Pioneering Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
What kinds of marketing techniques are you using?
Holmes: I am all about using fully integrated, omnichannel campaigns. Initially, set-up efforts focus on asset and content development, such as developing emails, homepage popups, direct-mail letters and postcards, and premiums. Thoughtful premiums help keep a cause at the top of prospective fundraisers’ minds, especially if the timing isn’t right to undertake a personal fundraising effort today.
I also like marketing approaches that encourage dialogue. So, I like to include options, like hashtags, where people can share stories and photos with the larger community of like-minded individuals. In addition to physical assets, digital signage can be useful in brick-and-mortar locations. Some other helpful techniques include coordinating P2P efforts with employee-giving campaigns and establishing limited-time matching-gift programs that create a sense of urgency.
What results are being achieved?
Holmes: P2P is a fantastic option to spark new life into philanthropic giving. In one organization, two years of P2P has increased donors by 94 percent, dollars raised by 300 percent and fundraisers year over year by 15.5 percent. Most important of all, the P2P effort did so without affecting the organization’s other fundraising efforts. In fact, individual giving and patient giving are higher than ever before.
What’s on the horizon?
Holmes: Mobile engagement is an important area, especially for stewardship. Text messages are just great with 99 percent-plus open/read rates, but the intent cannot be fundraising. Rather, it needs to provide another channel in which to engage with P2P fundraisers, coach them as they’re fundraising, and to engage and thank donors.
Facebook’s targeted ads are another great addition to the digital toolbox. They allow organizations to create custom audiences by uploading prospect email lists, house file email list, etc. In fact, any owned email list can be uploaded. It is even possible to match direct-mail files, find the listed individuals on Facebook and target them for ad receipt. Once an audience is created, Facebook also can model that audience and locate other Facebook users with profiles and characteristics similar to the organization’s best donors.
What is your best piece of advice about setting up a new peer-to-peer fundraising program?
Holmes: Build or find and use a platform that is straightforward in design and user-friendly. Complement your P2P site with videos, tips and other information that simplify the steps to fundraising and coach people through the process. Segment your audiences and employ every available channel to reach out to them. Use personalized messaging, but always retain a consistent look and feel across all your marketing efforts so that people will immediately recognize your brand. Track your results, and use this information to better hone your next iteration of techniques and channels.
Marketing is about refining and improving. Most of all, be committed to continuously building that future pipeline. Change is always on the horizon, so it is important to be prepared for what’s next.
Last but not least, never take a “build it and they will come” attitude. In P2P, effort must be expended on engaging not only potential donors but also colleagues about a great opportunity that anyone can use to share their story and give back. Spend time building internal partnerships within the organization and promoting the platform in creative ways.