Todd Baylis of Qgiv recently joined us for a webinar in which he showed how to determine whether or not a peer-to-peer campaign is the way to go for your organization, and how to make your next P2P campaign successful.

In case you missed it, you can watch the replay here:

Full Transcript:

Steven: Well, Todd, my watch just struck 1:00. Are you okay if I go ahead and kick things off officially here?

Todd: Let’s get it started.

Steven: All right. Cool. Good afternoon, everyone if you are on the East Coast and good morning if you are on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for joining us for today’s webinar, “Best Practices for Peer-to-Peer Fundraising.” My name is Steven Shattuck and I’m the Chief Engagement Officer here at Bloomerang and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.

Just before we begin, I just want to go over a couple of housekeeping items for you. I just want to let everyone know that we are recording this presentation. So, if you want to leave early or if you perhaps want to review the content later on, you’ll be able to do that, have no fear, just look for an email from me later on this afternoon. I’ll be sending out the recording as well as the slides if you did not get those this morning already. So, be on the lookout for that.

As you’re listening today, please feel free to chat in any questions or comments for our guest. We love to keep this as interactive as possible. We would love to hear your thoughts. Don’t be shy about sending questions our way. We’re going to save them all for a Q&A session following the presentation. We’ll save probably the last 10 or 15 minutes for Q&A. So, don’t be shy. We’d love to hear your thoughts there as well.

If you are a Twitter user, if you’re into that kind of thing, we’d love for you to follow along with our hashtag #Bloomerang and our username is @BloomerangTech. And if you are listening today via your computer speakers, if you happen to have any issues at all with the audio, if you can, go ahead and try to dial in by phone. We find that the phone quality is usually just a little bit better. So, if you have any problems, I would try that before you give up completely on us. Just check the email from ReadyTalk and it will have a phone number in there for you.

Just in case this is your first webinar with us, I just want to say an extra special hello and welcome to you. We do these webinars just about every Thursday. They’re always very educational, very informative. We’d love to see you again on a future webinar.

But if Bloomerang is also new to you, we’d love for you to learn more about us as well. We offer some really great donor management software. So, if you’re in the market for that or just want to learn more about Bloomerang, check out our website. You can even watch a short video demo. You don’t even have to talk to a sales person if you don’t want to. Who wants to do that after all? We’d love for you to learn more and we can talk to you hopefully again soon.

But for now I am super excited to introduce today’s guest. He is Todd Baylis. Todd, how’s it going? Thanks so much for being here today.

Todd: It’s going great. I’m glad to be here.

Steven: Yeah. This is exciting for me. Todd was actually here in Indianapolis. He provided a workshop for a nonprofit that I run in my spare time. I thought the content was so great I was like, “Why don’t you come back and do a Bloomerang webinar for us?” And he obliged me in a very kind way. So, I’m very happy to have Todd here. He’s joining us from beautiful Lakeland, Florida.

If you don’t know Todd, you’ve got to follow him. You’ve got to follow Qgiv. He is the President and Founder over at Qgiv, which is an awesome provider of lots of web-based tools for fundraising, including peer-to-peer. He is very active in the nonprofit community in and around Lakeland.

Actually, I’m kind of worried about you, Todd. You do a lot. You serve as the treasurer for the Lakeland Economic Development Council. You’re director for the symphony orchestra there, previously served as director for United Way of Central Florida, the Chamber of Commerce, and you were the pass president of Camp Fire USA Sunshine Council.

So, obviously someone who loves nonprofits, super smart guy, extremely nice guy — it’s really great, Todd, for you to be spending an hour out of your day to teach us all about peer-to-peer. So, I’m going to pipe down and let you take it away, my friend.

Todd: Well, Steven, that was an awesome introduction. I certainly appreciate it and appreciate you all inviting me. I’m excited to be here and talk with everyone a little bit about peer-to-peer fundraising and kind of go through some of the things that I did at Launch Cause, which is up in Indianapolis and talk a little bit from the peer-to-peer side about first why peer-to-peer, kind of what the applications are as well as then some of the various areas and different types of campaigns that you typically see in peer to peer campaigns.

I’ll give some examples of those and then kind of focus in more on just the tangible side of things and talk a little bit about participant engagement as well as some success strategies and different things that we’ve seen throughout our experience working with a lot of our own clients as well as being in the industry and seeing different things. So, hopefully there’s a lot of take home value in those different pieces as you’re going through.

Again, Steven talked about it, but feel free to throw in questions. If something pertains to the existing slide and I can see it, I may answer it during the presentation. So, typically I like presentations when they’re interactive and we can learn from each other. So, hopefully we can try and simulate that in an online environment.

So, a little bit about me — I’m President and Cofounder of Qgiv. I live and work in Central Florida. Lakeland is right between Tampa and Orlando. Qgiv, we work with about 1,800 organizations across the country that raise more than about $100 million through our platform annually. So, we see a wide variety of both year round giving and peer to peer campaigns as we go through that.

A quick thing that we were talking about before the presentation started — I’m married. I have a 14-month old daughter here in Lakeland. My background is actually more technical than it is business side. So, my undergraduate degree was in computer science and then my graduate degree was also in a technology related field. So, from those perspectives, that’s me.

First, I think that it’s always important before we kind of jump into a conversation on peer-to-peer is why — why do we care about peer-to-peer? Then we can kind of talk more into the very specific strategies that go through it.

But why peer-to-peer makes a lot of sense is it’s an effective use of your organization’s influencers. What it really allows them to do is it allows them to introduce you to their audience. So, you have a core set of people that your organization talks to everyday, that knows your story or has been impacted by your organization.

What peer-to-peer allows you to do is more effectively use them than just trying to garner donations from them or from trying to gain volunteer experience. It’s an effective way to let them introduce you to their circle of influence and their friends and their colleagues and then hopefully turn those colleagues into supporters as well.

And the other aspect of peer-to-peer that makes it an effective tool or makes an effective strategy is that it’s other people telling your story. By having that kind of authentic storytelling from people who are not just yourself, so you’re not just the organization talking about the things that you do and how great you are. It’s other people talking about how great you are and how you’ve impacted that. That really builds trust and really deepens your brand as other people tell your story. Again, it’s a more effective way to get that out there and to gain influence.

Plus, it allows you, especially when you look at it strategically and based on your influencers, it allows you to target different audiences than you currently do. It’s highly likely those influencers, those people who you’ve impacted have different networks and different audiences than you do. And it allows you to use them to reach those. Plus, it kind of reduces the supporter and donor fatigue.

I know it’s something especially on a volunteer basis, or even at a board of directors level, people talk about volunteer fatigue and even giving fatigue. This is a way to effectively use those people who know about your organization and care about your organization to fundraise and to kind of push your mission forward.

The other aspect on peer-to-peer is that after the first few years and you kind of build these campaigns, they do become a sustainable source of revenue from year to year. It’s not that you’re necessarily going to, the first you implement it, that you’re going to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars and build this great campaign, but over time, the peer-to-peer events and campaigns tend to build and as you’re initial set of influencers reach out to their networks and their levels of influencers, it expands those people who may come in and participate and work for the organization and the event in the next year. So, that slowly builds both your sphere of influence as well as the fundraising side of things as you go forward.

As we look at it, from peer to peer, there are three structures or three buckets that the types of peer-to-peer events fall into. There are certainly hybrids of these three, but these are kind of how we categorize events as we go through them. The first is the one that I think everybody is very familiar with as you hear it from the Susan G. Komens of the world and the athletic-type events, the ones where there’s a 5k or that are event-driven.

Typically runs, walks or some sort of a-thon event is kind of the most common and I think the original peer-to-peer concept and where it came from. So, there are certain aspects of those kinds of campaigns that are great and there are certain aspects that are more of a challenge that we’ll talk about in a future slide.

The second type is campaign-driven, which is more popularly referred to now as crowdfunding, where it’s really an issue or an appeal-driven campaign and occasionally it’s tied to an existing event. But the actual event is not necessarily the reason for fundraising. We’re fundraising for a particular campaign or for a particular cause and then the event is either a reward or something that is secondary to the actual fundraising component. So, whereas event-driven is more about the event, campaign-driven is more about the fundraising side.

And then kind of a third bucket that we often see and we look through as we’re doing this is called do it yourself. What this is really doing is instead of tying it to an event about the organization, you allow fundraisers to take a personal milestone in their life, whether it’s a birthday or a wedding or an anniversary and allow them to setup a fundraising page in order to fundraise for your organization on behalf of that particular event.

So, the common one is, “Don’t give a birthday present. Donate to this organization and here’s why and here’s why I support the organization and why I’m doing this.” So, that in and of itself is an event or kind of an ongoing event that you as an organization can provide that gives them the tools in order to easily and efficiently do those types of things from a structure perspective.

So, to move into some examples of this just so we can see some of the good things and the bad things about these different types of events or the positives and the challenges. The first example is an event-driven. These are primarily event-focused. Typically there’s a fundraising appeal that’s attached to the end of it. So, people register for the event and they go through and they’re typically prompted to fundraise for the organization after having registered for the event.

The challenge with these is that a lot of times, the participants are not there for the fundraising side or there for the organization, they’re interested in actually attending the event. Typically a lot of times it’s athletic events or a-thon-type events and their event participation is really the key driver for them. So, engagement in terms of trying to get them to guide them through the process and getting them to engage with the fundraising side of the system can be a challenge and often is. It’s a topic of conversation very often for those for the organizations that are running these types of campaigns.

Certainly there’s competitive aspects to these campaigns as there are with any peer-to-peer events. So, thermometers showing progress towards the fundraising goal. Sometimes occasionally those goals are inclusive of the registration numbers or components or different things. But again, typically a competitive piece with some leaderboards for fundraising and those types of those sides.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on event-driven because it’s pretty familiar and I think pretty well-understood by a lot of the market.

Another example is the campaign-driven, where it’s typically fundraising for a particular campaign or a particular cause or different things like that. A lot of times these types of events are hybrid events, where again, you take an existing event — and this is an example of a derby-based event, and to really describe it from a campaign base, what Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, which is actually a local organization that we’ve worked with before is they took an existing event where they . . . swans are a big thing in Lakeland, for those that don’t know. It’s kind of the city bird. There’s a lake here that we’re actually based beside and our office is beside that has hundreds of swans around it and it’s a thing here in Lakeland.

So, what this organization does is they have a swan derby, which is a boat that looks like a swan and people basically race around the lake in these swan boats, which sounds really weird in a lot of ways. At the same time, it’s an extremely successful event that they’ve basically tacked on kind of a side campaign to from a peer-to-peer perspective.

What they did was they recruited about 20 — in this case 20 young people who wanted to support the event from a campaign perspective and support the mission of the organization. They recruited those people to engage with the peer-to-peer system and not only tell their story, but also fundraise for the organization in parallel to the event.

So, what they were able to do is raise about $60,000 for people who weren’t necessarily attending the event, but who supported the campaign and the story that the influencers were talking about. So, that’s an example of kind of more of a hybrid.

Again, another example, Junior Achievement on the bowl-a-thon side. Again, the officers across the country host multiple events a year. I think everyone’s familiar with the bowl-a-thon concept. But they have a different approach to it in terms of they typically recruit companies who then those companies are competitive, both from the event side itself but as well as competitive in the fundraising aspect. So, in essence they allow those employees and people that support the companies and support the organization to register and engage with the fundraising process, if you will.

The final example that we kind of talked about from a peer-to-peer perspective is called DIY or do it yourself. We kind of described that the participant is typically dedicating a life event as a reason for raising money for your charity. In a lot of ways, engagement is important but not as important as it is in an event side. The fundraiser is coming or the influencer, the person is coming to your organization to fundraise for you and that is their sole intent.

So, in essence, the goal of these types of events is basically giving them the infrastructure and the ease of use in order to be able to easily engage with the system and easily fundraise without putting a whole lot of roadblocks or interface issues or different things like that. So, again, this is a type of an event that can be very effective, but also they run year round and they have kind of an artificial timeframe to them.

Benefits of peer-to-peer versus traditional appeals — I’ve touched on this a little bit. We’ve talked about the why. We’ve talked about the how, if you will. So, this is a little bit more of the how and why is really, your influencers telling your story is always more powerful. I touched on that earlier in the presentation. Actually, if you’re using the campaign side of peer-to-peer, it’s more likely that they will engage and tell a powerful story.

So, as you’re thinking through your strategy, as you’re thinking through what your goals are for a particular event, choosing the type of campaign that you’re going to run from a peer-to-peer perspective, actually, this can dictate how you’re going to execute the strategy as well as how you’re going to use your influencers to tell a story.

It’s also — and I think this is an important point — it’s really the top of the funnel development for donors and moves management. So, to use a marketing term, these are leads. So, the people that give to the participants or give to the influencer are the people who are fundraising. Those people may not have a familiarity with your organization other than what that fundraiser and influencer has told them.

So, it’s your job to then take that information and take that contact information and educate them more about the organization through your typical donor engagement process or fundraising process and treat them really as someone who has a very loose understanding of what your organization is, what your mission is and what you’re trying to accomplish. I think research basically shows that people who are giving to participants see themselves as giving to those participants and supporting the participant, not necessarily directly associated with the organization.

So, it’s important for you to take the donors that come through this and the contact information, kind of the introduction that your participants have given and kind of take that relationship to the next level, whether that’s through newsletters or through reach outs, just however you normally would handle that inside of your fundraising process.

They become that next generation of supporters who you want to move up anywhere from turning them into a sustaining giver to a volunteer to planned giving and major gifts as you go through it. So, it’s important to realize that peer-to-peer not only from a fundraising perspective helps but from building your supporter base.

So, I want to talk a little bit about participant engagement and kind of the different things that we’ve seen our successful strategies for driving that engagement. The first thing that I would point out is the foundation for success in these types of events often occurs months or years really before the first participant even engages with the platform.

What we typically see in successful organizations is they’re identifying and recruiting and they’re training their best people and their best influencers offline. So, they are identifying and depending on the size of the event, they’re identifying their top five, ten, hundred, thousand participants and they are approaching them offline and they are recruiting them offline and really telling them the why behind the campaign and what they’re trying to do.

I think that’s similar in a lot of ways to some of the strategies that are employed with social media. A lot of times if you’re trying to tell an influencer that has a million Twitter followers, sending them a direct message is not the way to do it. You want to engage them outside of the platform and engage them in a personal way so they can support your organization through their normal process.

Again, I think it’s important. For those of you that are familiar with Simon Sinek, it’s always important to reinforce the why to participants. So, for those that aren’t familiar with the why and the how and the what, the basic idea is that people are driven by emotions and that they’re really driven to decision making and driven to, in his case what he’s referring to is his purchasing or that emotional feeling. They’re driven by those emotions and feelings to organizations based on the why.

The next layer of that is how. So, we have our why–how do we support that why and then ultimately what are we supporting that why with? So, in order to get to . . . from an organization perspective, that means you’re not necessarily talking about the tools or what it is that you do or the how it is that you are impacting, how your programs are impacting people but why they exist. Large and effective organizations you will see when they enforce a story, they’re a lot of times enforcing the why and then secondarily the how and the what.

I think it’s important when you’re recruiting your participants and your influencers to work in a peer-to-peer campaign is you really need to enforce the why, not necessarily the how, not necessarily the what, but the why they’re participating, why they care about your organization and why they want to continue to support it. I think that helps drive campaigns and helps drive value for the organization.

The other thing that I think we see a lot of that organizations sometimes underestimate is that you have to spend resources and time building the content and the message strategy and all the default communications. Any platform that you work with from a peer to peer perspective will have default content. They’ll have default pages. They’ll have default things.

The message that you build and the content that you put around it and the communications and all that default content needs to be your message. If it’s not, you’re really missing out on an opportunity both for the participants as well as the potential donors that they’re going to be recruiting. You’re missing a key component that’s telling your story and that ultimately is driving people to engage and to give to the organization.

Part of that is also the other side of getting the messaging and the other pieces correct is that from a platform selection really is vital and should always provide ease of use for both the participant and the donors, have the mobile and responsive components and really promote the competition and gamification well as you’re going through a campaign. There are many different platforms out there that can do it and that have varying needs and feature levels. That has to match the size of the campaign as well as the overall goal of the campaign. These are kind of a minimum selection that we see that can often be a problem.

I think the final one for participant engagement is really to be sure to allocate the necessary resources and staff to really plan and manage the campaign, especially when you’re talking with stakeholders, whether that’s the board of directors or volunteer committee or fundraising committee. It really is for a few months, it’s a full-time job to both plan, implement and manage a peer-to-peer campaign.

I think that too often we see . . . a lot of times you see it in events as well, non-peer-to-peer events, is that the planning pieces are forgotten, especially by boards of directors and by leadership in some of these campaigns. So, it’s important to understand that there is a hidden component that is staff time that needs to be allocated appropriately and needs to be part of the campaign as you’re going through it.

So kind of moving on to some much more specific strategies as we’re going through this and things again that we see that are part of effective campaigns as we continue to work with clients. I think the first is always provide a sense of urgency and a deadline of some sort. I’ll show you in a little bit something that supports that and probably makes a lot of sense. But I think inherently humans are procrastinators. So, providing that sense of urgency and a deadline of some sort, both for your influencers as well as the donors actually is a piece of the campaign that makes a lot of sense.

In the first, when it’s an event-driven peer-to-peer campaign, it makes a lot of . . . it’s kind of built in because there’s a date that the event is going to occur that kind of builds their own sense of urgency. Inside of the campaign side, sometimes people try and run a campaign, peer-to-peer event where there’s not an event or there’s not really a deadline and they tend to languish because there’s never a call to action and a sense of urgency that’s instilled in those campaigns.

And then similarly in do it yourself, there’s kind of, again, another built in sense of urgency in terms of from the participant who’s going to come in and fundraise for the organization. The date that they select is their date and their sense of urgency.

When I’m doing this presentation, it comes up pretty often like, “What does that mean? How long is appropriate?” and that sort of thing. I think that it’s partially dependent upon your influencers and the people that you’re courting to be your fundraisers. But in general, 60 to 90 days is generally a good deadline of trying to start a campaign and driving to a goal and consequently 60 to 90 days in the beginning on the planning side, again, depending on the size of the event and what you’re trying to do and accomplish with it. Those are, I think, some guidelines that have come out of conversations as well as other times that I’ve done this presentation and worked through that.

I guess to that point is expect the procrastination to minimize its effect. What I mean by that is lean on your influencers and recruit them. As I said, recruit them offline. We’ve seen successful organizations that actually will kind of do a registration party, if you will, where they take their influencers offline again, maybe something as simple as at 5:00 on a Thursday, provide drinks and bring everybody into a room for an hour or two to get them into the system, to get them signed up to send their first email and get them basically comfortable with the system that they’re going to be using to fundraise. Then again, emphasizing dates and kind of helping to instill that sense of urgency into them as they’re beginning to engage with the platform. Again, using both the online sense of urgency as well as the offline recruitment is kind of vital as you’re looking through this.

So I think that this is a study that we did that actually reflects that quite a bit. But it also shows some differences between large organizations and smaller organizations. So, what we’re looking at in this graph is the timing study that was done on registrations, both in peer-to-peer as well as just normal event registrations that shows the procrastination in registrants. So, along the x-axis you see the number of days to the event and then the y-axis is the percentage of registrations that are going through for the entire event.

What it shows, I think, as everyone is pretty familiar is that coming up to an event, everybody waits until the last day to register. So, you see a large spike in the last two to three days before an event starts is when people come on and register and again, kind of pushing back to that sense of urgency that people often procrastinate when they’re going through it.

So that’s well known. Everyone knows that. But the interesting thing is that the purple line, which is much steadier, there’s still a spike at the end within the last five days, but it’s a much smoother line, is actually very large events that are done by large organizations.

So I think what the story is telling and we’re kind of inferring a little bit in terms of this may not be — this is correlation, it’s not necessarily causation — what we’re seeing or what we believe the story behind this is that larger organizations tend to have more resources and tend to have a steadier cadence of marketing for the event and a steadier cadence of pushing that appeal and getting the public aware that the event is coming up.

So, because they have those resources and because they have the ability to both plan it and execute it, you see it kind of flattens out their registration side, whereas smaller organizations tend to not necessarily have as many resources and not be able to kind of build that cadence. So, it gets to where you’re a week out from the event and you don’t feel there are enough participants and you all of a sudden drive and there’s a big rush to promote it via social channels or in person and there’s a bit rush to fill those registrations up from an event side and you see the subsequent spike in those registrations.

So, I think it’s a good graph and it’s a good lesson to show that sense of urgency is important, both from the organization side but as well as from an influencer and a participant side and making sure they’re aware of it and the strategy is certainly effective, especially if you can keep that up.

Some more specific strategies that come out of this is, and this is something that we see, I would say, probably the number one thing that we see as a specific strategy that people fall short on is that templates are key to the success of any event. Any platform out there will have . . . we talked a little bit about default content. Every platform out there will have default content for the email appeals that participants or fundraisers can send out to their networks — the default messaging on their personal fundraising pages, the default team invites and the default receding.

Typically in these systems, there are 25 to 30 default pieces of content that really need to be modified and put on message for the organization and support the content. It’s a lost opportunity for a lot of organizations that either don’t have the time or believe the default content is good enough. I think that from our side, from a platform side, we can try and make as great a default content as we can, but we are unable to provide content that’s going to be specific to the organization.

So putting those pieces in place and developing that content as part of that messaging and putting those in can greatly influenced the effectiveness of the campaign and help you control the message that’s being put out by your influencers and that ultimately your potential donors and prospects are seeing.

We’ll go through some examples of this, but another piece of that that comes through is always provide training, whether offline if they’re looking for it, as well as online materials that allow people to understand how to get in and out or how to operate the system or how to engage better with it.

So, a lot of times this comes in the form of getting start guides for the fundraisers in addition to kind of self-guided quests or profile completeness pieces that can be part of some of the various platforms.

So, providing that training and again, giving people the opportunity to learn in whatever way is best for them, whether that’s offline, whether it’s online, whether that’s with guidance or in person is important, especially as they’re engaging in going through a campaign.

Just some examples of some of these resources that we’ve seen that people have used and implemented and that have been successful. This is an example of an overview sheet, which is just a here’s the event, here’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to register. We’re trying to hit a goal. We’re trying to recruit to raise money. It kind of talks a little bit about why. This is an example from a bowl-a-thon. So, again, a fairly simple overview sheet that talks about the organization, the event and a little bit of the why and how even.

A fundraising tip sheet — it’s probably hard to read exactly what some of these things say, but it’s a guide for your fundraisers and your participants to help them understand how to maximize their impact from a fundraising perspective. So, it talks about in this particular one, it happens to talk about personalizing everything.

Again, as I said, the organization needs to personalize the content. The participants should personalize the content as much as possible. That’s what you are looking for as an organization. Even though they should, a lot of times they don’t, but again, trying to drive them to personalize that piece.

It talks about things like asking more than once, either through scheduling fundraising, asks as a fundraising participant or asking multiple times throughout the course of the event. Those are important things to drive up the amount raised by the participant as well as the engagement that they see. It then talks a little bit about joining teams and things like that.

Again, this is just an example of stuff that we’ve seen utilized and pushed and some of these we have templates for that are part of what we do when we’re working with organizations. And then this is just an example again of kind of a standard printable postcard-type format, which I think this is traditional marketing for events and those standards still hold true for peer to peer just as much as they can still hold for events themselves.

Another piece that I think is very important to remember as far as specific strategies go is that badges are a feature that are beginning to become more common, especially as you look through events. They’re pretty simple and pretty effective. For those of you that aren’t familiar what I’m talking about with badges, it’s basically an image that people can achieve or they’re goals or achievements that can be displayed and shared on their personal fundraising page.

So if a participant is the top donor or they’ve raised . . . they’re in the top 25% of donors or they’ve raised more than 20 donations or they’ve graduated up levels. These kinds of levels of achievement, even though they don’t really, from an organization’s perspective, aren’t necessarily anything that’s a cost, but these levels of achievement are things that people strive for.

I think that the best use case and why it’s important sometimes to use badges is that if someone is sitting there and they’re the top fundraiser and it’s the night before the event and they get an email or a notification that says, “Hey, you’re no longer the top fundraiser,” they’re immediately going to attempt to reclaim that status or reclaim that badge. It also drives a sense of urgency and kind of gives levels of achievement that engage fundraisers better and ultimately help them raise more money for the organization and even tell the story more.

Another thing that we’ve seen that’s a specific strategy that kind of ties into badges, it can or it cannot, is offering real life prizes tied to badges or certain fundraising goals, they’re tied to an event. Sometimes this can be something as simple as a VIP lounge if you raise more than $1,000. It can literally be a section where they can go and sit down if it’s some sort of athletic event or something like that.

We’ve seen people do cruises, kind of on the high end in terms of prizes and that’s typically for the top fundraiser of a particular event or a particular campaign. We’ve seen people do even very simple stuff. So, organization swag, so t-shirts, hats, things that you may already have as an organization that can just kind of at certain levels of achievement be small prizes that can help drive fundraisers to not only engage but also to kind of raise more once they do engage.

And the final thing on this slide that I think, again, is something that we’ve seen occasionally and it seems pretty common sense is if someone is fundraising and they’re not attending an event or it’s a campaign-based peer-to-peer event or you’re allowing fundraising in parallel to an actual event, someone who’s just fundraising, please do not charge just to fundraise or participate in the campaign or a DIY peer-to-peer event.

It sounds common sense, but we’ve seen sometimes events, if they’ve been established for a long time and let’s say they haven’t seen as good of growth from a fundraising perspective as they have in the past, sometimes a board member can suggest something like, “Why don’t we just charge the participants $5 apiece and that will make up the gap and grow the revenue base and those sorts of things?”

Ultimately, these are people you’re asking for their support, you’re asking for their time and there’s no hard cost to you as an organization other than the planning components of the event. But as an organization, there’s no cost. So, doing that actually typically causes fundraisers to either kind of roll their eyes or disengage with the platform, which is exactly the opposite of what you’re asking them to do.

While it seems pretty common sense, it’s something that I think that we’ve seen occasionally and definitely kind of a cautionary tale that it’s not an effective strategy and long-term can actually disengage a lot of your influencers and the people you’re asking to support and work for your organization.

Finally, like everything, kind of in closing as we go through some of the pieces, peer-to-peer just like everything in life is a process. Truly building a successful campaign is a multi-year process and requires disciplined execution and I think that’s important to outline, especially to stakeholders and leadership as you’re executing these campaigns is that it’s not an automatic huge revenue source in the first year.

It takes time to build your influencer base and your participant base and it takes time for you as an organization to learn some of the idiosyncrasies of your influencers and your participants and learn how to better engage them and to better set them up for success on the fundraising side.

I think that’s often a misunderstood portion of peer-to-peer is that it is a process and it does take time to work through and, like anything in life, learn from your mistakes and fail on a small level in order to then get better and make sure that those challenges don’t happen again and respond to them.

So I think that’s a very important piece to remember as you’re going through it is that it is a long-term process and it is a commitment as an organization to run it and get better.

So, with that, I guess Steven, I guess we can open it up for questions and see where we’re at form there.

Steven: Cool. Thanks, Todd. That was awesome. I enjoyed listening in. Lots of good tips there. Obviously Todd knows his stuff about peer-to-peer. So, we do have quite a few questions in here. I’m going to kind of roll through them. But Todd, if you don’t mind, I’m going to be selfish, and actually the listeners if you don’t mind, I was going to ask my own question first.

Todd: Fair enough.

Steven: I guess it’s a moderator’s prerogative. Todd, you used a word early on in the presentation – gamification. I know you touched on a little bit about what that is with the badges, but could you kind of explain what that is, the concept of gamification and why it’s so powerful for fundraising especially?

Todd: Gotcha. Yes. Gamification, I mentioned it once and I didn’t really explain it, so that was bad.

Steven: No, no.

Todd: Gamification is basically taking anything . . . it’s basically turning routine tasks into a game. In the peer-to-peer realm, it’s taking fundraising and trying to turn it into a competition and trying to make it more of a game for the participants. So, that often takes the form of completion-type quests, if you will, so finishing your profile, which in peer-to-peer would be uploading your avatar, changing your personal messaging, sending an email, raising your first donation, kind of the, “Hey, you haven’t really completed what you’re trying to do,” kind of a completion quest.

Then on the badge side, it can be built into levels. So, again, kind of just like a videogame. Like a Dungeons & Dragons, I’m a level three wizard. I want to be a level four wizard and kind of upgrading those pieces and turning it into a little bit of a game and giving achievements behind that is effective at not only engaging but driving overall fundraising.

Steven: And it kind of has its roots in like the fundraising thermometer, right? That’s kind of like a very basic form.

Todd: Absolutely.

Steven: It’s kind of like fundraisers sort of pioneered or were early adopters of gamification. The reason I ask is I’m like obsessed with gamification. I bug the Bloomerang developers almost daily about adding gamification elements into Bloomerang. It sounds kind of silly, but it has this really strong psychological effect on people.

Todd: It does.

Steven: Either on people who are observing other people’s achievements and want to catch up, so it’s kind of like that fear of missing out thing, or people getting their own achievements and it’s kind of like a reward so they feel like they want to keep going and get even more points. It’s really powerful.

Todd: You can even do it with badges on more of a Pavlovian scale where it’s random assignment. So, random assignment of badges to particular participants that are within a certain level, almost like a random . . . by random rewards, it actually drives engagement.

Steven: Yeah.

Todd: And drives addiction, actually. It’s how slot machines work.

Steven: Right.

Todd: It’s a way to engage and to get people to become addicted to your organization and fundraise more.

Steven: Yeah. I love it. And if you want to see an example of that, I think the Alzheimer’s Association nationally has a lot of that built into their fundraising because they focus a lot on all the things that Todd talked about. So, if you donate to them, you may see an example. I made a donation to them and it was like, “Here’s your badge for your first donation.” You just kind of have this weird feeling in the back of your mind like, “That feels good. I want to do more.” It’s kind of interesting.

Todd: Yeah.

Steven: Okay. We’ll finally get to other people’s questions. Sorry about that. Mark has a good one. Mark is wondering, “What if your influencers are spread out all over the country? How do you recruit and train them?” This isn’t just something you can do locally, right? You can reach out to beyond just your backyard, I suppose.

Todd: Certainly. I think that maybe if you aren’t able to get to them in person, phone calls or even video conferencing are simple ways to engage them makes sense. Again, kind of out of band of the technology, it could be a personalized email, but it’s not as powerful as calling them and saying, “Hey, we’re going to run this campaign. We’d love you to be involved and you’ll be one of our core group of fundraisers who can help start this event and really help us out. We want you to tell your story.”

That’s more impactful than the email they may or may not . . . they maybe have focused on when they’re reading or different things. So, more than necessarily in person, out of band of kind of the distracting online world can be very, very effective.

Steven: I’m glad you mentioned that. There is an offline component to all this. This isn’t a really powerful digital tool. But what are some other ways that you can kind of integrate offline-type things, like you mentioned phone calls. Is there a way to integrate even maybe direct mail or in person, things like that?

Todd: I think it might be a little more difficult on the campaign side as you’re going through it. But certainly if it’s an event based thing or building that general awareness, yes. I think those can be effective strategies. The challenge is obviously the read rate of mail and direct mail and some of those sorts of things. But certainly it can be part of especially larger events. Trying to build more influence can certainly be part of it.

Steven: Yeah. Here’s a good one from Tracy. Tracy is wondering what the role of board members are in this process. Any tips for Tracy on maybe engaging the board in these types of campaigns?

Todd: We’ve actually seen a lot of success with . . . the board members may be your key group of influencers. Sometime the challenge depends a little bit on the technological savviness of your board members. So, sometimes board members aren’t necessarily as comfortable with technology, especially even a peer-to-peer-type platform and may not quite get it initially. So, I think that’s where a lot of the offline training can come in handy and kind of walking them through and having staff there as a resource to help them fundraise and to help them send the first batch of emails through the system or kind of help them engage.

So, typically yes, not only . . . I guess it depends a little bit of the size of the organization, but a smaller organization, I think your board is probably your most engaged set of influencers who you’d certainly want to engage in that first round of fundraising and we’ve seen organizations be very effective at purely board-led peer-to-peer events.

Steven: Yeah.

Todd: As you get to a larger organization, they tend to become more staff driven or more supporter and volunteer driven, but certainly that’s a great group of people who obviously understand the mission and understand what the organization’s goals are.

Steven: Yeah. Very cool. Here’s one from Danny. Danny is wondering what your thoughts are on maybe sparking interest or activity on a currently existing but stagnant crowdfunding effort or peer-to-peer effort. So, let’s say you’ve launched your campaign. You’ve gotten the word out but for whatever reason, it hasn’t caught fire or you’re not getting the returns you were expecting. What are some ways to maybe breathe some new life into that existing program so that it doesn’t just kind of flop?

Todd: Gotcha. Without knowing the specifics around it, I think my inclination would be to try to either court some additional influencers or some people that you know might engage better with the platform, again, probably not in an online format or through an email, but somehow find some people that can help push that a little bit or potentially restart the campaign with a new sense of urgency, whether that’s, “Shut down this campaign. Let’s put some time and thought into why we didn’t engage or why this was a little bit stagnant.”

And then restart it with kind of that core seat of influencers and try again. But try and at least have a conversation around why you think it’s stagnant and then try and fix those and restart it can also be an option.

Steven: Here’s another question from the group. How do you kind of identify those influencers? What are the signals or maybe factors that you would say, “That person would be a good person to reach out to to maybe be an influencer?” Is it frequency of giving? Is it gift size or some of those other factors? If you use Bloomerang, you would see their engagement and you can look at that. But if you don’t, if you’re in Excel or whatever . . .

Todd: Look at your top engagement people in Bloomerang and that works. I think that it’s not necessarily just the people who give. In fact, I’d say that the people who give just because they contribute to the organization does not necessarily mean that they’re an advocate or influencer or someone that knows your organization. They may just be giving because you asked.

Steven: Sure.

Todd: They’re like, “If I give them $100, they won’t ask me again.” So, I think that giving may be part of it. But I think it’s more important to look at your volunteer base potentially depending on the type of organization and the type of program you’re running, people that have participated in the program that are your success stories, that have lived and breathed what your organization does. Your staff members certainly can be part of that influencer group, board members.

So, I think as an organization or as an executive director or development director, those people that you see engaging with the organization that stand out and seem to always understand the mission and be on point, those are your core group of influencers, I think more than just someone who’s given.

Steven: Yeah. I kind of like the idea for Danny, who asked the question, maybe like volunteers who have never given. That’s like one of my favorite segments for a lot of things beyond just peer-to-peer. They’re a frequent volunteer, so they obviously really like you and they want to give maybe in like non-traditional ways or maybe they just have limited free income to be able to spend, but maybe they would create a peer-to-peer giving page for you and raise money. I like volunteers who are non-donors I think is kind of a cool segment.

Todd: I think that’s a great place to start looking. Again, they’re volunteering their time and they just may not have the resources in which to give a gift, but in peer-to-peer, they’re volunteering their time to help find gifts for you and share the mission.

Steven: Absolutely. Well, Todd, we’ve got just a couple minutes left. I don’t want to keep people too long, especially if they haven’t eaten lunch. What’s one tidbit of advice for people who have maybe never done a peer-to-peer campaign? What’s the number on thing you want them to know, a quick hit for them?

Todd: I think that if you’ve never done it or you have, always starting small and learning from failure and kind of failing forward, if you will. But start small with a small group of influencers and learn from it and kind of experiment and see how it goes. I think that’s probably my number one piece of advice. If you haven’t done it or it feels like a big thing, start small, try it and then let it build over a period of time and see what you can learn from it and what you can accomplish.

Steven: Very cool. You said it all, my friend. Todd, this was awesome. Thanks for spending an hour with us. This was fun.

Todd: Absolutely. I appreciate it, Steven. I appreciate Bloomerang inviting me. I appreciate everyone for sitting and listening to the presentation. It was great. We’ve got to do it again.

Steven: Well, we love Qgiv. If you’re not using them, if you’re looking for peer-to-peer provider, check them out. We now integrate with Qgiv. So, you can get all that peer-to-peer goodness automatically synced with your Bloomerang database. So, if you’re listening today and you’re a Bloomerang user or a Qgiv user and you don’t have the other, check us out because that’s a brand new thing we’re just rolling out this week.

Lots of great resources on our website as always. You can check out our daily blog. Our weekly webinar series is going to keep on going. One week from today, we have Jay Wilkinson from Firespring. He’s going to talk about nonprofit websites. If you have a website, hopefully you do. I think all of you listening have a website if you’re a nonprofit. But if you’re feeling like it’s maybe not operating or generating the kinds of engagement that you think it should, tune in one week from today, 1:00 p.m. Eastern on July 14th.

It’s going to be a really fun conversation. I’ve seen this presentation from Jay at a conference in a live setting and I had to have him come in and do it for us, kind of similar to Todd, begging him to join us again. But if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, we’ve got other webinars scheduled on through the end of the year, actually. So, you may see a topic there that interests you.

But we’ll say a final goodbye for now. Look for an email from me with the recording and the slides. I’ll get that out in just about an hour or so here and we’d love to see you again on another webinar. Thanks for tuning in today and hopefully we will see you next week. Have a great rest of your day and a great weekend.

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.