6 Ways to Reverse the Peer-to-Peer Skid
America’s love affair with peer-to-peer fundraising events is well documented. Every year, thousands of organizations sponsor “a-thon events”—such as walks, runs and rides—in which their supporters act as their fundraisers.
In certain segments, such as the “Peer-to-Peer Thirty,” the average dollar amount raised has been declining annually since 2012, according to the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum. In fact, revenues have dropped almost eight percent during this time.
Not every program in the “Peer-to-Peer Thirty” witnessed this overall decline. Thirteen of the 30 programs increased revenue in 2016. For example, revenue associated with Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Light the Night Walk” jumped 12 percent.
So, what is driving the difference? The reason for the drop in revenue could be chalked up to P2P fatigue, but more likely, it is due to increased competition. A 2017 BidPal study showed that two-thirds of all nonprofits were using P2P fundraising in some form. Another 15 percent, while not currently employing P2P, were open to considering it as a fundraising strategy. With 1.5 million nonprofits registered in the U.S., there is stiff competition to win the hearts, minds and wallet share of donors nationwide.
Either way, the good news is that charities can take steps to win this challenge and trace the path of other successful programs by injecting their events with solid event planning and marketing efforts.
Here are six suggestions to improve the effectiveness of P2P fundraising:
- Weed out the laggards. It costs nonprofits the same amount of time and resources to host a P2P event that raises a little money as it does to raise a lot of money. This is important to note because I’ve seen some figures that show as many as 70 percent of P2P event participants don’t raise a dime for sponsoring organizations. To address this trend, nonprofits can simply require a minimum fundraising threshold to participate, request that participants donate themselves and set a realistic registration deadline.
- Use all channels for marketing. P2P fundraising events often attract a good cross-section of participants, so it’s important to market using as many communication channels as possible. This includes social media platforms, email, direct mail, as well as traditional media (e.g. television and radio). Expanding your communication channels raises excitement among participants and also builds awareness, so it’s easier for them to raise funds.
- Add gamification. Let’s face it: People who participate in “a-thon events” can be pretty competitive. Put that trait to use by inspiring some friendly competition using gamification. Recognizing supporters using leaderboards, countdowns and thermometers will inspire participants to out-raise their peers. It’s also important to recognize competition in real-time. For example, an “outraise alert” from your P2P software platform sent to competing teams can be as effective as an “outbid alert” at the silent auction in the gala ballroom. An alert followed by a prompt to give or request a donation makes for a perfect one-two punch to drive fundraising even more.
- Amp up your swag. Merchandise, such as t-shirts, decals and custom shoelaces, can be a motivator for P2P participants. Tier your fundraising levels to provide bigger rewards as participants hit higher fundraising thresholds. Don’t forget to sell your swag at the event to create walking billboards for next year’s fundraiser.
- Make it personal. Recognize your fundraisers both personally and publicly. Highlight fundraisers on your event website, letting them tell their stories about why they support your organization. Use these testimonials in social media messages, and be sure to tag the participant. Generally speaking, in a P2P context individuals generally contribute to the cause, because of their relationship with someone tied to that cause. The gift itself sets the stage to begin communicating with that first-time donor, of which the foremost message should be, “Thank you!” This is the ace-in-hand to truly acquire the donor and retain them for future fundraising efforts.
- Show Millennials some love. Seventy percent of millennials believe they can make an impact on the world, but it is important for them to have individual opportunities where they can see their impact immediately. Additionally, Millennials see themselves and their peers as the best catalysts for social change. For these reasons, P2P will play an increasingly critical role in attracting and activating the millennial donor base for nonprofits.
Finally, communicate how much money you are hoping to raise and specify what your organization intends to do with the money. Knowing how their support impacts your cause is terrific motivation for event fundraising warriors.