Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: The Nonprofit's Guide
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Raise more money for your organization with peer-to-peer fundraising

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: The Nonprofit’s Guide

What is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?

Peer-to-peer fundraising makes use of existing donors’ connections to raise money for an event or cause. Donors reach out to their friends and family and ask for donations on a nonprofit’s behalf.

Who Uses Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?

Peer-to-peer fundraising can be used by any organization! As long as a nonprofit has donors and volunteers who are willing to raise money on the organization’s behalf, that charity can launch a campaign.

Other Names for Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is commonly known by other names. Some of these monikers include P2P fundraising, social fundraising, and team fundraising. These terms can be used interchangeably.

Note

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Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Resources and Tips

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Tools

#1: Salsa

Salsa’s peer-to-peer platform allows nonprofits’ fundraisers to create their own donation pages to send to friends and family members via email and social media websites.

Their donation pages will still be branded with the organization’s template, but each one can be personalized by individual fundraisers.

#2: Booster

Booster is a unique peer-to-peer fundraising platform that primarily focuses on helping nonprofit organizations sell merchandise (mainly t-shirts) to their fundraisers and participants.

Organizations don’t have to purchase any of the products upfront, and Booster handles all of the inventory, making fundraising easy.

#3: Fundly

Fundly is a crowdfunding platform for individuals that also offers a peer-to-peer fundraising platform for nonprofit. Charities can accept donations and enable fundraisers to form “teams.”

Fundly also offers an optional VIP package that comes with onboarding webinars, goal-setting analysis, marketing and fundraising strategies, and more!

#4: Qgiv

Qgiv’s peer-to-peer platform, Hobnob, allows nonprofits to create beautiful campaign pages and give their supporters the tools they need to fundraise on the organization’s behalf.

Qgiv also enables charities to sell custom merchandise directly on the campaign page, making it easy for donors to show their support of the nonprofit’s cause.

Qualities of Great Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Platforms

  • Easy Setup Process

    Setting up your peer-to-peer campaign shouldn’t be a hassle. Look for a platform that can have you up and running in as little time as possible.

  • Support and Training

    Make sure that your peer-to-peer platform provider offers the support and training that your teams needs to be successful.

  • Scalable Design

    You shouldn’t have to purchase a new peer-to-peer platform every time you launch a new campaign. Instead, look for software that can grow as your organization grows!

  • Useful Features

    Essential features like social sharing, fundraising thermometers, and media uploads should come standard with any great peer-to-peer platform.

  • Easily Customized

    Your campaign is unique! Why should it look like everyone else’s? Choose a platform with customization options.

  • Social Sharing Options

    Peer-to-peer campaigns rely on the power of social media to be successful. Make sure that the platform you choose has sharing options for all of the biggest social media sites.

Benefits of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

For Nonprofits

Develops Relationships

With peer-to-peer fundraising, your nonprofit better gets to know the supporters who are part of your fundraising team. While they’re still technically your donors, they also take on a new role in your organization, strengthening your nonprofit’s relationship with them.

Raises Funds in a Natural Way

It’s easier and more natural to raise money and expand your donor base when you already have a mutual connection with your prospects. (i.e., your existing donors). Peer-to-peer fundraising helps facilitate this organic fundraising process.

Saves Money

Fundraising, in all of its forms, costs your organization something. Peer-to-peer fundraising helps minimize costs by putting your donors in the fundraising driver’s seat. When you send your supporters out to raise money on your behalf, your organization saves money.

For Donors

Ability to Own Individual Involvement

Donors get to control how involved they want to be when you invite them to be a part of your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. When donors can engage with your nonprofit in the ways they prefer, they’ll be more invested in your organization and your cause.

Discuss Worthy Causes with Friends

With peer-to-peer fundraising, donors get to champion a project or cause they really care about and spread the word among their friends, family members, and coworkers. Instead of talking about the latest celebrity gossip, supporters can promote your cause and mission.

Get an Inside Look into Fundraising

Most of your donors will have never participated in the fundraising side of asking for donations. They’ve given to noble causes, but they probably haven’t raised money for one. Peer-to-peer fundraising allows them to catch a glimpse of the other side of the fundraising curtain.

Different Types of Peer-to-Peer Campaigns

Time-Based Campaigns

Time-based peer-to-peer fundraisers are pretty self-explanatory.

They take place within a specific timeframe and typically last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year.

Time-based peer-to-peer fundraisers are usually tied to events that are already scheduled (think: annual walkathon or 5K). Participants will then raise money from the starting date of the campaign until the day of the event.

Rolling Campaigns

Rolling peer-to-peer campaigns are a bit more general than time-based campaigns.

They can be tied to a fundraising event, but that’s not always the case. They can be general fundraising efforts on their own.

Either way, rolling peer-to-peer fundraisers are continual fundraising efforts that a nonprofit hosts until a monetary goal is reached.

Peer-to-Peer Giving Days

Peer-to-peer giving days are a new type of peer-to-peer fundraiser that is steadily gaining attention and popularity.

They are essentially condensed versions of time-based campaigns. They challenge donors to raise as much money as they can or reach a certain goal in 24 hours or less.

These giving days can be very exciting, and donors can easily get caught up in trying to raise a lot of money for a worthy cause.

Getting Started with Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Considerations to Make Before Running a Peer-to-Peer Campaign

Is our organization ready?

While any nonprofit can launch a peer-to-peer campaign, some are more ready than others. Make sure you have a goal in mind and a core base of donors that you can easily recruit to fundraise on your behalf.

Are our donors ready?

You won’t get very far with a peer-to-peer campaign if you don’t have a group of fundraisers pulled from your donor pool. Gauge interest by asking your volunteers, donors, and members if they’d like to participate.

Who will lead?

You’ll need to establish “point people” both within your organization and among your fundraisers. These people will be responsible for asking for donations, planning the P2P event, and acknowledging donors, so make sure they’re stellar.

Do we need merchandise?

Since many peer-to-peer campaigns are tied to events, they often have corresponding merchandise that participants can buy in addition to their donations. Determine whether or not your event needs merchandise and plan accordingly.

What platform will we use?

It’s crucial to find a peer-to-peer fundraising platform that works for both your organization and your donors. Some platforms are better suited for individual fundraising, while others are built specifically for nonprofits. Make sure you pay attention to the setup costs and transaction fees, as well.

Is our campaign tied to an event?

If you are running a time-based campaign, your peer-to-peer campaign is likely tied to an event. If that’s the case, make sure that your participants know the time and location of the event as well as any other details. Some peer-to-peer platforms even have built in signup sheets for these events.

Events That Go With Peer-to-Peer Fundraisers

Peer-to-peer fundraisers tend to work best when paired with active group events.

Most people think of walkathons or marathons, but there are so many other ways to incorporate peer-to-peer fundraising into your next event.

Here are six of the most common peer-to-peer fundraising events that you could host!

  • Themed Races

  • Team Sports

  • Endurance Events

How Does a Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser Work?

For Nonprofits

For Donors

What’s the Difference Between Peer-to-Peer Fundraising and Crowdfunding?

Difference between crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is essentially peer-to-peer fundraising on an individual scale. People or families use crowdfunding sites to raise money for entrepreneurial endeavors, medical expenses, life events, and more.

Individuals or families keep all of the money they raise (minus platform and credit card fees). The cause in question is chosen by the individual.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is usually employed by nonprofit organizations, schools, or churches. An organization gives its members or supporters the tools they need to raise money on behalf of the organization itself.

The cause or project that supporters are fundraising for is determined by the nonprofit. These supporters do not keep any of the funds they raise.

Examples of Successful Peer-to-Peer Campaigns

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver

Successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign

Every year, the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado, raise money and host a cycling event called Ride the Rockies.

In the past, without a peer-to-peer fundraising platform, they raised an average of $20,000.

But, when they switched to using a peer-to-peer platform, they saw a massive increase in their fundraising results. They ended up raising over $100,000 during their last event.

5th Annual Realty Austin Home Build

Successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign

The Austin Habitat for Humanity’s 5th Annual Home Build is raising $25,000 with a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

So far, they’ve raised nearly $17,000, but they still have over a month to reach their goal!

They’ve got five different teams that are all fundraising on their behalf. Their campaign also has giving levels that demonstrate what different amounts will help the nonprofit buy.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising in Practice

Best Practices for Running a Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser

1. Be Creative

Your peer-to-peer fundraiser needs to stand out from the crowd and rise above the noise of other campaigns.

The easiest way to do this is to flex your creative muscles and make your campaign as unique as possible.

Find a platform that can be easily customized to your campaign’s particular needs and your donors’ preferences. Your organization is like no other; why should your campaign be like everyone else’s?

2. Tell a Story

The best way to gain a large peer-to-peer fundraising following is to tell a heartwarming story.

Your donors want to hear about the good that your organization is doing; telling them a story can do that!

If you’re trying to raise money for a particular person, family, or community, tell their story in your peer-to-peer campaign materials. The emotional tie will encourage people to give to the campaign.

3. Recruit the Right Supporters

Your existing donor base is the best place to start when recruiting fundraisers to ask for donations on your behalf.

However, the supporters you choose should have a strong connection to your organization and cause.

Usually, your fundraisers will have given to and volunteered with your nonprofit in the recent past. These supporters can also be some of your biggest advocates or social media influences.

4. Provide Support

In all likelihood, most of your donors won’t be extremely experienced with fundraising.

Therefore, it’s your nonprofit’s job to provide them with the support and training that will help them be successful fundraisers.

This support might include email and social media templates, training videos, meetings for your local fundraisers, and a way to get in touch with your organization.

5. Recognize and Acknowledge

Your donors are committed to helping your organization achieve its fundraising goals.

In return, your nonprofit should recognize and acknowledge those supporters who meet and exceed the expectations.

You should send personalized thank-yous to every fundraiser, but you can also publicly acknowledge them during your event.

6. Keep Tabs on Your Progress

As with any other fundraising effort, you should keep track of your P2P campaign’s metrics.

It’s crucial to measure and report your key performance indicators during and after the campaign.

Make sure that you keep an eye on your retention and acquisition numbers as well as overall donor involvement and engagement.

How to Promote Your Peer-to-Peer Campaign

Email

Email is one of the most common ways that you and your supporters can promote your peer-to-peer fundraiser.

Since nearly everyone has at least one email address (if not two or three!), your nonprofit can easily spread the word and ask for more donations.

These emails should succinctly explain why your organization is raising money and why the recipient should give to your peer-to-peer campaign. They should also include photos and links to your peer-to-peer fundraising page.

Make sure that your supporters have email templates that they can customize when they send them to their friends and family members.

Social Media

Social media, when used correctly, can be one of the most powerful peer-to-peer fundraising tools at your disposal.

Many of your donors will be on one, if not a few, social media sites, making it the perfect avenue for promoting your peer-to-peer fundraiser.

Social media is one of the fastest ways to share, and it’s the platform that can grow your reach the most. Many people have hundreds, if not thousands, of people they’re connected to on social media.

Encourage your supporters to share the link to your peer-to-peer donation page on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds.

Direct Mail

Since peer-to-peer fundraising primarily takes place online, direct mail might seem like an irrelevant way to promote your campaign.

However, direct mail recipients donate online too! Include the URL to your peer-to-peer donation page in your letters, pamphlets, and cards.

Word-of-Mouth

Oftentimes, some good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing can help your peer-to-peer fundraiser reach more supporters.

This type of promotion often happens organically; your supporters will naturally want to talk about your great campaign!

How to Gamify Your Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser

Gamification is a way to make fundraising entertaining for your donors. It takes basic principles of games and competitions and applies them to fundraising. Check out the four ways you can gamify your peer-to-peer fundraiser.

Fundraising Thermometers

Fundraising thermometers are tools that your nonprofit can use to track your fundraising progress as it relates to your financial goal.

Fundraising thermometers look like real thermometers, but they’re featured on your donation page!

As people donate to your campaign, the “temperature” on the fundraising thermometer rises, showing that you’re getting closer to your fundraising goal.

Merchandise

Merchandise, when used as a fundraising incentive, can be an excellent way to gamify your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

As fundraisers hit fundraising goals, they can be eligible to receive perks like t-shirts, water bottles, and more!

For instance, if a fundraiser recruits 10 donors for your campaign, they can receive a branded t-shirt that demonstrates their participation in your campaign.

Leaderboards

Leaderboards are visual displays that show your fundraisers’ peer-to-peer progress. They typically show how much each person has raised and updates in real time.

Leaderboards can help to make the fundraising process feel like a game. Fundraisers (especially competitive ones!) will all be vying for the top spot as the weeks go by.

You can send out weekly updates to your fundraisers to let them know everyone’s current position on the leaderboard. You can raise the stakes even more by offering an ultimate prize to whoever has the number 1 spot a the end of the campaign.

Fundraising Badges

Fundraising badges are features that some peer-to-peer platforms include to reward fundraisers for reaching important peer-to-peer milestones or achieving accomplishments.

Common fundraising badges include “Recruited 10 Donors,” “Raised [Insert Amount],” “Sent Out 5 Fundraising Emails,” and “Shared Campaign on Social Media.”

Fundraisers display these badges on their individual campaign pages for everyone to see. When you prepare your fundraisers for your peer-to-peer campaign, tell them that they should strive to get as many fundraising badges as they can!

Metrics to Track During Your Peer-to-Peer Campaign

  • Donor Retention

    How many of your current donors are still actively giving to your nonprofit during and after your peer-to-peer campaign?

  • Donor Acquisition

    How many new donors did you recruit to your cause during the course of your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign?

  • Average Donation Size

    Were people giving large amounts during your campaign or were gift sizes relatively small?

  • Money Raised Per Fundraiser

    Gauge your fundraisers’ participation in your campaign by looking at how much money each person raised.

  • Overall Involvement

    It’s a good idea to keep tabs on your fundraisers, volunteers, and even staff members throughout your peer-to-peer campaign.

  • Average Number of New Supporters Per Fundraiser

    How many new donors did each of your fundraisers bring in during the campaign?

Using a Peer-to-Peer Campaign to Tell a Story

Because peer-to-peer campaigns rely on your donors to ask their friends and family members for donations on your behalf, it’s a very personal fundraising effort.

This means two things:

  1. Your donors are able to share their personal stories and connections to your nonprofit’s general cause and the specific objective of the peer-to-peer fundraiser.
  2. Your donors can share the central story that is driving your peer-to-peer campaign (when applicable).

Some nonprofits will highlight a particularly heartwarming story to emotionally appeal to supporters. This story should be focused on someone that your nonprofit has helped or a community that has benefited from your services.

You and your supporters can use storytelling to boost your fundraising efforts and get the word out about your mission and cause.

Ask your donors to tell their personal stories to provide donors with an emotional tie to your fundraiser. You can also tell a heartwarming story to encourage others to donate to your peer-to-peer campaign.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising and Matching Gifts

Peer-to-peer fundraising is not often thought of in conjunction with matching gifts, but the two can actually be paired quite nicely!

Matching gifts are a type of corporate giving program that reward employees who donate to nonprofits. Companies will match donations (usually at a 1:1 ratio) up to a certain amount per employee, per year.

Some companies also have fundraising matches. These types of programs are similar to matching gifts in that they double the amount of fundraising revenue your nonprofit receives.

However, they are different in that the company will match any donations that your peer-to-peer supporter makes to your nonprofit as well as any funds that they raise from their friends, family members, coworkers, and peers.

Make sure that you promote matching gifts and fundraising matches to your peer-to-peer fundraisers as they ask for donations. Their friends and family members might be more inclined to make contributions if they know that their donations will be doubled.

Make sure that you promote matching gifts and fundraising matches to your peer-to-peer fundraisers as they ask for donations. Their friends and family members might be more inclined to make contributions if they know that their donations will be doubled.

Expert Advice for Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaigns

Abby Jarvis

The most obvious benefit of peer-to-peer fundraising is that it builds on your existing donor relationships and expands your donor base.

Abby JarvisCommunications CoordinatorQgiv
Steve Johns

Using social media to promote your event or fundraising effort is a great way to reach your guests without blasting them with too many emails.

Steve JohnsCEOBidPal
Andrew Dain

Making your cause a centerpiece of your event will not only raise awareness, but may also educate participants and inspire them to become regular donors.

Andrew DainMarketing AssociateNeonCRM
Lomesh Shah

For the donors and volunteers who are passionate about your cause, a peer-to-peer campaign is their chance to educate their peers. When they ask for donations, your fundraisers can explain why your cause or mission is worth supporting and why they are so passionate about it.

Lomesh ShahCEOFundly

Additional Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Resources

Retaining P2P Donors

Learn the best tips for retaining peer-to-peer donors!

Retaining peer-to-peer donors can be tricky. Luckily we’ve got the resource you need! Check out this article to learn how you can keep P2P donors in your donor pool.

Top Platforms

Check out the top peer-to-peer fundraising platforms.

If your nonprofit is ready to start your peer-to-peer campaign, look through this list of peer-to-peer platforms to find the one that works for your organization!

P2P + Walkathons

How to combine peer-to-peer fundraising with a walkathon.

Check out this useful resource if you want to combine your upcoming walkathon (or other active event) with a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

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