Thinking about integrating peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising into your year-end campaign? If you have a small army of crazy passionate supporters, then you definitely should. After all, P2P fundraising accounts for 1/3 – 1/2 of all online donations.
P2P fundraising is undeniably one of the smartest strategies for raising funds and reaching new networks of people. And, it costs your organization next to nothing.
It all sounds very promising, but can you really make this form of DIY fundraising work for your organization?
The answer is yes, but only if…
Only if you can enlist campaign “evangelists,” “advocates,” or “friend-raisers” who are crazy-passionate about your cause and organization.
Passion alone is not enough my friends. What you need is some cray cray passion. You need people who are so crazy in love they’re willing to sacrifice their time, and maybe even a bit of dignity (keep reading), for your cause and organization.
Here are 5 key lessons I learned from my own P2P fundraising experiences:
Three years ago, while living and working in Uganda, I decided to launch a P2P fundraising campaign in honor of the 30 year anniversary of a nonprofit called Music for Life (MFL). The parent organization of the African Children’s Choir, MFL is dedicated to providing impoverished African children with a quality education.
Because my goal was fairly ambitious and my social network wasn’t terribly robust, I knew I’d need to do something somewhat exceptional to get people behind me.
Since I’m a runner, I decided I’d run 30 miles to raise $30,000 for the 30-year anniversary of MFL. Hence, the birth of the 30x30x30 campaign.
Living abroad meant I needed a crowdfunding platform that would accept funds internationally. I chose Indiegogo (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/30mi-30-yrs-30k/x/8522242#/.) From here I could post videos and photos from training runs, update my followers, offer giving incentives, issue appeals, and instantly share it all on my social media feeds.
Within the first week of the campaign, I had secured over 80 donations, averaging over $70 each. And I had dozens of new followers made up largely of running enthusiasts from all around the world. With video and photos taken during my training runs, I was able to bring them on my journey with me, through the neighborhoods and villages of Uganda, while educating them about the good work of MFL.
Key Learning #1: Encourage your P2P campaigners to take their followers on a journey by putting their gifts and talents to work. Love to knit? Knit 100 hats for the homeless and post updates as you distribute them. Supporting the humane society? Foster 12 puppies and post video and photo journal updates. Build a tiny home, host a poetry slam, sing your favorite Christmas carols, make meals for the hungry…do what you do, but do it for a good cause.
Everything was running smoothly until week 3 when I hit a fundraising wall at about $13,000. So, I introduced a challenge. For a mere $5K, I’d shave my husband’s head and paint (ok, Sharpie) the logo of the donor’s favorite football team on his lovely scalp.
Within a few days, a generous man whom I’d never even met answered the call on behalf of Texas A&M. Go Aggies!
Key Learning #2: Challenges work and people will pay to see you sacrifice a bit of your dignity (or, in my case, my husband’s) and to claim the prize.
By race day, I was still $11,100 short of my goal. But that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I ran, I died, and then I thanked everyone for their support and told them it was worth it, despite the shortfall. A few hours later, an old friend from church who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years, called to say he was sending $11,100 to the choir.
Key Learning #3: Nobody wants to see you fail, especially when you’re earnestly working to do something good. Roughly 25 percent of all P2P donations come in after the deadline. Tell your fundraisers not to fret if they don’t meet their deadline goals. If they let people know and show gratitude for what they have raised, chances are, someone will step up.
Last year, MFL asked me if I’d raise money on their behalf again. I said sure, but I’m not running.
Since they were in the midst of their own year-end giving campaign, I was able to incorporate MFL’s campaign branding, photos, videos, profile stories, etc. into my campaign. This was exciting. It made my job easier, and their resources made my campaign look and perform even better.
Key Learning #4: Less time and work = more enthusiasm. Make fundraising easier by sharing your campaign assets with your P2P team. Logos, photos, videos, suggested social media posts, as well as incentive gifts (t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.) will be eagerly leveraged and appreciated.
This time I decided to try a Facebook Fundraiser campaign. (https://www.facebook.com/donate/10154894585588254/)
At a mere $5,000, my funding goal was considerably less this time, so I knew I didn’t need to employ measures as extreme as an ultra-marathon to reach it. But I still needed a slightly outrageous idea up my sleeve, just in case.
Raising money at my husband’s expense worked so well the first time, I decided to give it another try this time around.
Remember the guy who bailed me out last time by making up for my goal deficit? He took pity on poor Scott and offered to match any gifts up to $5,000 if I wore the women’s equivalent of this outrageous outfit. Guess how we rang in the New Year?
Key Learning #5: Two is better than one. That goes for dollars and shameless shenanigans. Encourage your campaigners to seek donors who will match gifts, and ask them to explore other fun ways to incentivize their audiences.
Let me just wrap up by stating again that no matter how hard you work to incorporate a P2P fundraising strategy into your organization’s campaign, it’s not worth it if you only have a few half-hearted commitments.
But it can work brilliantly if you’re able to harness the energy (and social networks) of a few of your most ardent supporters, and provide them with the practical resources they need to succeed.
Wondering where to start looking for your P2P army?
Here’s a bonus tip: Focus on Millennials. As an extremely “passionate generation,” they make excellent advocates for causes they truly believe in.
Of course, social fundraising isn’t just for young people. All generations have embraced fundraising and giving through P2P campaigns. In fact, 66% of dollars raised by millennials come from older generations. (Go Gen X and Boomers!)
There are hundreds of other ways to inspire your P2P campaigners to rally. These are just a few tips based on my personal experiences. I’d love to hear what’s worked for you. Please send your tips and suggestions my way!