This is part 6 of the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Guide, created with the help of the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising experts at DonorDrive.DonorDrive already had a really great resource on Engaging Zero-Dollar Fundraisers, so we are reposting a streamlined version with their permission. If you find this useful, be sure to download the full whitepaper.

Do you know the percent of your fundraisers that don’t raise a single dollar? (excluding registration and t-shirt sales)?

When most nonprofits who do the peer-to-peer fundraising run a report that excludes registration fees, T-shirt purchases, etc. and just looks at fundraising, they are shocked to see how many zero-dollar fundraisers you really have.

While we know these participants are helping raise awareness for your cause, the sad fact is the average awareness-raising event is accommodating approximately three out of four participants who raise nothing. It’s easy to think these inactive fundraisers don’t cost you much or that registration fees cover their expenses, but that’s not usually the case, especially if the costs of putting on the event are high.

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)

The problem can’t be cured with more participants

Most committed members in your community care about your cause and are likely already fundraising for it. This means that as you add more people, you are going to increase the portion of those who are zero-dollar fundraisers while dramatically increasing the cost of putting on your event.
Build a fundraising culture around your event

If you have a big zero-dollar fundraiser problem, it’s likely that you’ve been building an event culture where fundraising hasn’t been the priority. There are many things you may be doing that seem like they’re accommodating participants, but they may be actively letting them off the hook for fundraising. The goal is to change your event’s culture to one where a participant’s fundraising success is something your participants can be proud of, rather than something to avoid. You may even find your successful fundraisers are frustrated by your zero-dollar fundraisers getting a free ride, since the successful fundraisers may feel they’re footing the bill. If you develop a fundraising culture, you’re likely to have happier participants, since everyone is working together in fundraising for the cause. You’ll also find new participants will join your event with the understanding that they’re expected to fundraise.

1. Set a registration deadline
If participants can register the day of the event, you’re training them not to fundraise. Setting a registration deadline, even two weeks out, gives them time to ask their friends.

2. Suggest a minimum fundraising expectation
If you’re concerned, you’ll lose participants by requiring fundraising, start by setting expectations instead of making fundraising mandatory (e.g. ask them to set a fundraising goal at registration).

3. Initiate fundraising minimums
Consider making fundraising mandatory for your event. If you’re doing this for the first time, you might want to start small and raise them over time to ease the conversion of $0 participants

4. Make T-shirts more than a transaction
Leverage t-shirts to reward people who reach a fundraising threshold like $100. If you put it at $25, it feels more like a transaction. If they have to earn it, it becomes something to covet.

5. Set a registration fee when appropriate, not as a standard
Event registrations can make people feel they are exempt from having to fundraise. Be clear about the expectation that they’ll fundraise, and if an event is expensive, shift to minimums.

6. Make the impact of their fundraising obvious
Give stats on what $100 buys or put up a video featuring those your organization helps. When participants understand why they’re fundraising, they’re more likely to do it.

7. Use “fundraiser” in your event title
Make sure everyone knows it’s a fundraiser. If it’s in the name of your event, you can’t make it any more obvious. It sets an expectation for participants, potential donors, and the public.

8. Ask them to fundraise
Although it seems obvious, over 50% of $0 participants say they were never asked to fundraise. Communicate with $0 fundraisers again and again—showing them the value of fundraising.

9. Ask them to self-donate
Self-donating is empowering for participants. If they give $25, it’s much easier to ask their friends to do the same. Also encourage them to share they personally donated on social media.

10. Automate communications with zero-dollar fundraiser
$0 fundraisers require a lot of encouragement to generate even a little revenue. You shouldn’t write them off, but you can limit their drain on resources through automated campaigns.

11. Ask for a donation at event-day signup
Encourage $0 participants to give a credit card donation on the spot when they sign in. This works best if you send out an email the day prior informing them they will be asked to donate

12. Get them to do the basics
Most $0 fundraisers took zero actions to raise funds. If you can get them to take even just a few of the basic actions, like sending an email to friends and family, they will no longer be $0 participants.

Many nonprofits believe when a participant shows up and doesn’t raise a dime, there’s still benefit in having them there for awareness and for making the crowd bigger. That may be true, but if only half of those zero-dollar fundraisers who are registered showed up and each generated $10 or $50, how much more could that benefit your cause?

Based on the guide 12 Ways to Engage Your Zero-Dollar Fundraisers by DonorDrive. Interested in downloadable and expanded version of this resource, then click here?

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.

Find out more at DonorDrive.com.