As the saying goes, “teamwork makes the dream work,” particularly when it comes to fundraising, spreading awareness, and creating change. Peer-to-peer fundraising is a money-raising strategy that brings the concept to life, transforming loyal donors into brand champions for your organization.
Here’s how peer-to-peer fundraising works: Instead of simply asking existing supporters to make another contribution, you invite them to rally their social circle—encouraging their friends, family members, and co-workers to donate to your cause. Cool, right? You can adopt this method for a one-time event (like a walk-a-thon or birthday fundraiser) or an ongoing campaign (like an open-ended funding request to renovate a building).
Like any fundraising strategy, you’ll need to know the essentials, best practices, and surefire ideas to hit your goal. Below, learn what peer-to-peer fundraising is, why it works, how to choose the right fundraising idea, and how to launch your campaign. You’ll also see examples of successful peer-to-peer campaigns to get your creative wheels turning.
What is peer-to-peer fundraising, anyway?
A peer-to-peer fundraiser is a fundraising campaign where a group of loyal supporters recruit their own network to support their cause. Many times, a peer-to-peer fundraiser will double as a friendly competition, where teams are pitted against one another to earn the most funds for the campaign.
Peer-to-peer fundraising isn’t a new concept. It’s also known as P2P fundraising, social fundraising, personal fundraising, or team fundraising. An example of a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign is an endurance marathon or 5K, where participants pledge to run a mile for every $15 their friends donate. Other types of peer fundraising campaigns include school read-a-thons and dance marathons, where participants ask friends and family members to join their “team.”
The success of a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign depends on genuine human connections. Research shows that 39% of Americans donate to charity because of a request from a friend or family member. By encouraging loyal supporters to recruit their network to your campaign, you raise more money in less time.
What’s the difference between peer-to-peer fundraising vs. crowdfunding?
Peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising and crowdfunding are often confused because they both involve asking large numbers of people for (relatively) small donations. They’re pretty similar, but there are a few key differences you should know.
P2P campaigns typically have one organization or person overseeing a team of individual campaigns. This could be anywhere from three to 300 different campaigners raising money, each with their own peer fundraising page. Sometimes, organizers give team members their own mini fundraising goals. (For instance, you could have your experienced, well-connected supporters aim to raise $1,000 each while your new supporters aim for $200.)
Crowdfunding campaigns are also typically managed by one organization or person. Instead of recruiting individuals, crowdfunders build off their own network of connections and promote their campaign far and wide, hoping to create positive word-of-mouth and draw donors from every possible source. They usually make one main fundraising page using a crowdfunding website and focus on one goal, like raising $200,000 to launch a nonprofit pet adoption service.
What tools do you need for a successful peer-to-peer fundraiser?
New online fundraising tools have made peer-to-peer fundraising easy to execute and more powerful than ever, whether you’re the founder of a nonprofit organization or an individual fundraiser. With a powerful peer-to-peer fundraising platform, your team can quickly reach out to their entire network via social media, email, text, and more (more on this below).
Here’s how it works: On Givebutter, each team member has their own personal fundraising page that supports your main donation page. Various ”teams” can leverage these pages to amplify your mission, engage with their friends, and accept donations that go straight to your cause. Not only do team pages create a sense of ownership and accountability, but they give supporters the opportunity to explain why they’re passionate about your cause.
Other Givebutter peer-to-peer fundraising tools that that can make your campaign a success include:
- Peer-to-peer texting: Want to reach supporters quickly and efficiently? Send automated text messages to promote your peer-to-peer fundraiser.
- Multi-team fundraising: Reach new supporters through multi-team fundraising, where you can create campaigns with unlimited teams, each with their own members, goals, and leaderboards.
- Personalized links: With personalized links, supporters can create their own unique link to share your campaign with their network.
- Credit team members: If your fundraiser includes a bit of friendly competition, allow donors to credit team members by searching for them by name.
- Leaderboards: Want to know which team has raised the most for your cause? Use leaderboards to keep tabs on each team and their respective goals.
- One-click social sharing: With one-click social sharing, supporters can easily share your campaign on their respective social channels, thereby driving traffic toward your campaign.
- Design with Canva: With Canva and Givebutter, you can easily create gorgeous, branded email templates or social media posts to help rally your donor base.
- Supporter feed: Want to give supporters an incentive to donate to your campaign? Give individual supporters (or entire teams!) a special shoutout message on your supporter feed for all to see.
- CRM: To track new and recurring supporters alike, take advantage of Givebutter’s donor management functionality, where you can create donor profiles, keep tabs on event management, and log fundraising activities for all supporters.
The benefits of peer-to-peer fundraising
Nonprofit organizations and individuals love this fundraising method for a number of reasons. Here’s a snapshot:
- 😊 It builds on existing relationships: Getting past “hello” and convincing potential donors to give takes time and resources you may not have. Peer fundraisers can skip this step and focus on winning support from their inner circle.
- ⏰ It maximizes the impact of all your resources: P2P campaigners are volunteers, which reduces costs and saves time for you and/or your paid staff. (You’ll still need to train your volunteers for the most success—more on that later.)
- 📣 It’s an organic way to raise awareness: People are more receptive to requests and information from people they know, and there’s nothing more organic than a message from a friend. In that regard, it removes the need for expensive marketing and advertising campaigns.
- 💪 It makes your supporters feel empowered: A P2P campaign offers your most passionate, engaged followers a way to do more than donate or volunteer. They can get hands-on and actively contribute to your mission, strengthening their commitment to your cause.
- 🏆 It creates friendly competition: P2P platforms are unique because they add gamification to fundraising with features like leaderboards, mini goals, and fundraising thermometers. Competitive individuals will be vying for the “top fundraiser” spot.
How to start a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign
Peer-to-peer campaigns have the potential to rally entire communities, cultivate tons of new donors, and drive serious dollars toward your fundraising goal.
Launching an effective peer-to-peer fundraising event starts with preparation and planning. Here are six key steps to launch a P2P campaign:
- Determine a realistic fundraising goal based on your project, budget, number of staff and volunteers, timeline, and so on.
- Come up with a great peer-to-peer fundraising idea to make it happen (see ideas in the next section!).
- Sign up for peer-to-peer fundraising software and create your main fundraising campaign page.
- Recruit a team of enthusiastic P2P fundraisers, and have them customize their own campaign pages.
- Equip your team for success by sharing plenty of fundraising resources, like a donation request script, high-quality images and videos that showcase your cause, and fundraising FAQs.
- Track your P2P fundraisers’ progress, sharing updates, providing tips, answering questions, and giving thanks along the way.
We’ve also put together a list of peer-to-peer campaign best practices to help you take your fundraising efforts to the next level.
Peer-to-peer fundraising ideas to make your campaign a success💡
When it comes to throwing a successful P2P fundraising event, you have limitless options—from a black-tie gala or virtual webinar, to a local bake sale or give-it-up challenge. What matters most is that your event excites and motivates your target audience.
To help get your wheels turning, use this list of nonprofit fundraising ideas:
- Fitness events like 5Ks, dance marathons, and basketball shoot-a-thons
- Contests and tournaments, like trivia, game night, or a golf tournament
- Unique social challenges, like No Shave November
- Merchandise sales, like T-shirt sales, gourmet cookie sales, etc.
- Corporate matching gift campaigns
Pro tip: Look for ways to add in friendly competition (and recognize your donors!). For example, give a special social media shoutout to the first team to sell 20 event tickets, or secure a $500 corporate sponsorship.
3 successful peer fundraising campaigns to inspire you
Ready to start planning your next peer-to-peer campaign? Check out these real-life campaigns from the Givebutter community:
1. Project Restore Us Winter Fundraiser
Why we love it: Project Restore Us provides a grocery delivery service that keeps Massachusetts restaurants in business, their workers employed, and their community well-fed. Keeping with that spirit of unity, they recruited companies, universities, and individuals as peer fundraisers to help them deliver a month's worth of groceries to over 200 families.
2. Building Blocks for Change
Why we love it: When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down their signature fundraising event, organizers for the G.W.C. Brown Legacy Education Fund didn’t falter. They launched Building Blocks for Change, a peer fundraising campaign championed by nearly 30 Alpha Phi Alpha alumni and supporters. Their efforts paid off, allowing them to raise over $7,000 more than their original goal and provide scholarship awards to students.
3. Cannonball Kids Pediatric Cancer Run
Why we love it: Cannonball Kids Cancer aims to fund innovative, accessible research and clinical trials for children fighting cancer, with one driving belief: “Research is the key.” Their community-wide fundraising marathon—each mile named for a cancer warrior or angel—inspired nearly 300 fundraisers and givers to walk, run, or donate to their cause.
Work together, win together
There’s nothing more powerful than individual fundraisers joining together to work toward one goal.
Launching a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign empowers your supporters to get hands-on, raise money, and rally volunteers. These campaigns also enable you to discover, create, and strengthen relationships with people in your fundraisers’ social network who will keep supporting your cause long after the campaign is over.
Fortunately, Givebutter has all the tools to guide you to launch a peer-to-peer campaign. The all-in-one Givebutter platform comes complete with 130+ fundraising features, built-in CRM, and marketing automation—all for the lowest pricing in the industry.
Ready to see how Givebutter can help guide you toward fundraising success? Take a tour to get started.
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.