10 Principles for Successful Peer-to-Peer Fundraising, Part 1
[Editor's note: This is part 1 of a two-part series. Check back next week for part 2.]
No matter if you're talking about buying a toaster, renting a movie or supporting a charity, people always trust personal recommendations more than information they get from corporations or organizations. That's why peer-to-peer fundraising can be such a powerful tool for any nonprofit, especially in this social-media age.
At the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference held last month in Washington, D.C., three fundraising experts tackled peer-to-peer fundraising. In their session, "Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: 10 Principles for Success," Mike Quinzio, director of operations at Change for Kids, and CauseVox co-founders Jeff Chang and Rob Wu shared those 10 principles to run successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.
1. Set SMART campaign objectives
A campaign is useless if there aren't any goals to measure its success. Fundraisers should use the SMART framework to outline campaign objectives:
- Specific. Objectives should be focused, clear and unambiguous.
- Measurable. Objectives that are measurable allow you to track and report progress.
- Attainable. Objectives should be realistic yet require a stretch or effort to reach them.
- Relevant. Relevance means that objectives are aligned with your mission and cause.
- Timely. Campaigns must have a start and end date.
Examples of SMART objectives include:
- Raise $10,000 for the Uganda microfinance initiative from July 1 - July 31.
- By Sept. 20, raise $50,000 (from new donors) toward building a safe house for sex-trafficking victims.
- Obtain 50 new contacts and raise $5,000 for the scholarship program from Oct. 15 - Oct. 20.
2. Understand your supporters
To have meaningful relationships with your donors you must understand them. One way to do that is to create supporter personas, summarizing the personal and giving histories of your donors. Include data such as name, age, occupation, location, personal interests, engagement level with your organization (high, medium, low), preferred communication (Twitter, mobile, e-mail, phone, direct mail, etc.) and giving characteristics, e.g., gives when asked by friends, all online; needs to see direct impact of donations.
In order to further understand your donors, create an empathy map, asking:
- What do supporters think/feel?
- What do supporters see?
- What do supporters listen to?
- What do supporters say/do?
- What is the supporter's pain?
- What is the supporter's gain?
Once you've gathered all that data, then validate your personas and empathy maps by testing them with real data. Conduct expert interviews, focus groups, online surveys and donor-behavior data studies to develop a better understanding of your supporters.
3. Define roles and responsibilities
There are three main roles within every peer-to-peer fundraising campaign:
- Communications. Produce content and messaging. Coach and motivate fundraisers.
- Accounting. Manage donation data. Produce reports and receipts.
- Technology. Select and integrate the appropriate tools. Set up and maintain the technology.
It's vital to define who does what for each role, and every aspect must work in tandem. Fundraising does not work in silos, so communications, accounting and technology must be integrated to get the most out of your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
4. Craft a compelling campaign story
Good stories are compelling, so naturally you should use the COMPEL framework to tell yours:
- Clear/concise. Be focused in your message and requested action.
- One idea. Distill your program and mission into one idea.
- Metrics. Appeal to the quantitative types through numbers.
- Personal. Help the audience connect to you. Leverage your supporters.
- Emotive. Show your passion to move your audience.
- Latch. Used mixed media to hook people in.
Clear/concise: Restore's vision is to open New York City's first housing option ("safe house") to provide holistic long-term aftercare. The house will give sex-trafficking survivors both long-term housing and a stable, secure environment to recover and transition to a healthy and sustainable life.
Metrics: Every dollar of this campaign will go toward obtaining and maintaining a safe house for international victims of sex trafficking. Our goal is to raise $50,000 and an anonymous donor has pledged to match dollar for dollar.
Emotive/one idea: Help create a safe home by creating your fundraising page today.
5. Focus on relationships
Make your appeal personal by providing detailed, personal accounts from your supporters. That's what makes peer-to-peer fundraising so effective. A personal appeal on your behalf from supporters gives your charity credibility and garners donations.
Personal appeals should:
- State the purpose. Describe the campaign or nonprofit clearly, and note what action you want the reader to take.
- Make it personal. Write to your personality, and fill it with passion.
- Show your gratitude. Show people you appreciate their support.
- Call to action. Tell people the one thing (or two) you want them to do.
- Be concise. Messages that are 175 to 225 words work the best.
- Use events. Have a birthday coming up? Is the holiday season close by? Instead of asking for gifts, ask for donations to your cause.
Check back next week for principles six through 10.