Sep 23, 2021

The Power of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-Peer fundraising is a very powerful tool to help skyrocket your fundraising goals. These types of campaigns have been on the rise for a while, but we saw significant growth last year by necessity as many nonprofits had to pivot to online fundraising for the first time ever. In 2020, funds raised through crowdfunding grew 33.7%. That’s over 6,455,080 crowdfunding campaigns! 

Research shows that nonprofits who use peer-to-peer fundraising end up making approximately 50% of their revenue through those campaigns! But how do they do it? Keep reading to learn the power of peer-to-peer. In this post we’ll cover:

  • What peer-to-peer fundraising is and why it’s effective
  • Different types of campaigns
  • Best practices for nonprofits using peer-to-peer

What is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising? 

Peer-to-Peer (or P2P) is a digital fundraising model where supporters (the ‘fundraiser’) can raise funds from their own personal connections like friends, family and colleagues on behalf of your organization. Unlike crowdfunding, a donation given to a P2P campaign goes directly to the charity and not the fundraiser.

Why is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising So Effective?

Really it boils down to trust: trust between you and your supporters, and trust between your supporters and their network. 

When your supporters have the ability to create their own individualized campaign they can connect their own beliefs, values, and use their own words to express the importance of your mission to their friends and family. Your supporters already have a level of trust built with their network - by using their voice to advocate for your organization, not only are they helping you reach new audiences, there is an existing level of trust between parties, making it easier for new audiences to get onboard with your mission.

Studies show that when a friend makes an ask, donors give 52% more than when the nonprofit makes the ask. This is both because of the personal relationship but also the increased trust donors have in the charity because their friends already support it.

P2P campaigns leverage the powerful, trusted connections of your supporters’ network, but they also provide an opportunity for different types of supporters. Young supporters, for example, are more likely to fundraise than make a donation directly. 

Pro tip: Next time you plan to ask supporters for a contribution, consider including other ways that they can contribute and make a difference to your cause, like by launching their own P2P campaign.

Types of P2P Campaigns

There are two main types of P2P campaigns; time-based and rolling campaigns. 

Time-based campaigns typically take place within a specific timeframe, generally 6-8 weeks. They’re  fixed around a specific theme or activity, such as a holiday campaign or fundraising for a specific program for your nonprofit. Time based campaigns are effective because they help create a sense of urgency. 

Rolling campaigns, also known as year-round campaigns, are based on your supporters’ life events such as birthdays, holidays, weddings, etc. It allows your supporters to use any occasion as an opportunity to fundraise for your organization. The benefit of rolling campaigns is the convenience it gives your supporters! Instead of fundraising when it's best for you, you make it about your donors and let them fundraise when it suits their schedules.

Best Practices for Nonprofits Using Peer-to-Peer

Before you start rallying supporters to raise funds from their friends, family, and colleagues on your behalf, there are a few simple things your organization can set up to ensure a smooth campaign. We'll be covering 8 best practices, each practice is equally important. It's the combination of all of these together that will allow you to maximize your success!

  • Develop a Fundraising Strategy: Taking the time to do this properly in the beginning will greatly help you down the road! Here are a few things to consider...
    • Assign a point person to be in charge of P2P. Even if you have a team of people working on your peer-to-peer efforts, designate one person who is responsible for the success of the campaign.
    • If you are running a time-based campaign, decide on a timeline and a clear revenue goal. Are you fundraising to pay for the meals of 500 children or are you covering the operational costs for the next 4 months? Communicating your goal can help motivate your supporters. 
    • Decide on your campaign names and hashtags. Pick something that clearly describes your campaign while being short and catchy.
  • Build materials dedicated to teaching your supporters: Consider adding a page to your website where you can educate supporters on how valuable and easy it is to launch their own P2P campaign. You might include a launch checklist, a step-by-step instructions to help with setting up their online donation page, or success stories from other fundraisers as a way to provide creative inspiration.
  • Put Peer-to-Peer Front and Center: One of the most common mistakes we see organizations make is unintentionally burying information about P2P deep within their website. This information should be as easy to find as your ‘donate’ button. If a visitor has to go searching for information on how to start a P2P campaign, they probably  aren't going to end up building a campaign. We recommend dedicating a part of your homepage to starting a fundraiser. Consider adding call-to-action buttons for starting a P2P campaign throughout your website, including within your menu bar and in your footer.
  • Make It Simple: The majority of your supporters will not want to spend more than five minutes setting up their campaign. For this reason, make it easy for them to succeed by having all the information they need easily available including high-quality photos and/or videos, a fact sheet about your organization, or a list of best practices just to name a few.
  • Advertise Your Way to Success: Organizations that have had tremendous success with their P2P program have also put in some hard work. In order to get supporters running P2P campaigns for you, you first need to let them know they can! Plan to use any and all methods available to encourage supporters to build their own campaigns. Some avenues you may consider are:
    • Social media posts and countdowns
    • Email campaigns
    • Paid advertising
  • Share Your Supporters’ Stories: Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to connect and motivate your audience. The nonprofits that excel at P2P use their supporters’ fundraising stories as a form of social proof and a tool to encourage others to build their own campaign. You can use these stories on your website, in your email campaigns or on social media. 
  • Plan a Soft Launch: This is a best practice specifically for time-based campaigns. Before launching your campaign to your entire email list and social media following, you'll want to start with a soft launch. In your soft launch, reach out to your most dedicated and passionate supporters. Ask them if they'd be willing to be the first to launch a campaign. This will not only help deepen the connection with your most passionate advocates, it will also help with the success of the hard launch - once your P2P event gets rolling, more and more people will become interested as the excitement builds.
  • Take the Time to Say Thank You Properly: We all know it’s more efficient to retain donors than it is to find new ones. Well, the same logic applies to P2P! It's more efficient to retain your fundraisers year-over-year than it is to inspire new ones each year. And what's more, those that do return to fundraise for you again raise almost two times what they raised the first year. It's important to do a fantastic job thanking your fundraisers and ensuring that they not only feel valued but that they understand the link to impact. You could even play with the idea of sending a surprise thank you t-shirt or swag item, branded with your fundraising campaign, to say thank you! If you do an exceptional job saying thank you, it will save you a lot of resources further down the road. 

Turn on the Power of Peer-to-Peer

It can be overwhelming to dive into the world of peer-to-peer fundraising. We’ve got you covered, World Changer! We’ve created a handy checklist so you can plan each step of your next peer-to-peer campaign with confidence. Over the next few weeks we will continue to post about P2P fundraising, including how to educate and prep your supporters! Sign up below to receive more educational resources right to your inbox, or check back weekly at Trustraising.org.

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