What is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising (P2P)?

January 20, 2020
10 minutes
Alex Trebek: Hey folks, welcome back to Nonprofit Jeopardy! This round, we're adding a brand new category to the board: Peer-to-peer fundraising!

{The crowd goes silent. Each opponent looks blankly to the left and to the right.}

Alex: Alright, let's get started. Tabatha, you're up!

Tabatha: Hmm, I'll take Peer-to-peer Fundraising for $1,000, Alex.

Alex: Great, for $1,000, what is peer-to-peer fundraising?

{Silence takes over again}

Do, do, do, do, do, do, dooooo. Do, do, do, do, do, doo, do, do, do, do, do. 🎶

{*Beep* *beep*. The buzzer sounds. Alex cuts to commercial break}

If you're anything like us, you totally wish Nonprofit Jeopardy was a thing, too, especially the version where they actually ask you question. But for stars and giggles, let's say it exists—would you be able to answer the question? If not, don't fret! According to the 2019 Global NGO Technology Report, nearly 60% of nonprofits have yet to launch a peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising campaign. That's a whole lot of orgs who're missing out on a prime opportunity to leverage their networks to raise more money online.

It's time for our nonprofit friends to get a slice of this huge fundraising pie and launch a P2P fundraising campaign. Join your other nonprofit friends (40% to be exact) that have been talking so gleefully about this fundraising goldmine.

Read on and prepare to be wowed by the awesome power of peer-to-peer fundraising.

What is peer-to-peer fundraising?

Let's start with the $1,000 question—what is peer-to-peer fundraising? The simple Funraise definition is this: Peer-to-peer is a fundraising strategy in which supporters ask friends and family to donate to a cause they're invested in.

Peer-to-peer fundraising, also known as P2P, allows nonprofits the opportunity to lean on their dedicated supporters who fundraise on behalf of their organization.

You may have heard peer-to-peer fundraisers called crowdfunding campaigns. While both of these types of campaigns are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two. If you need a bit of clarity, here's the difference between a crowdfunding campaign and peer-to-peer campaign—now you're prepped next time someone brings it up!

How does peer-to-peer fundraising work?

First, a nonprofit creates a fundraising campaign in their online fundraising platform. Then, the nonprofit launches its campaign by inviting its supporters to create individual fundraising pages in the platform. Their supporters then use the power of their social networks to get the word out about the P2P fundraiser and hopefully raise tons o' cash for their favorite org.

Each supporter's fundraising page is connected to the nonprofit's main fundraising campaign page. The components of the campaign page are up to the nonprofit, but things you might find are a goal progress bar, a listing of the supporters who are fundraising on behalf of the organization, background information on the campaign, such as the potential impact on the community once the goal is met, and of course, a donate button.

A hand-illustrated image of a blue Jeopardy grid of questions faces three contestants. We see the backs of their heads. Art by Sophie Cunningham.

Why should nonprofits consider peer-to-peer fundraising?

Nonprofits work super hard year-round to raise funds. How nice would it be to lean on your dedicated supporter base to not only donate regularly but to serve as advocates of your organization and rally others to donate as well?

If you're reluctant to take on this tactic because you think it may scare donors away, ponder this: hundreds and thousands of people are already peer-to-peer fundraising. It's pretty well-documented that about 60% of American adults are on Facebook. Add in data collected from the 2019 Global NGO Technology Report showing that only 45% of US and Canadian NGOs are fundraising through Facebook, raising collective billions of $$, and the math is pretty clear: you need to get your Facebook fundraising act together.

Shameless plug: Funraise integrates with Facebook! If you're gonna get into peer-to-peer (and you should), you might as well max it out, honey! Get all that juicy donation data and sync up your Facebook fundraisers with your sweet customized peer-to-peer campaign pages.

When should nonprofits use peer-to-peer fundraising?

If your nonprofit is considering launching a peer-to-peer fundraiser, but unsure of when it may be appropriate, here are some instances where a peer-to-peer campaign would be perfect:

  • New program or project launch
  • Popular giving days, or you can even make up an annual giving day of your own
  • Matching gift fundraisers
  • Silly fundraiser (ED pie in the face, polar bear plunge challenge, etc.)
  • Birthday or anniversary fundraisers
  • -a-thons (jog, run, walk, jump rope, paddle boat, roller skate, etc.)

There really are no boundaries when it comes to launching a campaign. Just make it impactful and relevant, and you'll be well on your way to fundraising success.

Benefits of P2P fundraising

As peer-to-peer fundraising steadily gains in popularity amongst nonprofits, the benefits of adding P2P campaigns to your fundraising strategy are becoming more clear. Here's some data for you to chew on:

  1. Nonprofits that use P2P fundraising earn over 50% of their revenue through their P2P campaigns (Nonprofit Pro, 2018)
  2. In 2018, nonprofits raised $400 million with P2P campaigns for Giving Tuesday
  3. Over half of the people who receive an email about crowdfunding campaigns donated (Nonprofits Source, 2018)

In addition to these impressive stats, Fast Company recently reported that social media is dramatically changing how nonprofits raise money through P2P fundraising, as if we need to tell you that.

All P2P signs are leading to $$$.

Key components of a successful peer-to-peer campaign

Once your nonprofit decides to take the leap and launch a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, there are four key components to think about to make it successful.

Urgency

Time is on your side when it comes to planning a successful campaign. Using the tactic of your fave infomercials, creating a sense of urgency for your P2P campaign is your best bet. Whether it's a 24-hour fundraiser like one of the most popular nonprofit giving days to date, Giving Tuesday, or a campaign that lasts a week, a month, or year, setting a timeline is best practice.

Goals

After you've set your timeline to create a sense of urgency, you need to establish a fundraising goal. The goal can be as big or as small as you'd like—just don't get too caught up on whether your goal is too low or too high. Many nonprofits often reach their goals for their P2P campaigns while the campaign is still running and use that as an opportunity to increase the initial goal and push for more support. There's no rule against this, and in fact, it can work in your favor. Who wouldn't want to help you double your goals, or triple it, even?!

Emotion

Tugging at those emotional heartstrings is a tale as old as time. If you can create an emotional connection with your potential donors, you're golden. Nonprofits are naturally good at this, but for the sake of a time-sensitive P2P campaign, your messaging should be synthesized and specific. This means telling hyper-personal and/or compelling stories to create a deeper connection to your organization's mission.

Momentum

The final key component to a successful peer-to-peer campaign is building momentum for your fundraiser before and during the campaign. Consistently communicating with your supporters and updating them on your goal progress is the best way to keep them in the loop and build excitement. Plan ahead and post snippets of how the donations will be put to use, the impact your org has on its constituents, top donors to your campaign, and so much more.

Setting your peer-to-peer fundraisers up for success

You've got supporters who want to help you fundraise—now what? It's in your nonprofit's best interest to provide your fundraisers with all the tools they need to host a successful peer-to-peer fundraiser. That includes providing them with key message points, email and social templates, fundraising strategies, and ideas. They've committed and it's up to you make sure they have a funding good time raising $$ for your org.

Because we love our nonprofit friends and aim to make your lives easier, we created The Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Toolkit for Your Supporters. This toolkit is specifically made for nonprofits to hand over to their supporters to help them fundraise on your behalf. And you can even brand it to fit your organization. It's a win-win for all!

Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns in the wild

We've talked about all the things you need to launch a successful campaign, so how about some P2P inspiration to help you set sail? Check out a few of our favorite examples that showcase the magic of P2P fundraising.

Dressember

Dressember brings together their advocates to fundraise on the organization's behalf through their annual peer-to-peer fundraiser. Every December, they encourage their supporters to fundraise by wearing a dress every day of the month. The organization creates a sense of urgency with its campaign by focusing on one specific month and they set a clear goal of $3M. The org also tells powerful stories that create an emotional connection. Dressember is definitely an organization that knows how to do P2P fundraising right.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Step With Jillian is a part of the larger USA for UNHCR Step With Refugees peer-to-peer campaign. Using the power of celebrity to launch an impactful campaign, UNHCR supporters pledged to join Jillian Michaels in completing 100 miles during July to raise funds for refugees. Key P2P fundraising components set this org apart, including setting a 100-mile goal and creating urgency by limiting the fundraiser to the month of July. Talk about impactful!

Barbells for Boobs

Barbells for Boobs created an eye-catching peer-to-peer fundraising campaign page that encompassed the energy of the organization and the commitment of its supporters. Key components of their campaign included a goal progress bar and compelling stories. This organization also took advantage of Funraise's free, personalize-able Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Toolkit for Nonprofit Supporters to set their fundraisers up for success.

Fundraiser, now that you're equipped with all the info you need, it's time to start planning your own peer-to-peer campaign. If you're still not sure where to start, check out Funraise's guide, Mastering the Zen of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising, and start raising more dollars for your nonprofit. Happy fundraising!

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