How Top Non-Profits Do Peer-to-Peer Fundraising in the Online Age

The 30 largest peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns raised over $1,570,000,000 in 2015. With today’s communication and fundraising tools, it’s easier than ever to incorporate this strategy for any non-profit.

Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns can range from in-person events to online challenges. The key to their success is turning supporters into ambassadors, creating an amplified—often viral—effect. David Hassekiel of Cause Marketing Forum has been tracking the top 30 peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns in the U.S. for the past ten years. He shared his insights in Blackbaud’s “Philanthropy by the Numbers 2016”. Here’s what you need to know:

Crowdfunding and Social Media are Democratizing Giving

While the largest campaigns have reduced their individual collections, the overall level of giving has gone up, as the playing field has become more democratized and more organizations are taking advantage.

  • Nearly 1/3 of the top 30 have more then doubled their donations from peer-to-peer campaigns.
  • History is not a factor. Several top campaigns didn’t even exist 10 years ago.
  • 74.5% of fundraisers (ambassadors) who raised more than $500 also shared their crowdfunding pages on social media.

“We’ve seen a true democratization of peer-to-peer, where your success isn’t driven by the type of event you run, but rather your ability to produce excellent experiences for volunteer fundraisers. You no longer have to be among the largest or most established organizations to successfully raise money through peer-to-peer fundraising.” — David Hassekiel, President, Cause Marketing Forum

Takeaways and Tips for Your Organization

The following are what Cause Marketing Forum’s research has found that a majority of successful campaigns do. We’ve added some tips of our own to get you started

  • Connect the event to the organization’s mission
  • Begin with a clear call to action
    Tip: Make it as simple as clicking a link to a landing page on your website that contains further instructions
  • Make it easy to join the campaign as a cause ambassador
    Tip: Eliminate any friction in the sign up process – just ask for a name and email.
    Tip: Try a webinar to teach all your embassadors about the event and the campaign
  • Make it easy to share with others
    Tip: Provide every social sharing tool and instruction your ambassadors and their supporters might find helpful
  • Add the personal touch through phone calls, video chats, or personalized emails
    Tip: Make this even easier for your ambassadors by providing a template email or script
  • Ask for virality — Incorporate asking supporters to ask their friends into your approach
    Tip: Campaigns (think ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge) can have this virality as a main feature, but it can backfire if it doesn’t catch on.
    Tip: You don’t have to ask someone to drop ice or do 100 push-ups to challenge someone else. It could be as simple as asking them to ask their friends personally, in email or via social media.
  • Support your ambassadors throughout the campaign
    • Challenge them to do even more
    • Reward them for their hard work

    Tip: Ask them what you can do to make their efforts easier

  • Follow up afterwards, with personalized gratitude
    Tip: Share the achievements: how many people participated, how much money was raised, how many people were made “aware” of the cause through social media, newsletters, websites, etc.
    Tip: Include what the ambassador’s network contributed specifically, and any anecdotes you could share.

With the advent and popularity of crowdfunding platforms and the pervasiveness of social media in our lives, organizations of all sizes can take advantage of peer-to-peer campaigns. A well-executed campaign can raise more money while creating a deeper connection to their top advocates!

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