Five must-haves to maximize your peer-to-peer fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is essential to every charity today. If you're deep in peer-to-peer or just getting started, you'll find these 5 tips helpful.

Want to hear something amazing?

25% of people are likely to say YES to a donation request from their friends

That’s the magic of peer-to-peer fundraising. Aside from taking you through the definition of peer-to-peer fundraising, today we’ll show you some sure-fire ways to engage your supporters in their peer-to-peer fundraising ambitions to help them have a brilliant fundraising campaign of their own.

Back to basics….

Sign at top of KilimanjaroIf you weren’t aware of it already, peer-to-peer fundraising (often called P2P) works by raising funds for your charity through a supporter’s existing networks, such as friends, family and neighbors. If you have ever filled in a sponsorship form for a fun run or donated online to your friend raising money by climbing Kilimanjaro, you’ve been involved in peer-to-peer fundraising.

As a professional fundraiser, it is easy to see how peer-to-peer has many benefits for your charity since this kind of fundraising utilizes your supporter’s natural social circle. Your fabulous supporters are introducing your charity to their friends as a cause that they are passionate about, and furthermore, your supporters are opening the door for your friends to give you their first gift. In many ways, your supporter is doing the hard work for you! Well, not quite.

Let’s break it down a bit… There are two main kinds of peer-to-peer fundraising

DIY (Do It Yourself) peer-to-peer fundraisers

These are fundraising events that are supporter-led or initiated. They may include spontaneous events that your supporter creates, such as fundraising for special days like birthdays where they ask for a donation instead of a gift. Your supporters may want to ask their friends to respond quickly to a recent disaster. Other supporters may invite their friends to donate in honor of someone’s memory to a cause close to their heart.

EVENT peer-to-peer

This is typically a challenge event such as a midnight walk or half marathon. Perhaps your charity has organized the event or it’s a well-known event such as the London or Boston Marathon. Participants will most likely have to register to join in, and they may even be a part of a team. These types of peer-to-peer fundraisers can be very popular.

  • Event example – Huntsman 140 for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation

Either way, whether it is signing up to a pre-organized event or using their initiative to start something new, these fundraisers unleash the energy of your supporters to ask their friends to sponsor them. It can be overwhelming to see the many kinds of inventive things people will do to raise money for your charity: from a sponsored silence to 24-hour dance-a-thons, your supporters will walk, run, cycle and swim literal miles to show their dedication to your cause.

A peer-to-peer fundraising campaign is a fundraising event or activity where the fundraising is volunteer led. It could be spontaneously initiated to raise money for your charity by a supporter who will then request donations from their family, friends and neighbors in their existing social circle.

Here are 5 strategies that will help take your peer-to-peer fundraising to the next level

1) Those crazy kids…
Baked beans
Sorry, there weren’t any pictures of bathtubs full of beans.

Your supporters can be so creative. Think of those weird and wonderful ways in which your hero supporters are helping your charity, from sitting in a bath of baked beans to children giving up their birthday gifts, they are true heroes. A peer-to-peer ‘must do’ is to be prepared and allow for your fundraiser’s creativity to run riot. How can you facilitate this online? By letting your supporter get started and set up their own fundraising page, you can give them the freedom to share their special story, pictures and progress. Ensure that you are able to lead your supporters to a place online where they can get their unique campaign up and running.

The beauty of a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign is that it can get started in minutes. As well as giving supporters the ability to build their own sites, you can showcase all the wacky things your supporters have been doing for your charity that will inspire others.

2) Email trail – be an automation sensation

A robust email journey is one that is well planned and thoroughly tested. From the very moment your supporter sets up their fundraising page, you can start them on a journey to support, motivate and cheer them on along the way. If your tools allow for marketing automation (like Engaging Networks) you can preset an automated journey for supporters based on actions and triggers that will help build momentum and increase success.

Do you want to send out a Welcome Pack to new supporters at the beginning of their fundraising journey, but that pack is completely different if they have given up their birthday, or are hosting a coffee morning? That’s no problem! As long as you have a peer-to-peer fundraising platform that gives you complete control, you can ensure that each supporter gets help and recognition, whatever their fundraising path looks like.

“You’re halfway to your goal!”

This is a perfect time to give your supporter a boost. Tell them they are brilliant and let them know how wonderful you think they are. Once you’ve crafted your email, this should be entirely automated, so that every one of your supporters gets the email when it is right for them.

If your fundraising event is on a specific schedule, that’s great! You can set up a series of helpful hints and tips, tailored to that supporter and event, meaning all your correspondence will be sent out according to your schedule be it training tips or advice.

Now your supporters are armed with relevant information and have been neither bombarded with irrelevant information nor worse (much worse), ignored and unsupported.

Why is this important? This ensures that you never miss a moment to give a boost to your supporters. Your job is to help them be a success, and by automating the journey, you can be sure you never let them down.

3) It’s also about YOU too

Your supporters and their friends will benefit from a platform that allows you to customize the look and feel of fundraiser pages. Not just so they can add their own pictures and story, but also so that those individual pages match the branding of your organization.

Why would your branding help your supporters? It’s simple. They need to feel confident that their fundraising page looks great and that people will see why they are fundraising for your great cause. Being able to easily navigate to your charity’s website after making a gift will help them see the impact of that gift.

It’s about trust. Your supporters are inviting their friends to give to you, and often making that first – crucial – introduction. These friends might not know much about your charity, but they care enough to support their friends. Here is your chance to invite them in and be a part of something great.

4) Recognition: I see you shaking that bucket, shaking that bucket

As a fundraiser, you will know that putting effort into properly thanking, showing the impact of giving a gift and recognising your supporter is proven to be more important than any other incentive when it comes to making repeat donations.

You’ll always thank people who give a gift, but it could also be said that peer-to-peer fundraising provides inbuilt recognition as a supporter may also personally thank a donor that has financially supported their efforts. This is great as it means that all your donors will get a personal connection.

But what about thanking a supporter who has made the effort to set up a page and gather gifts for your cause? That follow up phone call, letter or email saying thank you, or that social media post acknowledging their efforts will increase the chance of them donating again by a whopping 51%. Isn’t that incredible?!

It’s essential to recognize your supporters’ time and effort.

But here’s something else to think about: Team Leaders are a particularly special group of people. Team Leaders are the Major Donors of peer-to-peer fundraising. Make sure that you are able to identify your Team Leaders by giving them the tools to build a team, and again, recognizing their tremendous work.

Without marketing automation, thanking supporters can involve a lot of human labor for your not-for-profit. Choose a peer-to-peer fundraising platform that can help you set up this process just once, and be secure that your supporters are being embraced through their journey with you.
5) Twice as nice

Question: What’s even better than ensuring you have a fantastic follow-up plan for your peer-to-peer fundraisers?

Answer: A plan that also follows up with your supporters’ friends too!

Your supporters’ donors (i.e. friends and family who are supporting their fundraising efforts!) might have never heard of your charity before, and yet now a natural chain of awareness has been created. A trust has been built due to their friend’s connection with your charity, and the willingness they have to run/cycle/dance/sing especially for your cause.

Hopefully, you’ve also given them a great giving experience where they can find out about your organisation as they give their gift. That way, there’s a much higher chance that they will have opted into your list than if they had donated on a generic or third party giving site.

So what now? A dedicated welcome journey, especially for these new supporters is essential. It’s unlikely that they would have shared their contact details with your charity if they were using a generic giving platform or from traditional methods of donating such as a pen and paper sponsorship form!

These new contacts initially only donated because of their friend’s connection, yet by giving them a great experience, they are on the journey to self-identifying as a donor to your organisation directly.

Bag it up

Time to check out with everything you need for a successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Having a dedicated online presence for peer-to-peer fundraising means your supporters’ madcap plans can take shape and start raising money for you on your wholly customizable pages. Together with automated email journeys – ready to use straight out of the box – you’ll be away in no time.

You know the value of your supporters (not forgetting your team leaders!) so you’re ready to go those much-needed email pats-on-the-back, thank yous, and notes of appreciation.

We hope you now have lots of new ideas to help your supporters participate in some great peer-to-peer fundraising activities. Reach out to us if you would like more information about how to get your own fundraising pages up and running….. Just don’t ask us to sit in a bathtub of beans!

Check out just how easy it is to spin up your peer-to-peer efforts on Engaging Networks!

Chloe Green is a copywriter and digital campaigner with almost a decade of experience in the charity and political sectors. She’s delivered campaigns, copy and consultancy for a raft of good eggs including Anthony Nolan, the National Union of Students, St Mungo’s, and Hillary for America. She was Social Media Manager at the Labour Party between 2016–2019 and now she’s Head of Creative with the lovely team at Forward Action. She leads on fundraising emails, UX copy, and all creative facilitation. She’s an expert in email list growth, digital strategy, organic and paid-for social media, and digital mobilisation.

Rachel founded the specialist charity web agency, Rechord, in 1999. Between 1999 and 2012 they created hundreds of different web applications for organisations in the UK and internationally.
In 2013 she became the 'Donor Whisperer' and focused on helping small to medium-sized non-profits to reach new donors and activists and from there increase their income. She uses a unique process that combines the benefits of consultancy with capacity building.
Her clients include Traidcraft Exchange, the Overseas Development Institute, Jubilee Debt Coalition, the Leprosy Mission of England and Wales, Tax Justice UK, The Canary, Humanity and Inclusion, the Anti-Tribalism Movement, BRACE, New Family Social, Arseh Sevom - and that's just the last year.
She also feels weird writing about herself in the third person.

Ellen is Campaigns Manager overseeing national and local campaigning at the MS Society. She has worked at the MS Society for 2 and a half years, with roles at Scope and Guide Dogs prior to this.

Hannah is Senior Campaigns Officer at the MS Society, working on their local campaigning programme, Local Action for MS and also on social care and carers. She’s worked at the MS Society for a year and a half, and was previously at the MND Association and National Voices.

Executive Director of C6 Digital, London based agency

Emily has worked at Guide Dogs for the Blind Association since 2019, working on a range of campaign areas to empower people with vision impairments to live the life they choose. Prior to this, Emily working in parliament and severed as a borough councillor.

Brani Milosevic ia a digital consultant and coach at
She helps individuals, teams and organisations to learn how to seize the opportunities offered by digital and navigate its challenges.
Brani set up the Digital Leadership Forum, is an NCVO trainer, a CharityComms mentor and a qualified executive coach.

Rhiannan Sullivan is the Vice President of strategy and partnerships of social action network, Over the past 10+ years, she has worked with hundreds of UK and EU charities helping them grow and develop their digital fundraising programmes. Prior to working for Care2, Rhiannan worked at then political campaigning agency Blue State Digital, a global leading digital strategy agency who has helped many organisations build and engage online communities, clients included political and advocacy campaigns, non-­‐profit organisations, cultural institutions and global consumer brands.

Calum manages social, email and some digital campaigns at CPRE, and is CPRE’s expert Engaging Networks user, working on development and helping other teams make the most of the platform. Happiest working on campaigns for change or rambling around in the countryside.

Brandon Fuller is Engaging Networks alumni and owner of Raise the Roots, a digital agency that has supported over two dozen organizations on Engaging Networks - helping them to maximize their digital engagement using this powerful platform. He previously managed global online advocacy campaigns for the Pew Charitable Trusts and has worked in the nonprofit community for nearly two decades.

I joined the Woodland Trust in 2018 and now lead on policy and engagement campaigns working to improve protection, restoration and high quality creation of woods and trees. Prior to campaigning for trees, I worked in Peterborough, tackling fuel poverty in the community. I care deeply about the climate and nature crises and the many, intersectional impacts and solutions. Endlessly inspired and energised by the dedication and passion of our supporters and the public who take action time and time again.

Hannah Mudge is Digital Innovation Manager at The Leprosy Mission England and Wales and has had the privilege of seeing the 147-year-old international development charity evolve over the last decade, from sending out its first online fundraising appeal to achieving record levels of income despite the challenges faced since the start of the pandemic. She is based in Peterborough and enjoys running, cooking and reading in her limited spare time when not parenting two lively boys. During 2020 she added ‘homeschooling’ to her skillset although what Ofsted rating she would achieve is probably best left to the imagination.

I am a campaigner in the Woods Under Threat team at the Woodland Trust. My role is to help protect ancient woods and trees from damaging developments across the UK. Ancient woods and trees are irreplaceable, so we work hard to stop any further loss of these precious habitats and ensure they are protected for the benefit of people and wildlife.

Matt Strong is the Campaigns and Engagement Officer for the Ramblers.

He has recently run campaigns on increasing the number of new green walking routes in some of our biggest cities, including London and Manchester. He has also been leading on the Ramblers’ campaigns work around the Environment Bill. Matt has a background in politics after spending a decade as an elected councillor on Manchester City Council and having previously worked for two Members of Parliament and a political party.

Claire Warner is a former charity Fundraising Director & Senior Leader, turned Culture & Wellbeing consultant.

It was in trying to throw herself back into her beloved Fundraising Director role after 12 months' treatment for aggressive breast cancer, that Claire realised the focus & memory loss and heart condition side effects she'd been left with after her treatment, plus the life-changing experience of the illness itself, meant (guttingly!) a 300% commitment, 50+hours a week Fundraising Director role was no longer an option.

On looking into what others do in this situation, Claire discovered the field of workplace wellbeing, the research work of Prof Cary Cooper, the Gallup Organisation and Simon Sinek, and hasn't looked back since.

In 2018, Claire created her own piece of research into the wellbeing of fundraisers and when it concluded in 2019, over 700 fundraisers had taken part. The results of the research were used to further inform and refine the work Claire does with organisations and individuals in the charity sector.

In 2020 Claire won the Best Digital Leader Award at the Social CEO Awards and in 2021 curated the first Charity Wellbeing Summit.

Today, Claire works on organisational culture and wellbeing projects with charities and offers coaching and mentoring programmes to sector professionals.

Becky has spent the last decade building people power and people-powered movements to hold the most powerful to account for a fairer, more just, and cleaner future.
She helped build 38 Degrees UK into a movement of over 1 million citizens and led many of the biggest campaigns. As part of OPEN’s senior team, she helped build and sustain a network across 19 different countries, by supporting, coaching, and building fast-growing digitally facilitated organisations.

She's currently Senior Strategist at The Sunrise Project leading the Global Banks Program and building grassroots activism on finance around the world. She’s on the board of Skiftet, Sweden’s biggest online campaign community and Left Foot Forward in the UK.

Andrew Taylor-Dawson is Development Manager at Liberty, where he leads on member and support engagement. He has been in fundraising for around 13 years. In this time he has worked in the human rights, homelessness and social justice sectors as well as having been a freelance consultant.

He has held board positions with Global Justice Now and the adoption support organisation We Are family.

Rebecca is a Digital Project Manager, who recently led the redesign and redevelopment of The Children's Society's website.

Rebecca worked closely with senior stakeholders, subject matter experts, and digital agencies to create a new platform that demonstrates the organisation's refreshed vision, mission and brand. There has already been astounding results in the 6-months since launch.

I have worked as a web developer for about 20 years and for Which? since 2015, primarily on their WordPress sites. This has involved integration with a variety of different APIs, most recently the Engaging Networks API, along with the creation of APIs to allow sites to talk to one another.

Glyn Thomas is a digital strategist and web developer. He built his first website in 1997 and has been working in digital communications since 2002.

For the past 12 years, Glyn has almost exclusively worked with charities and non-profit organisations. Almost all the projects he works on are focused around campaigning, fundraising or supporter recruitment, and often a mixture of all three.

Now based in Berlin, Glyn works with organisations in the UK, Europe and North America.

Rhian is the Strategic Programme Manager for Physical Activity at Versus Arthritis. Alongside Sport England under the Richmond Group ‘Movement for All’ programme, Rhian is co-developing a long-term, sustainable programme to support those living with Musculoskeletal conditions to increase their physical activity levels and improve their quality of life. Rhian has over 15 years’ experience of supporting people with long term health conditions to become more active. She is passionate about prevention, working in partnership and using an effective knowledge base to create impactful change at scale.

Having gotten his start organizing with anti-war veterans and working as Sala Labs, Sales Engineer, and Partner Manager, Bryan now brings his expertise to non-profit and mission-driven clients as 4Site Studios Director of Digital Strategy. Specializing in challenging and complex projects, Bryan works with each client to craft holistic approaches tailored to goals, budget, and outcomes.

Mary Margaret Callahan is the Chief Mission Officer for Pet Partners, where she is responsible for leading mission delivery including the therapy animal program and grassroots advocacy program. She joined Pet Partners in 2013 and has worked to establish the organization as both an influencer and a resource within the animal-assisted intervention (AAI) and human-animal bond (HAB) community. In 2018 she was named one of PetAge Magazine’s Women of Influence. Mary Margaret lives on a small farm outside Seattle with her husband, daughter and menagerie of animals including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, chickens, goats and miniature donkeys.

Joe Derry Hall is a freelancer working on creative digital and communications. His interests include tech innovation, upending power and reimagining different futures. Joe has been the winner of a Mozilla Creative Media Award and the joint winner of a BAFTA digital award. He was previously in-house in campaigning and communications roles at Amnesty International, the Climate Coalition, the Ecocide campaign, Save the Children, Scope and others. He is one of the initiators of Right Way Up, an experiment to create a radical, practical new vision for the social change sector.

Anna Chowcat is the Digital Manager at Refuge and oversees the charity’s digital function and output. Since joining Refuge, Anna has been instrumental in introducing a number of digital engagement programmes including digital campaigns, bespoke email supporter journeys and user friendly donate/campaign pages. Before joining Refuge, she has worked in digital engagement and campaign roles at The Labour Party and Leonard Cheshire Disability.