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10 Tactics to Help You Retain Your P2P Donors

December 19, 2021
10 minutes

Has your nonprofit run a peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising campaign in the past? Were you actually able to retain a good portion of your new P2P donors? If you lost those donors faster than a box of doughnuts in the break room, you’re not alone—most nonprofits struggle with donor retention, especially retention of P2P donors. But with a plan in place and new retention strategies to try, we’re confident that you can fix this problem.

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great opportunity for nonprofits who want to expand their fundraising capacity for events, awareness days, or even social media fundraising. But as any fundraiser worth their salt will tell you, retaining P2P donors can be a real beast!

Here's a likely scenario: P2P donors gave in response to a friend. Their relationship with that individual influenced their giving decision more than the cause itself. Now, it's on your nonprofit to find a way to build its own relationship with this new donor.

Improving relationship-building and donor retention with P2P donors

Here are a few practical tactics to begin with:

Make recurring giving an option from the start

First things first, recurring giving! You know that retention rates tend to be higher for recurring donors, so why not make it your top strategy to retain more of your P2P donors? Here are a few ways to get a recurring ask in front of your P2P donors.

  • Encourage your fundraisers to make a recurring ask. You know that the appeal from the fundraiser to their friends and family is strong. Ride that wave by tying in the importance of recurring giving—ask them to make a recurring ask on their donation page.
  • Try adding it directly to the donation page. You can even make it the default first option on your donation page as a way to encourage more donors to choose this giving option.
  • Put it as an upgrade option on the thank you page. Inside many P2P platforms, you’ll be able to customize the thank you page donors are redirected to. You can test an upgrade ask on this page to get donors to start a small-but-mighty recurring donation.
  • Follow up with a recurring giving ask. In the months or weeks after your P2P campaign has wrapped up, follow up with a recurring giving ask.
  • Tap into the power of FOMO. Give donors a taste of what they can expect by sending them swag, exclusive content, or an invitation to a special, recurring donors-only event.

Get in direct contact with your P2P donors

One of the keys to retaining your P2P donors is opening up a direct line of communication with them. For most P2P campaigns, this is totally doable because you’ll get the P2P donors’ contact information. What you need to decide is how you’ll regularly keep in touch with them... then get out the first communication ASAP.

Getting P2P contacts on your email list is a great option because you can segment them for special communications and track their engagement over time. You could also opt to pick up the phone or send them communications by mail.

Or... you could use channel segmentation.

What the heck is “channel segmentation”?

That’s a jargon term if we’ve ever heard one! Channel segmentation basically means that you're taking a cue from the donor based on how they initially gave to your nonprofit. You then use that channel for future communications and asks targeted to those donors.

Although there’s something to be said for a multi-channel approach in fundraising, the giving data says a lot about your donors’ preferences and that’s something you can roll into your retention strategy.

Building your channel segmented approach to retain P2P donors

Three steps to establishing that retention train:

#1 Get cozy with your data

If you want to take a channel-segmented approach to donor retention, go through and note which channels you acquired these P2P donors from. To the degree possible, note this on each donors’ record. This could be a giving channel and communication preference that you’ll want to test out in your retention strategy.

In some cases, figuring out how you acquired these donors may be really straightforward. For instance, if you know a particular person ran a Facebook P2P fundraiser for their birthday all those donors came through Facebook. There may be other cases where it's difficult to tell where donors came from. If you’re up for it, follow up with your fundraisers after the campaign to ask how they did outreach to their donors. This information will give you clues about where to focus your resources.

#2 Set up your communications game plan

Once you know the channel(s) that you acquired these P2P donors through, it’s time to set up your communications game plan. For this, you’ll need to think about how you’ll communicate (the medium) and what you’ll say (the message).

Let’s think about a Facebook P2P fundraiser as an example. You may be tempted to think, “Oh everything we share on our Facebook page is how we’ll keep in touch with them!” Not so fast! There are many other ways to communicate with these folks on Facebook, some of which may have a better chance of actually reaching your donor than a post to your page. Think Facebook messenger, ads, groups, shout-outs. By creatively using all the ways you can communicate with donors on a particular platform, you’ll create a more robust strategy that improves your chances of retaining them.

In terms of the message behind your communications, take into account what works on that particular platform and blend it with best practices for donor communications. Your underlying message should aim to thank new donors, educate them about their impact, and inspire them. Stories, videos, and photos are often a great place to start.

#3 Test, test and test again

If you haven’t figured this out by now, fundraising is basically a never-ending process of trying to figure out what works. Making a one-time decision about your strategy and never revisiting or reevaluating it is a surefire way to hold your organization’s fundraising back.

Let’s say you decide to try out Facebook messenger as a channel for your new P2P donors. Give yourself 2 to 3 weeks to try out some different content and then evaluate what kind of responses and response rate you saw from them. Use what you learn from this evaluation and roll it into the next phase of your communications and asks. Having an “always learning” mindset will take you far in fundraising.

Communicating and engaging with P2P donors once you've got their attention

Now that they're listening, amp up the momentum!

Onboard your P2P donors

We already talked about communicating with your new P2P donors as soon as possible. One way to do this is to have an onboarding process for these donors. If you’ve added them to your email list, it'll be a piece of cake! Set up an email welcome series to thank them and introduce them to your cause.

What would an email welcome series look like? An email welcome series for new P2P donors could be 2 to 3 emails spread out over a month. Each email should have a clear message and one call to action. Your call to action might be to follow your nonprofit on a specific social channel, sign up to be a recurring donor, or become a volunteer. The point of each call to action is to draw more P2P donors further up the engagement ladder to become long-term supporters.

Be thankful and grateful

There’s always room for donor stewardship, even with P2P campaigns. Finding ways to be thankful and grateful is yet another step in your nonprofit establishing its own relationship with P2P donors and (fingers crossed!) retaining them. We love sending out an immediate thank you email after the donors, but you may want to take an extra stewardship step with these donors.

Here are a couple of ideas to get your wheels turning:

  • Send a thank you text
  • Drop a handwritten card in the mail
  • Amplify via social media shout out
  • Acknowledge P2P donors in your newsletter or on your website
  • Send them a piece of swag once you reach your financial goal
  • Update them with an impact story to show how they made a difference

Ask for their opinion

If your nonprofit is at a loss for how to engage P2P donors in the future, your best bet is to ask them! Surveys are powerful tools for building trust and making future planning decisions. Someone who only donated $5 may be pleasantly surprised to be asked their opinion.

Your survey to new P2P donors can try to ascertain how much they know about your cause or how they'd like to be involved in the future, as well as communications preferences. Put together a short survey with strategic questions that get you the most insight for your efforts. Remember, our goal is retention, so your questions should be angled to getting you insight on how to retain these new folks.

Have a plan for future engagement opportunities

Building a great retention strategy for P2P donors is all about knowing what you want to have happen down the road. From there, you can reverse engineer your cultivation and communications while testing things out along the way. You likely want to have your P2P donors make a second donation on their own accord. Plan out when you think you’ll make this ask and then build your communications plan with the goal of getting these donors primed for the ask.

Harness the power of wealth screening

You don’t have to be a Major Gifts Officer to make use of wealth screenings. No matter the financial shape or size of the donor, wealth screening can give you useful insights into appropriate asks for your donors. Once you’ve got your new P2P donors in your CRM, do a little digging (preferably using a wealth screening tool) to figure out the right recurring gift amount for your ask. You can even connect your wealth screening findings to your automation emails to quickly get your P2P donors in the pipeline for recurring giving.

It's totally possible to retain your P2P donors! These don’t have to be one-time donors who only give to a P2P campaign. The ball is in your court to educate, inform, and inspire them to make that second donation. Be persistent and try out lots of ideas until you find a strategy that works best for your donors.

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