Anything Can Be P2P: How One Town Turned a Neo-Nazi Walk Into a Human Rights Fundraiser
At Turnkey, we often say that the activity used in a peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising endeavor does not matter. Getting a “yes” in P2P fundraising is about the relationship between the potential donor and the peer doing the asking. The relationship between the donor and the organization is a distant second in importance.
Wunsiedel, a small town in Germany, had for 25 years been victimized as the site of a neo-Nazi walk. Neo-Nazis are attracted to the town because Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, was once buried there, according to The Guardian. Ultimately, the town exhumed Hess and got him out of there, but his followers still converged each year. Finally, the town figured out how to raise money for causes opposed to the neo-Nazi ideals, and maybe make the endeavor less attractive overall.
Walk time came, again. The neo-Nazis showed up and did their solemn drudge through town, like a dirge, same as every other year. But this year, as the walk progressed, banners began to appear along the walk route celebrating their effort. Tables showed up with snacks for the walkers. People began to cheer for the walkers as they neared the end of the walk. The atmosphere turned from funereal to celebratory.
The townsfolk had solicited P2P donations to support the neo-Nazis as they walked. For every meter they walked, 10 euros went to EXIT Deutschland, which helps people escape extremist groups. In the end, far-right extremists unwittingly took part in a walk to raise money for a group that helps people escape extremism.
You can truly turn anything into a P2P activity. Have fun with that.
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.