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Peer to Peer Fundamentals
If you live and work in the nonprofit world, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of peer to peer fundraising. This donor-led fundraising method has gained popularity in recent years and is now one of the most popular forms of raising funds for your cause. In fact, peer-to-peer fundraising generates one-third of all online donations in the United States.
of online donations from peer-to-peer fundraising
of peer-to-peer donations directly from Facebook.
of donors on average are new
Peer To Peer Fundraising Essentials
Regardless of how popular peer to peer fundraising has become, unfortunately, many nonprofits still struggle to get the results they’re trying to achieve in their campaigns.
One reason for their shortcomings is the common misconception that peer-to-peer fundraising is a “set-it-and-forget-it” form of fundraising requiring minimal effort. And while it’s easy for you and your supporters to set up a great-looking peer to peer fundraising campaign, it does take time, effort and planning using some key components to make your peer to peer fundraising efforts successful in the long term.
Peer to Peer Fundraising Core Components
There are 5 essential core components required for effective peer to peer fundraising. Each one focuses on a key course of action your organization must take to ensure campaign success:
- Education: Teach supporters and volunteers best practices for asking for donations on your behalf from their friends, family, and colleagues.
- Leadership: Create a sense of fundraising confidence and community with ongoing in-person and recorded digital training sessions lead by a fundraising leader from your organization.
- Resources: Provide compelling templates (social media posts, text messages, emails, letters) that make it easy for your peer to peer fundraisers to ask for donations.
- Inspiration: Schedule ongoing updates and encouragements (videos and messages) that reinforce the importance of reaching goals.
By incorporating these core components into your campaigns and following recommended best practices, you’ll be able to unleash the power of peer to peer fundraising to reach (and even exceed) your fundraising goals!
What is Peer to Peer Fundraising?
Peer-to-peer fundraising is also known as social fundraising. It is similar to crowdfunding which is defined “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet.”
There are two types of successful crowdfunding models – “nonprofit-led” traditional crowdfunding and “donor-led” peer-to-peer fundraising, each offering ways to build awareness, raise funds, and expand donor networks. For nonprofits, crowdfunding and peer to peer fundraising are similar in concept but differ in execution.
Traditional Crowdfunding Campaigns
Traditional crowdfunding for nonprofit campaigns have a single call-to-action, donation page, an end date and a fundraising goal displayed with a fundraising thermometer. Donations are collected from donors at large, and the campaign is usually promoted through traditional communication channels like direct mail and events, as well as through links via email and social media.
Donors make contributions to the campaign through one main donation page with an overall campaign goal. They can not create their own pages.
Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaigns
Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns have all the features of a traditional crowdfunding campaign but with the added benefit of having volunteer fundraisers, or people that sign up to volunteer to fundraise on behalf of an organization or campaign.
In addition to the main campaign donation page, each of these volunteers has their own fundraising donation page with a unique call-to-action and individual fundraising goal. Fundraisers can promote their own individual pages to their personal networks through social media posts, text messages, and emails in order to raise funds from their friends and families.
Peer to Peer Fundraising Diagram
Making the Human Connection
One of the biggest reasons for peer-to-peer fundraising’s popularity lies in the “herd mentality” concept where people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors—in this case, donating to a peer to peer fundraising campaign.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is effective because of the psychological motivators that inspire us to make donations. Combine that with the right tools your nonprofit can effectively connect with more donors which will increase donations.
What Makes Peer-To-Peer Fundraising Effective
It is effective because of the psychological motivators
- Empathy: Emotional response that elicits action
- Storytelling: Powerful testimonials that inspire people to donate to your mission
- Impact: People feel good when they know they are making a difference
- Social pressure: Supporting friends; also known as the bandwagon effect
- Scarcity: A limited campaign timeline creates a sense of urgency
- Small first step: Ease of participation—all it takes is $1 to positively impact a cause
Tip: Short and compelling personal videos are the most effective way to promote crowdfunding campaigns and peer-to-peer fundraising pages while making the “human connection”!
Creative Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Here’s the best part:
Putting the “fun” in fundraising!
Peer to peer fundraising allows you to get creative in the way you execute your campaign, allowing for plenty of flexibility. Sit down with your team and brainstorm fundraising ideas that fit your cause and needs. This is a great time to determine whether you will run a traditional crowdfunding campaign or a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign as well.
Ideas For Your Next Peer-To-Peer Fundraising Campaign
Runs, walks, swims, rides
Also known as “active events”–great during warm weather months. Generations young and old spend much time online and on their smartphones and look for fun and meaningful ways to give back, making them ideal candidates to fundraise for your cause before and during a run/walk (or other active event).
Camps, trips, retreats
Ideal for schools and teams, religious organizations, or missions. Fuel your organization’s mission by empowering our most passionate supporters of all ages to raise the funds they need to make a difference in communities across the world from their family, friends, and social networks.
Rally school alumni to give back to their alma mater. “Alumni” isn’t limited to just schools—it’s anyone who has been involved with your organization: volunteers, donors, past beneficiaries, and anyone on your email or mailing list already invested in your cause.
Reach out to professional and social networks to fund your new nonprofit. Volunteers, advocates, celebrities, and corporations can raise donations from friends and family using their own pages shared across all channels.
Do It Yourself
Give supporters the opportunity to dedicate their birthday or anniversary to your cause by asking their guests to make a donation to your organization in lieu of gifts.
Get the community involved with a fun competition event like Dancing with the Stars or the Bachelor/Bachelorette where supporters pledge donations to a specific team.
Benchmarks to Help You Strategize
Use the data below to help your leadership team set campaign goals, encourage volunteers, and follow up with donors in a way that will drive long-term fundraising success.
Important Peer-To-Peer Fundraising Benchmarks
Page Views Via
Planning for Success
There are many parts and pieces to planning a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, so start early!
A good timeline is about 2 months prior to your campaign launch date. This will give you plenty of time to determine who your donors are and how they like to give. As a general rule, Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer donors prefer giving online, while Greatest generation donors respond to direct mail.
For an in depth guide to online giving, check out the following fundraising resource, Online Giving: Beginner’s Guide to Online Fundraising
Creating a Peer To Peer Fundraising Campaign
Here’s a handy list for the planning stage and its planning components to help you get started.
These will help get off to a good start to becoming a successful peer to peer fundraising campaign. This is the time to make sure everything is done right form the start.
Create strategic campaign guidelines
Decide if you will be implementing a traditional crowdfunding or peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, how long will it run for, and what are the key milestones?
Establish a fundraising toolkit
Create campaign videos, social posts and hashtag(s), imagery, text to give keyword, and any other information you’ll put together to help fundraisers promote their pages
Determine which traditional and digital channels you will use to promote your campaign and communicate updates–consider email, social media, text message, and direct mail
Incentivize your donors
Create rewards or incentives to participate in your campaign, like free swag
Set attainable goals
Confirm how much money your organization will set out to raise, how many donors do you want to reach, and how many fundraisers you want to recruit
Educate your fundraisers
Decide if you’ll be doing any fundraiser training, who in your organization will run it, and what will be involved–this is especially important for peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns
Generate campaign ambassadors:
Identify influential bloggers, donors, or local celebrities that can help promote your campaign to their networks to drive awareness and increase donations
Executing a Winning Strategy
Your team is excited and your ambassadors have agreed to promote your fundraising pages to help you reach your goal and grow your mission.
Now’s the time to kick off your campaign with a bang.
Executing Your Peer To Peer Fundraising Plan
Launch your campaign
Announce and promote your peer-to-peer fundraising initiative across channels
Deliver your message
Remember to remind supporters what their gifts will help you accomplish
Make it easy for supporters to give
Allow supporters to make a donation at any time, from any device, with a mobile-friendly campaign donation page
Automate tax receipts
Send donors a receipt for their tax-deductible donation by email and text
Spread the word
Reach out to current donors and volunteers and ask them to become fundraisers
Keep supporters updated
Send ongoing text, image, and video communications throughout the campaign as well as when you reach milestones like 25%, 50%, and 75% of your goal
Send text messages
Keep donors and fundraisers engaged, recruit new volunteer fundraisers, thank donors for contributions, and send live campaign updates right to their mobile phones
Say “thank you” again and again
Tell donors how much their donation means to your cause—This is huge!
Showcasing Your Progress
Your progress is inspiring, and is a huge part of keeping the giving momentum going throughout your campaign.
After all, people want to see you succeed!
Showcase donation totals and donor names collected in real-time with a fundraising thermometer to drive more participation, create a sense of urgency, and show off your success.
Post the link on your website and social media pages, and display it live in your office for everyone to see.
Your Campaign Thermometer Should Show
The overall peer-to-peer fundraising campaign goal
The total amount raised and the amount remaining
The total number of individual donors
Donor names with donation amounts (optional)
Tip: As progress slows, adjust your strategy and send compelling communications across channels to help restore the giving momentum.
Keeping Donors Engaged
You have recruited an army of fundraisers and the donations have been rolling in.
Keep donors and fundraisers inspired and in the loop with videos, encouragements, and instructions until the goal is reached!
After the campaign is over, follow up with participants to highlight all that you’ve accomplished.
Even After Your Campaign, You Should Keep Your Donors Engaged
Tell donors and supporters the results of your campaign across all promotional channels
Thank everyone involved
Thank donors, volunteers, ambassadors, your social media manager–you can’t say it too much!
Reiterate your mission
Remind donors how your organization makes a difference and what their generous donations will help your cause accomplish (bonus points for including a personal, heartfelt video from a program recipient or the executive director of your organization!)
Request a MobileCause Demonstration for Your Organization
Our team of digital marketing experts work hands-on with you on each component of your campaign to ensure it has all the elements of success. From identifying fundraising strategies to campaign setup, we’ll partner with you every step of the way so you can achieve your fundraising goals.