One of the fastest growing areas in fundraising is a form of crowdfunding called Peer-to-Peer Fundraising. Unlike traditional crowdfunding, peer-to-peer fundraising allows participants to raise funds on behalf of your organization using their own fundraising pages. Because participants are reaching out directly to their friends and supporters on your organization’s behalf and are able to track their progress, you get far greater reach than you otherwise would.

We teamed up with our friends at DonorDrive to create an online guide for those planning P2P Fundraising events.

This guide was created in collaboration with DonorDrive, who specialize in P2P Fundraising. The guide is split into 6 different parts, but we also provide a high-level summary for each further down on this page.

Part 1: Understanding Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Participants & Donors

When planning a P2P fundraising event, it is important to understand who your audience is as well as the audiences they will be reaching out to (potential donors and fundraising recruits). Although looking at demographics can be useful, we will be focusing on three primary categories that span age, sex, and socio-economic statuses.

  • Their relationship to the cause
  • Their knowledge of the organization and its work
  • Their current phase in their P2P event journey (prospective –> seasoned team leader)

The Directly Related (e.g. Cancer Fighters & Survivor)

  • Living with a condition or are in remission
  • Direct client/beneficiary of the org’s services
  • Some impact will live on after them as people continue to support the cause in their memory.

Read more on how to identify and engage this group.

The Close Friend or Relative (indirectly impacts them but in a big way)

  • Spouse/significant other
  • Parent/child/sibling
  • Close friend
  • Close colleague/teammate
  • Org staff and regular volunteers

Read more on how to identify and engage this group.

The “Knows Someone Who…” Participant (the cause has a face)

  • Distant relative
  • Acquaintance
  • Friend of a friend
  • Work acquaintance

Read more on how to identify and engage this group.

The “Good/Related Cause” Supporter

  • People willing to support any good cause when provided a compelling opportunity
  • Ties to a related cause (e.g., survivor of another form of cancer)
  • Doing it because of a friend asked. Like the cause, but no personal tie
  • Employees of a sponsor

Read more on how to identify and engage this group.

The Cause Consumer (Not necessarily bad…can overlap with others)

  • Cause hoppers – people who love combining fun and (any) cause
  • T-shirt/swag collector
  • Looking to impress someone else (social media followers, friends, date, etc.)
  • Adventure seeker
  • Event aligns with related interest/hobby/goal (e.g., couch to 5K)

Read more on how to identify and engage reluctant participants.

The Reluctant Participant

  • No tie to cause, only there because of peer pressure
  • Care about the cause, but not the event
  • Care about the cause, but anxious/reluctant to ask people to donate money

Read more on how to identify and engage reluctant participants.

Part 2: Attracting First-Time Participants for Your P2P Fundraiser

Common Challenges when Attracting First-Time Participants

  • People are busy
  • We live in a world where information overload is the norm
  • Many people are hesitant to make commitments in advance
  • Many well-intentioned people are easily distracted or forgetful
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of discomfort
  • Fear of social pressure/manipulation
  • Lack of a perceived cool factor
  • So many “good causes” to choose from

Prioritizing Your Time

  • Start with current supporters
  • Leverage the power of teams to do your recruiting
  • Cultivate highly-engaged volunteers who focus on recruitment
  • Find community and media partners
  • Set honest growth goals

Read more on each of these suggestions.

Planning Your Communication

  • Invite people to be part of something meaningful (and fun)
  • Make communication clear and concise
  • Plan for multiple touchpoints across channels and time
  • Keep the Next Step in the Journey Front & Center
  • Retarget Website Visitors Using Facebook & Google Retargeting

Read more on each of these suggestions.

Part 3: Making Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Easy (and Fun) for Everyone

If you think of a person’s involvement with your P2P fundraising event on a spectrum, on the far left, you would have a perspective fundraiser who isn’t yet aware of this program, and on the far right, you have a seasoned organization ambassador. So what are the steps in between and where/why might someone fail to progress?

Learn more about the needs and challenges for each group and tips for how to engage them.


Part 4: Team Fundraising – Why P2P Fundraising Is Better as a Team Sport

Teams Get Big Results

Teams are the P2P Fundraising Event Planner’s secret weapon. If you’re not already using teams, you should be seriously considering it. Here are some stats to help you understand just how powerful they are.

  • Team members raise 70% more than the average individual (1)
  • Events with teams raise 28% more than those without them (1)
  • Teams on average raise 59% of overall funds for an event (1)
  • The average team has six people (1)

Check out DonorDrive’s infographic for more stats and a great visual summary on this topic.


Common Types of Teams

In reality, teams will end up forming for a variety of reasons. That said, it is important to understand some common team types along with the unique opportunities each provides. See the full Teams section for more details and tips.

  • Teams of Primary Beneficiaries (Those Directly Affected by Your Work)
  • Teams Rallied Around an Affected Friend or Loved One
  • Team Formed Around a Good Cause or Team Captain (3rd degree)
  • Event Activity Interest Teams (e.g., bikers, runners, fans)
  • Employer & Outside Group Teams
  • Hybrid Teams

The Team Captain/Leader

At the center of every great team is a great leader (or two). Sometimes leaders emerge naturally or even democratically from among a group’s own ranks. Other times, it is the leader who gets things rolling and they rally a team around them. In most cases though, it works best to have a clear team captain (or co-captains) to keep accountability and momentum alive.

Read more about the best team captains.

Part 5: Retention & Lapsed Participants

Get a downloadable version at DonorDrive’s blog.

Helping ensure that as many actual fundraisers as possible come back the following year needs to be a key goal of your event. They are more familiar with the organization, with fundraising, and will almost always outperform someone who is new. So what are the common reasons why people fail to return the next year?

Why Participants May Not Come Back

  • They moved to another city (especially common with college students and young adults)
  • Event day doesn’t fit their calendar (firm or potential conflict)
  • They are just generally too busy (prefer to help on their own schedule)
  • They’re no longer physically able to participate (people age, get sick, or get injured)
  • They’ve lost touch with the friend who got them involved (and no other tie to cause)
  • The event has lost its cool factor (what once worked, may not appeal to younger crowd)
  • The cause is not trending anymore (out of sight, out of mind)

So what can you do to help combat these reasons and minimize the number of lapsed participants?

9. Tips for Creating a Retention Strategy

  1. Start your retention plan the moment you meet a participant
  2. Prioritize participants and really give them priority
  3. Connect those who are not closely connected
  4. Make event day unforgettable
  5. Document the event in photographs and video
  6. Let them know they’ve made a difference
  7. “Thanks” should be a constant conversation starter
  8. Make being an alum cool
  9. Take your event year round

View the full section for more, or grab a free downloadable version from DonorDrive.

Part 6: Engaging Zero-Dollar Fundraisers

Get a downloadable version at DonorDrive’s blog.

Understanding the true cost of $0 participants

  • Database records (if charged by participant…DonorDrive doesn’t, but many do)
  • Water and Food (even when donated, it means asking for more plus extra logistics
  • Support Staff (more bodies mean more support staff/volunteers to train and manage)
  • Permits (permits and fees based on number of participants add to the overall cost)
  • Insurance Participant numbers factor into this cost)
  • Porta-Potties (You should have at least one porta-potty per 100 participants)

Tips for Addressing Zero-Dollar Fundraising Participants

  1. Set a registration deadline
  2. Suggest a minimum fundraising expectation
  3. Initiate fundraising minimums
  4. Make T-shirts more than a transaction
  5. Set a registration fee when appropriate, not as a standard
  6. Make the impact of their fundraising obvious
  7. Use “fundraiser” in your event title
  8. Ask them to fundraise
  9. Ask them to self-donate
  10. Automate communications with zero-dollar fundraiser
  11. Ask for a donation at event-day signup
  12. Get them to do the basics

View the full section for more, or grab a free downloadable version from DonorDrive.

About DonorDrive

DonorDrive Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Software helps nonprofits raise more money. With DonorDrive, organizations like MADD, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, JDRF, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and NDSS Buddy Walks have raised more than $1 Billion.

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