In this webinar, Abby Jarvis will show you four key activities that are proven to raise more money in a peer-to-peer campaign.

Full Transcript:

Steven: Okay, Abby, recording is going. It’s 2:00. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started?

Abby: Go ahead.

Steven: All right. Awesome. Well, good afternoon, everyone, if you’re on the East Coast. I should say good morning, if you’re out on the West Coast. Thanks for being here for going today’s Bloomerang webinar, “Building a Strong Foundation: 4 Cornerstones of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Success.” And my name is Steven Shattuck, and I’m the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.

And just a couple of housekeeping items. Before we get going here, just want to let you all know that we are recording this session and we’ll be sending out that recording a little later on this afternoon. So, if you get interrupted, or you got to leave early, have a meeting, no worries, we’ll get you that recording. We’ll send you the slides. Again, if you didn’t already get those, just be on the lookout for an email from me later on today.

But most importantly, use that chatbox on your Zoom screen there. We’re going to try to save some time for Q&A at the end. We love for these webinars to be interactive. So don’t be shy, send in your questions and comments along the way, and we’ll try to get to just as many of them as we can before 3:00. You can also do that on Twitter. Just follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #Bloomerang, or @BloomerangTech. I’ll be keeping an eye on the tweets there if you want to send us some tweets.

And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, I just want to say an extra special welcome to all you folks. We do these webinars just about every Thursday throughout the year. We bring on great guest speakers. Today is no exception. We love doing it. And, hopefully, we’ll see you again on another session.

But if you’re not familiar with Bloomerang, besides doing those webinars, we are a provider of donor management software. So, if you are in the market for that or maybe just interested in what we got going on, check out our website. You can even watch a quick video demo and see all the software in action. You don’t even have to talk to anybody, if you don’t want to. But don’t do that now because y’all in for a real treat. We’ve got my go-to for peer-to-peer, Abby Jarvis is joining us from beautiful Lakeland Florida. Abby, how’s it going? You doing?

Abby: I’m doing so great.

Steven: Yeah, this is awesome. Abby is a peer-to-peer queen. They’re my go-to over at Qgiv for all things peer-to-peer. Definitely check them out if you don’t have any software for this because theirs is really good, and I can vouch for it personally. But, Abby, like I said, she is always doing this research and teaching on what’s working in peer-to-peer and what’s not. She’s all over the place at conferences, talking about this stuff, runs a great blog over at Qgiv. And they have their own webinar series, too. You might want to check that one out if you like this one, and I think you will.

So, Abby, I don’t want to take up any more your time because you’ve got a lot of really cool findings to tell us about peer-to-peer. So I’m going to stop sharing my screen so that you can start sharing it, and we’ll see if we can make this happen.

Abby: Yeah, let’s see.

Steven: Nice.

Abby: All right. So I’m going to start from here. Do you see the right screen? You don’t see my notes?

Steven: Yeah, I think it’s working.

Abby: Awesome. Okay. So Steven introduced me. Thank you so much for letting me hang out with you, I’m really excited to share some cool data that we found. Before I get really into these four key behaviors we see in successful peer-to-peer fundraisers, I just want to let you know that I’m not just making this up. This stuff is all findings that our data scientists at Qgiv have found. They looked at hundreds of different nonprofits and thousands of different events and all of the participants from those events to kind of pull these behaviors out. So that’s where this is coming from. This is coming from real nonprofits and real fundraisers.

And one of the things that was supported by our data, but it’s pretty well known in the industry. One of the biggest problems that peer-to-peer fundraisers face is non-participation. Based on the kind of event you’re running, they’re going to be between 29% and 80% of the people who register for your event who never raise a dime. So, if you want to raise more money, one of the keys, obviously, is to increase that participation. And increasing participation just a couple of percentage points we found can have a really profound impact on the amount you raise. Which begs the question, how do you actually get people to engage with you?

So, a while ago, the Qgiv team looked at really successful peer-to-peer participants and identified what they were doing that made them so effective. And we found four different fundraising behaviors that resulted in raising more money. And we found that encouraging people to participate in those behaviors is a great way to kind of move yourself closer to meeting your fundraising goals.

So this is what we’re going to look at. We identified some different strategies that you can use to encourage these behaviors. And over the next few minutes, I’m going to show you what we found. So we’ll look at how we can help participants build their fundraising pages, how we can encourage them through various channels to send fundraising emails and to make social media posts. And then, we’ll look at how we can keep people involved in fundraising by creating different milestones that participants can always be working towards.

So, after looking at our data, we knew that people who update their fundraising pages raised significantly more than the people who don’t really personalize their pages at all. And we found two interesting patterns across all the thousands of participants that we looked at. We found that the average peer-to-peer participant takes about five days to actually start personalizing their fundraising page. So that’s five days between when they actually register for your event and when they log back in and start working on their pages. And then, we also noticed that a large portion of the people will finish working on their pages within 24 hours of starting the customization process. So they’ll wait five days or so to start and then, all of the changes that they’re going to make to their page are made within that 24-hour period. Once that 24-hour mark is passed, most of your participants won’t touch their pages again. So what they get done is all they’re going to get done.

If you want to encourage your participants to customize their pages, which is wise because you know it’s going to raise you more money, you’ve really got two goals. So, one, make sure you get someone to customize their page within that five-day period. And then, two, try to make it as easy as humanly possible for them to put together a great page, preferably within 24 hours and really, I think it’s not even close to 24 hours. So, to do that, I really recommend taking a couple of steps to get participants motivated to put together their page.

One really powerful way you can do that is by dropping a note and maybe some tips into a participant’s registration confirmation email. So I would assume that most of you have a receipt or a confirmation message that goes out after someone registers to participate in your event. Something as simple as dropping a note about updating their page and giving them a couple of tips can really make a difference toward actually getting them to do so.

We’ve also seen some of our clients build little short drip sequences of emails for their new participants. That’s a phenomenal way to relay, one, really important information about the event itself. But, two, it’s a really great way to give your participants ideas about how they can build out their pages.

Another tactic that we’ve seen work really well is offering participant toolkit to the people who sign up for you. We’ve seen nonprofits build tool kits with best practices or storytelling ideas, or other tips for setting up this page that they send to their participants. And then, they also have gotten people really engaged by taking a few minutes to upload some images that your participants might want to use. So your supporters are going to be more likely to build out their pages if you give them some pictures or impact statements, and other pieces they might want to include on their fundraising page. If you’ve got videos, that’s also a great idea.

So I’m speaking to you not only as the nonprofit fundraising manager at Qgiv, but also as someone who participated in a recent peer-to-peer event. And one thing that was really helpful for me is that the nonprofit that I was fundraising for took a few additional steps to motivate us to build out our pages. One of the most helpful strategies for me personally was they showed us past event pages. They had all kinds of examples of stories and images that past fundraisers had used. This picture on the right is an example of one of the posters that a team built out to share with their friends and family, and they built their whole page with this like “Guardians of the Galaxy” vibe which is a great . . . gave me lots of ideas.

Another thing you could try if you have a team-focused event like ours was, you can try creating a sense of really friendly competition between your participants. I know, for me, it was a lot harder for me to put off personalizing my page when all of the other teams were working on theirs. So I know not every event is team-based, but that’s a good tip for those of you who do have team-based fundraising events. Some other strategies you might want to try include giving participants really strong, solid inspiring impact statements. That can do two things. One, it gives them content idea for their page, but it also helps speak directly to your participants about how the money they raised is actually going to make a difference. So they’ll be more motivated to actually participate and, two, they’ll have some good content ideas for their pages.

You can also try encouraging them to build-out their pages by focusing on connecting them to your mission. So, if you have a small group of volunteers or supporters, this could include things like facility tours or volunteer opportunity. They’ll be more invested in raising money for you if they have actually spent time with you and have seen the work that they are supporting in real life. So, if you have a larger group of supporters, and you can’t really do a facility tour or something like that, try sending them videos about your clients and how your clients will benefit from the services that they are helping support with their fundraising activities.

In real life the nonprofit I worked for last year did a great job. We were a small group, so we got to go on a facility tour of the clinic we were supporting and got a firsthand look at how their programs benefited the community. And then, they also gave us some of those impact statements that I mentioned here. We could make our fundraising pages a lot more powerful by sharing statements about how our donors are making a difference. So I could say, “Hey, Mom, your $58 gift could pay for patients’ clinic visit. Or, “Hey, Nana, a $275 gift will pay for dental services for someone in need.” So those two steps providing impact statements and connecting your participants with the mission will help boost your fundraising overall.

So here’s your first big takeaway, help your participants build their pages. Give them the resources they need to do a good job. And then, get them excited about participating with you. If you can, if you’ve done past events, show them examples of past pages that performed really well. If maybe you have run this event a few years in a row, show them the past top participants’ pages so they can get ideas that have worked. And then, fundraisers will direct their friends and their families to these participating fundraising pages when they ask for support. So getting these pages built-out should really be the first activity you prioritize with your participants.

The second key behavior we found in successful peer-to-peer participants is sending fundraising emails. And this behavior has one of the most dramatic impacts on a participant’s overall success. So between 2 and 11 times more, is kind of the rate here. Your participants can either double or more than double their fundraising just by sending these fundraising emails. The problem is that your participants face two major hurdles when they’re asked to send fundraising emails. One, your participants are super busy. And sending fundraising emails requires a lot of time and a lot of thought, and it is really easy to just put them off and think like, “Oh, I’ll send out that email later.” And I can attest to that. I did it myself.

And the second big obstacle is that your participants often don’t know how to send fundraising emails. They’re not as familiar with fundraising as you are. You might know fundraising best practices and the best way to ask people for support, but that is a big scary task for people who have never done it before. Luckily, you can help beat those problems and make it more likely your participants will actually send those emails. One step you can take is to help them get started with their fundraising emails. So give them templates and give them ideas that can make sending an email less intimidating. Those templates could be really simple so they can just use them as a starting point for their emails. You can upload that template as a resource, you can include it in your toolkit, you can have it built into your fundraising platform. However you choose to do it, just get your participants some templates they can use.

If you can, give your participants the option of scheduling emails in advance. That’s hugely helpful. Your participants might not have time to sit down and send a new fundraising email every week, but they might have time to sit down and build a couple of emails from a template and then schedule them to go out. And then, of course, regardless of how many templates and ideas and scheduling tools you give them, the number one thing you can do to get your participants to actually send fundraising emails is to make yourself available if they get stuck. Sometimes, all people need to kind of get that boost in the right direction is an encouraging word or knowing someone that has their back.

Here’s a glimpse of what this can look like. The email on the right was sent after the nonprofit I was working with sent us a reminder about an upcoming event. In that reminder, they encouraged us to send emails to our friends and family. This email, in particular, was written from a template the nonprofit provided. This participant’s name is Alice, only had to tweak the name of her team and her name, and I think her teammate’s name. And then she just dropped in a quick photo before she sent this out. She told me the whole process took about five minutes, which is ideal. And all of us had these templates handy, which made sending these emails way easier than it would have been if we had had to do these from scratch.

Oh, I don’t know where my text went. Oh, here it is. The big takeaway here is to take steps to make it as easy as possible for your participants to actually send these emails. This is still one of the most effective fundraising methods for peer-to-peer fundraisers. So anything you can do to encourage more email fundraising will pay off. So give your participants templates. Give them tips. Give them best practices that will take the intimidation out of fundraising, and will make the process a little less time consuming. So whatever that looks like for your organization, be sure you make yourself available and send kind of a gentle reminders to participants about sending these emails and supporting them if they have questions about how to do it.

This is really interesting. Based on your unique participant base, you might find that your fundraisers are more likely to share on social media than they do through email. And that can actually be really helpful. We know email inboxes are super crowded. I think the last time I checked the average individual in America got 120 emails a day. Having your participants active on social media can really reinforce the asks that they’re sending their email as well. And, honestly, social media activity really does pay off. Most peer-to-peer campaigns can attribute between 15% and 18% of all of their revenue to people who were referred to their campaign from Facebook alone. And that number goes up to around 21% when you include all social media platforms. Research has shown that participants who post every five days or so consistently outperform participants who post less frequently. So every five days or so is really your sweet spot.

So the question then, of course, is how do you encourage your participants to post to social media every five days or so? And the answer is very similar to the answer to the previous problem, offering templates and post ideas just like you did with emails is really helpful, and so is encouraging your participants to get creative with their fundraising so they have tons of great stuff to share on social media. The two posts that I have here are posts from the event I participated in last year, and I wanted to use them to highlight a couple of these best practices. So, for one, two of our teams, mine and another friend of mine held happy hours, where proceeds went to our fundraisers. And the staff at the nonprofit, were really helpful in supporting us as we publicized these events. They liked and shared all of our posts. They even made sure that they had staff present at each of our events. And as a fundraiser, it was really great to have that kind of interaction and support from the nonprofit itself. It meant the world to us.

So getting people creative and then supporting them as they do get creative and as they do spread the word about your event is a huge step towards getting people really active on social media. One, it shows your participants that you see them and you appreciate the work they’re putting into raising money for you. And then it also shows potential donors that you are willing to invest in the people who support you.

So, here, the big takeaway is to encourage social posting. If you want to raise money, get people posting on social media. Get them started with templates and give them ideas in case they get stuck. But make sure you encourage them to get creative and to kind of think outside the box. You could be amazed at some of the cool stuff your supporters come up with. And then whatever people post, take time to interact with them. If your participants are sharing your event or having fundraising events or asking people for support, like or share or comment on those posts. Your participants will feel like you appreciate them and that will make them more willing to continue to stay active on social media.

This section is my favorite. I love the psychology behind why donors and participants do what they do. And we found this fun little psychological hack you can use to encourage people to stay involved throughout the entire fundraising period. Just for clarity, I want to tell you that the badges that I’m referencing on this slide are part of the Qgiv system. And we looked at the correlation between badges earned and the amount a participant raised. But really, this can apply to all milestones in general, not just badges. So, when I say badges here, just insert milestones.

We found that generally, the more badges the participant earned, or the more milestones a participant reached, the more they raised overall. And that seems like kind of a no-brainer. But the difference is really dramatic. Someone who earned even one badge or met one milestone raised more than $300 on average. And the average person who didn’t work to earn a badge or reach a milestone raised around $90. And $90 is nothing to sneeze at, but would you rather have $90 from a participant, or a little over $300? I’m not you, but I can make a guess.

So what does this mean? Once we dug around in the data for a while, we were able to conclude that participants are more motivated to stay engaged in a fundraising process if they have different incremental goals or milestones to reach. We are hardwired, as human beings, to meet goals. So, without getting super sciency on you, I’ll tell you why. When we meet a goal, our brains release a chemical called dopamine, and our brains love dopamine. And they release even more dopamine if we get a reward or a recognition for meeting the goal that we reached.

Working toward these incremental milestones is also a lot less intimidating than working toward one big goal. So, if you tell me that you want me to raise $2,000 for you, that can seem kind of intimidating, and I might even be put off or discouraged from getting involved at all. But asking me to raise $50 is a lot more manageable. And then, from there, you can move me to raising $100 and then $300. And those incremental goals feel much more achievable than the one big goal. Moving your participants from milestone to milestone is a really great way to keep them working toward the overall big goal.

So the incremental milestones are useful. They are even more useful if you reward participants for meeting those goals. And those rewards don’t have to be crazy. Those rewards could be as simple as a digital badge or a shout out on Facebook, or you could tie prizes to them, like awards, trophies, raffle tickets, whatever you decide is a good fit for your event.

I included this graphic of a nonprofit’s peer-to-peer leaderboard because of a story I heard when I was participating in last year’s event. Here, you can see the team CleoSWANtra, is tens of thousands of dollars ahead of their competition. They ended up raising more than $28,000 because they were absolutely furiously bound and determined to have the top fundraising badge. The team captain for CleoSWANtra was on a trip to Italy during part of the fundraising period, and he was up sending fundraising emails in the middle of the night so people in the States would get them during the day when they were likely to make a donation. It was absolutely wild. I’ve never seen anyone this dedicated to getting a badge before and it absolutely paid off. Not everyone is going to be, like, rabidly excited about getting a digital badge, but you never know, some people might be.

So, if you want to keep your participants engaged throughout the whole fundraising process, give them incremental milestones to work toward. Then, recognize and reward your participants for meeting those milestones. Keeping your participants moving from one small, achievable milestone to the next can make the fundraising process seem a lot less intimidating to your participants, especially if you’re asking them to raise substantial amounts of money. And remember, not all of your rewards or recognition pieces have to be expensive or even tangible. These examples here on the right came from the event I participated in last year. And the biggest recognition, I mean, we got little like medals, but the biggest recognition piece that people were most excited about was having their picture up on the website, and that didn’t cost the organization anything.

So here is kind of a quick recap of everything I just threw at you. I know it was a lot of information. Participants who personalized their fundraising pages raise substantially more than those who don’t, so help them out. Encourage your supporters to start work on their pages shortly after their registration. You want to get people engaged in doing that in the first five days. And then, put together resources they’ll need to do a good job. One of the resources you could give them should always be a point of contact with someone who can help them if they have problems or questions. Some other good resources you might want to give them are images, so maybe event flyers or images you use in your own marketing that they can share. Videos, if you have them. Give them impact statements and talking points they can use to make a good appeal. Those will be helpful on their own pages and it’ll be helpful in their emails and their social posts.

Sending fundraising emails is another key fundraising method, so take pains to equip your participants to email their friends and family. Anything you can give them to make sending those emails easier and less time consuming will be helpful and will help them and you raise more money. Remember, they have probably never raised money before. Be ready to help them out. Give them email templates and some best practices.

One thing that I would suggest is giving them some subject lines. In those emails that you send them, give them some subject lines they can try. Writing subject lines is an art, and you, as a professional fundraiser, probably know how to do it better than your participants. Send maybe suggestions or nudges here and there encouraging people to send to some fundraising emails as you move up to the event or to the end of the fundraising period. Whatever you do, do anything you can to get them to send those emails.

And then encourage social posting. Statistically, about 21% of your peer-to-peer dollars will come to you from participants’ social posts, so you can increase your fundraising dollars by encouraging your participants to share on social media. Just like with email, it’s really good to help them out here by offering tools similar to the email tools we looked at. Those social media templates are going to be huge. Examples are going to be really important, especially for people like me who are worried about doing something wrong. Give them posting timelines and ideas. Get them excited about sharing their progress. And then, make sure you dedicate some staff time to participating with those posts. You want to keep your participants engaged by showing them that you appreciate the work they’re putting in for you.

And then finally, work on setting incremental milestones that are keeping your participants active. I’m sure if you are doing a peer-to-peer event that you have already set an overall goal and you’ve probably determined some individual and team goals. If you come up with smaller incremental goals, those big goals will be less intimidating and feel more reachable. Asking someone to raise $2,000 is a big ask. Guiding them from milestone to milestone, though, can make that fundraising much less intimidating. And this is especially effective when you tie recognition and incentives to your milestones. So show your participants that you’re invested in their success and they will be more invested in helping you succeed, too.

That being said, I have time for questions. And then, if you are interested in learning more about best practices for online, like, peer-to-peer fundraising, this link will take you to an e-book that the team and I wrote on peer-to-peer fundraising and how to market it and then get your participants excited about engaging with you. I think that’s it.

Steven: Nice. I love free e-books.

Abby: Yeah.

Steven: That was awesome, Abby. Good tips there. That was nothing but tips. That was awesome. I was sitting here, you know, when you were talking about the fourth cornerstone, I don’t know if we’ve ever talked about this, but I’m like this huge gamification geek and like, folks, everything she said about like the feedback mechanisms and those badges like, I read a book on this, it’s by Jane McGonigal. It’s about gamification, and I think all of you should read it because there are so many applications to fundraising, like these weird feedback mechanisms can really encourage people. And I think peer-to-peer is like the pioneer of this and it’ll be kind of the starting point and maybe it’s spreading to other fundraising places. So that was awesome. That was really good stuff.

Abby: Well, one thing that was kind of funny. So I was actually worried that this part this was going to be too long. So, until recently, I thought you only had a half hour webinar, not an hour, so I cut a bunch of stuff out. And one of the stories that I cut out, is one of my favorite stories. So in the Qgiv system, there is a top fundraiser badge. And we recently had a client tell us that two people on their board were raising money during a peer-to-peer event. And those two board members were vying for the top fundraiser badge, and they got in trouble. Like, they got called out in a board meeting because they had their iPads out, like under the table and we’re hard refreshing the platform to see, like, who had it at the moment. And these are like grown-ups. They’re not, you know, like, goofy Gen Z fundraisers who were super stoked on their iPads or whatever. They’re, like, older, they’re like, professionals who have real jobs and stuff, and they were very into this badge and they got called out at a board meeting because they were fighting about who is the better fundraiser. People get very into it.

Steven: That’s amazing.

Abby: Dude, it’s so good. We hear so many stories like this. People get wacky with these digital badges.

Steven: Yeah, I just put in the chat the book I was talking about.

Abby: Oh, good. Yeah.

Steven: It’s $9. I think all 100 of you should buy it. And if you don’t like it, Bloomerang will reimburse you because there are so many reasons why peer-to-peer works. And this book is not about fundraising, but it gets to the psychology of everything that Abby just said, like why those . . . even not just for the fundraisers, but for the donors as well, how that works.

Abby: Oh, yeah. So this is another little personal anecdote. I have some co-workers who are participating in a peer-to-peer event. And it’s a running event. I don’t do running at all. I won’t participate, but I’ll donate. And I saw that our team was, like, I don’t know, like $70 away from meeting their goal. And I made an additional $30 donation after I’d already given once because they were so close to their goal. Donors get super stoked about the momentum leading up to the end. So some of the appeals that people were putting out when I was participating, like, “Hey, I’m $30 away from getting the top fundraising badge. Will you help me out?” And then people would just inundate them with, like, $10 gifts. It was awesome. People get very into it.

Steven: Oh, yeah. And that’s kind of why like the thermometer, you know, whether it’s a thermometer or not, but some kind of visual gauge of how close it is to the goal. I mean, that’s sort of the root of all this, right?

Abby: Oh, yeah. Totally. Those, and we also do leaderboards. So one kind of funny tool that we’ve seen work really well is there’s . . . I mean, there’s a leaderboard for teams and individuals, but there’s also a donor leaderboard. And some nonprofits choose not to use that, which I totally understand. But I’ve seen, again, like grown men try to beat their friends by making a larger gift than their friends did because they wanted their name on the leaderboard. So people are very funny in what motivates them, and the psychology behind it is one of my favorite things. But, again, watching grown men compete to make a bigger gift just makes me so happy.

Steven: I love it. Well, we got some questions coming in. We’ve probably got about 12 minutes for questions. I thought I’d kind of kick one off, if you don’t mind, Abby, since it’s my webinar series after all. I’m going to pull rank here, but then I’ll get everybody else’s questions, because I’ve been thinking about this. Who should organizations ask to do these fundraisers? Like, who should the people be? Because I feel like it’s board members and employees or coworkers. Like that’s kind of an obvious one. But what about like . . . what have you seen people do? Is it like loyal donors or active volunteers or have you seen kind of branching out beyond just organization employees?

Abby: Yeah. I’ve seen a couple of things work really well. So the answer that I would say is the most infuriating answer and it’s it depends. It really depends on what your goal is. So the event that I participated in last year is a community-wide awareness raising event. So their strategy is to get a very small group of very dedicated fundraisers involved instead of having a lot of people. So, every year, Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, which is the organization I worked with, asks 20 community leaders to participate. And they are really intentional about who they ask. So they asked people who are involved in the community. They ask people who are comfortable with using social media. And they asked people who are kind of like personable, like, “I’ll send a fundraising email. That’s not a problem.” So that’s one way you could go.

Steven: Okay.

Abby: If you want to have a very small, very visible group of fundraisers participating in an event, I would be really intentional about who you reach out to. Make sure it’s people that do have social networks that they can ask for support from. And people who are pretty familiar with the community and what the community needs are. Another strategy I’ve seen work out really well is similar to the event that my coworkers are participating in right now. It’s a much larger event, it’s a 5K. So they focus on getting a lot of people registered. So what they’ll do first is they’ll often choose people who are highly active with them on social media, because those people are already used to engaging with them on that platform.

Steven: That makes sense.

Abby: They’ll recruit those people ahead of time and get them started first. So that’s a strategy that I see a lot. If you reach out to people who are familiar with your cause, they’re already engaging with you on social media, maybe they’ve been a client of yours in the past, those are all people who have a solid understanding of who you are and are already engaging with you on a digital platform, and that can make getting started a lot easier. And then from there, you can ask them to recruit people, ask them to get involved with maybe helping their teammates fundraise, or generally just kind of raising the fundraising bar. So those are two strategies I would suggest.

Steven: That makes sense given all you said about the importance of posting on social media. What was it? Like 20% is going to come from the social media followers of the person fundraising?

Abby: Yeah, as in on average, about 20% of any fundraiser. In any peer-to-peer fundraiser about, 20% of those dollars will come from some form of social media.

Steven: Kind of thought it would be a little higher. That’s interesting, but I guess if they’re doing a lot of email.

Abby: The email is still really far and away the most successful fundraising tactic, which I thought was kind of dumb. I was like, “Why do you want to do that?” But I mean, when Jeremy, our data scientist, like, “No, people who send fundraising emails raise way more.” I couldn’t argue with him.

Steven: There you go. The data don’t lie.

Abby: I know. Yeah, so there’s that.

Steven: Cool. So we’ve some questions from the group here. One from Michaela, do you see a drop in engagement if there are too many participants on one team? In other words, can too many fundraisers maybe be a bad thing and kind of maybe cannibalize each other perhaps? What do you think?

Abby: So I don’t have any data looking at that specifically. I do know that we do have some data showing that the more teams there are, the more competition there is and the more money is raised. That does hit a threshold, but the number you’re looking at for the threshold is just astronomical. You have to have like several thousand people participating. When it comes to individual team members, I want to say like it might cannibalize things. Like, I know at Qgiv, we’re participating in the 5K, so one of the number one places you ask for donations is from coworkers, so we can all only donate so many times to support so many people. So I would have two suggestions. I would either limit the number of people that you allow on a team or be really proactive about getting your teammates or your team members thinking about ways they can reach out to friends and family in a way that doesn’t necessarily overlap with your teammates. So that is totally anecdotal. I don’t have any data to support that, but I can see that being an issue, and that’s how I would suggest trying to work around it.

Steven: That makes sense, because it seems like people would have their own unique networks with maybe a little crossover. But I’m thinking of like the Bloomerang employees. There’s 120 of us and, I mean, I’ve got to believe that we would all be touching 10,000 people or more with, maybe less than 100 or so overlap, but, again, no data to back it up.

Abby: Yeah, for sure. I know here in town, like Lakeland is a small town . . .

Steven: That would make a difference.

Abby: . . . and we might overlap a little more, but I don’t know. I still think we could make a pretty effective push. The one thing that I would kind of caution against is we have seen because the number of teams is correlated to the amount raised, you might have a harder time encouraging friendly competition between teams if you had two or three huge teams instead of 15 or 16 smaller teams. And, again, totally anecdotal. But it might be easier to encourage competition if there are more people to compete against.

Steven: Right. Okay, cool. Here’s an interesting one from Sonia. Sonia, I hope I’m pronouncing your name correctly. Forgive me if I’m not. Very good question. Do you think it’s in poor taste to use some of those feedback things like badges on maybe tribute or memorial fundraising pages? Do you think that maybe that might be in . . . depending on the tone of the fundraising campaign, should people be a little careful with that?

Abby: Yep.

Steven: Okay.

Abby: I would be appalled if I was raising money in memorial for my grandma and thought like, “Hurray. You’re our top funder.” Like that would be mortifying to me.

Steven: Okay.

Abby: Yeah, I think there are other ways you can incentivize or reward people for participating in that kind of event, but I certainly wouldn’t do it with a badge. Maybe that you could do something a little more personal because they’re fundraising for a very personal reason. Maybe sending them an email when they hit a certain milestone saying like, “Thank you so much. You’ve helped accomplish this. And this is how you’re making an impact in the world.” I would do something like that. I would probably not do a badge, obviously. I probably wouldn’t do a social media callout that. Because it is such a private, personal, emotional matter, you would definitely want to approach that very differently.

Steven: Okay. I like it. Here’s one from Cindy, my buddy, Cindy. Hey, Cindy. You said social media posts should be about every five days, what about emails, how often are people sending out those emails? You said that email is kind of big driver. Is that pretty frequent?

Abby: I don’t have a ton of data around that either handy. But, yeah, I would say those fundraising emails could go out as often as once a week or so, but that is going to depend so much on the network of people that your fundraisers are reaching out to. And, I mean, having a best practice around that is kind of hard. One thing I would encourage is just like we encourage nonprofits, like, send an appeal and then wait a little while, well, you don’t want to just send like five or six appeals in a row. You might want to send like updates and what you’re working on and what the money you’ve raised will accomplish. So, when you’re thinking through getting your participants to send fundraising emails, I would also maybe give them a template for like an update. So, when you’re messaging Aunt Darby for the third time in a month, you’re not just asking her for money every time.

Another thing that you could do is have them ask close to important, like, timeline milestone, so maybe a week out from the event itself. If you’re doing an event-based fundraising campaign, you could say like, “Hey, you’re a week out. Now is a great time to reach out to friends and family.” So I think if you’re giving your fundraisers cues about when to send those fundraising emails, you won’t have to worry as much about them overloading. But I also don’t know that . . . I don’t think that nonprofit participants in this way are going to potentially, like, over ask the way they might on social. I know I post on social way more than email. So, [inaudible 00:43:39].

Steven: Yeah. And email, there are things you can do like, didn’t open the last email or opened it and didn’t click it. Maybe you could change those things up, whereas social, you can’t really do anything like that.

Abby: Right. So I know, just anecdotally and personally, I posted on social media about my fundraising way more than I sent emails. So if any anything, you can give people like a suggested calendar for posting emails, and then send them those little reminders like, “Hey, now would be a super great time to send an email.” So you can keep them kind of on-point that way.

Steven: Wow. Interesting. Very cool. I love this stuff. I got time for a few more questions. If you haven’t asked one, now’s your chance. Here’s one from Andrew. Hey, Andrew. That’s my buddy Andrew from Maryland. Based on your research, are older donors versus younger donors, better at peer-to-peer? Have you seen any age, demographics sort of breakouts into this? You were telling a story of some older donors who really get into it. So does this kind of transcend age?

Abby: Yeah. Again, it depends really heavily on your base. So I actually just wrapped up a study on the way generational donors prefer to interact with nonprofits. Predictably, the people who were most comfortable with participating in a peer-to-peer fundraiser are younger people. Let’s see if I can find . . . So Gen X, millennials and Gen Z donors are willing both to donate and then to participate. We saw a little bit of a split with Baby Boomer generations. So they were kind of ambivalent about participating, and I didn’t have the ability in this study to really drill down into how old individual survey respondents were. But I would hazard a guess and say that older Baby Boomers are less likely to participate than younger Baby Boomers. But all Baby Boomers and even their parents and the Greatest Generation are very willing to donate to peer-to-peer events.

So I know that as a general rule, people on the younger end of the Baby Boomer spectrum are very active on social media. They’re the fastest growing demographic on Facebook. They’re super comfortable posting and they’re generally very tech savvy. So, if you are going to pursue Baby Boomer donors, I would look at the younger groups. But as a general rule, your most active participants will be on the younger end of things and then your most active donors, your participants, are going to be Boomers.

Steven: Okay, I love it. What about acknowledging? Here’s one from Andrea. Have you done any research on the success of sending out physical letters? She saying they have an older donor base and they think they may be more likely to do this over email and social. So I think this is kind of a multi-channel question, right? Like, this is a digital campaign. But the research I’ve seen is multi-channel is good and that you don’t need to thank in the same channel as the acquisition. What’s your guys’ take on that?

Abby: I have very strong feelings about this.

Steven: Yeah, let’s do it.

Abby: Because I just did a study. So one of the most baffling findings in this study was that Baby Boomers, as a whole, preferred to give by check, and then get an email receipt, which doesn’t make a lick of sense to me. I don’t understand. I actually think I laughed out loud when I saw that like breakout because it doesn’t . . . like it just does not compute to my Millennial brain. I don’t get it. That being said, there is certainly a way that you can take advantage of this.

So, depending on the time frame of your fundraising event, I don’t know that sending out a direct mail appeal is going to be very useful purely because one, it can take a while to get things through the mail. You have to design the thing, you have to get it out, they have to write a check, which I don’t even know if I can write a check anymore. I don’t know how, send it back.

Steven: Me either.

Abby: Like, it’s a whole thing. But one thing that is very interesting is that we saw fantastic results in the event I participated in with having individual in-person events. So my fundraising team, I was on a team with my husband. We had that happy hour that I showed earlier. And a lot of the people who showed up were Baby Boomers and older.

So Nana might not want to hop on Facebook and donate to me but she’ll give me a check when she sees me in person, and then I can track that. And she’s probably going to be fine with getting an email receipt and an email acknowledgement. My parents, who are Baby Boomers, gave me cash. They didn’t want to donate online. They wanted to just give me the money and I would handle it, and that’s fine. So I would make sure that your participants know how to handle cash and check donations, and I would also say that, as a general rule, the people who are giving you cash and checks donations, don’t mind getting an email receipt.

And in that study, I know, Steven, you and I have talked about donor retention and how donors want their receipts right away and they want an acknowledge right away. Our Baby Boomer donors indicated that they expected their receipts within a week to a month of making a gift, which blew my mind because I’m so used to like people wanting their donation immediately.

So, one, make sure your donors or your participants know what to do with cash and check donations, and then have a system in place to thank them over email. And, I mean, nobody is going to say no to like a handwritten thank you note also. Like, mail acknowledgments are fantastic. But as a general rule, people are going to be okay with getting an email receipt after the fact.

Steven: I have an unsubstantiated theory on our generation because you and I are pretty close in age. You don’t have to say your age on a live webinar, but I’m 35 and . . .

Abby: I’m 32.

Steven: You’re thirty-two. Okay, so we are old millennials. And I think that if we donate online, I think a handwritten note or a phone call acknowledgement, like, an analog acknowledgement, really stands out, because everything else we get is digital, right? I mean, your inbox has probably been piling up as you’ve been sitting here for an hour talking about this, and so is mine. You know, even the mail we get is usually a solicitation. But I think in a digital world that really stands out if you go the extra mile. And it may not even be that much of an extra mile to just send out a little thank you note.

Abby: Oh, yeah. I’m going to tell you two things that you’ll like. One, I meant to say it earlier and I forgot it. One thing we found a lot is that people are more and more looking for analog updates, but they’ll go online to donate. So a young Baby Boomer will get a direct mail appeal and then go online to give, which I think is awesome.

Steven: Yeah, multi-channel. Right.

Abby: Yeah, multi-channel. The other thing is a testament to the power of that analog acknowledgement. I mean, you and I work for tech companies. I mean, I exist on screens, and so do most of my co-workers. And a co-worker of mine made a donation to an animal shelter, and the next day got a phone call from the CEO thanking her for her gift. And she got that call while she was at work. And 15 minutes later, everybody in the building knew that this guy had called her because . . .

Steven: It’s so rare.

Abby: It is so rare. I mean, I have nonprofits that I’ve supported for years that I’ve never gotten more than like an automatic thank you email. If they called me, I would lose my mind. So that thing makes a huge difference. Oh, this is another big tip for peer-to-peer fundraisers. I mean, you, of course, are going to want to reach out to your donors. But if you can get your participants to thank the people who supported you, that’s huge. I donated to a girl’s peer-to-peer fundraiser and she sent me a handwritten note after the fundraising period had concluded. And then, I got a thank you note from the organization itself, and I still donate to that organization, just because like it made such an impression when I got a thank you from both people.

Steven: Well, that’s a really good point because you may have not even known what that organization is, right?

Abby: Oh, I didn’t. Yeah

Steven: Yeah, I mean, that’s a big thing. We should talk about this for another hour if you want to hang on, if you’re not busy, Abby. But it seems like it’s a friend that’s being supported most of the time. I mean, there’s maybe a slight awareness of what the organization does occasionally, but these donors they may not necessarily care about you yet. So the most valuable piece of advice I’ve heard all hour is to involve that person raising the money. Wow.

Abby: Yeah, that’s huge. And I know that that is something that is the cause of a lot of conversation and debate in the peer-to-peer world. Donor retention with peer-to-peer fundraising is tough because very often, a donor isn’t necessarily supporting you. They’re supporting their friend who is supporting you. And so having a system in place to get those donors engaged is very hard and requires a lot of strategy. And I think that’s a huge piece is helping your participants think and inform their friends and family members about the cause that they’re supporting. And the difference that you, as a donor, make by giving to them. I think that’s huge.

Steven: Last thing, Abby, what about thanking the fundraiser? That seems like something we don’t want to miss either. We talked a lot about the donors, but . . .

Abby: Oh, my God. Yeah, thanking the fundraiser is tremendous. There are lots of ways to do it. I’ll share a couple things that I’ve seen work really well. So I participated in this peer-to-peer event last year. It’s a Lakeland Swan Derby. We do it every year in town. It’s a huge deal. It’s a total, like, it’s a mess. It’s so good. I love it. Every year, it’s a spectacle.

Steven: I’m looking at pictures of it now. This is ridiculous.

Abby: Oh, yeah. So, for the Swan Derby, you have 20 people. They call them the Leaders of Polk, and those people raise money for the overall event. It’s for a local Volunteers in Medicine clinic. And after you participate, they do a couple of things. So we got consecutive emails after the fundraising period had ended. And the nonprofit Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine did a couple of really significant things. They thanked us for our involvement and for the time that we put . . . Oh, yeah. Oh, Lord.

Steven: That’s great.

Abby: Yeah, they thanked us for the time and effort we put into it. They told us how much we raised. They really emphasized how much our money actually accomplished. So they are able to kind of amplify the amount of money they’ve raised through a lot of donated goods. So if we raised, I don’t know. I think we raised like, $1,500. If you raised $1500, you provided almost $5,000 in medical care. So they drove that home a lot. So we felt like they appreciated us and we knew what we had accomplished.

A few weeks later, they reached out to us and offered us access to this club, and I don’t remember what it’s called. But this club is exclusively for people who have participated in the Swan Derby in the past and maintained an annual giving level. I mean, it’s reasonable. It’s an annual giving level of like $200 to $400. And if you’re part of this club, which they make feel exclusive, which is very attractive to people, you get invited to things like more appreciation events, you can do facility tours. And they have like meet-ups around town, so you get to be part of that. And then, they also gave each team a shadowbox plaque. And it’s very simple. It’s just a framed matted picture of the event flyer that they do every year, and then a picture of all of us together, everyone who participated. And that is huge. That’s hanging in my office right now. So none of them are expensive. None of them are like over the top, but they remember us and they made us feel seen and appreciated.

And then another thing that really drove things home, we got a survey after we participated that just asked us about our experiences and our feedback and how we would make things better and how else we want to get involved in the in the mission. So they gave us, it’s not just them thanking us, it’s them creating this kind of two-way communication where they were looking for our feedback and ideas. And I think that meant a lot to me at least.

Steven: That’s cool. Wow. I love it. Man, this is fun. This was this is chock-full of tips. Thanks for doing this. Abby. I know you’re super busy and you’re all over the place, but thanks for doing this.

Abby: Oh, no problem. Of course. It’s been really fun. This is something I love, and I’m really excited to be able to share it with people.

Steven: And they were a few questions about Qgiv specifically, so I’ll connect you with those folks, Abby.

Abby: Okay. Perfect.

Steven: But definitely reach out to Qgiv because they’re my number one recommended software for all this and I’ve seen them all, folks. So check out Qgiv. They take care of their folks, too.

Abby: And we love Bloomerang. We do. So, if you guys get to go to AFP or NTEN, stop by. Are you going to be at both? Is Bloomerang going to be at both conferences?

Steven: Oh, yeah, Boomerang will be there.

Abby: All right, so will Qgiv. So come say hello, come hang out. It’s going to be great. Come hang out with us.

Steven: Qgiv has nice T-shirts, too. So, if you need nice, soft t-shirt [crosstalk 00:59:22].

Abby: Oh, yeah, we’ve also got some pretty cool notebooks right now, too.

Steven: Nice [inaudible 00:59:25] swag.

Abby: I’m like hoarding them in my office. I’m pretty sure smart conference girl is mad, she’s like, “How many more do you need?” “At least two more than I have.”

Steven: I love it. Well, we’ve got some good webinars coming up, folks. Next week. My buddy Mandy Pearce is going to talk about some grant writing templates to kind of get you started, so you have to start from scratch when you’re writing all those grant applications. She’s awesome. A grant expert through and through. Same time, same place, Thursday at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Just like this one, totally free, totally educational, and we got some other good sessions coming up in the spring that are really good. So check out our webinar page. You can register for them. And, hopefully, we’ll see you again on another Thursday webinar.

So we’ll call it a day there. Thanks for joining us all of you. Just look for an email from me with the recording, the slides. We’ll send you all those e-books and goodies and stuff. And definitely reach out to Abby and Qgiv if you want to get some more peer-to-peer stuff going.

Abby: [inaudible 01:00:25].

Steven: So we’ll call it a day there. Yeah, have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a good weekend, and we will talk to you again soon. Bye now.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.