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The nonprofit’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
Nerd Mr Butter

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Whether you’re an individual looking to launch your first peer-to-peer fundraising campaign on behalf of an organization or a nonprofit that wants to amplify its 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 from nonprofits that nailed it.

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?

Peer-to-peer fundraising—also known as P2P fundraising—empowers individuals to raise money on behalf of a nonprofit or as part of a larger fundraising effort. Instead of asking donors to make another contribution at an event or through a 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 the organization. 

P2P campaigns are often organized and hosted by nonprofit organizations, but individuals can also start their own fundraisers at any time. For example, an individual may start a birthday fundraiser for their favorite charity and reach out to their network personally for donations to the organization.

Many people confuse P2P fundraising with crowdfunding or wonder how it differs from team fundraising. Let’s review some more definitions to break it down further.

👉 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, club, or nonprofit—and usually have time parameters (e.g., “Help us raise $10K in 90 days!”). 

💡 Example: An animal shelter needs to raise $200K to launch a new pet adoption service, so they create a fundraising page and share it with their donor base, friends, family, former clients, etc.

👉 Team fundraising

Team fundraising is a broad concept that includes both peer-to-peer and team-based campaigns. Instead of fundraising on their own, individuals will create or join a team of people who work together to raise money for a charitable cause by leveraging their social networks. 

Usually, but not necessarily, the nonprofit organization plays a central role in coordinating these kinds of campaigns and there’s a fun, competitive element involved (e.g., the team who raises the most money may receive a special recognition or reward). 

💡 Example: Several companies create team fundraising pages and try to out-raise one another during the local soup kitchen's annual Giving Tuesday P2P campaign.

Is peer-to-peer fundraising right for my organization?

Like any fundraising strategy, P2P may be better suited for some organizations than others—depending on your goals, donor base, resources, and 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 campaigns are often more effective for raising funds quickly because they add gamification with features like team leaderboards, individual fundraising goals, and fundraising thermometers. 

Save time and money: People who participate in P2P campaigners are volunteer fundraisers, which reduces costs and saves time for you and/or your paid staff.

Expand your network: Every new donor that participates in a peer-to-peer or team fundraiser opens the door to a 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—which ends up 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 raise a certain amount of funds. When you’re on a team, it can be easy to hide behind everyone else. 

Solution: Encourage members to set their own individual goals to be accountable for in addition to the team’s goals. Follow up with them frequently with encouragement and appreciation! 

Difficult to manage: Without the right tools, it can be challenging for nonprofits to provide the infrastructure team fundraisers need for success.

Solution: Choose a robust peer-to-peer fundraising platform that allows you to manage volunteers and track fundraising progress 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: Provide training to your leaders that's realistic, measurable, and easy to understand before they launch their fundraiser. The more guidance you provide, the more successful they will be!

Difficult to bring supporters on board: For anyone that’s new to peer-to-peer fundraising, a nonprofit asking them to set up an entire fundraising page might be 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 P2P pages in minutes. 

How to create a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign

Launching a successful peer-to-peer campaign is all about nailing the strategy and execution. Follow these simple steps to make the most out of your campaign.

Step 1: Get the right tools 🧰

Great peer-to-peer fundraising comes down to selecting 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, start by assessing your goals and budget. And, most importantly, you’ll need to make sure whatever platform you use has a few essential tools, including:

  • 👥 Individual and team fundraising features
  • 👩 Personalized pages with custom links
  • 🏆 Leaderboards
  • 🗣️ Easy social sharing 
  • 📱 Peer-to-peer texting
  • 👋 Supporter feed
  • 🤓 A way to track and manage donations

When you sign up for a free Givebutter account, you not only gain access to top-notch peer-to-peer fundraising tools, but an entire collection of highly rated fundraising solutions. On top of that, Givebutter offers a built-in CRM and email marketing tools, allowing you to easily engage new donors, communicate with your P2P fundraisers, and track campaign progress—all in one place, all completely free.

Start peer-to-peer fundraising with Givebutter

Step 2: Rally the troops 📣

To set your campaign up for success, recruit a team of enthusiastic P2P fundraisers and have them create their own custom campaign pages that they'll be excited to share through social media, text, and email.

Step 3: Blast off 🚀

Equip your team by sharing plenty of fundraising resources, like a donation request letter, high-quality images and videos that showcase your cause, and fundraising FAQs. Track your P2P fundraisers' progress, share updates, provide tips, answer questions, and express your gratitude along the way.

Get started with these peer-to-peer fundraising ideas 

When it comes to hosting a successful peer-to-peer fundraiser, the options are limitless. What matters most is that your event excites and motivates your target audience. Here are some ideas too help get your wheels turning:

  • 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 or gourmet cookie sales 🍪 
  • Corporate matching gift campaigns 💰

💥 Pro tip: Look for ways to foster 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.

Top 10 peer-to-peer fundraising tips

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 (e.g., images or logos), and communication scripts they need to get started. 

Tip #1: Recruit all-star fundraisers ⭐ 

When recruiting, target your most dedicated and active stakeholders (e.g., your Board of Directors). Don’t forget to see if these leaders may have any connections to companies that match donations so your fundraisers can double their impact.

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 have raised for your nonprofit in the past.

Tip #4: Recommend timelines ⏰

To help teams estimate a realistic timeframe for reaching their goals, consider their previous fundraising experience and current availability. Keep in mind that more funds typically require more time to secure, so it's important to factor that in if you’re setting a larger fundraising goal.

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 templated copy 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 kickstart their fundraising progress.

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

Create a short, step-by-step guide that teaches your teams how to ask for donations. You can even provide a communication script or email template to make this as easy as possible for them. 

Tip #9: Share updates 👍

Share regular updates with teams on their progress (e.g, "We're hit 75% of our fundraising goal and only have 2 days left—help us cross the finish line!"). Additionally, encourage your fundraisers to share their own updates 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 successful 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

💛 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: $57K+

💪 How you can do it: Identify major institutions, community organizations, or corporations that might have an interest in partnering with your mission. 

2. Building Blocks for Change

💛 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: $37K+

💪 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

💛 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: $27K+

💪 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

💛 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: $19K+

💪 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

💛 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: $11K+

💪 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 for free with Givebutter

Launching a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign empowers your supporters to get hands-on, raise money, and rally new donors. 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? Check out our extensive toolkit for reaching peer-to-peer fundraising success on Givebutter!

Ready to see how Givebutter can help you raise more for your mission? Sign up for free to get started →

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Set up your peer-to-peer fundraiser for free in just a few minutes →

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