Pioneering Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Today, we are surrounded by media of all kinds. We are inundated by promotions designed to educate, motivate and persuade us to engage with companies, brands, nonprofit organizations and political campaigns.
As nonprofit fundraisers, we use many of the same channels as corporate brands and political candidates to reach our intended audiences, including direct mail, telemarketing, social media, emails, and offline and online advertising. Yet, there is one, relatively new fundraising approach that is experiencing great success: peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms.
The reason is simple: Nothing is more trusted than a testimonial from a friend or loved one. One need look no further than the success of sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Trip Advisor and more for the rationale. We all look to people we know for solid advice; recommendations on worthy causes deserving our donations are no exception.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to an individual who is helping hospital and health care nonprofits pioneer the face of P2P fundraising: Brenna Holmes, vice president of digital at Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey (CCAH). She has worked with a number of institutions to implement P2P fundraising platforms. One recent effort has been a resounding success, with positive results spilling over into the organization’s traditional fundraising channels.
Why is P2P huge?
Holmes: Being asked to donate by someone you know is 300 times more effective than receiving the same solicitation from an organization. People like to give to people, and nothing humanizes the “ask” more than a personal story from someone you know. This statistic says it all: Personal emails achieve a 90 percent open rate and a 25 percent donation rate while organizational emails achieve a 17 percent open rate and an average donation rate of 0.08 percent.
What is the premise behind P2P?
Holmes: Everyone has a story to tell, and P2P platforms provide a way for people to share their stories about causes they are passionate about. Individuals like to give back, create hope and spread awareness, too. P2P does all of that—and more.
What are some of the challenges organizations face in creating P2P fundraising platforms?
Holmes: Organizations face two major challenges: designing a platform that is easy to use and demonstrating to potential fundraisers how easy P2P actually is. Most P2P fundraisers have never fundraised before, so it is important to develop simple processes, offer tools and tips that help them do their “job,” and underscore the message that P2P platforms are a simple and fun way to raise funds for a worthy cause.
As with any fundraising initiative, engaging an organization’s community of potential supporters is another key challenge. Basing the platform on specific personas is a great way to foster engagement. It allows people to raise funds to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary; establish a memorial as a tribute to a loved one; or tie fundraising to a personal challenge, say running a 5K. It also is important to remember that when supporters visit your P2P site, they might not be ready to fundraise today. To capture such organic traffic, there are a number of techniques that an organization can employ. I like using a lightbox that pops up after a certain time period if a visitor hasn’t created a fundraising page. It encourages that individual to pledge to participate at a future date that he or she specifies. In that way, the organization can follow up later using a variety of reminder emails.
Jeanne C. Zepp is a freelance writer with an interest in direct marketing techniques, especially as they apply to the nonprofit world. She works at DPR Group, directing its public relations function.