Champion Fundraising:
A form of peer-to-peer fundraising that focuses on top advocates to drive awareness and funding for your mission. These top advocates are your champion fundraisers.

We all know that there are a number of tools out there to raise funds – whether it’s to recruit volunteers, raise funds for a special gala, a walk-a-thon, or a capital campaign. You’ve likely heard of peer-to-peer fundraising and how you can leverage current supporters to achieve even more. There are many types of peer-to-peer fundraising where your donors encourage their personal networks to support your cause. But, it’s not just about the technology or HOW you raise the money. It’s about what you can do to humanize and acknowledge the people working hard to reach your nonprofit’s goal, whatever it may be.

Champion fundraising is a form of peer-to-peer fundraising that focuses on top advocates to drive awareness and funding for your mission. These top advocates are your champion fundraisers. Here are a few steps to get started with a champion fundraiser:


Is this campaign going to be a walk-a-thon like the Relay for Life by the American Cancer Society where constituents form teams? Perhaps it’s a virtual dance event. Or, is this campaign going to be among your board members? National awareness month? 

Once you’ve identified the type of campaign you want to run it should become clearer who your champions will be. 


Maybe your champions are your biggest impact accelerators. Though you might ask them to help a lot, so to avoid burnout you want to focus on another group. Would your volunteers be interested in participating? Or, are they senior board members who have the networks and pull to get people to give. Maybe it’s your entry-level employees who have engaged social networks. When you identify your champion fundraisers, you want to gauge their interest. You can simply ask them one-on-one or you can send out a survey. You want a high level of interest to ensure that they’ll follow through with participation and be excited about it. 


Have you really thought about how to reward, recognize and strengthen relationships with those people working so hard to raise money, gather volunteers and other resources for your organization?

Individuals who participate in peer-to-peer fundraising efforts are very special people.  Indeed, they really are!  Acting independently, these participants dedicate resources, time and themselves to your mission.  They’re both superheroes and “connectors”, spreading your story across their networks while often participating in a rigorous event. Participants trust that your nonprofit is making a difference and wisely allocating resources to advance its mission.  So what are you doing to deserve this trust and help your peer-to-peer fundraisers attain their goals? Once you have your group identified, you’ll want to incentivize them and set them up for success. The easier you can make the campaign for your champion fundraisers the better off they’ll be. Set them up with whatever they might need, templates for phone, email, mail, social media. Is this campaign running at specific times? Make sure the schedule and all relevant links and sites are accurate and easy to understand. 

Here are some ways to empower your champions:

  • Encourage individuals to create their own events and offer tools to help. After all, not everyone wants to run a marathon!  The Susan G. Komen Foundation offers “Passionately Pink for the Cure” with a page that shares instructions for creating a fundraiser.
  • Make training fun. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society pulls out all the stops to make a participant’s training exciting, fun and well-supported: “Once you sign up, you’ll be training with our huge network of certified coaches who will have weekly group runs with you and your team. You’ll even have mentors for fundraising support as well as your own website for online fundraising.”   Further, they understand that life is busy and demanding and, therefore, offer additional training options for encouraging participation: 

A description of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's training options.

  • Offer special events. Many nonprofits will host special events for “Team” captains to assure an active rapport with these “connectors”.  Offering prizes and awards are another way to add spunk to individual efforts.  Children’s Hospital of Colorado Foundation awards special biking gear to recognize repeat riders in its “Courage Classic”. In turn, participants appreciate the recognition for their efforts.

Amid this campaign schedule, set a timeline and goals for your champions so that they can work towards things as you go. Celebrate small wins and encourage them to keep going, even when they get ‘no’s’.  

Remember, this is meant to be fun! It’s not a sales pitch but a genuine way to expand your reach within your community, whether you’re looking to raise funds or awareness. 


Depending on the campaign you’ve run, you’ll want to think about what you hoped to get out of the campaign, then measure things like: 

  • Dollars raised 
  • Did you expand your reach? Things you can look at to determine this are: 
  • New donors 
  • New advocates 
  • New sponsors 
  • New volunteers 
  • Increase in social media followers 
  • Increase in website traffic 


Watch our latest webinar:
Engaging Champions for Your Cause
> Watch webinar <

If you’d like to see how GiveSmart can support your next Champion Fundraising campaign,
let us know here.

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Webinar: Engaging champions for your cause
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Webinar: peer-to-peer fundraising


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Kelsey Woodworth
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