Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: 4 Essentials for Your Next Event

Jeff Gordy

Peer-to-peer fundraising (or social fundraising) seems to be the nonprofit world’s new favorite buzzword. It’s one of the CRM features we get asked most about, and we see articles popping up about it daily. Peer-to-peer fundraising events are looked at as great ways to engage donors, and have proven to be very successful for our users, with over $1,500 raised per participant.

But, despite the buzz, many social fundraising events are starting to lose money. According to a report from Outside Magazine, the top 30 peer-to-peer fundraising events showed a total drop of $44.5 million in 2013.

With a whole range of new, unique events popping up (think Tough Mudder and The Color Run), charities are now facing more competition for participants than ever. These nontraditional events have gargantuan marketing budgets and huge audiences, and many charity events just can’t compete.

That said, peer-to-peer fundraising is still a huge moneymaker for nonprofits. In 2013 alone, the 10 biggest events raised more than $1 billion.

So what does this mean for your nonprofit? Peer-to-peer fundraising can be wildly successful for you, but only if you do it right.

And who better to look to for inspiration than organizations that have run successful events in the past? The Melanoma International Foundation throws an annual walk and run event called Safe from the Sun. The event has been a success for 13 years, with 2,500 participants raising more than $100,000 this year alone. There are so many things other peer-to-peer fundraising planners can learn from Safe from the Sun — here are a few of our biggest takeaways.

1. The power of a cause

With so much competition from other events, some nonprofits have been thinking outside the box and planning peer-to-peer events that are unique and exciting, but unrelated to the nonprofit’s mission. These events may win over more participants and raise money, but they miss a crucial aspect of a successful peer-to-peer fundraising event — raising awareness for your cause.

Making your cause a centerpiece of your event will not only raise awareness, but may also educate participants and inspire them to become regular donors. Here’s how Safe from the Sun really nails this:

  • Event and organization information are clearly accessible in website’s navigation bar
  • The name of the event itself has a clear tie-in to the mission
  • MIF offers free skin cancer screenings to all attendees during the event

We especially appreciate the free screenings at the event. What a great way to raise awareness and add value for a huge audience of potential recurring donors!

2. Focus on fun

While it’s great to tie your cause into your event, it’s even more important to focus on the experience at the event itself. Safe for the Sun does a great job of balancing the fun aspects of the event with information about the cause and organization.

The first thing on the Safe for the Sun homepage is a huge banner picture of the event that would make anyone want to jump in on the action. The homepage also includes photos and an event calendar to engage with participants and highlight past events.

Information about the event and organization can be found on a separate page, easily accessible through the navigation bar. This ensures that visitors can find anything they want to know about the cause, without being flooded with information on the homepage.

3. Leveraging social media

It’s called peer-to-peer fundraising for a reason — make sure your participants can share your message with their peers over social media! While Safe from the Sun doesn’t have its own social media accounts (the event is promoted via MIF’s primary accounts), the organization does a great job of promoting the annual event with dedicated photo albums for the event.

Why photo promotion is so important for your event:

In addition, each team’s donation page includes links to share on social media. Team members and supporters can easily share with their online networks and encourage others to donate.

4. Going beyond donations

Yes, raising money is the goal of peer-to-peer fundraising. But behind every great event is a team of dedicated volunteers. Giving your supporters the opportunity to help out in other ways — volunteering, becoming a sponsor or vendor, etc. — will keep them engaged and potentially allow them to contribute more than they would have with a simple donation.

Safe from the Sun does a great job of this by including a dedicated tab on their navigation bar for people looking to get involved in the event. We encourage organizations to be open to new ideas when working with people trying to get involved. People love to contribute their special skills, product or expertise, and you’ll be surprised what they’ll offer if given the chance.

While we believe that any nonprofit can benefit from this advice, the great thing about peer-to-peer fundraising is that there’s no set-in-stone formula for what works. Our best advice is to find something that resonates with your supporters and focus on making the event a great time for everyone!

If you need a little guidance with planning your next fundraising event, make sure to check out our step-by-step guide!

How has your organization used peer-to-peer fundraising? What’s worked best for you — and what hasn’t? Let us know in the comments!

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