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What is peer-to-peer fundraising and how does it work?

March 09, 2022
These two friends can depend on each other to participate in a peer-to-peer fundraiser for a nonprofit.

Today’s digital tools and communication platforms make it easy for supporters to raise money on behalf of their favorite nonprofit organizations. Thanks to social media and online giving capabilities, peer-to-peer fundraising is one of the most effective ways for organizations to boost donations. Nonprofits that empower their supporters to become fundraising partners will benefit from increased revenue and a wider donor base.

What is peer-to-peer fundraising?

Peer-to-peer fundraising calls upon individual supporters to host personalized campaigns for collecting donations from friends, family, and colleagues on a nonprofit organization’s behalf. This approach can organically expand your organization’s reach to new, previously untouched networks of supporters.

Additionally, peer-to-peer campaigns can raise money through a variety of activities, such as participating in events or selling a nonprofit’s branded merchandise.

Examples of peer-to-peer fundraising

Nonprofit organizations can adapt almost any idea into a peer-to-peer fundraiser. To help you brainstorm the perfect approach for your peer-to-peer campaign, here are some popular events to consider adding a peer-to-peer element to:

  • 5K race
  • Walk-a-thon
  • Virtual challenge
  • Giving day
  • Bake sale
  • T-shirt sale
  • Game night
  • Pub crawl

Peer-to-peer campaigns provide opportunities to get creative, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  Look to other organizations’ past fundraisers for inspiration and communicate with your supporters to understand how you can best connect with their passion for your cause.

Peer-to-peer fundraising strategies

The power of peer-to-peer fundraising lies in the preexisting relationships between supporters and their friends or families. With the right approach, peer-to-peer fundraising can introduce your nonprofit to new audiences and establish a social norm of giving.

Here are a few strategies for an effective peer-to-peer campaign:

1. Approach peer-to-peer fundraising as a two-way relationship.

Traditional fundraising appeals are typically one-sided: A nonprofit organization promotes a project or cause and invites people to donate. However, peer-to-peer campaigns, which leverage relationships between an organization’s supporters and their personal networks, require a two-way street. 

Make sure to help your fundraising partners set up their campaign pages, spotlight them in your marketing communications, and regularly share your gratitude for their above-and-beyond support.

2. Make your messages personal.

Stories from people we know feel more personal and authentic than facts and data we learn from an organization. We consider our friends and family to be trustworthy, so their words often inspire us to act. 

To maximize peer-to-peer fundraising success, give your supporters the agency to tell their personal stories and share why they care about your cause. People will be more likely to contribute when they’re motivated by the words of someone they personally know and respect.

3. Give your partners guidance.

While it’s important to allow fundraising partners to tell their own stories and fundraise in the ways that will best connect with their networks, provide structured guidelines to help them achieve their goals. 

Offer them campaign page templates and pre-written donation request letters, as well as images, videos, and social media posts they can easily share online. Taking these extra steps in advance will minimize confusion, establish a consistent brand for your nonprofit organization, and create a positive fundraising experience for everyone.

4. Leverage peer-to-peer fundraising tools.

An effective peer-to-peer fundraiser requires an equally effective fundraising platform—one that can easily process donations and be widely shared. In addition to offering customizable fundraising pages for your supporters, your peer-to-peer software solution should equip you with a centralized dashboard where you can keep track of the overall campaign and communicate with your fundraising partners.

Research peer-to-peer fundraisers to revamp your campaign

Now that you’re familiar with peer-to-peer fundraising basics and how these campaigns can increase revenue and exposure for your nonprofit organization, take a look at these additional ways to supercharge your next peer-to-peer campaign:

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