A Story of the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Model of 2021
Megan Rouse moved into a gated community in North Carolina late last year. This community, Pinehurst National, has a real gate and is really serious about the whole “no solicitation” thing. COVID-19 hit, and the first thing Megan did, due to her background as a professional fundraising consultant for Turnkey? She started soliciting.
Rouse decided that she needed to contribute to society’s well-being in some way. In trying to figure out how, she came up with an idea that, like all great fundraising, required soliciting. Rouse said, “Solicitation is a big thing in Pinehurst and has a strong NO around it. Technically I was soliciting, but because I am a neighbor, it wasn’t perceived that way.” Happily, the neighborhood association gave its blessing to the endeavor.
Her idea: Ask neighbors for contributions to support the local Boys and Girls Club of the Sandhills, as the organization is feeding kids who are dependent on schools for meals. Her hook was that she would put out luminaria bags on one specific night to honor the contributions, and she called her effort “Light Up National.” Later, the campaign was renamed “Light Up Moore County” as the idea took root. There is much psychology around her event design and the ask, and why she positioned it the way she did.
Katrina VanHuss is the CEO of Turnkey, a U.S.-based strategy and execution firm for nonprofit fundraising campaigns. Katrina has been instilling passion in volunteer fundraisers since 1989 when she founded the company. Turnkey’s clients include most of the top thirty U.S. peer-to-peer campaigns — Susan G. Komen, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the ALS Association, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, as well as some international organizations, like UNICEF.
Otis Fulton is a psychologist who joined Turnkey in 2013 as its consumer behavior expert. He works with clients to apply psychological principles to fundraising. He is a much-sought-after copywriter for nonprofit messaging. He has written campaigns for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, The March of Dimes, the USO and dozens of other organizations.
Now as a married couple, Katrina and Otis almost never stop talking about fundraising, volunteerism, and human decision-making – much to the chagrin of most dinner companions.
Katrina and Otis present regularly at clients’ national conferences, as well as at BBCon, NonProfit Pro P2P, Peer to Peer Forum, and others. They write a weekly column for NonProfit PRO and are the co-authors of the 2017 book, "Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising." They live in Richmond, Virginia, USA.