Diary of a Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser: How to Get Your Participants Inspired

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During my time at Qgiv, I’ve spent loads of time using our peer-to-peer fundraising platform. Because we all help with QA tasks, I’ve spent hours (and hours) testing different parts of the system. But I’ve never actually used it as a participant in a real-life fundraiser… until now.

My husband and I are smack dab in the middle of a peer-to-peer fundraiser, and we’re using Qgiv’s peer-to-peer platform for all our fundraising. The event is put on by Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine (LVIM), and you can learn more about their signature event right over here. But, long before we ever logged into the system to start raising money, the nonprofit spent a lot of time getting us excited about taking part.

If you’re looking for ways to get your fundraising participants hyped about raising money, here are some ideas for you.

What they did to inspire us: made their mission real

LVIM’s signature event involves a group of fundraisers raising money over a 4-week period of time. The month-long fundraising period culminates in the Lakeland Derby, where participants race across a local lake in swan-shaped  paddle boats. It’s one of the biggest fundraising events in our hometown, so all of us knew what the Lakeland Derby entailed and who it supports.

What we didn’t know was the extent of the services LVIM offers to our community. To get us excited about raising money for them, the team at LVIM organized a tour of their facility for anyone who wanted to attend. We saw their offices, medical equipment, and patient facilities. We met their volunteers and heard their stories. We learned about how they work. And we saw their volunteers in action.

It was so moving! Most of us had no idea about the scope of the services LVIM provides, and I don’t think any of us had been inside their facilities. The tour made us aware that we were raising money for real-life people who got much-needed services from this organization. Being a participant wasn’t about fundraising just for the sake of it. Being a participant now seemed much more real, much more urgent, and much more special.

What you can do: take your participants on a facility tour

Please show your participants who they’re supporting when they raise money! It makes a huge impression.

I’m gonna be super real with you: when the staff at LVIM asked me to participate in this fundraiser, I was mostly excited about racing a paddle boat with my husband. I knew of LVIM, and I knew what they did, but that knowledge didn’t translate into real life. After the tour, I could quantify the effect our activities would make. I had seen the faces of people who got desperately-needed healthcare because of donors. My participation wasn’t just theoretical: it was pointed, purposeful, and real.

If you want to inspire your fundraisers, take them for a tour of your facility. Show them what they’ll support. Let them meet the people who benefit from your work. You’ll make the act of fundraising feel much more significant.

What they did to inspire us: made us feel important

The day of the tour, the LVIM staff held a press conference to introduce the participants and announce important dates. Because the Lakeland Derby is a major event in our home town, and because the nonprofit is such a beloved organization, they were able to attract a pretty decent crowd. At the press conference, they announced the year’s theme and fundraising goal. They also introduced all of the participants and thanked event sponsors. At the end, they shared event dates and other important information.

While the event didn’t stop the presses, it was a fantastic way to kick off the fundraising season. Attendees included everyone from sponsor representatives to board members to city commissioners. And, honestly, having a press release really reiterated that this peer-to-peer event is a big deal.

What you can do: organize a press conference

Want to make you fundraisers feel important? Need to get them involved? An event like a press conference can impress upon them that your event is significant! Whether you have reporters from the New York Times or a smaller gathering of local figures, a press conference lends a sense of gravitas to your fundraising.

Holding a press conference is also a valuable way to get images, quotes, and promotional materials from your participants that can be used in social media and other outlets! For example, our group took a group photo of us posing around a paddle boat and used it in a social media announcement designed to get people thinking about the upcoming derby.

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What they did to inspire us: made sure we knew who to ask for help

Participating in a fundraising event like this can bring up a lot of questions. For the Lakeland Derby, LVIM chooses a “Mama Swan” (or “Papa Swan”) who is the point person for anyone who has questions or concerns. The Mama Swan also reminds everyone about upcoming events, makes sure LVIM supports any independent fundraisers like raffles or contests, and helps organize participants the day of the event. The Mama or Papa Swan is always someone who has participated in the event in the past, so they can also help brainstorm ideas or help people out if they get stuck in a fundraising rut. They also send out regular emails encouraging participants and making themselves available if anyone needs them.

Knowing exactly who to go to when you have questions or concerns is a huge relief. As my husband and I talk through our fundraising ideas and plans, we know the Mama Swan is standing by if we don’t know how to do anything. Plus, LVIM staff doesn’t have to worry about fielding questions from confused participants as they try to pull off their biggest fundraiser of the year.

What you can do: give them a point-person

Give participants a designated point-person if they have questions or ideas. This person will act as a liaison between participants and staff, which makes communication easier and more effective than having multiple people in charge. Ideally, this person is very familiar with your event, fundraising best practices, and your nonprofit’s mission. Since they’ll be the primary person with whom your participants interact, they need to be able to effectively answer questions, offer help, and give feedback.

Once you’ve chosen your point-person, make sure your participants have their contact information. You can also encourage that person to proactively reach out to participants. Participants may be reluctant to reach out and ask questions on their own. Asking participants if you can help them invites them to bring you their concerns!

What they did to inspire us: got our creative juices going

Part of participating in the Lakeland Derby is getting creative with team names and marketing ideas. Each 2-person team comes up with their own name (which usually includes a swan pun) and a (usually goofy) team poster. To get our creativity popping, the Mama Swan sent all the teams a list of past team names. We also got to see several examples of really great team posters people had created for past events.

Getting an email that says, “Please send us your team name!” is a little intimidating. Where do you even start? Is the team name supposed to be cute? Should it be funny? Are serious team names better?

Getting an email that says, “Please send us your team name! Here’s a list of past team names that were really fun — go ahead and get creative with it!” was way less intimidating.

Luckily, I work with a bunch of people who love puns. We settled on “Carry on, My Wayward Swan.” It’s going over beautifully.

What you can do: give your participants lots of examples

Any time you ask your participants to do something — especially if the task involves getting creative or silly — send them some examples! Being creative right off the bat is hard… especially if you’re trying to think of clever team names or interesting fundraising ideas after a full day at the office.

You can also send a “packet” of digital tools your participants might need. LVIM, for example, shared several image files with all the fundraisers, including different variations on their logo, event banners, and more.

Qgiv tip: you can include all these tools in the “resources” section of your peer-to-peer event. Just upload the files you want to share with your participants to the resources section of your control panel. They’ll appear in your participants’ fundraising dashboards so they can easily find them when they need them.

Next up in the Diary of a Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser

The team at LVIM got fundraising off to a great start with a few really special techniques. Those will be broken out in our next installment — keep an eye out!

Want to see how Qgiv’s peer-to-peer platform works?

You can do that! Contact us online to get more information or schedule a one-on-one tour of our tools. You can also check out these other really great peer-to-peer event examples from our clients.

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