Four Things You Should Know Before Starting a Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaign

This article originally appears in
Blackbaud’s npEngage Blog on May 13, 2015 

Article: Four Things You Should Know Before Starting a Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaign

Peer-to-peer fundraising has been a powerful tool in the fundraiser’s toolbox for years. Whether it’s associated with a large event — like a walk-a-thon, or it’s year-round — like a tribute campaign, it’s all about engaging supporters to raise funds on your nonprofit’s behalf. It lets your supporters translate their enthusiasm for your mission into dollars to help it thrive.

But, running a peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising campaign can be challenging, involving a great deal of time and logistics. So, whether you’re just starting out, or you’re looking to polish your P2P approach, it’s well worth it to take some time for some up-front planning.

To ensure your next campaign’s success, here are four things you should think about before getting started:

1. Is peer-to-peer the right approach for your organization?

It may sound basic, but there are many considerations when determining if peer-to-peer is right for your organization at any given time. You should have at least the following essentials in place before starting a campaign:

  • A point person in your organization. You will need someone to be in charge of the campaign and pull together the right resources to ensure the campaign stays on track. This often is an event manager or director.
  • A cross-functional team. The campaign will involve donations, a website, promotions, and general event management, so you will need people from across your organization to set aside time to support various aspects of the campaign.
  • At least five supporters you can count on to fundraise. You can’t have a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign without supporters to raise funds on your behalf. Identifying at least five initial supporters will give you a core group of people to get your campaign off the ground.
  • A “cheerleader” in the community. It’s not impossible to run a P2P campaign without one, but having a “cheerleader” in the community — someone to evangelize your campaign and your nonprofit’s mission — is a big help.
  • Buy-in from your organization. A P2P fundraising campaign involves multiple people, time and dollars, and commitment from across the organization to making it work.

2. How much money is your campaign likely to raise?

You can always jump right in to a P2P fundraising campaign. But, given the level of time, effort, and money you’re likely to spend, you really should have an idea of how much money your campaign will raise. Start by listing your top five individual supporters and how much you think they could raise. Next, think about groups of supporters — such as your board, area businesses, and other groups. Determine how many individuals are in each group, and how much each person could raise. Add it all up for a ballpark estimate of what you think your campaign will raise.

3. What is your campaign budget?

Right on the heels of “how much will this campaign raise” is the question, “how much will it cost us”?  This is about money, yes, but also about time. Consider the following costs before starting your next campaign:

  • Staff time for campaign strategy, copywriting for landing pages and thank you emails, event management, campaign landing page/microsite management, and database management
  • Marketing costs, for things like graphic design, printing of flyers and posters, postage for direct mail, and advertising
  • Cost of online software that allows fundraisers to create their own fundraising pages, send emails to friends and family, use social media, and accept donations online
  • Costs for any kickoff party for fundraisers
  • Event costs if your campaign is related to a physical event, such as a walk-a-thon

4. Who’s on your campaign committee?

As mentioned in item one above, you’ll need the right people in place to make your event a success. Here are some key roles to consider:

  • Campaign leader — is ultimately responsible for the campaign plan and logistics
  • Executive leader — sponsors the campaign throughout the organization
  • Community cheerleader — gets the community excited about the campaign
  • Marketing manager — provides writing, graphic design, and promotional help to support the campaign
  • IT representative — supports online software implementation and integration with other systems
  • Finance manager — ensures appropriate donation processes are in place

There’s simply nothing like peer-to-peer fundraising for tapping your most valuable asset — your supporters — to extend your fundraising reach.  Up-front planning and a little effort in the beginning will help to ensure your next campaign pays off.

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