Peer-to-peer fundraising is a popular strategy among nonprofits who want to engage supporters, raise money for a good cause, and increase visibility for their organization. But the biggest obstacle nonprofits face during P2P fundraising is getting people excited about raising money and awareness during the fundraiser. That’s where the concept of gamification comes in.
Nonprofits are discovering that making fundraising a game helps boost participation in their event. They use elements from games or sports (like badges, leaderboards, and quests) to keep participants involved. This gamification of the fundraising process is helping nonprofits raise more money at their P2P events.
Here’s how it works.
What is Peer-to-Peer Gamification?
Peer-to-peer gamification is the process of adding game mechanics to a non-game situation. In this case, nonprofits include game mechanics to make peer-to-peer fundraising more appealing for participants.
The idea to include the same elements that make video games, sports, and other gaming fun and addictive. If participants enjoy peer-to-peer fundraising as much as they enjoy video games, they’ll stay more engaged in fundraising activities.
Why does Peer-to-peer Gamification Work?
Humans are hardwired to seek rewards and to feel pleasure when they receive them. When we achieve a milestone in a game, like finishing a quest or leveling up, our brains release a burst of the feel-good chemical dopamine. Gaming is fun for us because we’re rewarded for our participation with bursts of dopamine.
The same concept applies to peer-to-peer gamification. If nonprofits can reward participants with occasional bursts of dopamine, those participants are more likely to stay involved with the fundraising process. Their brains actively reward their fundraising efforts!
This is an especially effective technique when we can combine the feel-good effects of being rewarded for achievements with the dopamine release we already experience when we support charities. Donating and volunteering already make us feel good; adding gamification just makes it better!
Important Elements in Peer-to-Peer Gamification
There are a few gamification elements that are proven to work well with peer-to-peer fundraising, including:
- Goals and thermometers
Here’s a brief breakdown of each element and some common ways they’re used in peer-to-peer fundraising.
Peer-to-Peer Gamification Spotlight: Goals and Thermometers
Peer-to-peer progress thermometers were a staple long before the phrase “gamification” entered our lexicon. But they’re actually gamification pieces that motivate participants and donors alike to raise more money.
The satisfaction of seeing a thermometer creep closer and closer to a fundraising goal is rewarding for participants and donors alike. The closer your participants come to meeting their goals – either individual goals, team goals, or the overall event goal – excitement builds and inspires more people to get involved.
Progress thermometers that track your journey toward your fundraising goal also create a sense of urgency in participants and donors. This is especially true as you near the end of your event; supporters become increasingly invested in helping you reach your fundraising goal as the fundraising deadline approaches.
For the most effective fundraising events, consider including separate thermometers for participants, teams, and the overall event. A donor who is not especially invested in seeing your organization reach your overall goal may be more invested in helping their favorite participant reach their personal goal.
Peer-to-Peer Gamification Spotlight: Badges
Badges are digital rewards that are awarded to peer-to-peer fundraising participants when they reach fundraising milestones or achievements. They’re usually displayed on a participant’s personal peer-to-peer fundraising page.
Peer-to-peer fundraising badges accomplish two things: they reward active fundraisers and keep them excited about raising money, and they incentivize other participants to reach the same milestones. Some nonprofits even use them to encourage friendly competition between fundraising participants or teams of participants.
Using badges to encourage participation in your fundraising event gives you lots of opportunities to get creative. Nonprofits can use their own branding, story, event style, and other elements to create badges that are totally unique to their peer-to-peer event. While the possibilities are nearly endless, here are some common categories that are popular with nonprofits:
1. Page Completion
The most successful fundraisers are the ones that personalize their peer-to-peer fundraising page. Awarding a badge to the participants who complete their page will encourage them to build a page that will attract more donations.
2. First donation
Giving your peer-to-peer participants a badge when they collect their first donation helps engage them quickly and inspire them to earn other badges.
3. Number of donations
Awarding badges to the participant or team that has collected the highest number of donations is a great way to keep them engaged in fundraising.
4. Most unique donors
This badge is especially useful for a nonprofit that wants to encourage participants or teams to reach new donors.
5. Percentage of goal achieved
Many nonprofits see good results when they award participants for reaching different percentages of their fundraising goals. This helps space out rewards enough that participants desire to keep working toward the next percentage badge.
6. Different donation totals
Rewarding participants for reaching different fundraising amounts – say, $100 or $1,000 – will help them stay excited about fundraising even if they haven’t reached a specific percentage of their goal.
7. Fundraising goal achieved
Give your participants a badge when they reach their fundraising goal! Make it big and exciting so others will be inspired to achieve the same milestone.
8. Top fundraiser
Awarding a top fundraiser badge will help you keep participants engaged even if they’ve achieved their fundraising goal. It also helps foster a sense of friendly competition between participants that will drive more fundraising activities.
9. Team recruitments
If your peer-to-peer event allows team participation, a badge for team recruitment can inspire participants to get as many friends involved in the event as possible.
10. Brand-specific milestones
Including badges that are specific to your event or your organization helps keep your donors emotionally involved in your organization. Themed badges that correlate with your mission are especially effective.
Badges are a powerful way to reward peer-to-peer fundraising participants for their effort. They’re even more effective if they’re combined with another popular gamification element – leaderboards!
Peer-to-Peer Gamification Spotlight: Leaderboards
Leaderboards are widgets that show the top performers during your event. There are three common types of leaderboards used in peer-to-peer fundraisers:
1. Top Fundraising Participants
These spotlight the participants that have processed the most money on their page.
2. Top Fundraising Teams
If you allow team fundraising, this leaderboard will highlight the top-performing teams.
3. Top Donors
Not all nonprofits choose to include a top donor leaderboard, but it can be a good way to inspire donors’ generosity.
Leaderboards are an especially powerful gamification element because they’re usually displayed on a peer-to-peer fundraising event’s home page. They’re very visible, which means that fundraisers see them regularly. They’re also very visible to the public, which makes appearing on a leaderboard particularly powerful. Getting public recognition for our achievements is very rewarding (all that dopamine!), so a very public leaderboard is a wonderful incentive for participants to stay engaged.
Combining peer-to-peer fundraising badges and leaderboards is gamification double whammy. Fundraising participants are motivated to reach fundraising milestones that are rewarded with badges. They also compete for top slots on a public leaderboard. The combination of those two gamification elements results in participants who stay involved in the fundraising process and who spur each other on to greater fundraising heights through friendly competition.
Peer-to-peer fundraising badges and leaderboards can also inspire more engagement among event donors. If a friend or family member notices that their participant has slipped on a leaderboard or lost a “Top Fundraising” badge, they may be inspired to donate again or share the participant’s page among their own networks.
As effective as leaderboards and badges are, they’re only good motivators if peer-to-peer fundraising participants get started with the fundraising process in the first place. That’s why many nonprofits are helping their participants get started with quests.
Peer-to-Peer Gamification Spotlight: Quests
Peer-to-peer fundraising participants are most successful when they have a complete personal fundraising page and a working knowledge of the fundraising tools at their disposal. But setting up a fundraising page and learning to use tools like email templates and social posts isn’t very exciting. Many nonprofits have turned to “welcome quests,” “walk-throughs,” or simple checklists or guides to help their participants get started.
Quests are most successful when they’re automated and when they’re tied to an incentive, like a badge. Some elements to consider including in your quest include things like:
1. Uploading a personal photo
The easiest way a peer-to-peer fundraising participant can personalize their page is to upload an image of themselves.
2. Updating a personal page
There are lots of ways to customize a personal fundraising page. Encouraging participants to upload pictures, tell a story about why they’re participating, or adding a relevant video to their page makes a big impact on potential donors and their decision to give.
3. Sending a fundraising email
Peer-to-peer fundraising participants probably don’t have extensive fundraising experience. Sending donation appeals to friends and family can seem intimidating, even if it’s just through email. Walk them through how to send a great fundraising email. This is especially effective if you can offer them one or two email appeal templates to help them if they get stuck.
4. Accepting their first donation
Getting their first donation is a major milestone for participants! It gets them some momentum and, especially if it’s rewarded with a badge, can encourage them to stay involved.
5. Recruiting a team member
If your peer-to-peer fundraising event is structured to allow team fundraising, use your walk-through to show participants how to recruit additional team members.
6. Scheduling a social post
Peer-to-peer fundraising relies heavily on social sharing to be successful. Get your participants started on the right foot by guiding them through the process of posting their fundraising pages to their social channels.
Peer-to-Peer Gamification Spotlight: Incentives
Digital incentives like badges and spots on a leaderboard are useful ways to keep participants engaged in your peer-to-peer fundraising. But they can be even more effective if you combine digital achievements with real-life incentives.
There are endless ways to incentivize peer-to-peer participants. Even small rewards can have a major impact on participants who are already emotionally invested in your fundraiser’s success.
To boost engagement in the fundraising process, try combining badges and other gamification elements with tangible incentives. Reach smaller milestones – reaching 20% of a goal, for example – can be tied to smaller incentives. As milestones become harder to achieve, the value of their associated incentives should increase.
Every nonprofit will have wildly different incentives based on their size, scope, type of event, and other factors. But many nonprofits favor similar incentives, like:
- Public recognition on your social channels
- Recognition at your event or in follow-up events
- Ribbons or medals
- Raffle tickets
- Event merchandise
- Gift cards
- Gift baskets
- Goods and services from local businesses
- One-on-one tours of your facilities
- Inclusion in mission-related activities
The possibilities are endless! The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing which incentives you’ll offer is whether or not your incentive is something for which a participant would actively want to compete. Remember, you’re trying to activate feel-good emotions and excitement when a participant gets a step closer to earning what you’re offering.
Combining digital and tangible incentives gives participants a double dose of excitement when they achieve milestones. Earning a badge for reaching 50% of their fundraising goal is exciting. Earning an event t-shirt for reaching 50% of their goal is even more exciting.
How to Tell if Your Peer-to-Peer Gamification Worked
There are a few ways to tell if adding gamification elements to your peer-to-peer fundraiser had a positive effect on your overall event. Here are a few metrics you can consider when you evaluate your fundraiser’s strategy after the event is over.
1. Participation numbers year over year
In theory, making fundraising seem more like a game would boost visibility for your event and move new participants to register for your event. Comparing the number of participants who registered for your event with gamification over a year without gamification will help you determine your success.
2. Amount raised year over year
Engaged participants raise more money. Evaluating your event’s overall improvement year over year will give you some insight into how successful your efforts have been.
3. Amount raised per participant
When participation numbers of overall amount raised don’t indicate a clear success, try calculating the average amount raised per participant. If you have a lower number of participants but a higher amount raised per person, you’ll be able to focus on maintaining engagement through gamification and expanding the number of participants your recruit.
4. Participant surveys
Surveying your participants after a peer-to-peer fundraising event is always a good idea. Invite participants, anonymous or not, to give you their feedback on their overall impressions of the event. Ask them about things like the event’s style, location, and time, plus their opinions on your peer-to-peer fundraising platform and overall strategy. Including their feedback in your next event’s planning will help you put together an event that inspires more participation. It will also encourage past participants to register again.
Participant surveys are also an effective way to gauge how successful your peer-to-peer gamification efforts were if you only have one year of data and can’t compare metrics year over year.
How Should I Start Including Gamification in My Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?
Adding gamification elements to your peer-to-peer fundraiser can have a major impact on the level of engagement you’ll get from your event participants. But figuring out how to start is not always simple.
If your peer-to-peer fundraising platform doesn’t support gamification, you have two options. You can find a peer-to-peer fundraising platform that includes the features you want to make your event more fun. If that isn’t an option, you can use manual tools like CRMs or reports of participant activity to identify and reward participants.
Either way, you’re actively working to make fundraising easier and more enjoyable for the people who are supporting your fundraiser, and that’s a win for everyone involved!