The New World of Fundraising: A New Level of Strategic Planning Boosts Peer-to-Peer Donor Engagement
The fundraising landscape has evolved tremendously in the past two decades or so. Fundraising is no longer just “fundraising” anymore. There are different categories of fundraising that a nonprofit can choose from—face-to-face fundraising, direct mail fundraising, telefundraising, online fundraising, text-to-give, etc. Another type of fundraising is peer-to-peer fundraising, and while all types of fundraising involve donor relationships, peer-to-peer fundraising is entirely focused on donor relationships. It allows those who support your nonprofit to raise money on the its behalf in various ways—offline events, individual fundraisers, team fundraisers, crowdfunding, social fundraising and more.
In this issue, NonProfit PRO spoke to F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, executive director of development for The Salvation Army, Indiana Division, who said, “Generally, fundraising is based on relationships, and relationships involve communication, education and engagement; they’re always going to do what it takes to give donors excitement because it’s part of an investment that’s involved with this. Peer-to-peer has these elements because it builds on existing relationships.”
Peer-to-Peer Success Demands Strategy
Peer-to-peer offers nonprofits plenty of benefits, including opportunities to engage supporters, increases your nonprofit’s donor base, improves fundraiser relationships and provides an additional revenue stream. In order to get the most out of your nonprofit’s efforts, you need to build powerful social relationships with your constituents, as we found in the “2017 Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study.”
With peer-to-peer, it builds relationships and engagement with supporters over time. And as the relationship between supporters grows stronger over time, as does the loyalty, commitment and emotional tie to the nonprofits. What donors want is personal buy-in, Haddad explains. Because of that personal buy-in, donors will give more because of the personal relationship; and as time goes on and that personal relationship grows stronger, it increases the trust between supporters and the nonprofit. Once nonprofits increase the trust between them and their donors, it helps them expand their reach and go into new market segments that they never had before.
“It’s truthfully kind of a win-win scenario because many organizations are just delving into social media. Peer-to-peer gives them that opportunity to branch out to their fundraising acumens of programs available as way to give to an organization,” Haddad continued.
This is why powerful social, personal relationships are crucial and beneficial to successful peer-to-peer campaigns. While social relationships play a major role in peer-to-peer success, we found in the “2018 Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study” that the secret sauce to building these powerful social relationships and, more importantly, sustaining them is to make sure your nonprofit develops a robust strategic plan for every fundraising initiative, especially peer-to-peer.
“Peer-to-peer also grows awareness organically. Many organizations can use peer-to-peer resources to their advantage, and fundraising is certainly based on a two-way relationship because people give to people,” he continued.
Social relationships are more than just peer-to-peer. It has the ability to control how often your supporters donate to your organization, so it’s even more crucial to establish them for peer-to-peer fundraising. Creating powerful social relationships sets a stable foundation, which allows your nonprofit to continue to build on over time. When nonprofits engage a prospective donor through peer-to-peer fundraising, they’re not just reaching out to the single donor, but to that donor’s family, friends, colleagues, etc., as Hadded further explains.
“When people give to people, there’s also storytelling and emotion because you’re trying to get the networks—whether it’s family, colleagues, friends, different individuals. One story leads to the growth of another story, and social norms are powerful motivators. And so, this really brings individual fundraising into an organizational fundraising, and it also brings the building of networks to involve networks.”
He continued, “It certainly can build a core supporters from scratch, and many of these supporters will certainly be new to an organization.”
With that said, that’s why nonprofits need to outline a strategic plan for their peer-to-peer fundraising efforts, but the truth is that most nonprofits don’t have a strategic plan for their fundraising initiatives. According to the “2018 Nonprofit Impact Study,” 74 percent of nonprofits don’t develop an in-depth strategic plan for their fundraising initiatives, which is mind-boggling.
“I think that a number of organizations, sadly, don’t have a strategic plan. They don’t have an operational plan. They basically have a traditional model of annual planned giving, but they don’t think out of the box. And, obviously, peer-to-peer fundraising works for organizations with an established base of supporters,” Haddad said.
Like any fundraising initiative, every and any peer-to-peer fundraising campaign demands a strategic plan. Before even deciding on what your nonprofit’s event will be, you and your team need to have a kick-off meeting to discuss who it is that you are targeting for this event. After your team establishes its audience, then it’s time to flesh out event details.
“There are a number of older donors at play, and [nonprofits] don’t look at the total realm—whether there are Millennials, Gen Xers, etc. So, nonprofits don’t have a communications strategy around their organization. I think a lot of traditional organizations, because of the bureaucracy of the organization or their strategy, are very limited. And truthfully, they don’t want to expand because they are afraid or they just feel like this is just a one-off; and there’s a different technology down the road,” Haddad said.
The key to peer-to-peer campaigns is communication. Your nonprofit’s peer-to-peer strategy should hone in on your nonprofit’s communication efforts. How is your nonprofit reaching out to attract donors? If your nonprofit is hosting an event, how is it attracting participants? What communication channels will your nonprofit use? Whatever road your nonprofit decides on, make sure that the prospect feels engaged, a valued member of the community.
“For example, [a nonprofit] invites them to participate into events that relates to the peer-to-peer scenario—they work more successfully or there’s a communication vehicle that recognizes volunteers or involves the CEO and key volunteers. We also know that peer-to-peer involves friends, family, colleagues and different people—just don’t engage in that one potential donor volunteer, engage in the whole family concept because when others engage, they’re going to engage in potential volunteers or donors to give more and get more people involved,” Haddad said.
He recommends nonprofits to think about different strategies that they haven’t used before. The bottom line is to get the first volunteer involved and get that first volunteer to stand aside with that story of engagement.
Use Technology to Boost Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
The world is evolving, and technology is quickly becoming the personification of our human existence. If you’re like most people, you rely on technology; it’s your digital assistant for your work life and personal life. We rely on technology to wake us up in the morning, to remind of tasks that need to be completed, to communicate with the people in our lives through email, text, call, etc.—the list can go on and on. But because technology plays a significant role in our lives, that doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of surviving without it. Think of it this way: It drastically improves our lives by providing assistance when we need it.
When it comes to the nonprofit space, technology is versatile and is needed is a lot of areas. In regards to peer-to-peer, technology offers nonprofits the opportunity to truly engage their constituents and create emotional connection that will keep them a part of the organization for the long-term. The truth is that technology plays a crucial role in its success.
“[T]echnology has been key to peer-to-peer fundraising success. What you need is an extension and reach of a program. You want to build its base for support through peer-to-peer, but you want to expand it over time and get new people involved. Frankly, to do that, you have to get technology involved,” Haddad said.
And there are no limits to the opportunities that technology presents in the peer-to-peer fundraising realm. And if you think about it, technology has really changed the way we fundraise, especially when it comes to the peer-to-peer space. Technology enables non-stop communication between supporters and nonprofits. Through social media, nonprofits can communicate to their supporters as often as they would like and vice versa. But it’s not about the frequency of communication, but rather, the quality. When you plan out your fundraising campaign, you have to strategically plan out how you are communicating with your supporters and how you’re going to get volunteers to engage and fundraise.
“You really need a definition of the type of campaign your organization is willing to support—whether if it’s a physical event, a challenge, virtual campaign, independent fundraising—you have to figure out exactly what type of campaign you’re looking for and once you do that, you’re going to get technology to expand the reach. You want to multiply your reach in number of dollars, donors and gifts, and without technology, it’s going to be impossible to do that,” Haddad said.
There are a number of tech companies coming out of the woodwork offering peer-to-peer solutions. Especially if your nonprofits hosts peer-to-peer fundraising events, having one of these platforms is required if you want your day-of to be as effective as possible. These platforms serve as fundraising and donor management tools, and it also helps ease the process of registration; everything can be done on the computer or on a mobile device.
What innovative strategies and technologies is your nonprofit using?
Nhu Te is senior content manager at Fundraise Up, the AI-powered online donation platform for enterprise nonprofits. In her work, she focuses on helping nonprofits create more impact through personalized donor relations, digital fundraising and thoughtful use of technology.