Campaign Strategies to Achieve Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Goals
[Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from "The Art & Science of Multichannel Fundraising," the 131-page report from DirectMarketingIQ. It includes nine chapters, from leading fundraisers, on channel selection, messaging, direct mail, e-mail, mobile, social media, multichannel renewal, multichannel testing and more. It also features eight multichannel case studies on successful campaigns.]
The idea behind peer-to-peer fundraising goes beyond just an organization raising money; it includes involving volunteer fundraisers who can raise money on the organization’s behalf. Peer-to-peer fundraising solely relies on supporters who are willing to reach out to their own networks of acquaintances to recruit donations in support of a given cause.
Originally, peer-to-peer fundraising took the form of friends and family making “pledges” to support a person’s participation in a charitable campaign or event. The fundraiser would go door to door, send out fundraising letters, or call friends and family to ask them to pledge donations in support of her participation. The pledged amount was collected later (in the form of cash or check) by the fundraiser and mailed to the organization. With the increasing popularity of credit card payments and the rise of new technology, however, more and more organizations are growing to encompass new forms and channels of fundraising in peer-to-peer campaigns.
As donors continue to adopt the practice of making online gifts with credit cards, peer-to-peer fundraising is largely shifting into the online arena. Rather than go door to door, fundraisers can set up “personal fundraising pages” on the organization’s website (or a third-party fundraising website), where they can tell their stories and explain why they are fundraising on behalf of the organization. The fundraiser can share the URL of her personal fundraising page with friends and family, who then visit the page and make donations in just a few clicks. The integration of e-mail and social media to online fundraising makes peer-to-peer outreach infinitely more scalable for volunteer fundraisers; they can reach hundreds or even thousands of potential donors quickly and easily.
As peer-to-peer fundraising becomes easier to adopt, the methodology has been adapted for many different types of campaigns. Depending on your goals, you might consider one of the following types of peer-to-peer campaign strategies.
Goal: Engage the grassroots
Campaign strategy: Grassroots fundraising
Do you often have supporters tell you that they want to host a fundraiser or raise money on your behalf, but on their own terms? A grassroots fundraising campaign can empower your supporters to host their own events, set up their own fundraising pages and direct all funds to your organization. These campaigns are evergreen and are more about providing the right tools and kits to your supporters than creating or managing a fundraising campaign.
Goal: Get everyone together and make a statement
Campaign strategy: Fundraising events
Fundraising events have become very popular in recent years, and with good reason — they attract new supporters, provide great public relations opportunities and often bring in more money than any other fundraising campaign throughout the year. If you have the staff to manage a large event, the money to produce it and a unique idea to promote it, you should consider a signature fundraising event for your organization. Fundraising events are truly multichannel, with elements of direct mail, commercial advertisement, Web content, e-mail, social media and even mobile technology making an appearance in the most successful fundraising events.
Goal: Honor those affected by your mission
Campaign strategy: Honorary and memorial campaigns
Supporters often wish to honor or remember loved ones by making donations to their favorite charitable organizations. If your organization supports a population that is personally affected or extremely passionate about your cause, you should have a way for supporters to honor those affected by your mission or who champion your mission. Honorary and memorial campaigns allow supporters to set up fundraising pages in honor or memory of loved ones, and ask other friends and family members to show their support by making gifts as well.
Goal: Engage a population in a specific issue
Campaign strategy: Virtual campaigns
As with every good fundraising campaign, a virtual peer-to-peer campaign should have a specific purpose and a specific ask. Virtual campaigns are a great way to engage supporters who can’t otherwise attend events or donate personally, and are often popular among younger audiences. If you’re looking to raise awareness around a certain cause and among a particular audience, a virtual campaign may work for you. In addition to online fundraising pages and e-mail, social media can be a useful tool for providing updates and new content to those participating in a virtual campaign.
In all, peer-to-peer practices are a great way to reach your constituents and make them feel more a part of the cause than other ways. Constituents want to be more than just a signature on a check — they want to be involved. So it’s your job as the nonprofit to help them find the best channel. Peer-to-peer strategies help solidify potential donors and encourage current constituents to continue their support.
Dennis McCarthy is vice president of strategy and business practice at Convio. Jennifer Darrouzet is senior product marketing manager at Convio. Noel Beebe is an interactive consultant for Convio. Matthew Mielcarek is director of strategic services at Convio.