5 Approaches to Maximizing Peer to Peer Fundraising


Updated 7/5/23

25% of people are likely to say “yes” to a donation request from their friends. That’s the magic of peer to peer fundraising, which is essential to every charity today.

Peer to peer fundraising (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 a peer to peer campaign.

A peer to peer fundraising campaign is a fundraising event or volunteer fundraiser. 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 network.

Let’s dig into the must-haves for maximizing your donor base’s peer to peer campaigns, and later we’ll touch upon how the right peer to peer fundraising software can assist with carrying out these must-haves. But before we do all that, it’s essential to understand the differences between specific forms of P2P fundraising.

The two most important kinds of P2P

As a professional fundraiser, it is easy to see how peer to peer fundraisers have 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 donor base is opening the door for their friends to give you their first gift.

What are the two main kinds of peer to peer campaigns that allow your supporters to do all of this?

DIY (Do It Yourself) P2P Campaigns

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.

A great example of DIY peer to peer is Rethink Breast Cancer‘s Raise Funds 4 Rethink initiative. It provides advocates of Rethink Breast Cancer with “an easy way to set up a personal fundraising campaign page” so they can raise funds to help the organization “pioneer cutting edge breast cancer [education, support, research, and advocacy.” Some peer to peer fundraising ideas they suggest include hosting runs, treks, spa nights, and dinner parties — running the gamut from individual fundraisers to social fundraisers to team fundraising.

Event P2P

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. Take Huntsman 140, “a non-competitive road cycling ride that raises funds for cancer research at Huntsman Cancer Institute.” It’s an integral part of the institute’s fundraising strategy. In 2023, for the 13th annual Huntsman SportsFest, the Huntsman 140 cycling ride played a major part in helping the institute raise over $470,000.

Whether they’re pre-organized events or something new, event peer to peer 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. The examples as well as the benefits of peer to peer are boundless.

These 5 essential strategies will take your peer to peer fundraisers to the next level!

Nonprofit organizations can enhance and streamline their peer-to-peer fundraisers by utilizing volunteer fundraisers to expand their reach; utilizing peer-to-peer fundraising software to simplify the donation process; encouraging individual fundraising campaigns, team fundraising strategies, and social fundraising campaigns; and offering incentives and rewards to donors and fundraisers to increase engagement.

Below are more comprehensive descriptions of the kinds of strategies that can help nonprofits maximize their fundraising efforts and engage more supporters in their mission.

1. Allow individual supporters to embrace their creativity

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. Be a marketing 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 fundraising 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 templates, 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. Keep your brand consistent

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. Acknowledge your supporters — both publicly and privately

As a fundraiser, you will know that putting effort into properly thanking, showing the impact of giving a gift and recognizing 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 acknowledge and celebrate 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. Anticipate potential donors (and their journeys)

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 organization 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? Dedicated welcome journeys, especially for these new supporters, are an essential part of their donor journeys. 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 organization directly.

Bag it up

Time to run through the list of 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 get those much-needed email pats-on-the-back, thank you’s, 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 P2P efforts on Engaging Networks!

Our peer to peer fundraising module allows supporters to easily create personal and team fundraising pages that allow their friends and family to make online donations. Create fundraising events where volunteers raise money to support your organization’s mission and encourage participants to form teams.

Peer to peer campaigns raise more money and expose your brand and cause to a broader audience. Request a demo with us today to learn more about taking your P2P to the next level.

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