Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: It's Not About Who You Know; It's About Who They Know
"In my view, all fundraising is peer-to-peer."
That's how Jeff Shuck, CEO of Plenty Consulting, opened his session yesterday at bbcon, Blackbaud's annual conference.
He also said that peer-to-peer fundraising isn't something new or fancy, even if the term itself has become the buzzword in the fundraising sector in recent years.
"Think about 400, 500 years ago — how'd you get news? You got it from the town crier," he said. "You heard things from other people, leaned over the fence and talked to your neighbor. Peer-to-peer has been incredibly accelerated by technology, but it's not a new thing — it's a human thing."
However, Shuck said there is a new way in which nonprofit organizations must interact with peer-to-peer donors these days. Sadly, few do. That's because so many fundraisers relay on traditional fundraising practices, in which the organization has a direct relationship with the donor. The donor has been cultivated for years by a major-gifts officer, board member or fundraiser, and eventually a conversation takes place directly with that donor. "We think the world needs changing. Will you help us achieve that change?" The donor says yes, gives a gift and that direct relationship is formed.
The big difference between peer-to-peer fundraising and traditional fundraising is that "we're not talking directly to the donor," Shuck said. Instead, the conversation goes like this: "The world needs changing, and we think you agree. Will you help us by passing along this information to your friends?" Then that person goes out and makes the ask for you. Shuck calls this deputizing the supporter.
From there, hopefully their friends say yes and give gifts to your organization. This is great. The critical mistake, however, is that the organization then goes back to that donor with whom it does not have a relationship and acts like it does.