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[GUEST POST] For the Best P2P Results, Take Some Fundraising Offline

When I was a kid, peer-to-peer fundraising looked a little different than it does now. I remember my third-grade self collecting pledges for my school’s walk-a-thon, carefully noting my donors’ contributions on my pledge sheet and collecting them after the event. Our progress was tracked on a giant poster-board thermometer. My supporters paid in cash or checks, which I kept in an envelope and turned in to our administration.

Things look a little different now. Today, fundraisers post a link to Facebook or send it in emails, and donors make a donation online in seconds. Fundraising progress is still tracked with thermometers, but the thermometers are digital and update every 60 seconds or so instead of being filled in with marker. Peer-to-peer fundraising is a multi-million dollar industry, with nonprofits of all shapes and sizes raising money to change the world.

But despite all that, the most effective peer-to-peer fundraisers are the ones that combine the best parts of old-school fundraising and current peer-to-peer fundraising. Offline relationships can make a powerful impact on digital fundraising; here are some pointers that will help you make the most of them!

Recruit Peer-to-Peer Participants Offline, First

One of the best ways to start your event on the right foot is to establish a base of participants before the event launches. Think of it as a form of social proof — nobody wants to register for an event that nobody’s supporting. But if you have a group of people already registered and fundraising, that’s not an issue!

By recruiting offline supporters for your online fundraiser, you accomplish a few key goals:

  • You have a group of influential supporters already visibly involved with your fundraiser before it launches.
  • You have time to train, inspire, and motivate a base group that can lead by example.
  • You establish a group of people who can bring visibility to your event by using their own offline networks.

There are other benefits to offline recruiting, too: training new participants is much easier, as is building a sense of camaraderie between different groups.

Using offline relationships to build an online base of supporters is a really effective way to make the most of your event.

Give Fundraising Participants Offline Fundraising Options

A nonprofit in Qgiv’s hometown gives their fundraising participants tools they need to raise money offline. We’ve seen groups do some pretty creative things! Peer-to-peer supporters have:

  • Thrown dinner parties to raise money for their event
  • Hosted parties at breweries or local restaurants, then set up laptops to collect attendees’ donations
  • Run their own text-giving campaigns to collect donations from mobile donors
  • Put up fun themed posters at local coffee shops, community boards, and libraries
  • Included fundraising appeals at yard sales, local markets, and other public events

Inspired fundraising participants are full of ideas that will help them raise money for your organization. Give them the tools they need to succeed! These events are a fun way for participants to find new donors, boost visibility for your organization and event in the community, and flex their creative muscles.

Combine Online Fundraising with Offline Accolades

One of the most high-profile events in Qgiv’s hometown is the Mr. Central Florida contest held by Central Florida Speech & Hearing. It’s a great example of fundraising participants using offline relationships to boost their online profile. Each participant is a “candidate” for Mr. Central Florida, and their friends and family “vote” for their favorite by donating $1 per vote. The person with the most votes/dollars raised is the year’s Mr. Central Florida. Participants and winners spend time campaigning for votes and are recognized at a culminating event.

Mr. Central Florida doesn’t just live online — it’s more than a digital fundraiser. Participants spend time and effort connecting with people in their community to win votes (and to spread the word about the event, the nonprofit, and why they’re participating). Participants are usually highly-regarded community members like public figures, musicians, business owners, etc., which makes them especially visible in the community. Recruiting those highly-visible participants helps build awareness for the nonprofit, and the community is more likely to vote for a well-known figure than someone who’s less well-known.

The Mr. Central Florida event is successful enough that Central Florida Speech & Hearing adopted the format for their Women of Central Florida Fashion Show. Their combination of online fundraising that’s tied with offline accolades is working for them, too — last time we looked, they’d boosted fundraising 300% by combining the two styles.

As you plan your next peer-to-peer fundraising event, ask yourself: how can we make our fundraiser a success online and offline? Adding that offline component makes fundraising more real for your participants; they don’t stop fundraising when they log off the Internet. It becomes part of their daily life!

Get Creative with Your Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising has been around in some form for decades. But it’s not a static fundraising method. Most peer-to-peer fundraising takes place online, but it’s easy to make it more engaging by merging online and offline recruitment, fundraising methods, and perks. How can you combine the best of both worlds to raise more money?

Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.

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