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A guide to peer-to-peer events: Walks, rides and runs

March 25, 2022
This image shows two young nonprofit professionals discussing peer to peer events, specifically walks, rides, and runs.

Peer-to-peer campaigns have tremendous potential for your nonprofit organization, offering opportunities to boost your fundraising, engage your board, and attract new donors. According to the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum, the top 30 peer-to-peer campaigns in the United States collectively achieved an 18.8% increase in fundraising revenue last year.

It’s clear that peer-to-peer walks, runs, and bike rides are some of the top nonprofit event fundraising ideas, combining peer-to-peer fundraising with a chance to get active. If you’re considering launching one of these campaigns, or optimizing one you’ve hosted before, we’ll walk through some benefits and best practices associated with peer-to-peer events.

Benefits of peer-to-peer events

Peer-to-peer walks, rides, and runs are powerful ways to further your supporters’ involvement in your organization’s purpose. When executed effectively, these events can enhance your existing fundraising efforts and expand your reach. Some benefits of peer-to-peer fundraising events include:

  • Your supporters become your ambassadors. As you prepare your peer-to-peer registrants to fundraise on your nonprofit’s behalf, you’re simultaneously educating them on your work, program goals, and overall impact. They’ll then be able to spread their extensive knowledge of your organization to their personal networks, compelling them to make a gift.
  • Walks, rides, and runs bring the community together. Peer-to-peer fundraising events give people an opportunity to rally around your organization’s purpose and contribute to something greater than themselves.
  • Participation empowers supporters and constituents. By enlisting your individual supporters to fundraise in your peer-to-peer campaign, you’re empowering them to share their personal stories of challenges and triumphs with others. This helps prospective donors establish a more emotional connection with your nonprofit and its purpose.

A walk, ride, or run presents a chance for people to get active in support of your organization. Aside from improving your current fundraising results, a successful peer-to-peer event can introduce your nonprofit to many new donors and increase your brand recognition. To make the most of your next peer-to-peer campaign, here are a few essentials to keep in mind as you prepare.

Best practices for peer-to-peer walks, rides, and runs

Peer-to-peer fundraising events can be exciting opportunities to engage your existing donors and attract new ones for your organization. Whether you’re planning a walk, ride, or run, it’s crucial to set your peer fundraisers up for success with strong management practices. To lay the groundwork for your next peer-to-peer event, be sure to:

Recruit event volunteers

Create simple descriptions for the various roles a volunteer can fill for your upcoming peer-to-peer event, such as registration and check-in duties. This way, when you find someone who may be interested, you can immediately determine which position best fits their interests and skills. Regularly check up on your volunteers throughout your event to provide assistance and answer any questions they may have.

Develop a communications plan

Boost your peer-to-peer fundraising success by developing a strategy for communicating with your staff and event participants. Some ways to spread the word about your event include:

Additionally, you can reach out to local media outlets to drum up excitement leading up to your event day. Remember that, as with any fundraising initiative, your peer-to-peer event should be a reflection of your nonprofit as a whole. Show your participants that their contributions will go directly to further your purpose.

Stick to your core brand elements by using the same fonts and colors in your marketing materials. Also, showcase your organization’s purpose throughout your messaging with photos of your work and details about your ongoing initiatives.

Remember your connections and priorities

If you’ve held peer-to-peer events before, personally call and recruit top-performing fundraisers from past events for your next walk, ride, or run. When supporters sign up, use your communication tools to send automated follow-up emails, establishing a line of communication between you and your supporters. Then, get your registrants excited by staying in touch and posting pre-event updates in the lead-up to your fundraiser.

Ensure your fundraising goal remains front and center during your event planning and at the event itself. This will ensure that your decisions all contribute toward securing the necessary funds to power your nonprofit’s purpose.

Engage and inform on event day

There are numerous opportunities to further engage your participants and attendees at your peer-to-peer event. Maximize your fundraising results by:

  • Preparing a short and compelling opening ceremony that leaves a lasting impression on attendees.
  • Decorating the start and finish site of your walk, run, or ride with banners, posters, and other decorations that showcase your nonprofit’s purpose.
  • Setting up an advocacy booth that speaks about your advocacy priorities and encourages people to get involved.
  • Have a table to recruit volunteers for office projects and other initiatives.
  • Hand out brochures or fliers on your nonprofit’s purpose and upcoming projects as people cross the finish line.

With so many people gathered to support your organization, think of ways to engage as many of them as possible, whether they’re participating or spectating. For example, a convenient way to secure additional funds could be to set up a text-to-give campaign alongside your peer-to-peer event.

After your peer-to-peer event

After a successful peer-to-peer walk, ride, or run, it’s time to close your event on a high note. Take the time to develop a post-event attendee cultivation plan that accounts for more than a thank-you email. 

Some effective ways to appreciate your peer fundraisers include:

  • Sending handwritten thank-you cards as well as annual holiday cards or birthday emails
  • Hosting a supporter appreciation event
  • Spotlighting your peer fundraisers on social media
  • Keeping supporters updated about upcoming programs or projects

Helping your supporters understand how their time and energy made an impact on your nonprofit’s purpose will make them more invested and eager to participate in your future initiatives.

Additionally, send out post-event feedback surveys to determine what resonated with attendees and where you could improve moving forward. Peer-to-peer events can bring growth and increased funds to your organization, as long as you plan ahead and focus on creating a memorable experience for your supporters.

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