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.
Otis Fulton, Ph.D., spent most of his career in the education industry, working at the psychometric research and development firm MetaMetrics Inc., Pearson Education and others. Since 2013, he has focused on the nonprofit sector, applying psychology to fundraising and donor behavior at Turnkey. He is the co-author of the 2017 book, ”Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising,” and the 2023 book, "Social Fundraising: Mining the New Peer-to-Peer Landscape," and is a frequent speaker at national nonprofit conferences. With Katrina VanHuss, he co-authors a blog at NonProfit PRO, “Peeling the Onion,” on the intersection of psychology and philanthropy.
Otis is a much sought-after copywriter for nonprofit fundraising messages. He has written campaigns for UNICEF, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen, the USO and dozens of other organizations. He has a Ph.D. in social psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia, where he also played on UVA’s first ACC champion basketball team.
Katrina VanHuss has helped national nonprofits raise funds and friends since 1989 when she founded Turnkey. Her client’s successes and her dedication to research have made her a sought-after speaker, presenting at national conferences for Blackbaud, Peer to Peer Professional Forum, Nonprofit PRO, The Need Help Foundation and her clients’ national meetings. The firm’s work is underpinned by the study and application of behavioral economics and social psychology. Turnkey provides project engagements, coaching, counsel and staffing to nonprofits seeking to improve revenue or create new revenue. Her work extends into organizational alignment efforts and executive coaching.
Katrina regularly shares her wit and business experiences on her and Otis Fulton's NonProfit PRO blog “Peeling the Onion.” She and Otis are also co-authors of the books, "Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising" and "Social Fundraising: Mining the New Peer-to-Peer Landscape." When not writing or researching, Katrina likes to make things — furniture from reclaimed wood, new gardens, food with no recipe. Katrina’s favorite Saturday is spent cleaning out the garage, mowing the grass, making something new, all while listening to loud music by now-deceased black women, throwing in a few sets on the weight bench off and on, then collapsing on the couch with her husband Otis to gang-watch new Netflix series whilst drinking sauvignon blanc.
Katrina grew up on a Virginia beef cattle and tobacco farm with her three brothers. She is accordingly skilled in hand to hand combat and witty repartee — skills gained at the expense of her brothers. Katrina’s claim to fame is having made it to the “American Gladiator” Richmond competition as a finalist in her late 20s, progressing in the competition until a strangely large blonde woman knocked her off a pedestal with an oversized pain-inducing Q-tip. Katrina’s mantra for life is “Be nice. Do good. Embrace embarrassment.” Clearly she’s got No. 3 down.