Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Guide

What you should know about peer-to-peer fundraising

Nonprofit organizations and charities rely on donations to operate and move forward with their mission. They might host fundraising events every year to bring donors together and raise funds. Businesses and individuals are major contributors and help keep nonprofits going.

People want to donate to causes they believe in, and with more ways to contribute their time and money than ever before, giving is on the rise. For example, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, total giving from individuals, businesses and foundations increased 3% in 2017 from 2016 and exceeded $410 billion.

Why are more people willing to donate to their favorite organizations than in the past? One reason is that it’s easy. Anyone can go online and contribute to a cause with a few clicks. According to the Pew Research Center, one in five adults have donated to a charitable cause online, and one in 10 have used text messaging on their phones to contribute.

Today, there are a lot of new and creative ways people can get involved. To attract attention, nonprofits need to explore fun and unique fundraising strategies to generate interest and raise money. An effective way to broaden your reach and spread the news of your campaign is to use the power of networking — or peer-to-peer fundraising.

Have you heard about nonprofit peer-to-peer fundraising and want to know what it means, how it works and how it helps? We’ll cover it all in this guide. We’ll answer questions such as:

  • What is peer-to-peer fundraising?
  • How is it different from crowdfunding?
  • What does the process entail?
  • What are the benefits?

We’ll also share best practices and fundraising ideas to jolt your creativity. Keep reading to learn more, and if you have any questions along the way, reach out to us at GiveSmart — we’ll be happy to help!

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    Chapter 1: What is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?

    Peer-to-peer fundraising is when individuals collect funds on behalf of a cause or organization. Peer-to-peer fundraising is also known as social fundraising and P2P fundraising. With P2P fundraising, supporters of an organization often raise money through online fundraising pages. This form of fundraising also typically involves the power and reach of social media to connect with donors and encourage participation.

    The idea behind P2P fundraising is simple. Imagine you donate $20 to your favorite organization online. After you contribute, you share the organization’s campaign page with friends on Facebook. One of your friends feels inspired by your action and decides to donate $50 and then share the campaign with her friends. A friend of hers gives $40 and recruits more interested donors. Before long, you’ve spread the news and raised over $100 for a cause you believe in. It was easy, quick, and it worked. Now, imagine adding a fun event to the mix. Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? That’s a great example of a P2P fundraising campaign that went viral.

    In this chapter, we’ll cover the basics and benefits of peer-to-peer fundraising to help you get started. We’ll also share statistics to show you why a P2P fundraising strategy can be highly effective.

    How does peer-to-peer fundraising work?

    Peer-to-peer fundraising may sound like a modern concept, but it’s actually nothing new. P2P started decades ago when organizations like March of Dimes had volunteers go door-to-door to collect donations. Today, reaching out to others is much easier and faster with the use of P2P fundraising software and social media. Since it’s easier and potentially less expensive to run campaigns online than on-foot, P2P fundraising is no longer exclusive to large organizations. Any sized nonprofit or charity can use this fundraising strategy. Here’s an overview of how peer-to-peer fundraising works:

    1. The organization determines its goal.
    2. They set up the main campaign page to use as their peer-to-peer fundraising platform.
    3. The central platform tells their story and shares their mission.
    4. The organization recruits supporters to build their own fundraising pages on their behalf.
    5. They provide volunteers with email and social media templates to help them share the campaign and ask for donations.
    6. The volunteers share their campaign pages on a range of social media channels.
    7. The organization keeps track of donor data and campaign progress.

    Overall, P2P fundraising is an effective way to spread awareness of your campaign because a lot of people interact online. According to the Pew Research Center, around 70% of Americans use social media to connect and share information. Plus, fundraising software makes it easy to set up a campaign page that others can share.

    Who uses peer-to-peer fundraising?

    Thanks to social media and online fundraising possibilities, anyone, including nonprofits, schools, individuals and families, can implement a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign — and succeed. For example, according to the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Professional Forum, the 30 largest P2P fundraising programs raised almost 10% more money. The smaller or newer organizations on the list of the top 30 raised over 50% more since 2006. This proves that an organization does not have to be large and widely known to pique the interest of potential donors. People are drawn to events that offer distinct and meaningful experiences, and it doesn’t matter how big an organization is.

    A P2P campaign can be especially useful when an organization needs to collect funds quickly to reach a goal. For example, a nonprofit might plan a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign such as a 24-hour challenge when they have a limited amount of time to raise money. P2P is also an excellent way to leverage your supporters’ networks, which may include influencers like celebrities and board members.

    Peer-to-peer fundraising statistics

    How do you know if peer-to-peer fundraising makes sense for your organization? We’ll look at some stats to show you how potential donors behave. As you’ll see, a significant number of people use social media to connect with friends, share news and inspire action, and many donors prefer to contribute online.

    P2P fundraising and social media

    P2P fundraisers use social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to spread the word. Facebook is the most popular platform worldwide, with nearly 2.5 billion users. According to the 2018 Global NGO Technology Report, 93% of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have a Facebook page worldwide.

    Every day, millions of users check their Facebook page. You can use Facebook to reach potential donors across all age groups and keep existing supporters updated and engaged by posting quality content. Other popular social media platforms to consider when planning your P2P fundraising campaign include:

    • YouTube: More than 2 billion people use YouTube. YouTube is an excellent platform for sharing videos of fundraising events and information about your organization.
    • LinkedIn: More than 660 million people use LinkedIn, and 56% of NGOs have a LinkedIn page. LinkedIn is the go-to platform for making professional connections. It’s a great place to share your organization’s story and post opportunities to recruit volunteers or board members.
    • Instagram: Instagram has 1 billion users, according to a 2018 report, and 50% of NGOs have an Instagram page. Instagram is perfect for reaching a younger crowd and those who enjoy sharing photos and videos from their mobile devices. You can upload colorful and impactful photos to your Instagram account to gain followers and illustrate your mission.
    • Twitter: More than 330 million people use Twitter worldwide, and 77% of NGOs have a Twitter profile. Through your organization’s Twitter account, you can post short messages about P2P fundraising events and keep your audience updated. You can also ask followers to retweet your messages to spread the news faster. Always include links in your tweets to your other social media pages.
    • Pinterest: Pinterest has 322 million users. Pinterest users share and discover interests by pinning images and videos to their boards. Like Instagram, Pinterest gives users a visual experience. You can use Pinterest to share attention-grabbing photos and make viewers want to learn more about your mission.

    The power of influencers

    You might also consider partnering with an influencer to expand your reach on social media. Social media influencers have a large fan base and established credibility. They can persuade others to donate to your cause by showing their support for your organization.

    You don’t necessarily have to reach out to a YouTube star with millions of fans to make a difference. You might start by seeking influencers who show a passion for your cause. Once you find an influencer who seems like the right fit, ask them to mention your organization in a blog or video post. Considering that 49% of consumers rely on influencers for recommendations, it’s a tactic worth looking into for your P2P fundraising campaign.

    More social media statistics

    Here are a few more social media stats to inspire your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign:

    • According to the 2018 Global Trends in Giving Report, 29% of donors say social media influences giving — more than any other communication tool.
    • Fifty-six percent say Facebook is inspiring, and 20% are influenced by Instagram to give.
    • Worldwide, 18% of donors have used Facebook tools to make donations, and 88% say they’d use Facebook to contribute again in the future.
    • According to the 2018 Global NGO Technology Report, 71% of NGOs say that social media is a useful tool for online fundraising.
    • Ninety-five percent of NGOs say social media is effective for brand awareness.
    • Small NGOs have an average of 8,722 Facebook followers, while large organizations have an average of ~150.
    • Forty-one percent of NGOs have used Facebook to report live from an event to show their work.

    Overall, social media is an indispensable tool that can help launch your P2P fundraising campaign and keep it soaring.

    Online P2P fundraising statistics

    More and more people prefer making donations online, whether they are contributing $10 or $10,000. Here are stats to demonstrate the efficacy and importance of an online peer-to-peer fundraising campaign:

    • Online giving has grown an average of 8% per year in the United States.
    • Fifty-four percent of donors worldwide prefer to give online.
    • Fourteen percent of donors worldwide have created a P2P fundraising campaign online.
    • Thirty-one percent of donors give to organizations located outside of the county where they live.
    • Forty-five percent of major donors who contribute $10,000 or more prefer to give online.
    • Seventy-two percent of NGOs across the globe accept online donations.
    • Thirty-three percent of NGOs use an online P2P service.
    • Sixty-four percent of NGOs use cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) software.

    Considering the above stats, it’s no wonder 92% of NGOs have a website — 87% of them being mobile compatible. To run a P2P fundraising campaign, social media and careful website design are fundamental to your success.

    Crowdfunding vs. peer-to-peer fundraising

    What’s the difference between crowdfunding and P2P fundraising? Crowdfunding is basically peer-to-peer fundraising but on a smaller scale. Generally, people use a crowdfunding site to raise money for an individual need, such as to pay medical expenses or start a business. They keep all the money they raise rather than give it to an organization.

    Larger organizations, like schools and charities, typically use peer-to-peer fundraising. During a P2P fundraising campaign, organizations give supporters the tools they need to raise money on their behalf. Supporters are asked to create fundraising pages to reach out to potential donors and spread awareness through social media channels. The supporters do not keep any of the funds they collect, but they do get to partake in something meaningful to them. 

    What are the benefits of peer-to-peer fundraising?

    There are many benefits to peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, such as:

    • Allows you to reach a broad audience: An online P2P fundraising campaign enables you to contact anyone who has an internet connection and a computer or mobile device. Unlike the pre-internet days when you had to recruit volunteers and reach donors by word of mouth, newspaper ads or direct mail, you are no longer limited by time or space. You can ask for donations and obtain supporters anywhere in the world with online fundraising.
    • Increases brand recognition: Peer-to-peer fundraising spreads awareness of your organization’s brand without needing to advertise using traditional, and potentially costly, methods. When someone shares your campaign through social media, for example, people instantly see your logo and gain a sense of your organization’s personality. If your campaign impacts them emotionally, they’ll likely think of your organization when they want to make a difference. 
    • Allows supporters to donate and participate year-round: You don’t need to plan a one-day event to use peer-to-peer fundraising, although special occasions can certainly generate excitement. You can encourage supporters to create their own fundraising pages any day of the year, all year long. 
    • Supporters can get creative with fundraising events: An online P2P fundraising campaign gives you the freedom to get creative because you don’t need a physical space to host an event. For example, the American Cancer Society launched the Real Men Wear Pink campaign, which asked men to wear something pink throughout the month of October. This simple month-long campaign has raised over $6.5 million.
    • Empowers many individuals to give small amounts: Your supporters do not have to be wealthy to help your campaign succeed. With a P2P fundraising campaign, every little bit helps — and adds up quickly with the more people you reach. Anyone has the opportunity to make a positive impact, which is good for your supporters and your mission as a whole.
    • Helps you collect donor and campaign data: When you use fundraising software for your campaign, you’ll get dashboard reports to track quotas and donor data. You can use this valuable information to make adjustments to the current campaign or to plan a new strategy in the future.
    • Can use gamification to encourage giving: There are plenty of ways to make online giving a fun and memorable experience, such as through gamification. Gamification applies game-playing elements, like points-scoring, to non-game situations. You can include gamification elements in your P2P campaign by giving donors digital badges or enabling them to display progress thermometers on their fundraising pages. With the GiveSmart platform, you can promote, sell and track fundraising games like heads or tails. 
    • Makes it easy to give via mobile device: By using mobile-responsive web design, supporters of your P2P fundraising campaign can easily encourage others to donate right from their phones. With 81% of Americans owning smartphones, it’s important to help them donate from anywhere. Plus, mobile giving is on the rise. According to a 2016 survey, the share of donors who gave via mobile devices grew 80% since 2013.
    • Allows people to display their donations and involvement publicly: Online P2P fundraising is all about sharing the campaign with others. When people display their contributions and participation on their social media pages, they encourage others to give, just by showing what they’ve done. Research proves that observing generous acts encourages altruistic behavior
    • Allows supporters to personalize the fundraiser: Supporters can share their own stories or passion for a cause as they post information about the campaign on their personal fundraising pages. This makes donors and fundraisers feel connected to your organization on a deeper level.
    • Builds relationships: If you create positive, meaningful experiences for your supporters, they’ll likely want to stay connected to your organization. They might reach out to you to learn more about your organization and how they can help your mission succeed. 

    Peer-to-peer fundraising definitions

    It’s always helpful to know some fundraising terminology. You can share these terms when training and recruiting volunteers or use them to help you with your own strategy. Here are terms to know provided by Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) International:

    • Accountability: The responsibility of an organization to keep a donor informed about the use of their gift.
    • Acknowledgment letter: A personalized letter sent to the donor expressing gratitude for their gift.
    • Advance gifts: Gifts given before a campaign is publicly announced.
    • Anonymous gift: The gift only includes the amount given by the donor and withholds the name.
    • Benefactor: A donor or group of contributors who give a large gift.
    • Board of directors: Individuals chosen to oversee the management of an organization.
    • Campaign: Organized effort to raise funds for an organization.
    • Campaign costs: Costs to plan and operate a campaign.
    • Campaign leadership: Top volunteers who are essential to the organization of the campaign.
    • Cash gift: The transfer of cash, check or currency to an organization.
    • Cultivation: The process of encouraging involvement by educating others about the organization and why it warrants support.
    • Designated gift: A gift made for a specific use.
    • Direct mail: Solicitation of gifts or volunteer services by mass mailing.
    • Donor: The individual or organization who makes a gift.
    • Donor acquisition: The process of obtaining donors.
    • Donor relations: A strategy to maintain donor interest through acknowledgment, information and personal involvement.
    • Employee matching gift: A donation made by an employee which is then matched by a similar donation by their employer.
    • Feasibility study: A thorough assessment of the fundraising potential of an organization.
    • Gift receipt: An official form sent to the donors to recognize their contributions.
    • Letter of inquiry: Letter sent to a foundation or corporation by an organization to ask if they will consider funding a project.
    • Major gift: A gift of a significant amount.
    • Pledge: A signed and dated commitment to make a contribution over a set period.
    • Social media: Electronic tools that generate interaction and participation such as blogs, videos, photo sharing and use of social networks.
    • Special event: Fundraising function designed to attract many people for the purpose of raising money or obtaining donors.

    It also helps to know a few social media terms, such as: 

    • Authenticity: Used to describe “real” people behind a post or profile.
    • Hashtag: A word or set of characters that start with a number sign (#) and is used to group identical terms into a search thread.
    • Platform: A system used to manage content.
    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The process of organizing a website so that it appears in top search engine results.
    • Tag: A label that shows what the content is about.
    • Traffic: Refers to the number of people who visit a website.
    • Trending: A popular word, phrase or topic.
    • Viral: Anything that gets shared through social networks at a rapid pace and high volume.
    Chapter 2: Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas