What is "Peer-to-Peer Fundraising"? [2020 update]

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Rachel MillsWhite arrow icon

What is "Peer-to-Peer Fundraising"? [2020 update]

You’ve heard of peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising, but what is it, really? Does P2P differ from social fundraising, peer fundraising, and team fundraising? How?

Whether you’re an individual looking to launch their first peer-to-peer fundraising campaign or a nonprofit who wants to amplify their peer fundraising efforts, this blog is for you. After reading, you will walk away with 10 easy steps for your peer campaign.

In this, we will cover:

  • What peer-to-peer fundraising is
  • Pros of team fundraising
  • Cons of team fundraising
  • Best practices of team fundraising for individuals 
  • Best practices of team fundraising for nonprofits
  • And Team fundraising inspiration!

First, let’s start with some definitions.

Peer fundraising and team fundraising, defined

Peer-to-peer (P2P): Individuals fundraise as part of a single campaign, often (but not always) hosted by the nonprofit.

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

Multi-team (P2P) Fundraising: Teams fundraise within a single campaign hosted by a nonprofit.

Example: multiple companies team up to start a livestream fundraiser for their annual philanthropic event.

Team Fundraising: A catch-all phrase that encapsulates both “team-based” and “P2P” in that individuals AND/OR teams contribute to a charitable cause (often, but not always, hosted by the nonprofit).

Example: a marathon racer launches an individual fundraising page that’s also connected to a team fundraising page.

Strong peer-to-peer programs and fundraising platforms incorporate both P2P and team-based P2P fundraising. Team fundraising offers individuals the maximum amount of opportunities to be successful in the social fundraising space. Throughout the rest of the article, I will refer to “team fundraising” as a catch-all for P2P.

Pros of using team fundraising

🥇 Friendly competition. Capitalizing on social proof, team fundraising gamifies the process and creates a friendly sense of competition. There’s always bound to be one or two competitive people on a team, which helps bring in more for charity than a solo fundraiser. Plus, Princeton has conducted research suggesting that the more physically demanding and difficult the competitive fundraiser is, the higher the donation amounts and total funds raised will be.

💛 A community of support. Rallying a team together creates an irreplaceable sense of camaraderie for fundraisers. Having a team to lean on in the fundraising process to brainstorm ideas, ask questions, and offer encouragement helps fundraisers to be more successful and more likely to return in the future, thus, building donor retention. 

💻 Increase your donor networks. Every new donor that joins a team is a brand new network for a nonprofit. This is one of the most overlooked cost-effective methods for nonprofit donor acquisition. According to Givebutter, for campaigns raising over $10,000, the average peer-to-peer campaign member raises over $1,300 from 6-7 new donors!

😬 Easier for fundraisers to say ‘yes’ to. It is a whole lot easier to say yes to joining a friend’s online fundraising team than it would be to come to an event. It costs a donor less time and money, yet it can help a nonprofit raise more for less.

💰 Funds can be raised more quickly. In-person events take months to plan and raise. Online team fundraising events will not only save your sanity but your time. Team fundraising donations take a mere matter of minutes, hours, and a short period of days to reach achievable goals.

Cons of using team fundraising

🆘  Individuals can get lost. Sometimes the individual does not take as much responsibility to raise funds. When you’re on a team, it can be easy to hide behind everyone else. When it’s just you, like a birthday fundraiser, the pressure’s on. 

💡 Solution: Make sure your members set their own individual goals to be accountable for in addition to the team.

🤯 Difficult for nonprofits to manage. Without the right fundraising software, 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 the dashboard and donor data easily.

👀  Leaders don’t always take responsibility. As much as a nonprofit might do to 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.

Team fundraising - 10 best practices for individuals

As an individual and team fundraiser, think of yourself as an advocate. You get to amplify the mission of a well-deserving cause in a way that nonprofits can’t do on their own. You play a meaningful role in the fundraising process for nonprofits as their allies by introducing them to your network, which otherwise may have never heard of their inspiring work. Plus, you get to raise money and have fun doing it.

  1. Choose a charity you are passionate about. A genuine connection really does shine through, making the fundraising experience more fun for your team and donors. One study by the University of Pennsylvania suggests that the more personally affected by the cause (e.g., the sister of a breast cancer survivor) you are, the greater the donations will be.
  1. Pick a theme. A-thon? DIY? A holiday? Birthday? Memorial? The options are limitless!
  1. Determine a timeline. Will it be a 24 day-of-giving campaign? One week? One month? The urgency of funds and theme usually dictate the schedule.
  1. Set team and individual goals. What is realistic for your team? Ask individuals what they can commit to raising within your timeline. According to Givebutter, the average member raises as much as $1,300 from 6-7 new donors, you could work backwards to calculate your goal based on this benchmark.
  1. Personalize your page. This is arguably the most important part. Fundraisers who personalize their pages have been shown to raise 6-18 times more! Make sure each individual on your team explains why they are passionate about this charity and how this fundraiser matters to them. The more personal, the better! 
  1. Customize donation amounts. Knowing the tangible difference your team can make raising money for a charity goes a LONG way with donors. For example: “A $100 donation will help feed families in India” is good, but “A $100 donation feeds 1 family for 1 month in India” is better. (Did you know the average first gift to charity was $106 in 2019?) If you can’t clearly see on the nonprofit’s website what different dollar amounts do, ask them! 
  1. Make the first donation. Do NOT send out your team’s page without every fundraiser making the first donation! Show your social networks how serious you are about this. In my own P2P experience, donors tend to match the size of the first donation.
  1. Ask! Start by asking everyone on social media and your email lists. Then, have everyone on your team write down at least 20 names of people of influence in their lives that they believe are “most likely” to donate. More than 39 percent of Americans say the number one reason they donate to charity is because a friend or family member asks. Think: who are the family members, friends, and colleagues that would pretty much do anything for me? Make a personal ask via phone, text, or email. 
  1. Give frequent updates. Bite-sized updates help donors feel a sense of urgency to give. One study at Carnegie Mellon University found that as charities move closer to reaching their fundraising goals, donations increase. They say this is because at the end of a process, giving feels more substantial. In the fundraising world, we call this group of donors the “closers” because they take pride in nearing a fundraising goal. This feeling is not unlike the burst of energy runners get when they see the finish line.
  1. Say thanks. Gratitude is key! Let your donors know how thankful you are for their support and the impact they are making. Do it privately (email, text) and publicly (supporter feeds, social media).

Team fundraising - 10 best practices for nonprofits

As the nonprofit organization organizing a P2P campaign with team fundraisers, think of yourself as a coach. It’s your role to make sure the individual and team fundraisers have a seamless experience from start to finish. Cheer them on! The more fun they have, the more successful their fundraisers will be. Ensure that they have all of the fundraising tools, resources (ex. images, logos), and communication scripts ready to go. The more successful a fundraiser is, the more likely they are to be a returning donor. 

  1. Recruit fundraisers. Start with your most dedicated and active donors, such as board members, staff, and volunteers. If they say no to starting a team, ask if they know someone else who might be willing to start a team they could join. 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.
  1. Help teams pick a theme. Letting the teams choose what they want to do (i.e., DIY) 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.
  1. Advise participants to set team and individual goals. Start by asking what they are thinking. If the team has no clue, tell them what similar-sized teams raised for your nonprofit in the last 12-months.
  1. 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).
  1. Tell teams how to tell their stories. Give them a 300-500 word script! 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.
  1. Suggest custom donation amounts. Give them at least four examples, starting with your average gift amount and up.
  1. Ask teams to commit to the first donation. Explain how self-donations help teams have a successful start. The average fundraiser self-donation in 2019 was about $100.
  1. Coach teams through the ‘ask.’ Create a short, step-by-step guide that teaches your teams how to create successful mass and personal appeals. Fundraisers who send emails raise 3-9 times more - script communication and provide email templates to make this a no-brainer for them. Don’t forget to include fundraising tips!
  1. Share updates. Share regular updates with teams on their progress. Include shareable images and videos for them to re-post on social media at least every five days - this makes campaigns 3xs more successful. Along the way, don’t forget to make sure donor data is clean and syncing correctly with your CRM.
  1. 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! Don’t forget to celebrate teams on your nonprofit’s social media accounts publicly. If nothing else, you can recognize your teams with ephemeral content (i.e., stories).

Team fundraising inspiration

Need some inspiration to get started? Check out these creative fundraising ideas.

Move 4 Masks


Emergency Aid Fund for Animals in Need


The Show Will Go On


Support Masks For Docs


Feed the District

Start your team fundraiser… now!

Launch your peer fundraiser with the right fundraising software - Givebutter. Givebutter is an all-in-one and forever free Team Fundraising that allows you to:

My friends at Givebutter built Team Fundraising to help you raise more funds, increase awareness, and engage your community in a fun and meaningful way.


Learn More 

Written By

Written by
Rachel Mills
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.