The Peer-to-Peer Problem Promulgated
Listen, if you’re gonna throw shade at my obnoxious column title, well, I 100% deserve it. But I’m just trying to get your attention to the peer-to-peer problem that no one is talking about. I know, I know, it’s all the craze right now—up there with low-carb diets. And like all of us bread-, pasta-, potato-deprived people, you will completely fail at it. It’s going to suck all the energy right out of you, and you’ll be left with nothing but an ulcer in your face. And a hungry NPO.
I may sound like I’m talking crazy. But (this time) I’m not. And I have the data to prove it. Yay, data!
Did you know that 80% of all money raised through peer-to-peer fundraising initiatives is raised by only 3% of the people? No typo here. Not even your comfortable 80/20 rule. (Seriously, why do people love the 80/20 rule so much? A whole article in and of itself. I digress). That means if you ask 100 people in your community to join a walk, a bike-a-thon, a marathon, dance-a-thon, an eat-a-thon (which doesn’t exist but should), or a whatever-a-thon, only three people will raise any money worthy of bragging to your board members about.
This is after months and months of giving everyone the “tools” to raise money. And when I say tools, I don’t mean TNT and other vault-breaking devices―which probably isn’t such a bad idea, because it’d raise a helluva lot more than this kind of fundraising. I’m talking about tools like “your own personal fundraising page.” Cue celestial strings. Yawn.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t really need or want “my own personal fundraising page.” What I do need is friends who care about me enough to care about the causes I care about. To care enough to give, ya know?! And maybe an underground hideout to go to when everyone wants to kill me for filling their feed with my early morning runs.
How Do We Make Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Work?
To fix peer-to-peer fundraising, we have to first locate the essential core problem of why it doesn’t work. And the reason it doesn’t work boils down to loneliness.
Face it: Peer-to-peer is lonely! As much as it disguises itself in all the community feels on the day of that walkathon, the weeks and months of calls, texts and posts asking for money on your own is very isolating. And unless you’re one of those three people who actually raises significant funds, it lacks rewarding momentum.
You see these three people are going to do great no matter what. They’re the connectors and influencers in the community. Super popular, moving through all social circles with ease, and everyone wants to sit at their table at lunchtime. Basically it’s high school all over again.
To make it work for every single one of your volunteers, you need to overcome the challenges of loneliness and inertia. What you need is togetherness and momentum. Or “togentum.” Or “momether.” You can use either, as long as you give me credit.
Here’s the plan.
Don’t wait until the big day to get everyone together. After dividing your people, get them back together with periodic and consistent team-building events to keep them inspired. Give them the chance to share progress, insight and steady accomplishments with peers. Divide, unite and conquer. Repeat! Whatever style of event you choose, the main thing is that every single one of those people walk away knowing that they’re all in it together.
This way everyone does their part because they know that they’re an important part of something bigger.
Divide, unite and conquer. Repeat!
So about those separate peer-to-peer links and pages... The thing about tech is that, alone, it’s never going to cut it. All the URLs in the world can’t replace the power of being all together in the same room. Because it’s the stuff that happens offline that really matters. The teams you create, the fun competitions and challenges, all the stuff you do to build momentum until that final day when your fundraiser reaches its climax.
The key is to not let the fatigue kick in. Once it does, you’re in trouble. It’s like a plane, which only gains velocity with the right amount of speed, time and space to take off. Same thing goes with peer-to-peer fundraising; you need to build that togetherness momentum, and not just set up 100 individual donate pages and call it a day. Because your campaign―and your community―is a machine with many working parts that you have to bring together.
Only then will you finally take off… togentum!
Moshe Hecht, winner of the 2017 NonProfit PRO Technology Professional of the Year, is a philanthropy futurist, public speaker and chief innovation officer of Charidy, a crowdfunding platform and consulting company that has helped 3,000 organizations raise over $700 million.
Moshe's passion lies at the intersection of technology and charitable giving. When Moshe is not at the office, he is writing music and enjoying downtime with his wife and three redheaded children.