(Illustration by Hannah Agosta Illustration, based on a photo by Jessie Fox)
“How to Give” is a monthly column by local philanthropy wizard Lansie Sylvia. In it, Lansie answers readers’ questions about millennials, philanthropy and engaging the next generation of givers. To ask her a question, tweet @FancyLansie.
THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:
Can peer-to-peer fundraising be successful for smaller nonprofits? My nonprofit has participated in citywide giving days (#GivingTuesday) but we’re now considering using a P2P platform for our own fundraiser this spring. Any advice?
Peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising is quickly becoming a staple in many nonprofits’ yearly development plans, and for good reason. Also known as “social,” “team” or “personal” fundraising, P2P fundraising leverages a nonprofit’s existing supporter group to raise funds on behalf of the organization. If you’ve ever given $25 to a college friend on Facebook who is running/biking/walking for charity, you’ve participated in a P2P campaign.
P2P fundraising differs from traditional fundraising in a few pretty key ways. With traditional fundraising, you generally have the donor on the phone or in front of you, meeting face-to-face. This means you’ll have their dedicated attention.
This high-touch attention is perceived to be “more valuable” since time is such a precious commodity; so many nonprofits reserve these meetings for mid-range to major donors. The downside is that you can only talk with one person at a time, so it’s labor-intensive and the gifts need to be significant in order to make it worth your while. Generally, you’re going to get fewer donations but they’ll be of higher value.
Both face-to-face and online fundraising benefit from positive peer pressure.
With online fundraising, including P2P fundraising, you have the inverse situation. You will not be talking directly and exclusively with one person, so the donor’s attention is likely to be limited and fragmented. Because you’re talking to many people at once, this type of fundraising is perceived to be “easier” (though I think it’s just as hard!). Generally you’re going to get more donations of lower value.
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However, both styles benefit from positive peer pressure. No matter what, you want donors to know that they’re part of a community and that they’ll be joining many other supporters who believe in the cause. And it both situations, the personality of the fundraiser has to shine through. Donors want a personal connection. Local organizations like Bread & Roses Community Fund have even hybridized in-person and online giving to create new vehicles for community fundraising.
Finally, whether it be in-person or online, organizations need to make it easy to give. Online this means the minimum number of clicks between a donor having their heartstrings tugged and getting to that donation page!
With P2P fundraising, your network is your net worth. To be successful, it’s not just about the size of your nonprofit’s support community, but also how engaged it is. Nonprofits that have highly engaged networks usually boast the following:
- Steady supply of volunteers
- High open rates on mass emails (20 percent or more)
- 16 to 20 percent annual growth of email subscribers
- 10 percent or more engagement on important Facebook announcement posts
- Sold-out events (doesn’t matter how big they are!)
Does this sound like you? If not, you might want to consider doing some good ol’ fashioned movement building before embarking on your first P2P campaign. There are a lot of great resources on how to do this, and my personal favorite is “Keep Your Donors” by Simone Joyaux and Tom Ahern.
If you’ve got good response rates to your existing fundraising activities, let’s get cracking! Most P2P fundraising happens online and lots of companies now offer elegant platforms that make it really easy to launch P2P campaigns. P2P platforms enable individual fundraisers to create personalized landing pages, communicate directly with donors, create leaderboards (very helpful for motivating teams!) and much more.
When deciding on which software to use, ask yourself the following questions:
- How customizable is it?
- Does it include support services and training?
- Are there good reporting and analytics?
- What are the fees and costs?
- Will it take a percentage of your donations?
- Is the UX intuitive, and is it easy to use?
In addition to a solid online platform, you’re going to want the following:
- Mobile-responsive organizational website
- Two to three active social media channels
- Assigned staff or volunteer point-of-contact
- A modest budget ($10 to $15 per week)
- Email software with built-in reporting
- Most importantly … content!
Finally, supplying your fundraisers with high-quality content is one of the most important steps for P2P fundraising success. Not everyone is a gifted storyteller, so supplying short stories of impact and compelling stats and outcomes is key. High-res photography will help the media take notice and make social media posting look great. I would even send out sample promotional copy and introductory email templates to help fundraisers reach out to their networks.
On the tail end, giving fundraisers thank-you and follow-up email templates will help keep the momentum going. Finally, providing sample newsletter blurbs, Facebook updates, tweets and relevant hashtags is always a good idea. You want to make it as easy as possible for your fundraisers to promote the cause! Good luck!-30-
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