Peer to Peer Advanced Speaker Spotlight: Courtney Bugler
On November 4 and 5, NonProfit PRO is hosting its annual peer-to-peer fundraising conference: Peer to Peer Advanced. Taking place in the heart of Philadelphia, attendees will gain a wealth of knowledge on advanced and innovative peer-to-peer tactics and learn how to strategize for future peer-to-peer programs, learning how to create sustainable programs that will not only engage fundraisers, but retain them, too.
At Peer to Peer Advanced, Christina Alford and Courtney Bugler will join Kathy Kempff to discuss the rigor and strategy required to turn around Komen’s historically successful peer-to-peer program, Race for the Cure®, a program in decline for almost a decade. They discuss insights, successes and challenges to not only rolling out a new brand and model, the MORE THAN PINK Walk™, but fundamentally changing how affiliate staff see their jobs.
NonProfit PRO had the exclusive opportunity to engage in a short Q&A with Courtney to learn more about the state of peer-to-peer fundraising.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing peer-to-peer fundraising?
To me, one of the biggest challenges peer-to-peer fundraising programs face is the changing nature of how we connect and communicate in the world. Gone are the days of mailing a fundraising letter — heck, even sending a fundraising email! We now have to compete with shorter attention spans, increased content coming from everywhere you turn, and more and more opportunities — for-profit, non-profit, social media, brand activations, anything 'viral' — that pull people’s attention away from us and their own communities.
What is an innovative strategy your nonprofit is using to increase peer-to-peer participation?
How do you define “participation”? That’s the biggest question. Here at Komen, we’re actually moving away from participation — meaning numbers of people at our events defining success — because in the end, it’s overall revenue that matters. Think quality over quantity. Our nationwide series still has thousands of participants around the country, but we’re looking at innovative ways to engage with those most likely to be our highest value participants. Sure, we’re doing new mobile apps and testing texting campaigns and robocalls and chatbots… but in the end, the biggest innovation is something people tend to lose in all the technology. Talk to people. Connect with them. Listen to their stories. Give them a platform to share that story to their community. That community will drive your participation.
How can nonprofits better engage and retain their constituents year after year?
A very smart fundraiser once told me the key to unlocking a donor’s potential is, “Show me you know me.” How do we do that in this highly segmented, e-driven communication world? More importantly, how do we do that using big data without being total creepy? Or what if we’re on a tight budget and can’t afford analytics or persona data, etc.? Well, the first part is the part we often forget… GET TO KNOW THEM. On a mass scale, use what you’ve seen to segment your communications to cater to the people you know. Work for an animal welfare organization? Find out if your constituents are dog people or cat people (come on, we know people are rarely both!) and bring content to them. Recognize birthdays. Mark significant anniversaries — when they joined your organization, when they were diagnosed with their life-changing disease, when they moved in the new home you built for them. Don’t know some of this information? Start asking when it’s appropriate. Keep decent records, and act on it.
More importantly, it’s easy in peer-to-peer to think about all the tech tools that can guide our decisions and segmentation, but it’s the data that too many organizations keep in their staff and volunteer’s brains that can bring the real magic. Grab coffee with your team captains, donors, top fundraisers. Find out someone’s son is graduating from college in a few months? Document that in your system, send a congratulations card and make a note to ask how they’re doing a few months later in their first job. Remind your constituents that you listen to them, you hear them, you care about them more than just what they bring to us financially. Show them you know them. And in turn, they will show you their loyalty.
Courtney Bugler transitioned to nonprofits after a career as a daytime television scriptwriter (and a cruise director, and a DJ, and a port shopping guide, and a car salesman…). Her first peer-to-peer event was a day-long century ride in 37° F sleeting rain. And even while freezing, she knew she’d found her jam. In the past 10 years, Courtney has served both locally and nationally with organizations — like Young Survival Coalition, JDRF and Atlanta Humane Society — leading development departments, affiliates and peer-to-peer programs. She joined Susan G. Komen at the beginning of 2018 to lead the revitalization efforts around the organization’s signature event series. In her spare time, what’s left of it, she watches a lot of Little League baseball, travels to crazy places where conveniently cell phones don’t work and is a national competitive ballroom champion. Oh, and she has three big fluffy dogs. And the title of her yet-unwritten book? “Everything I Learned about Fundraising I Learned from Selling Cars. (And Diamonds. And T-shirts that Change Color in the Sun.).”
If you’re interested in learning more from Courtney (and engage in more next-level peer-to-peer thinking), secure your spot at Peer to Peer Advanced. Click here to learn more.