Peer-to-Peer Fundraising | The Ultimate Guide [Updated]

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Put simply, peer-to-peer fundraising is a strategy that lets people raise money on your behalf using personalized fundraising pages. It lets you tap into your supporters’ existing social networks! That helps you raise money, expand your donor base, and increase community awareness about your cause.

Let’s dive into peer-to-peer fundraising! We’ll cover a ton of information here, including:

If you’re ready to learn more about how peer-to-peer fundraising can work for your organization, read on!

What is peer-to-peer fundraising?

Peer-to-peer fundraising gives your supporters a way to raise money on your behalf. There are different styles, and this type of fundraiser can support individual fundraising, team fundraising, or a mix of both! Your nonprofit can use peer-to-peer fundraising to encourage participation in an event (like bike-a-thons and walkathons), get supporters involved with your mission, and raise more money!

How does peer-to-peer fundraising work?

The process involves a few steps:

  1. First, you’ll set a fundraising goal and set up its main campaign page using a peer-to-peer fundraising platform
  2. Then, you’ll recruit volunteer fundraisers to set up their own individual fundraising pages
  3. Next, you’ll provide the volunteer fundraisers with resources to use while promoting their pages
  4. During the fundraising stage, volunteer fundraisers share their individual campaign pages on a variety of channels
  5. Your nonprofit tracks the campaign’s progress and offers continued support to the volunteer fundraisers
Peer-to-peer fundraising steps:  determining a goal, recruiting volunteers, providing resources, sharing campaign pages, and tracking progress.

Who can use peer-to-peer fundraising?

Everyone can use peer-to-peer fundraising! You’ve probably already seen or experienced this type of fundraising. When individuals raise money for medical expenses or adoption fees on platforms like GoFundMe, it’s generally called crowdfunding. But crowdfunding relies on the same principle as nonprofit peer-to-peer fundraising!

Crowdfunding involves funding a project or campaign by collecting smaller donations from multiple donors. Peer-to-peer fundraising is a more in-depth version of crowdfunding! But some elements stay the same: participants still ask their friends and family to make donations and have their own crowdfunding-style page.

Why does peer-to-peer fundraising work?

Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns engage donors by involving them in the fundraising process, which also means it can be very cost effective. Also, it’s easy to combine this fundraising style with other campaigns run on online fundraising platforms, which means there’s tons of room to experiment and grow.

You can use this fundraising method to raise money, of course. But it’s also a valuable way to engage your most loyal supporters! It works because:

  • Your supporters can customize their donation pages to reflect their own relationship with your mission. That’s a fantastic way to get your supporters thinking about why they value their relationship with you!
  • Nonprofit staff and supporters will work closely together, which is a great way to build stronger relationships with your most engaged fans.
  • Donors feel more connected to your nonprofit after personally raising money for it!

Donors love participating in these fundraisers because it gives them a way to support their favorite organizations. It also gives them a way to show their friends and family what your mission means to them personally.

When is a good time to use peer-to-peer fundraising?

Peer-to-peer fundraising is incredibly versatile! You can use it in a variety of different ways, including:

  • Time-based campaigns. Set a goal and a fundraising deadline. Then, watch your donors race to donate and beat the clock!
  • Rolling campaigns. When your peer-to-peer fundraiser has no set end date, you give your donors a valuable way to stay engaged with you year-round. This is a great option for DIY fundraisers, board engagement campaigns, and more!
  • Giving days. Giving days like #GivingTuesday are short campaigns that challenge nonprofits to raise as much money as they can during that day. Peer-to-peer fundraising makes sharing the campaign easy and spreads that sense of urgency to lots of different donors.

Peer-to-peer fundraising also increases anticipation leading up to events like competitions. Event-based campaigns work very well! Your participants’ friends and family can support their loved one while supporting a good cause.

What is the difference between peer-to-peer and crowdfunding?

When people hear about peer-to-peer fundraising, there can be some confusion about how this fundraising method is different from crowdfunding. While the two fundraising methods have similarities they are very different in nature. 

Crowdfunding is a fundraising method used to raise money for a project or nonprofits from many different donors. Often, the donation amounts are smaller and the fundraising campaign counts on word of mouth and social sharing to reach a wide audience. 

While peer-to-peer fundraising also counts on donations from multiple donors, your organization will recruit previous donors and volunteers to reach out to their networks and raise money on your behalf. Donation amounts can vary and pledges can also be accepted. Your participants will have individual fundraising pages they can collect donations on and work to actively fundraise for your organization rather than just using casual, word-of-mouth fundraising methods to get the word out. 

While these are both handy ways of raising money for your organization, a peer-to-peer campaign can be more time consuming and require more effort to pull off. However, the payoff can be much larger than a simple crowdfunding campaign, making it a great option for organizations willing to put in the time and effort to organize a peer-to-peer fundraiser. Take time to learn more about the differences between crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising and figure out which method is right for you! 

For more peer-to-peer fundraising ideas, check out our guide to over 72 awesome fundraising ideas and events.

Getting Started with Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

You may be asking yourself, “How do I start a peer-to-peer campaign?” We’ve broken all key parts of the planning and execution into 5 simple steps.

Step 1: Define your campaign.

Once you’ve decided to run a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, you have to ask yourself:

  • How much do we want to raise?
  • Which kind of campaign is this—rolling or time-based?
  • What’s the central theme?

Setting goals for your campaign is a great way to keep everyone on the same page and ensure that you’re on the right track throughout your fundraiser.

The first step of peer-to-peer fundraising is to define your campaign.

Step 2: Recruit your fundraisers.

Once you’ve figured out your goals, it’s time to reach out to your donors and volunteers to recruit participants for your peer-to-peer fundraiser. Send out emails and post about your fundraiser on your social media accounts to grab people’s attention and get them excited to fundraise.

If you’ve hosted peer-to-peer campaigns in the past, extend a special invitation to past participants to see if they’d be willing to fundraise again. You can offer incentives for people to become fundraisers, including free t-shirts and other prizes as well. The sooner you start reaching out and spreading the word, the more participants you’ll be able to recruit!

Step 3: Set up your campaign website.

The bulk of your peer-to-peer campaign will revolve around the campaign website you create, from which your participants will create their individual fundraising pages. Your campaign website will be the go-to resource for all of your participants, donors, volunteers, and anyone else involved in your campaign. Here are a few tips and tricks to create an eye-catching, informative, and helpful campaign website for your next peer-to-peer campaign:

  • Create an FAQ page. If you can anticipate common questions your fundraisers will have about peer-to-peer fundraising, the specifics of your campaign, or anything else, creating an FAQ page can give your participants, donors, and volunteers a place to go to get answers.
  • Use cohesive branding. Make sure your logo is prominently displayed on your website and that your website sticks to a nice color scheme that reflects your organization’s branding or specifically created for your campaign.
  • Include a fundraising thermometer. Displaying your fundraising progress on your website helps people visualize how well your campaign is going. It also helps your donors feel proud about their contribution to your fundraiser’s success.

Step 4: Facilitate donation pages.

Before your campaign starts, make sure your fundraisers are educated on how the campaign works, what your goals are, and how to use the fundraising software. To get them started on the right track, you should help each fundraiser design and personalize their own donation page. Give your participants writing prompts, talking points, graphics, and anything else they might need to create an engaging, effective fundraising page.

Then, after they’ve built their pages, make sure your fundraisers have everything that they need to share their donation pages. Make sure they have access to social sharing buttons, post templates, and ways to sign up to be a volunteer or purchase merchandise.

The second step to peer-to-peer fundraising is to facilitate your donation pages.

Step 5: Support your supporters!

Chances are your peer-to-peer participants don’t have much experience with fundraising and asking for donations themselves. While they may have experience with being on the end of a donation ask, they probably don’t have any experience making that kind of request. Before you send your participants off to ask for donations, make sure they’re fully equipped to start fundraising!

Provide your peer-to-peer participants with tools like email and social media templates, scripts, graphics, and storytelling tips and tricks so they can put their best foot forward when making a donation ask! With these kinds of resources, all your fundraisers need to do is fill in the blanks and send their well-crafted message off to their family and friends. And as a well-seasoned fundraiser yourself, make sure to guide them along the way with advice and tools you may use when fundraising!

Once you've facilitated your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign pages, it's time to begin your campaign!

Step 6: Build relationships with your donors.

As donations come in, you’ll need to keep track of your fundraisers’ efforts and collect new donor data by:

  • Syncing new donor information to your CRM.
  • Updating existing donor database records.
  • Linking donation and interaction history with supporter profiles.

Then, use that information to update donors and participants about your progress. Running a peer-to-peer campaign will help you form deeper relationships with your donors and fundraisers. But you do need to stay engaged with your supporters throughout the process!

Building relationships with your donors is a key step to running your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

Step 7: Recognize your peer-to-peer fundraisers.

Make sure you thank each and every one of your peer-to-peer fundraisers with a personal note, email, or phone call.

Use your end-of-campaign event to celebrate and recognize them, too! Let them know how much you appreciate their help and tell them what their fundraising has achieved. Then, follow up with donors and fundraisers alike to share how you used the money they raised.

It's important to recognize everyone who's involved with your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, especially your individual fundraisers.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Best Practices

Wondering how you can step up your peer-to-peer fundraising game? Here are a few best practices all seasoned fundraisers keep in mind when running a peer-to-peer campaign.

1. Use multi-channel marketing

Once you’ve recruited your team of fundraisers and prepared them to raise money, how can you help them spread the message about your campaign?

Multi-channel marketing can help you and your peer-to-peer participants reach more of your donors and even expand your reach beyond your usual network of supporters! Here are a few ways to use multi-channel marketing to spread the word about your peer-to-peer campaign and solicit donations. 

  • Email. Email is one of the most effective methods of asking for donations during this kind of fundraising campaign. Try providing your fundraisers with a few templates they can fill out and use to email friends and family about your campaign and their fundraising efforts. 
  • Social media. Sharing personal fundraising pages on social media brings them to the attention of your fundraisers’ friends and family. Encourage your participants to post updates that share why they’re participating and ask people to give. Once they’ve started posting, interact with their posts by liking or commenting to drive engagement and make your participants feel heard. 
  • Traditional marketing. Ask for donations yourself, too! Direct mail, print advertisements, and face-to-face solicitations are great ways to engage donors who aren’t online or prefer more personal interactions. Your participants can also solicit donations in person when they get together with their family and friends or by hanging up flyers in their communities. Provide your participants with scripts they can use to ask for donations when they’re fundraising face-to-face with others.

2. Integrate with matching gifts platforms

Encourage your supporters to participate in their employers’ matching gift programs! Every donation made by an eligible donor can be matched at a 1:1, 2:1, or even 3:1 ratio. This means a single donation can have double the impact!

But how do you make it happen? Just provide your donors with access to a matching gift database like Double the Donation! Matching gifts databases give donors a way to see if their gift is eligible for a match. They can also review their employer’s matching gift requirements!

You can add a matching gifts widget to your donation form so donors don’t even have to leave the page to check if their employer has a matching gift program. Adding this widget also makes the matching gift process easier for employers. Once your donor completes their gift, their donation information is automatically sent to their employer for processing.  

Many companies have a minimum amount they will match. If your supporters know this, they may be inclined to make a bigger donation! Imagine a donor was going to donate $15. Then, during the donation process, they learn their employer only matches gifts $25 or higher. That donor will likely donate $25 so their gift can be matched. That means you can receive $50!

3. Stay engaged with your fundraisers

Once your fundraising campaign is in full swing, stay in contact with your fundraisers by:

  • Sharing frequent campaign updates
  • Acknowledging and celebrating the most successful fundraisers
  • Encouraging hesitant participants
  • Engaging with your fundraisers’ posts

Encourage your fundraisers and play to their strengths! Strengths may include a strong, engaged social media following or a close connection with locals in your community. Help them use those assets to raise money!

4. Use cohesive storytelling tactics

As you send your participants off into the world to fundraise for your organization, make sure everyone’s on the same page about the messaging of your campaign. Ensure that all facts and figures you’ve shared with your participants are accurate and that the tone of your campaign is cohesive.

While it’s okay to tailor messages specifically to your audience and for your participants to do the same for their audiences, it’s important that the main points of your campaign are the same across every email and social media post you or your participants create and share. This avoids confusion and stokes confidence in your donors that they’re donating to the right cause.

5. Make it easy for your participants to share

Your participants will be frequently sharing their personal fundraising pages and information about your peer-to-peer campaign with their audience once the fundraising gets started. To avoid forcing your participants to copy and paste the same information and links over and over again, add social sharing buttons everywhere you can.

With a single click, your participants should be able to share their personal fundraising pages, your campaign website, and any other important pages with their networks via email or social media. And with templates and scripts, crafting the perfect post shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes. Use any tools you can think of to make sharing about your campaign easier for your participants.

Inspiring your peer-to-peer participants is the key to a successful campaign  and event. Download our Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Email Templates to keep your  fundraisers motivated!

6. Encourage friendly competition

Motivating your participants is easy when you introduce a little friendly competition into your campaign! Try offering prizes to the people who raise the most money by the end of your campaign or rewarding them with badges every time they hit a fundraising milestone.

You can also allow participants to team up with their friends, family, or coworkers to fundraise by creating fundraising teams. Fundraising with friends is always more fun and setting out to conquer other teams as fundraising champions is an extra-engaging element you can add to your peer-to-peer fundraiser. Just make sure to add a team leaderboard to your campaign website so everyone can see where they stand and how much money they need to raise to reach the top spot!

7. Inspire your participants

Do your fundraisers need an extra push or motivation to keep fundraising? Prizes are a great way to incentivize your participants, but there are plenty of other ways to keep your participants engaged and inspired.

Try using your organization’s social media platforms to give them a little morale boost. Have any of your fundraisers shared a particularly moving reason for why they support your organization? Has anyone gotten creative with their fundraising efforts? Share about your participants and how they’re fundraising on your social media accounts.

You can also hold an awards show at the end of your campaign to publicly recognize your outstanding peer-to-peer participants. Come up with creative awards and find ways to make all of your participants feel proud of the work they put into fundraising and appreciated by your organization.

Peer-to-peer campaigns we love

Check out two of the most successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns of 2018! First, we’ll take a look at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Jasper/Newton Counties Bowl for Kids’ Sake. Then, we’ll look at the Pikes Peak Humane Society ‘Pawtoberfest’ campaign.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters team explains how they match kids with mentors, and then invites visitors to donate to the campaign, register for the event, or both!

This peer-to-peer-fundraising campaign is successful because it offers the necessary information and recognizes its supporters.

This crowd-pleasing event is successfully used by Big Brothers Big Sisters chapters all over the United States. Sometimes they switch up the exact game played, but overall, the general process is the same. 

What makes this campaign successful:

  • They combined a fun activity (bowling!) with a worthy cause, then give supporters different ways to get involved.
  • The “Our Newest Participants” and “Recent Activity” sections are a fun, engaging way to make everyone feel the organization’s appreciation.

Next, the Pikes Peak Humane Society fundraising campaign is part of the lead-up to their annual Pawtoberfest event, which they continue to hold in 2022 because it’s so successful for them.

What makes a successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign is making your donation page visually attractive and informative.

What makes this campaign work:

  • Varying colors and fonts catch donors’ attention and draw them into learning about the event
  • The header image features bright colors and an adorable logo, which reinforces the nonprofit’s brand
  • Important event information is front and center in large text, so it’s easy to find
  • The fundraising thermometer and event leaderboard create friendly competition between fundraisers

Using peer-to-peer fundraising software

What is peer-to-peer fundraising software?

The concept of peer-to-peer fundraising is relatively straightforward. But how can you stay on top of things when your nonprofit has dozens (or more!) participants?

Comprehensive peer-to-peer fundraising software enables you to:

  • Track your campaign’s progress
  • Collect donor data
  • Sell merchandise
  • Customize event registration
  • Support both individual and team fundraising
  • And more!
Using peer-to-peer fundraising software is key to running a successful campaign.

Features to look for

Using a peer-to-peer fundraising platform to support your campaign can streamline your process by providing features such as:

  • Customizable donation pages
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Online merchandise storefronts
  • Fundraising badges, thermometers, and leaderboards

When you’re shopping around for a peer-to-peer software, make sure to look for a software solution that is flexible and will grow with your organization’s needs and creativity. You should also find a platform that offers plenty of support and training options for your organization’s staff and leadership. Not all peer-to-peer software solutions are made the same and some have a learning curve, so having the proper support is essential for your organization’s fundraising success.  

By including all of these features in one package, peer-to-peer fundraising software makes it easy for your nonprofit to run the most efficient and effective campaign possible.

Benefits of using peer-to-peer fundraising platforms

There are many benefits to using this kind of software. Here are the top three:

  1. Donors always get a receipt and thank-you note after completing a streamlined donation process
  2. Branding your donation page to your organization instills trust that the revenue is going to your nonprofit. Fundraisers can easily share their posts and use mobile-optimized pages. Mobile-responsive donation pages do yield 34% more donations. 
  3. Fundraisers can easily share their posts and drive traffic to mobile-optimized pages

Peer-to-peer fundraising software can ensure that your team and your fundraisers have all the tools they need to run a successful campaign.

Are you looking for fundraising software to make your life as a fundraiser  easier? Download The Fundraiser’s Guide to Buying Software to make your  software search a breeze!

How Qgiv can help your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign

When you partner with Qgiv for a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, you’re not just getting our software! We’ll also:

  • Train your team to use the software.
  • Scale our software to your organization’s growing needs and adapt as you change.
  • Give you ongoing support throughout your campaign for troubleshooting, questions, and more.

And don’t forget to take advantage of all the other features that our fundraising platform offers!

  • Text fundraising. Pairing your peer-to-peer campaign with text fundraising helps your organization reach your participants on the devices they always have with them—their phones. With keywords and automated donation completion reminders, you’ll make it easy for your donors to give on their phones no matter where they are in the world. 
  • GiftAssist. Give your donors the option to offset processing costs for their gift by adding a small amount to their donation with GiftAssist. Your donors can add the additional amount right from your donation form as they’re completing their transaction. 
  • Customer experience. Fundraising isn’t easy, but you never have to do it alone! Wondering if you’re using our products to their maximum potential? Want to learn how to up your fundraising game? Our customer experience team is always ready to help you get the most from Qgiv. 

Remember the highly successful examples that we showed you earlier? They were powered by Qgiv! Thousands of nonprofits have trusted Qgiv to support their peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns. You can read some of their testimonials here!

Good peer-to-peer fundraising software makes it easy to build a great event page, launch your event, and support your participants as they raise money for your cause. With our suite of comprehensive fundraising tools and features, we’ll support you the whole way, from the planning period to the final thank-you emails.

You’ll like these extra resources!

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

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