but it should also match your organization’s brand so your entire fundraiser has a cohesive appearance. Choose a platform that gives you the ability to create fundraising page templates that supporters can then customize.
- Comprehensive social sharing mechanisms: Peer-to-peer fundraising is all about social sharing, and since 90% of American households have at least one social media account, it’s crucial that your campaign’s page is shareable across multiple social platforms.
- Merchandise options: Many peer-to-peer fundraisers are tied to events like 5Ks and Fun Runs. These events usually have merchandise like t-shirts, water bottles, and other products attached to them. If your donors want to purchase these items, your peer-to-peer platform should be able to give them this option on the campaign’s page.
- Cost-effectiveness: You don’t want to raise a lot of money just to have your peer-to-peer platform take a massive cut of those funds. Look for a platform that can offer stellar service without a shiny price tag. Most companies will either take a percentage of donations or a flat fee per donation processed.
- Gamification tools: Let’s face it: fundraising isn’t always fun, and having a way to keep your fundraisers motivated will help lead you toward the finish line. Look for a platform that has leaderboards, fundraising thermometers, and badges to help transform your campaign into a little friendly competition.
Choosing a peer-to-peer platform should be an important conversation among your nonprofit’s staff (and perhaps your main fundraisers!).
Before you shop around for a peer-to-peer platform, look to your existing fundraising software. Many nonprofit CRMs include “modules” or “expansions” that can directly connect to your tracking tools.
4. Empower your supporters
Once you’ve determined what kind of campaign you’re going to run, identified your key influencers, and chosen a peer-to-peer platform, it’s time to give your supporters the fundraising power that they need!
What does this mean?
Essentially, you’ll want to provide your fundraisers with resources to help them optimize their fundraising pages and become better solicitors for your campaign.
To help make the most of your participants peer-to-peer experience, you should provide:
- Email and social media templates: Templates help your peer-to-peer fundraisers have a starting point when communicating with peers. Just make sure that they communicate the need for funds to be raised and explain how people can donate.
- Acknowledgement and follow-up templates: Your fundraisers should have ample resources for thanking the people that contribute to the peer-to-peer campaign (and your organization should send all donors a thank-you as well!).
- Online training and support: If something breaks, your fundraisers need to know who to turn to. Make sure that they’re all aware of your training and support systems to keep your fundraiser running smoothly.
A couple weeks before your peer-to-peer campaign, you should hold a fundraising class (online and/or in-person). This will give your supporters the chance to get even more resources to help them become top-notch fundraisers.
5. Research matching gifts opportunites
Although nonprofits don’t always leverage matching gifts for peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, your organization should really research your matching gifts opportunities before, during, and after your upcoming social fundraiser.
For those who don’t know, matching gifts programs are corporate philanthropy initiatives offered by many companies across the globe. In these programs, employers commit to matching their employee’s donations to charitable causes at a 1:1, 1:2, or even 1:3 ratio.
This means that your cause has the potential to receive double the number of gifts (or more) throughout your next peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Sounds awesome, right? To incorporate matching gifts into your P2P fundraising plan, you can try a few strategies:
- First, invest in a matching gifts database. Databases like the one offered by Double the Donation allow your team and its supporters to research matching gifts program parameters for companies.
- Then, you can share the database with your community. Embed it on your peer-to-peer fundraising pages or share the link on your website and social media pages.
- Next, your supporters will verify their matching gifts eligibility and initiate their matching gift request. Once this is processed, their employer will send your organization its matched donation.
Your team can also leverage a matching gifts database prior to launching a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Simply use the database to identify matching gifts-eligible supporters to determine who you should approach for a matching gift, or who you might want to call on to become a peer-to-peer fundraising volunteer.
The bottom line? If your supporters’ gifts can be made greater, why not try to steer them toward matching gifts? This way, your cause can get more from the donations it receives while your supporters have the opportunity to give back again without spending more money.
6. Tell a story
Let’s be honest: people aren’t likely to give to your organization (which they may never have heard of) simply because their friend or family member asks them.
That’s why, instead of just asking for donations, you need to tell a story that goes along with your peer-to-peer campaign—something that will really tug at people’s heartstrings and encourage them to give to your cause.
Telling a story will not only encourage others to support you — it can also give your fundraisers a way to broach the topic of donating with their friends, family members, and coworkers.
For instance: instead of Sara Supporter emailing her aunt and saying, “How would you like to donate $20 to
Your nonprofit’s story should be center-stage on your peer-to-peer campaign’s page. Most platforms have an option for nonprofits and fundraisers to copy and paste some text into a prominent place on the page. That way, when donors visit the page, the first thing they see is a story about the people, animals, or community that your nonprofit is helping.
Additionally, your fundraisers should share their own connections to your cause by telling their individual stories! When fundraisers can explain to donors why they are passionate about your organization, their reasons will have a much stronger impact on their loved ones. Plus, they can emphasize specific elements of their story to connect to the peer, family member, or friend they’re asking to give.
Storytelling is necessary for nonprofits who need to convince a lot of people that their cause is one worth supporting. Make sure that your story is compelling enough to grab donors’ attention and encourages them to donate.
Bonus: Read this story of how The One Fund in Boston used peer-to-peer fundraising and social media to go far beyond their fundraising goals in just one week.
7. Keep track of your donor acquisition and retention
Once your fundraisers have started spreading the word about your peer-to-peer campaign, you can sit back and watch the donations roll in, right?
While you may not be actively doing all the fundraising, you still need to be keeping track of your brand new donors and welcoming them into your organization.
Retaining new donors is especially important after a peer-to-peer campaign, because it’s likely that your new supporter donated to help a loved one rather than form a particular connection to your cause. As such, sending out prompt acknowledgement letters shouldn’t be the only thing your nonprofit does.
The donors that you gain from your campaign should also receive a welcome packet that describes your mission and provides first-time donors with more information about your nonprofit.
Additionally, you should provide them with other ways to get involved in your cause such as:
- Attending an event (perhaps the event associated with your peer-to-peer campaign).
- Volunteering their time and skill set.
- Connecting with you on social media.
The sooner you engage with these donors and help them develop a connection and interest in your mission, the easier it will be to retain them after the peer-to-peer campaign ends.
You’ll want to update all of your current information about your loyal supporters, as well.
That way, when another campaign rolls around, perhaps a larger, more time-intensive one, you’ll know who you can count on to start fundraising on your behalf again.
Keep track of all of your incoming donors’ information so that your organization is in a better position to ask for donations in the future.
Hopefully, with these seven tips, you’re ready to get out there and start your own peer-to-peer campaign.
There are, of course, other peer-to-peer fundraising tips out there, but I hope that this article helps get you started!
For more info, check out Qgiv’s Guide to Peer-to-Peer Fundraising for answers to all of your questions!
What about your nonprofit? Have you recently launched a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign? What strategies did you use? Were they successful? Let me know in the comments section!