P2P Fundraising: The Perfect Psychological Storm
Putting a psychologist with two peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraisers is like putting two college seniors in a craft beer taste test. It’s kind of fun.
It turns out P2P fundraising is the perfect psychological storm. The relationship of the volunteer fundraiser with the nonprofit is a huge opportunity for raising money, but also easy to screw up.
Social relationships happen when two entities want to be a relationship. There is no financial exchange.
Market relationships happen when each of the two entities has something the other wants and an exchange of currency happens. Market relationship equals payment. Unfortunately, nonprofits trip up and fall into market relationships without really internalizing what that means—and it means a lot.
How do you get in a market relationship? You change the “currency” in your relationship away from “heart” and into “money.” As an example, if you charge a registration fee, you have just flipped your participant into a market relationship. If you use incentives that can be mentally monetized (“That costs around $20”), you have just paid your fundraiser. If you hit your donor’s credit card when he or she doesn’t fundraise enough to participate, you just created a market relationship.
According to the 2014 Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study, the largest amount of gross and net revenue comes from social relationships, represented by walks with no registration fees. Considerable fundraising income with lower net revenue comes from market relationships. Simply put, you have to pay people if you are in a market relationship, resulting in a lower net profit.
Dig into this kind of fun and more during “Getting Deep: The Psychology of Peer to Peer Fundraising,” Mon., Oct. 26, at 1:15 p.m., in Room 14 of the Austin Convention Center at BBCon 2015 in Texas. Presenting will be Amy Braiterman, voted “Most Fun at Conference” three years running; Otis Fulton, our Turnkey psychologist shanghaied into the study of P2P fundraising; and myself, a 27-year industry veteran determined enough to press the 6’10” Fulton into psychological service. I looked like a dachshund bringing down a black bear getting it done.
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.