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Nonprofit Strategies

The changemaker’s guide to peer-to-peer fundraising

What is peer-to-peer fundraising? We’ll cover everything you need to know plus show off some of the best peer-to-peer fundraising ideas from real campaigns (and a free toolkit download!)

Rachel Ayotte
May 31, 2023
June 26, 2022

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Whether you’re an individual looking to launch your first peer-to-peer fundraising campaign or a nonprofit who wants to amplify their P2P fundraising efforts, this article is for you. We’ll walk through exactly what peer-to-peer fundraising is, why it's important, and exactly how you can pull it off with our best P2P fundraising tips and examples.

Before we dive into the nitty gritty, let's get clear on what peer-to-peer fundraising is, the real peer-to-peer fundraising definition, and how it’s used. 

What is peer-to-peer fundraising?

So what really is peer-to-peer fundraising, aka P2P fundraising? Does P2P differ from crowdfunding, team, and multi-team fundraising? Let’s review some definitions.

👉  Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is an umbrella category of social fundraising in which a single individual, group, or organization solicits donations from the people in their wider social network—rather than reaching out to foundations or other institutional funders—to reach a fundraising goal. These campaigns are typically managed by one entity—a person, a club, a nonprofit—and have time parameters (e.g. “Help us raise $10K in 90 days!”). 

💡 Example: An animal shelter wants to launch a new pet adoption service, so they create a fundraising page with a goal of raising $200K which they share with friends, family, former clients, donors, etc.

 👉  Peer-to-peer fundraising (P2P)

In peer-to-peer fundraising, anyone can raise money on behalf of a nonprofit or as part of a larger fundraising effort. Often, but not always, P2P campaigns are hosted by the nonprofit organization. 

💡 Example: An individual starts a birthday fundraiser for their favorite charity.

👉  Team fundraising

Team fundraising is a catch-all phrase that encapsulates P2P and team-based campaigns in that individuals and/or groups raise funds through their social networks for a charitable cause. Such campaigns are often, but not always, anchored by the nonprofit.

💡 Example: a marathon runner launches an individual fundraising page that’s also connected to a team fundraiser their company has organized for a cancer research foundation. 

 👉  Multi-team fundraising

In multi-team fundraising, groups and individuals create fundraising pages within a larger official campaign hosted by a nonprofit, often with a fun, competitive element involved. 

💡 Example: Several companies create team pages and try to out-raise one another during the annual Giving Tuesday fund-a-thon run by their local soup kitchen. 

How does peer-to-peer fundraising work for nonprofits?

Peer-to-peer fundraising works like this: Instead of asking donors to make another contribution (to either a one-time event or through your general donation form) a nonprofit can start a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign and invite their supporters to rally their own social circles—encouraging their friends, family members, and co-workers to donate to your organization. Pretty sweet, right?

Strong peer-to-peer programs and fundraising platforms incorporate both P2P and team-based fundraising options for nonprofits. Team fundraising offers individuals the maximum amount of opportunities to be successful in the social fundraising space. 

Is peer-to-peer fundraising right for me?

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into the fun stuff, like deciding if peer-to-peer fundraising is right for your cause. Before jumping into a P2P campaign, it’s important to consider a few pros and cons. Like any fundraising strategy, P2P might be better suited for some organizations than others, depending on your goals, donor base, resources, and even your budget. 

The benefits of peer-to-peer fundraising 🥳 

A recent study showed that almost 4 in 10 Americans have given to charity because a friend or family member asked them to—which is exactly how peer-to-peer fundraising works. But to better understand some of the pros of P2P fundraising, let’s dig into a few specifics. 

Peer-to-peer fundraising can… 

 Create friendly competition: P2P platforms are more effective because they add gamification to fundraising with features like leaderboards, mini goals, and fundraising thermometers. 

✅   Save time and money: P2P campaigners are volunteers, which reduces costs and saves time for you and/or your paid staff.

 Increase your donor networks: Every new donor that joins a team is a brand new network for a nonprofit. For Givebutter campaigns raising over $10,000, the average peer-to-peer campaign member brings in more than $1,300 from 6-7 new donors.

✅  Empower your supporters: A P2P campaign offers your most passionate, engaged followers a way to do more than donate or volunteer, strengthening their commitment to your cause.

The cons of peer-to-peer fundraising 👎

Of course, like with any fundraising tactic, there are a few possible pitfalls of peer-to-peer fundraising to consider before diving in headfirst.

Cons of P2P fundraising may include any of the following: 

  Individuals can get lost: Sometimes, an individual fundraiser does not follow through on their commitment to raising funds. When you’re on a team, it can be easy to hide behind everyone else. 

💡 Solution: Make sure your members set their own individual goals to be accountable for in addition to the team, and follow up with them frequently with encouragement and thanks! 

 Difficult to manage: Without the right peer-to-peer fundraising platform, it can be challenging for nonprofits to provide the right amount of infrastructure for teams to be successful.

💡 Solution: Make sure you have a robust fundraising platform that allows you to manage volunteers and donor data easily.

  Leaders don’t always take responsibility: As much as a nonprofit might equip a team leader, they may not have the bandwidth or know-how to follow through.

💡 Solution: Make sure the training you give your leaders before they launch their fundraiser is realistic, measurable, and easy to understand. The more templates you provide, the more successful they will be!

Difficulty bringing supporters on board: For anyone that’s new to peer-to-peer fundraising, a nonprofit asking them to set up a whole fundraising page might seem intimidating.

💡 Solution: Make it as easy as possible for them! Givebutter’s user-friendly tools make it easy for anyone to sign up and create their own personalized page in minutes. 

How to start a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign

Launching a successful peer-to-peer campaign takes a bit of careful strategy and execution. In order to make the most out of your campaign, follow these simple steps.

Step 1. Get the right tools 🧰

Great peer-to-peer fundraising is all about using the right peer-to-peer fundraising platform, so your team can quickly reach out to their entire network via social media, email, text messages, and more. When considering what platform to use, asses your goals and budget. 

And, most importantly, you’ll need to make sure whatever platform you use has a few essential tools, including:

  • 📱  Peer-to-peer texting
  • 👥  Multi-team fundraising
  • 👩 Personalized links
  • 🏆   Leaderboards
  • 🗣️  Easy social sharing
  • 👋  Supporter feed
  • 🤓  Donor management (CRM)

Step 2: Rally the troops 📣

To get your campaign up and running, recruit a team of enthusiastic P2P fundraisers, and have them customize their own campaign pages to share on social media, via text, and email.

Step 3: Blast off 🚀

Equip your team for success by sharing plenty of fundraising resources, like a donation request letter, high-quality images and videos that showcase your cause, and fundraising FAQs.

Then, track your P2P fundraisers’ progress, sharing updates, providing tips, answering questions, and giving thanks along the way.

Start peer-to-peer fundraising with Givebutter

The best peer-to-peer fundraising ideas for 2023

When it comes to hosting a successful peer-to-peer fundraiser, the ideas are limitless. What matters most is that your event excites and motivates your target audience.

To help get your wheels turning, think of which of these of peer-to-peer fundraising ideas would resonate most with your supporters:

  • 🏋  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 a 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.

10 best peer-to-peer fundraising tips for success 

As the nonprofit organizing a P2P campaign, it’s your job to make sure the individual and team fundraisers have a seamless experience from start to finish. 

Aside from ensuring fundraisers have fun, peer-to-peer fundraising best practices also include ensuring that fundraisers feel well-equipped and prepared. Be sure that they have all of the fundraising tools, resources (ex. images, logos), and communication scripts ready to go. 

Tip #1: Recruit all-star fundraisers ⭐ 

When recruiting, target your most dedicated and active stakeholders. And, don’t forget to see if these leaders may have any connections to potential corporate gift-matching programs so your fundraisers can double the donations.

Tip #2: Help teams pick a theme ☁️

Letting the teams choose what they want to do is usually the best route, but sometimes they have no idea where to start. Give them a list or send a link to past team fundraisers so they can get moving ASAP.

Tip #3: Advise participants to set team and individual goals 🥅

Start by asking what they think is a reasonable goal. If the team has no clue, tell them what similar-sized teams raised for your nonprofit in the past.

Tip #4 Recommend timelines ⏰

Help teams determine the shortest period you think they are most likely to reach their goals. This will largely depend on the team’s amount of prior fundraising experience and level of commitment (i.e., more funds need more time).

Tip #5: Guide teams on how to tell their stories 📖

Writing a personal fundraising story on the campaign page is usually the most intimidating part for new fundraisers. Make it easier on them by providing scripts and examples.

Tip #6 Suggest custom donation amounts 💵

Give them at least four examples, starting with your average gift amount and up.

Tip #7 Ask teams to commit to the first donation 🤑

Explain how making a donation to their own page can help individuals and teams have a successful start.  

Tip #8: Coach teams through the ‘ask’ 🤔

Create a short, step-by-step guide that teaches your teams how to create successful mass and personal appeals. Script communication and provide email templates to make this a no-brainer for them. 

Tip #9 Share updates 👍

Share regular updates with teams on their progress. And, encourage your fundraisers to share an update with their supporters at least every five days, which makes campaigns 3 times more successful!

Tip #10 Celebrate your teams 🎉

Thank every team member via email, as well as with a handwritten letter or personalized video from your executives. Personal touches go a long way! 

5 best P2P fundraising examples in action 

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

Project Restore Us Winter Fundraiser's page on Givebutter

💛  Why we love this peer-to-peer fundraising example: Project Restore Us provides a grocery delivery service that keeps Massachusetts restaurants in business. 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.

💰 Raised: $57,237

How you can do it: Identify major institutions, community organizations, or corporations that might have an interest in helping out your cause. 

2. Building Blocks for Change

Building Blocks for Change's fundraising page on Givebutter

💛  Why we love this peer-to-peer fundraiser: When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down their signature fundraising event, Brown Legacy Education Fund launched Building Blocks for Change, a peer fundraising campaign championed by nearly 30 Alpha Phi Alpha alumni and supporters. 

💰 Raised: $37,462

💪  How you can do it: Tap into existing social, academic, or professional networks that have a connection to your community.

3. Cannonball Kids Pediatric Cancer Run

Cannonball Kids Cancer's fundraising page on Givebutter

💛  Why we love this P2P fundraising example: Cannonball Kids Cancer aims to fund innovative, accessible research and clinical trials for children fighting cancer. 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.

💰 Raised: $27,725

💪  How you can do it: Inspire fundraisers to join in on your peer-to-peer campaign by tapping into the emotional connection behind your cause. 

4. Sprout Social

Sprout Social's mission

💛 Why we love this peer-to-peer fundraiser: For their 3rd Annual Philanthropy Week, Sprout Social chose to sponsor ten different charities. By using branded pages, a giving hub, social sharing, leaderboards, and more, they were able to bring in major donations in just one week

💰 Raised: $19,000

💪  How you can do it: By using powerful peer-to-peer fundraising software, you can manage and streamline all of your fundraising efforts into one dashboard.

5. Move 4 Masks

Move 4 Masks's fundraising page

💛  Why we love this peer-to-peer fundraising example: Pure Barre invited supporters to participate in a virtual day of fitness to raise money for North Memorial's COVID-19 Emergency Fund and Mask Cover Kit Fund through their Move 4 Masks campaign. A great example of a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign in action, this event helped Pure Barre exceed its goals.

💰 Raised: $11,000

💪  How you can do it: Get in touch with local vendors or community organizations that might be interested in giving back, and have some desirable services or experiences to offer. 

Start peer-to-peer fundraising with Givebutter

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 donation forms and fundraising pages, events and auctions, a built-in CRM, and marketing automation—all for free.

Need some more inspiration? That’s what we’re here for 💛

Ready to see how Givebutter can help guide you toward fundraising success? Sign up for free to get started →

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