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News & Press: Member Insights

Making Peer-to-Peer a Part of Fundraising

Friday, October 02, 2015   (0 Comments)
By Todd S. Levy, Founder and CEO of DonorDrive

Nonprofits nowadays have so many tools on-hand that allow them to better engage and fundraise through their supporters base. One of the most powerful of these is peer-to-peer fundraising software. While organizations have used it for years to fundraise in their participant events (like walks, runs and rides), its value is becoming more obvious as the fundraising landscape changes.

What’s peer-to-peer?
Remember when supporters went door to door in their neighborhood fundraising for a national cause? It’s the same premise. It’s just moved online. Event and campaign participants set up a fundraising page where they can tell their story in words, photos and video, as well as fundraise through their network with built-in email and social media tools. Their friends, family and coworkers can then give through their smartphone as well as share the story themselves.

So why do nonprofits need peer-to-peer?
Think of it as a supplement to more traditional fundraising methods. They work side by side. The key benefits of peer-to-peer fundraising:
  • It empowers supporters to generate more revenue.
  • It gives nonprofits tools for new kinds of fundraising.
  • It spurs engagement and builds relationships.
It empowers supporters to generate more revenue.
The two biggest trends we've seen that peer-to-peer plays a big role in is convenience and creativity.

Supporters want easy.
Our clients tell us our best feature in our DonorDrive Peer-to-Peer Fundraising software is ease-of-use for their participants and donors. Many of those who currently give by check would rather have the convenience of giving online, especially through recurring giving programs via credit card. They also want the ability to give on their mobile device. With more than half of Internet traffic now on mobile phones, the value of that becomes obvious. Much money is left on the table if donating is not as easy as paying their bills on their phone. Peer-to-peer fundraisers want fundraising to be easy too. If the technology makes it simple, supporters are happy to do it.

Supporters want to be creative with their fundraising.
There’s been a big shift among donors to self-directed fundraising. Previously the nonprofit controlled all the fundraising, the events, the time and the place, but now supporters (especially younger people) want fundraising and giving on their own terms. A good portion of the participants who drive peer-to-peer donations don't want to do things on the nonprofit’s schedule. This is why national walks have been coming up flat.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in DIY fundraising. When supporters are given the tools to create their own campaigns, they exercise their fundraising creativity with minimal involvement from the nonprofit. All the organization has to do is let everyone know DIY campaigns are available and say thanks afterwards. The supporters do the rest. People are creating tribute pages for loved ones who have passed on, they’re using their run in a marathon as a reason to fundraise we even had a guy raise $10,000 to run across the Brooklyn Bridge in stiletto heels to support the rebuilding of the Ali Forney Center teen shelter after it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

At the same time, nonprofits are thinking of their own creative uses for DIY as well. Paws with a Cause, an organization that trains assistance dogs, has used DIY for those they serve to help them raise the cost of their animal. Their first campaign (which has since been written up and analyzed in textbooks) was for a teen in need of a dog trained to aid with his Epilepsy. It raised $10,000 in 19 hours. We’ve had some DIY campaigns raise over $100,000, and supporters are routinely raising over $5,000. For nonprofits, DIY fundraising becomes an additional revenue steam, one that does not require all of the additional staff hours.

It gives nonprofits tools for new kinds fundraising.
Often a campaign is scrapped because the nonprofit’s fundraising software is only set up for a signature event. Peer-to-peer software can be flexible enough to handle whatever fundraising is thrown at it.

A great example is this emergency campaign: At the height of the Ebola crisis World Vision was given four million pair of latex gloves, enough for every front-line healthcare worker in Sierra Leone for six months. With the number of airlines willing to fly into Sierra Leone dwindling and the government there about to close the airport, World Vision staff quickly set up and launched an emergency campaign on a Saturday night. They raised the needed $135,000 in 66 hours. These gloves played a key role in ending the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Another example is this virtual fundraiser: Children’s Miracle Network Hospital hosts an annual 24-hour virtual marathon of gaming for good. Simultaneously on every continent on earth, gamers raised over $6,000,000 in 2014, entirely online, while the money they raised went to their local children’s hospital.

Many nonprofits are using peer-to-peer to add a virtual component to their traditional events and campaigns. Though a runner can’t make the race, they can still fundraise for it. Some walks allow the participants to fundraise and then sleep in. Again, this virtual participation puts fundraising more on the supporter’s terms.

It spurs engagement and builds relationships.
Instead of just building a relationship with a single donor, peer-to-peer introduces your organization to a supporter’s entire network of friends, family and coworkers. As the average individual has a Facebook friends list of about 250, the peer-to-peer participant can introduce you to many new donors to steward. We also see that a number of peer-to-peer donors will then become participants in that same event, which means the organization meets that donor’s network as well.

When you give supporters built-in email and social media tools in their fundraising software, engagement and fundraising become one. They’re just telling their story and it becomes a channel for giving. These stories can take on a viral nature that moves the campaign well beyond the expectations of success.

A new fundraising channel for modern times.
As mentioned before, peer-to-peer is not a replacement for existing fundraising methods: It just adds new ways to give. We often hear from clients that many of the supporters that peer to peer brings in are new to their organization. What were discovering is that many of these constituents are just not reachable by mail, phone, TV and radio since they don’t use these mediums anymore or have never used them. Instead they text, email, use social media, watch Netflix and listen to podcasts. Peer-to-peer can give nonprofits access to a growing number of constituents that more traditional methods can’t. If nonprofits haven’t invested in this channel, they could be missing out on the participants and donors that are the future of their organization.

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