If you’ve read the last few articles, you know I’m participating in my very first peer-to-peer fundraiser. My husband (Dave) and I teamed up to raise money for Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine (LVIM). The two-part event involves a month-long fundraising period that culminates in a unique race — participants race swan-shaped paddle boats across a local lake at an event called the Lakeland Derby. You can read more about Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine and how they use peer-to-peer fundraising right over here!
One of the best parts about LVIM’s event is that they really focus on empowering their participants to get creative with their fundraising efforts. Almost all of us have put together independent fundraisers or events to raise money! Some fun ones include:
- Taco Tuesday at a local bar and restaurant benefiting LVIM
- A wing eating contest
- Paying to “swan” someone’s house
- Creating a custom cocktail at a bar with all proceeds going to LVIM
As for me and Dave (aka team Carry On My Wayward Swan), we had a happy hour fundraiser at our favorite neighborhood beer spot. $1 per pour of two popular beers plus 10% of all other beer sales went to LVIM. We also held a raffle for several bottles of rare beers donated by our friends. It was a great night!
Here’s what LVIM has done to encourage us to get creative about raising money.
They told us to get creative
This was honestly the most important thing they did. They told us to get creative! LVIM encouraged us to reach out to local businesses to put together fundraisers. They told us to have fun with how we raised money. And they offered help if we needed ideas or backup.
How simple, right? But that little push — the little comments encouraging us to think outside the box and have fun with fundraising — was huge.
What you can do
“Duh, Abby,” you might think. “That is literally the point of peer-to-peer fundraising.”
And you’re right! But, participants don’t always understand how much creative freedom they really have.
It’s the same kind of concept as making sure you include an actual ask in an appeal letter. YOU might know that you want people to donate, but people don’t donate unless you ask. You might think your participants understand they can get creative, but they won’t do it unless you ask.
They offered backup
Asking our friends at local businesses to donate money to us was remarkably intimidating. Way more intimidating than I anticipated! The fact that LVIM offered backup was really comforting. If the businesses had questions, we didn’t have to answer them; we pointed them to LVIM staff. Where do businesses send the proceeds? Someone at LVIM will help handle it! Can I have some fliers and brochures to give to people at the event? Yes! An LVIM staffer will give you as many fliers as you want!
Having the full support of the LVIM team was a huge motivator for us… at least for me. Knowing someone was just an email, text, or phone call away if I had questions, encountered obstacles, or needed materials was so reassuring!
What you can do
Don’t shove your participants into the fundraising world with no backup! Telling your fundraisers to get out there and get creative is great, but they’ll need support. Encourage them to reach out to you if they have questions. Appoint a contact person if something comes up while they’re fundraising. Make sure they know who to contact if they need support materials like signage or fliers.
Remember, the people who are raising money for you aren’t professionals. If they’re like me, they’ve never had to ask their friend, who manages the local bar, if they’ll donate proceeds of their happy hour. They might be intimidated by asking such a big favor from a local business. In all likelihood, they have no idea how to get money from the business to the nonprofit. Help them out!
They showed up
Dave and I showed up at the bar around 2:45 p.m. to set up my laptop and get the bottles ready to display. When Alice (the development director at LVIM) walked in, I breathed a sigh of relief. Running a fundraiser isn’t something I do on a regular basis. But Alice does. Having her in the room was so reassuring! She helped guide us through tactical issues, like our last-minute (relatively heated) debate about how much we should charge for raffle tickets, setting up fliers on the donation table, and talking to attendees.
What you can do
Show up! When a participant puts on a fundraiser, support them by physically being at their event. They’re putting a lot of time, effort, and energy into raising money for you, and they’re probably way outside their comfort zones. Having you on hand to answer questions, talk to guests, or even just offer an occasional thumbs-up or encouraging smile will make a big impact on your participants.
Previously in the Diary of a Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser
Next up in the Diary of a Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser
Get a peek into real-life tactics LVIM has been using to keep us engaged with fundraising. We’re all busy people with jobs and families, but they’re doing a great job staying in touch without seeming annoying or overbearing.