A Comprehensive Guide to Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

What is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?

To put it simply, peer-to-peer fundraising is an online fundraising strategy that empowers individuals to fundraise on behalf of a worthy cause. By using your existing supporters and their social networks, you can raise money, expand your donor base, and increase awareness for your cause.  

To start your peer-to-peer fundraiser, follow these steps:  

  • Determine a fundraising goal and set up your campaign using a platform 
  • Recruit volunteers to set up their own fundraising pages that they will later share with their individual audiences 
  • Volunteers can share a variety of marketing materials and resources along with their individual campaign pages.  
  • Offer any needed support to your volunteers along the way while tracking the progress of your campaign. 

If you are hesitant about starting a peer-to-peer fundraiser, we are here to tell you the benefits and where to get started.  

Benefits of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Builds Upon Personal Relationships  

Traditional fundraising requires time, effort, and research to find donors that align with your mission. Additionally, you have to be willing to put in the effort to develop a relationship with a donor, which can take time.   

Peer-to-peer fundraising is different in the way that you can take advantage of the prior relationships your supporters have, meaning their families, friends, colleagues, and more. If someone you trust is advocating for a cause they personally believe in, you are more likely to engage in supporting the cause. Your supporters can share personal stories and experiences that they’ve had with your organization, establishing credibility and making it easier for someone to take the next steps to support your organization.  

Acquires New Donors 

What is social proof? Social proof is a positive influence created when someone finds out that others are doing something. For example, you are scrolling through Instagram and see that a group of your friends are participating in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. You’ve always wanted to run a 5k, and now that you see your friends participating you are more motivated to join in. You are more likely to trust an organization if someone you know and trust also contributes to the same organization. Through peer-to-peer fundraisers, you can extend your reach and grow support through your existing personal connections.  

Spreads Brand Recognition  

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way to increase brand exposure and recognition. Not only are you reaching your supporters, but you are also reaching their social networks and their audiences. You are also utilizing one of the most tried and true forms of marketing: word of mouth. Your supporters are personally invested and dedicated to reaching their goals, which means they are going to be the best advocates for your cause.  

Engages Top Supporters 

Every organization has a group of its top supporters who have been with your organization throughout every fundraiser. These supporters have grown to be personally invested in your mission, and by now they know as much as you do. Recruit your top supporters to keep them engaged and involved in your organization. Now that they have supported you throughout time, let them use their passion to become champions of your cause. 

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas  

Wondering where to start? Here are a few ideas.  

5K Races 

5K races are one of the most popular forms of peer-to-peer fundraising. Anything from a run, a walk, and bike ride, or a swim brings out everyone’s inner competitive side for a good cause. You can easily tailor your event to fit a large age demographic in order to make it a fun event for the whole family. This is also a great way to drive donations by selling custom t-shirts, water bottles, hats, and more. You can even reach out to in-kind sponsors to sponsor post-event drinks and snacks.   

Creative Challenges 

Viral challenges and online challenges have become popular forms of peer-to-peer fundraising. Take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that swept social media back in 2014. This challenge raised over $115 million by encouraging users to post videos of them soaking themselves in ice water in order to raise awareness about ALS. Peer-to-peer challenges can be fun, quirky, and creative. Audiences love seeing their friends and families doing silly challenges such as wearing a goofy costume or growing out a beard.   

Thon-Style Events 

Thon-Style events such as bowl-a-thons, read-a-thons, dance-a-thons, are great ways to rally support and generate funds quickly. Participants collect pledges and then do the designated activity for as long as they can. For example, in walk-a-thons, participants collect pledge donations for each mile they walk. This encourages participants to push themselves to do their best and brings out supporters who want to see them through until the end.  

Giving Day 

Holding a Giving Day such as Giving Tuesday is a great way to promote community and generosity within a one-day campaign. Utilize your supporters by setting up individual ambassador pages that link to your campaign. There, supporters can track their progress and share the link with their friends and family.  The time-limited element encourages donors to donate today and helps you reach your goals quickly.   

Best Practices for Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

  • Set individual fundraising goals: Not only is having an overall campaign goal important, but it’s also important for your supporters to set individual goals. This helps them to manage their progress and makes individuals more motivated to reach their personal fundraising goal.  
  • Offer incentives: Motivate your supporters throughout their campaign. Offer incentives for fundraising goals such as a custom campaign t-shirt, water bottle, or stickers. This encourages them to continue to do the good work that they are doing for your nonprofit.  
  • Express your gratitude: Thank your supporters along the way! Your supporters may have some concerns along the way, such as the stigma surrounded around asking friends and family for money. You are their greatest resource, let them know that you are thankful for their dedication and support and that you are with them every step of the way.  
  • Host an event: Hosting an event is a great way to give your supporters something to look forward to. In turn, supporters can invite friends and family to join the event or speculate and this increases awareness for both your brand and your cause.  
  • Have compelling visuals: If you are hosting an event, this is the perfect time to get compelling visuals for your social platforms. Take pictures and videos of your supporters during their event and showcase the passion they have for your organization. In turn, this makes for great content for the next year your fundraiser comes around.  
  • Have a communication strategy: You must develop your own strategy for your peer-to-peer fundraiser along with your strategy for your supporters. Make sure you have social media updates, email communication, and website updates going out on a steady basis to keep followers and supporters informed of the progress of your campaign.  
  • Offer marketing materials: Have marketing materials available for your supporters so they aren’t lost on where to begin their fundraising communication. Offer social media graphics for them to post on their socials, pre-written emails for them to send to friends and family, and sample messaging they can share with their audiences.  
  • Matching gifts: Matching gifts are another incentive to offer to encourage donations to your peer-to-peer fundraiser. For example, if you reach the $10,000 mark on your fundraiser, a donor will match it with another $10,000 gift. This is a great way to provide recognition to larger donors and to promote giving.  

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Software

In order to run a successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, you should use fundraising software. There are a number of peer-to-peer fundraising software options out there to make your fundraiser go as smoothly as possible.  

Share your Campaign

Platforms such as Classy empower your supporters to fundraise on your behalf. You can easily create branded campaigns, fund a project, and raise support for a new mission. Their pages are built for engagement and are easy to use as well as visually appealing for supporters. This makes it easy for your supporters to share their fundraiser pages with the simple click of a button.  

Track Data

Software like Donately offers custom donation forms, fundraising pages, text messaging, and donor management tools. It is simply designed to make it accessible for both organizations and supporters. Their forms allow you to share your overall story and for supporters to add their own personal interest to their cause. You can view who your most generous donors are, popular donation amounts, and important trends. This data can give you insight into your donors and help you create better fundraising strategies.  

Measure Metrics

Platforms such as Soapbox Engage offer several ways to raise money, connect with supporters, and share your mission online. Soapbox is also integrated with Salesforce, which is helpful in saving donation and campaign data straight to your CRM. You can measure how well your data performed and track donors and engagement. This is helpful to improve your strategies for your next campaign.   

Customize your Fundraiser

Fundly Pro is a visual fundraising platform that features videos and photos on every fundraising page. It’s easily managed for mobile users and also has a team of fundraising experts who can help you develop a strategy. Brand your campaign pages with your organization logo and color palette, that way your page is consistent with your website and marketing materials.  

    Successful Peer-to-Peer Fundraisers

    Polar Plunge

    For just $50 dollars, you can participate in the coldest fundraiser of the year, the Polar Plunge. Every year, the Special Olympics Programs holds a Polar Plunge in which brave souls run into freezing cold water to raise money for the program. The Polar Plunge is held in several locations, but last year in Delaware the Plunge raised a whopping $1,018,000 for the organization, the highest fundraising amount in the event’s history. The event is family-friendly, and encourages supporters to recruit their friends to join or speculate.  

    Work out for Water

    Les Mills and UNICEF partnered to encourage everyone to Workout for Water. The goal is to raise $414 from every workout, which is the cost of one water pump for a village. Users can set up a page or a team, ask family and friends for support, and pick a challenge. Users then share their challenge on social media using #workoutforwater and tag friends who they want to take on the challenge. So far in their 2021 campaign they have raised just under $600,000 with 3,296 fundraisers participating.  

    UCI’s Anti-Cancer Challenge

    The UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge is a ride, run, and walk aimed at raising awareness and funds for cancer research at the UCI Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Each year, UCI academic departments, divisions, and units take part by creating teams to meet their fundraising goals. They offer prizes for goals reached such as gift cards, Anaheim Ducks tickets, and even a stay at a nearby resort. Not only does the event bring together the UCI community, but also attracts cancer survivors and those who have lost loved ones to join in to support cancer research.   

    Now that you’re an expert on running a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, check out some of these resources to take your campaigns to the next level. 

    Why Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Still Works 

    Leveraging Instagram for Peer-to-Peer Fundraisers 

    Thank your Peer-to-Peer fundraisers 

    Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way to offer your organization increased exposure and raise more donations. If you’re ready to learn more about how to start your peer-to-peer fundraising strategy now, contact our team for more information!

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