What is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a strategy that makes use of existing donors’ networks and encourages supporters to reach out to their peers, friends, coworkers, and family members for donations.
Individual fundraisers usually set up a personal fundraising page to accept donations, which are then received by your nonprofit.
Why Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Works
Builds on Relationships
The most obvious benefit of peer-to-peer fundraising is that it builds on your existing donor relationships and expands your donor base.
Instead of your nonprofit’s fundraisers going out and soliciting individuals, your loyal supporters are the ones asking their friends, family members, and coworkers to contribute to your cause.
Peer-to-peer fundraising works so well because it’s an organic process that includes your donors in the fundraising action.
Instead of your nonprofit dictating the message and forming a cohesive fundraising strategy, your donors get to use their own creativity and express their own stories.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is one of the most cost-effective ways to raise money for a specific project or cause.
With peer-to-peer fundraising, you have more feet on the ground asking for donations for your cause; you not only raise money quickly, you also save money!
Donors Lead the Fundraising Charge
Your donors can use peer-to-peer fundraising to start a philanthropic conversation with their friends, family members, and coworkers.
This not only gives your organization’s fundraising efforts a boost, but it also allows your donors to connect with their friends and family in different ways to support a great cause.
Donors Connect With Their Networks
With peer-to-peer fundraising, your donors are asking for support on your behalf.
Peer-to-peer fundraising doesn’t shift responsibility, but it does allow your supporters to take a little more control during the fundraising process. This “insider” experience can inspire them to be more active in your organization.
Individuals Own Their Involvement
With peer-to-peer fundraising, donors can interact as much or as little as they’d like with their favorite organization.
If a donor can only ask a few people for donations, that’s great! If a supporter raises thousands of dollars and recruits more donors, that’s great too!
Both donors get to own their own involvement.
Who Uses Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?
Nonprofit and faith-based organizations use peer-to-peer fundraisers as an additional way to raise money for their projects and causes.
Organizations that use peer-to-peer fundraising usually tie the fundraiser to an event like a marathon or walkathon, but this is not always the case.
While peer-to-peer fundraising is not an expensive fundraising avenue, the events these campaigns are often tied to can be costly. As such, an organization may only host one or two P2P fundraisers per year.
An individual fundraising for a cause is usually termed crowdfunding, rather than peer-to-peer fundraising, but there is some overlap between the intent and the software for both methods.
People and families use a crowdfunding platform to ask for donations on behalf of a nonprofit.
Since these campaigns aren’t organized or managed by the nonprofit, it’s up to the individual to market and solicit donations. Since their endeavor is very personal, their friends and family may feel inspired to donate!
When to Use Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Time-based campaigns are hosted within a specific timeframe, generally six to eight weeks.
Since your organization has a certain timeframe to raise a specific amount of money, this campaign requires targeted marketing strategies to spread the word and rally support around your campaign.
Also known as year-round campaigns, rolling peer-to-peer fundraisers allow supporters to donate at their convenience until you reach your goal.
By offering this option, you help your supporters to take action on behalf of your organization outside of your hosted campaigns or events.
Giving Days are mini time-based campaigns that reduce the timeframe to 24 hours and challenge donors to raise as much money as they can in that single day.
Donors often get so excited about raising a lot of money in a short amount of time that they exceed their goal!
Events That Pair Well With Peer-to-Peer Campaigns
Peer-to-peer fundraising is best suited for active competitions that include a lot of people and promote community.
These types of events work well because donors are not only supporting your nonprofit, but they’re supporting the individual who participates in the competition.
Considerations to Make Before Running a Campaign
Make sure you provide your fundraisers with everything they need by purchasing an excellent peer-to-peer platform.
Although the right platform will vary from organization to organization, in general the best platforms will be:
- Supplemented by a high level of support and training.
- Easy to set up.
- Feature rich.
For more on peer-to-peer software, see our section on qualities of great peer-to-peer fundraising software.
Executing a successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign takes a cross-functional team that can manage many aspects of your campaign, including:
- Online fundraising
- Social media
- Event planning
- Offline fundraising
Having a cross-functional team ensures that your campaign will be visible across all platforms and gives your donors the most flexibility when it comes to giving.
It’s important to determine who will be in charge of running your peer-to-peer campaign, especially if your organization is adopting peer-to-peer as an ongoing fundraising effort.
The person in charge of your campaign will oversee multiple individual fundraisers to make sure that they stay motivated and are reaching their goals.
Given peer-to-peer’s reliance on social sharing, you probably also want to find someone who’s social media savvy and can keep fundraisers engaged.
If you’re hosting an event alongside of your peer-to-peer campaign, chances are you’re going to need merchandise to sell participants.
If you do plan on selling merch, you should stock your products beforehand to ensure you have them at the time of the event.
Although many peer-to-peer platforms include storefronts through which you can sell your merchandise leading up to and during the event, your organization will have to find a third-party vendor to design and supply your merchandise.
In order to run a successful peer-to-peer campaign in the first place, you need a solid base of volunteers to fundraise on your behalf.
Survey some of your most active supporters and ask them if they would be interested in fundraising for your organization.
You can send them an online survey through email or pass out a quick questionnaire at one of your fundraising events.
Peer-to-peer can be a very lucrative fundraising strategy for nonprofits, but your stakeholders may need some convincing.
The key to a successful pitch is to be as honest about the costs and benefits as possible.
If you find you need a little extra support, most peer-to-peer software vendors offer resources to help nonprofits get the buy-in.
What Does a Typical Campaign Look Like?
A typical peer-to-peer fundraising campaign involves work from both your organization and your individual fundraisers.
To ensure that you’ve hit all the key parts of the planning process, we’ve broken it out into these 5 simple steps.
Click the navigation table below to jump to each section, and click the donation page image on the right to see an example of a fundraising page.
Step 1: Define Your Campaign
What does your organization need to do?
Determine whether you’ll host a time-based or a rolling campaign, and get necessary staff and board members on board.
Define your campaign by setting a clear goal, time limit, and theme if applicable.
Provide each fundraiser with a personal goal, so they know exactly what’s expected of them to help your organization achieve its overall goal.
What do your individual fundraisers need?
Before the campaign, your fundraisers will need to be informed about:
- How a peer-to-peer campaign works.
- Your campaign goals (both individual and overall).
- How to use your fundraising channels to request donations.
- Using the tools your organization provides.
If your fundraisers understand the campaign, they’ll be well-equipped to raise money on your behalf.
Qgiv's Tip: Define Your Campaign on Your Fundraising Page!
Once you know what your campaign will be, take the time to define it in a short paragraph and seek out visuals that can show what your campaign is all about.
Additionally, you can use a thermometer to showcase your fundraising goal!
Step 2: Facilitate Donation Pages
How can you support your P2P fundraisers as they create donation pages?
Before the campaign starts, your organization should help each fundraiser build a page and test it out to make sure they can accept online donations from all platforms and mobile devices.
Peer-to-peer platforms come with donation form capabilities built-in, so it’s easy for fundraisers to create individualized donation pages.
What tools does your organization need to provide?
To share your campaign and collect donations, your supporters will need some tools and features along with their personal donation pages.
If fundraisers are sharing with peers on social media, they’ll need social sharing buttons to make it easy to spread the word. You can even give your fundraisers social media post templates.
Qgiv Tip: Use Custom Headers to Personalize Pages
Each individual fundraiser can set up their personal page with their name, photo, and personal story.
The banner to the left shows what a header on a peer-to-peer page could like for an individual fundraiser.
Step 3: Start Fundraising!
How can you engage your fundraising team?
To keep your fundraisers motivated and on track, engage with them throughout the campaign by:
- Sharing frequent campaign updates, so participants can see the progress they’re making.
- Highlighting fundraisers who have made big strides and thanking them for their contributions.
- Commenting on and sharing fundraisers’ social media posts.
Your fundraisers want to feel like their efforts are being appreciated, so stay in contact!
How can your individual fundraisers raise more?
Your base of fundraisers will have diverse strengths and backgrounds, so encourage each fundraiser to use the channels that are most successful for them.
For example, if one fundraiser is a millennial with a large social media network, she should use her social media profiles to reach out to peers.
On the other hand, if another donor has strong ties to his local community, he should probably approach his peers by reaching out to them in person.
Qgiv Tip: Use Images In Social Media Posts to Entice Donors
Check out this sample Facebook post for the Green House Plant-a-Thon. Supporters can share these kinds of visual, impactful posts to their own social media networks.
Alternatively, your supporters can use similar copy in more traditional appeals, such as in-person conversations or phone calls.
Step 4: Build Relationships With Your Donors
How can your nonprofit track your donor data?
As donations start coming in, you’ll need to track your fundraisers’ efforts and collect new donor data by:
- Processing donations.
- Inserting new donor information into your CRM.
- Updating existing donor database records.
- Linking donation and interaction history with supporter profiles.
- Overseeing individual fundraisers.
Running a peer-to-peer campaign can help you form deeper relationships with your donors and fundraisers.
How should your individual fundraisers thank their donors?
It’s just as important for fundraisers to show their thanks as it is for organizations, especially considering peers will have a personal connection to fundraisers.
Encourage your fundraisers to thank their peers and publicly recognize the donors who have made the biggest contributions throughout the campaign.
Saying thanks will also help your organization start cultivating new donor relationships on the right foot.
Qgiv Tip: Retain Donors With Fun Features
A leaderboard is a great, visual, and fun means of tracking your top donors during a peer-to-peer campaign.
Many donors will enjoy watching their names climb to the top of the charts!
Step 5: Recognize Your Peer-to-Peer Fundraisers
How should you thank your supporters?
The organizations who execute the most successful peer-to-peer campaigns recognize their supporters’ achievements throughout the campaign.
However, it’s still important to reach out to every fundraiser and donor and thank them personally for their contributions.
How can your supporters celebrate?
Now that the work is done, it’s time for your fundraisers to celebrate their achievements by attending your peer-to-peer event.
During the event fundraiser, they will be able to interact with other fundraisers and donors and see how their efforts paid off.
An event can also be an excellent place to recognize your fundraisers. Give a shout out to the people that helped you reach your goals!
Qgiv Tip: Use Donation Amounts to Segment and Thank Donors
Suggested donation amounts allow you to easily segment your donors to thank them after the campaign.
Of course, an empty field that allows donors to give however much they’d like helps to ensure that you aren’t leaving money on the table.
Marketing Your Peer-to-Peer Campaign
Why They Work
Email is a nearly universal communication method. Most people have at least one email address, and many have two or three (or more!).
Because of its presence in almost everyone’s lives, email is one of the preferred methods of asking for donations for peer-to-peer campaigns.
Obviously, your fundraisers will need to have their own email account before they start sending out emails to their friends and family members.
Additionally, your nonprofit can provide your supporters with email templates that they can easily tweak to suit their specific needs (with links to their personal fundraising pages included!).
Why It Works
Due to its massive popularity and the inherent shareable nature of posts, pictures, and videos, Facebook is the perfect place to promote a peer-to-peer campaign.
Make sure that your fundraisers include the links to their personal fundraising pages! They won’t be able to raise money unless they direct their friends to the donation forms.
Facebook marketing for peer-to-peer campaigns will require customizable templates for fundraisers to post on their pages. Additionally, your individual fundraisers will need extensive networks on their accounts.
Encourage your fundraisers to post pictures and videos, as well. Multimedia posts get more traction on Facebook and have more potential to go viral.
Why It Works
Twitter works for peer-to-peer promotion because tweets are short and to the point. Your fundraisers only have 140 characters to get the message out there.
While this may seem like a limitation, it actually encourages your fundraisers to place their donation appeal front and center.
Provide supporters with examples of tweets that they could send out once or twice a week. They’ll need their own Twitter accounts to tweet.
You’ll also need an appropriate hashtag for your peer-to-peer campaign. Make it memorable and easy to type!
With Traditional Marketing Methods
Why They Work
Traditional marketing methods like direct mail and public advertisements (radio, print, etc.) may seem somewhat disconnected from a peer-to-peer campaign,but they can still be extremely effective!
Some of your donors may not have a strong social media presence or really care that much for email, making traditional marketing methods the way to go.
If you plan on sending out direct mail information about your peer-to-peer fundraiser, you’ll need to determine which donors will receive these communications.
Segment your donor lists and identify which supporters respond favorably to direct mail correspondence. Direct mail can get pricey, and you wouldn’t want to send out letters to donors who aren’t responsive.
Examples of Successful Peer-to-Peer Campaigns
Last October, The Education Cooperative (TEC) hosted the TEC Walk N Roll to build an accessible and inclusive playground for disabled students.
TEC linked to their fundraising event on their website’s main donation page and shared the event through social media and email as well.
TEC’s goal was to raise $5,000, but with peer-to-peer fundraising, they raised over $7,000!
Fundraising Goal: $5,000
Amount Raised: $7, 000 (1.4X original goal!)
Each year, the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver hosts Ride the Rockies, a week-long cycling trip that, in the past, had raised a whopping $20,000.
When they switched to a peer-to-peer fundraising platform a few years ago, they were able to double their fundraising goal to over $40,000.
Last year, with the help of crowdfunding software, the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver raised over $100,000.
Fundraising Goal: $20,000
Amount Raised: $100,000 (5X original goal!)
Top Peer-to-Peer Conferences
The Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum Conference
The Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum Conference is held every year and aims to help fundraisers learn more about how they can use peer-to-peer fundraising to generate more revenue for their organizations.
Expert speakers, a vendor hall, and networking opportunities all make this conference one of the best for peer-to-peer fundraisers!
P2P Engage is a conference sponsored by Fundraising Success. Previous speakers have touched on peer-to-peer donor retention, successful strategies, and easily implemented tactics for fundraisers at all levels.
This event only lasts for one day, and registration fills up quickly. Check out more information if P2P sounds interesting!
Peer to Peer Fundraising Canada
If you’re a fundraising professional in Canada, the Peer to Peer Fundraising Conference in Toronto is for you! This event will last for one day and will help fundraisers understand various components of P2P campaigns.
Various speakers, networking sessions, and an awards ceremony will make this conference one to remember for fundraisers!
What is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Software?
Peer-to-peer fundraising is the platform that allows your individual fundraisers to create personal fundraising pages.
Comprehensive peer-to-peer fundraising software allows you to track your campaign’s progress, gain insights into donor data, sell merchandise, and build event registration into each page.
Features of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Software
No two peer-to-peer campaigns are the same. They all have different goals and donor bases. Why should your peer-to-peer platform be a one-size-fits-all software?
Customize your fundraiser’s page so that it accurately reflects your organization, mission, and specific fundraising effort.
Social Sharing Buttons
Your fundraisers won’t be able to raise money very easily if there aren’t any social sharing buttons on your peer-to-peer page.
Make sure that you’ve covered all of the basics (Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc.) so that donors can easily share the page with their social networks.
Most peer-to-peer fundraisers can use merchandise to boost their fundraising efforts.
If your fundraiser is tied to an event, you can sell promotional t-shirts, water bottles, mugs, and other customizable items to your donors.
At Qgiv, we use fundraising badges to encourage donors to reach particular fundraising milestones. For instance, once a donor raises 100% of their fundraising goal, they’ll receive a special badge.
Your nonprofit can even create your own custom badges to celebrate your donors’ achievements.
Nearly everyone likes a little friendly competition. Peer-to-peer fundraising is the perfect setting for some harmless donor rivalry.
When you use a leaderboard, donors can see where their fundraising efforts stand in comparison to others. This can incentivize donors to go out and raise more money to move further up in the ranks.
Fundraising thermometers are a great way to measure the ongoing success of your peer-to-peer fundraiser. As donors give, the fundraising thermometer fills up.
The closer you are to your goal, the more likely donors are to give. Before you know it, everyone will have jumped on board!
The Benefits of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Software
Social Reach and Influence
Peer-to-peer fundraising software amplifies the reach of your supporters’ networks.
Social sharing integrations allow supporters to easily spread the word about your campaign, all while communicating with their friends and family on a personal level.
Plus, as other people see donors in their networks giving to your campaign, they may be persuaded to give themselves!
Peer-to-peer software can also be used to set up automatic receipts and thank you letters, so that donations are instantly confirmed.
Additionally, peer-to-peer software can offer a comprehensive content management system, so that your organization can create fundraising pages that your supporters can customize to their preferences.
The ability to customize donation forms to your nonprofit and your peer-to-peer campaign allows you to show how donations can further your mission.
Plus, you can brand your pages to build recognition.
Customization allows you create compelling content and present it how you choose, all while maintaining your nonprofit’s brand.
Qualities of Great Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Platforms
Your staff might not immediately know how to use your peer-to-peer fundraising software.
A great provider will offer training that takes your nonprofit through the features, step-by-step.
You peer-to-peer fundraising platform shouldn’t be complicated or difficult to get started with.
Any peer-to-peer fundraising provider should offer easy to follow set-up instructions.
Hopefully, your nonprofit’s goal is to grow in the coming months and years.
Your peer-to-peer software provider should be able to grow with your organization and adapt to your various fundraising needs.
Great peer-to-peer fundraising software should be easy to use for you and your donors.
Your provider’s interface ought to be user friendly to increase the chances that your donors will use the platform.
As with any technology, peer-to-peer fundraising software isn’t perfect, and you may encounter problems.
Make sure that your provider offers a wide array of support options in case something goes awry.
Your peer-to-peer software provider should offer features that both your nonprofit and your donors can use and benefit from.
The ability for donors to create accounts or donate via text, for example, can help you raise more!
How Qgiv Can Help?
Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Statistics
Expert Advice for Peer-to-Peer Campaigns
“People respond better to people than they do to organizations. Especially when it’s people they know and trust. When you hear about a cause from me, your beloved friend or respected colleague, this creates an emotional connection that predisposes you to pay attention.”
“As new supporters come into your donor base, make sure that your organization is stewarding them properly. It’s easy to get caught up in the fundraising whirlwind of a peer-to-peer campaign, but don’t forget about your new donors!”
“Walkathons lend themselves well to peer to peer fundraising. They provide an easy way for participants to leverage their respective networks to raise funds for a good cause. Also, as an added bonus they get people outside!”