This is part 2 of the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Guide, created with the help of the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising experts at DonorDrive

When looking to engage new participants, you need to take some time to understand who they are, what motivates them, and the hurdles you’ll need to overcome.

We’ve already covered the different types of peer-to-peer fundraising participants based on relation to the cause, but it is worth spending a little additional time focused on the common challenges to getting participants in general, but especially first-time participants.

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

Foster empathy for potential participants.

Don’t fall into the trap of viewing people simply as numbers or cogs in your process. Also, don’t take the mental stance that they owe you anything. You’ve got a great cause, but there are lots of great causes. Remember, these people will typically be giving something up to join your event, and they will also be spending social capital to raise funds on your behalf. This is a beautiful thing, and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Prioritizing Your Time

You need to value potential participants, but that doesn’t mean you need to treat them all the same. You don’t have time to invest personally in everyone, so you’ll need to be strategic with your time. That means investing more in the areas with the highest probability of return and look for scalable solutions that make it as simple, convenient, and clear as possible for all involved.

Start with current supporters

Leverage the power of your database. This group is already familiar with your organization and engaging in some way, shape, or form. As a rule, your current supporters tend to make the best fundraisers as well. As such, you’ll want to focus a lot of your time on engaging and equipping newcomers or others in this group who haven’t yet participated in a fundraiser.

Leverage the power of teams to do your recruiting

Teams are one of the top secrets to successful P2P Fundraising, and one of the key elements is that it adds additional incentive for people to recruit others and creates support and accountability for actually getting fundraising results. Encourage existing teams to invite more new people, and encourage existing participants to recruit their family or friends into a team.

Cultivate highly-engaged volunteers who focus on recruitment

Equipping and empowering high-capacity volunteers with proven recruitment capabilities to formally own portions of the recruitment process can also be a great way to scale your reach. If they have limited time, look for ways to take advantage of where they are already. For example, you might give a grad student ownership of finding a student group that will partner with them to recruit on campus. Or find a runner with lots of connections with the running community to own the relationships with the clubs and businesses that relate to this community.

Find community and media partners

Don’t just look to recruit individuals, also cultivate relationships with local companies (e.g., bike shop if your event is a bike race), community groups, associations, clubs, bloggers, and social media influencers to help promote the event and recruit new participants. When interacting with these groups, don’t just ask for things for free, help them develop a value proposition that makes sense to them.

Set honest growth goals

Without goals, you won’t have a clear objective which will limit your growth. That said, your goals need to be reasonable and honest. If you set a goal, make sure you can demonstrate where the gains will come from and what you are doing differently to help make this happen.

Planning Your Communication

Effective communication doesn’t happen by accident. By putting a little extra effort into sending the right message to the right people via the correct channels, you’ll get better results.

Invite people to be part of something meaningful (and fun)

Guilt isn’t a good motivator. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves, but they are typically going to be looking for something that is very near and dear to their heart or that combines impact, fun, and a little bit of competition. Whenever possible, focus on making the impact of their participation tangible (e.g., $100 provides X).

Make communication clear and concise

Don’t waste people’s time. Don’t send long emails or make people watch a 20-minute video. Take the time to distill things down to their essence and break things up into easy to consume content and easy-to-execute actions. Be sure to use reader-friendly fonts, text sizes, and colors in all forms of communication. Keep your sentences short, and avoid long or unfamiliar words. Check your content for errors. Ask yourself how different personas would interpret your wording.

Plan for multiple touchpoints across channels and time

The reality is that most people will need multiple touches before they are prepared to take action as a fundraiser. The challenge is keeping the communication flowing and relevant while avoiding coming across as spam-like. This means you need to plan your campaigns out to span both time on the same channel and multiple channels (email, text, social media, etc.).

Keep the Next Step in the Journey Front & Center

Make it really, really, clear what the next step is that should be taken. This means you need to know where they are and where they are going at all times. Constantly be running reports for use in segmenting your communication. Lastly, be sure to always focus content on one primary call-to-action. This isn’t to say you can’t link to any additional information or provide a secondary action, but there should never be a question as to what someone is supposed to focus on.
Consider Boosting Your Social Media Posts

Look for ways to gain further reach by boosting your social media posts. This added reach and visibility not only allows you to reach your existing followers but can also help you reach followers of those who engage the post.

Retarget Website Visitors Using Facebook & Google Retargeting

By focusing your advertising on people who have already had a reason to visit your website and meet the other target criteria, your money will be better spent. Facebook Pixel or Google Retargeted Ads can be a little more, but they tend to convert much higher than a random click.


Attracting new participants starts with your first interactions with them and each and every interaction along this journey will also impact retention as well. The more you focus on inspiring the right people with the right message, paired with a deep desire to equip them to be successful, the better off you’ll be.


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

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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