How to Start a Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaign

In today’s online and information-rich age, you may think there’s nothing new to learn about nonprofit fundraising. On the contrary, technology is empowering community organizers to implement more advanced strategies and reach new audiences. 

So, if your regular donor list could use some new names, but your nonprofit organization already has a dedicated core of supporters, why not use the tools available to you to start a peer-to-peer campaign? It’s not exactly a revolutionary idea, but we promise it has strong potential to revitalize tired fundraising efforts.

The Strategic Difference in Peer-to-Peer Campaigns

Instead of asking for direct individual donations, a peer-to-peer or “P2P” fundraiser puts basic tools in the hands of your organization’s core group of supporters, and then backs away — for all practical purposes — from the day-to-day management and tracking of the fundraising. 

[FREE DOWNLOAD] Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Guide

Individual supporters can use whatever methods they are most comfortable with to solicit financial pledges from family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and local businesses. They might send flyers, make phone calls, promote a campaign on their personal social media pages, hold that garage sale they’ve been planning and donate a percentage of the profit, or sponsor a “mini event” to which they invite their individual circle of contacts.

Peer-to-peer efforts are ideally suited for several types of nonprofit fundraising:

  • The Single-Day Fundraiser: Think of traditional “fill the boot” efforts for muscular dystrophy. That classic has been held for 67 years, until COVID-19 “booted” it momentarily. Another well-known example is, of course, an annual “giving day.” It works!
  • The Virtual Campaign: Do you have friends on social media who ask for donations to a special cause in lieu of a birthday card or gift? That is peer-to-peer fundraising in its most basic form. It takes little to no effort to organize, but is a powerful public relations move for a nonprofit. Part of the uphill road to increasing donations is getting your name in front of new people, right? This takes the onus off the organization and, instead, leaves the method and the logistics to core supporters.
  • Fundraising with a Deadline: When you need money in a hurry, P2P is the answer. It gains momentum quickly, and creates an expanding ripple effect that brings quick results. Friends tell friends who have friends who can donate to the cause and then tell other friends…

That’s why P2P fundraising is so powerful: it’s simple. Instead of bringing people together to seek approval; plan and organize an event; advertise, staff, and administer that event; sell tickets; and perform the myriad other tasks required, peer-to-peer efforts allow a large team of dedicated supporters to act as “ambassadors” on behalf of a good cause. They are empowered to use their personal ingenuity and influence to produce results, and they are transformed from donors to advocates.

How to Plan an Effective P2P Campaign

First and foremost, you need to find a software system that is specifically designed for peer-to-peer fundraising. Once you’ve identified a P2P software, you need to set up the campaign within the platform. Set goals, communicate past achievements, talk about the future. Be specific. Let the public know how the money will be used, how many individuals will be helped, and how that help is given. The organization should take the lead with marketing, leaving the “legwork” to others. Remember, it’s important to develop a consistent message, one that is pertinent to your organization’s overall mission, and one which will resonate with the larger community.

Once the campaign is set up and you’ve created the messaging, it’s time to get people involved. Peer-to-peer fundraising is rooted in individuals. Count on everyone to get involved — from full-time staff, members of the board, dedicated volunteers, and past supporters. Each has an equal opportunity to tell the same story, and that is a powerful message in its own right. By freeing a core group of supporters to spread the message in their own way, you are likely to seed new communities of support.

Let Your Peers Campaign for You

The broad scope of support generated by an effectively-run P2P campaign can be almost overwhelming; in addition to meeting your financial goals, you may also receive additional offers of in-kind support, volunteer hours, and other unexpected donations. It’s wise to discuss in advance how to deal with such offers. Remember that one of the underlying goals of nonprofit fundraising is to develop a broader base of future support. That leads to a stronger and more effective operation.

Peer-to-peer aspects can be incorporated into almost any fundraising event. Think of P2P fundraising as an effective strategy, while UncommonGood is the intuitive fundraising platform that will help you implement that strategy. 

There’s no need to abandon your annual fundraising banquet and silent auction; by all means, go ahead and schedule the “Fall Fun Run.” But, at the same time, take a closer look at the opportunities that peer-to-peer efforts provide for nonprofit fundraising. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and that you’ll find it financially rewarding.

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