6 Ways to Engage Peer-to-Peer Participants and Increase Donations for Your Virtual Events

This article was originally posted on NonProfit PRO’s blog.

In-person peer-to-peer events — like runs, walks, and rides — have been a fundraising staple for nonprofits for years. Today, virtual peer-to-peer fundraising events and campaigns have a critically important place in fundraising, too.

They’re essential at a time like now, when physical events aren’t possible. They can help a nonprofit to engage with constituents and make them feel part of a community, even when they can’t connect in person. In normal times, they can also be a less expensive way to raise funds year-round in between in-person events.

There are many approaches to peer-to-peer fundraising that go beyond physical events. Virtual events generally fall into two categories: Virtual events/campaigns and do-it-yourself (DIY) virtual events/campaigns. With virtual campaigns, an organization provides an online environment for supporters to set up their own fundraising page in support of a virtual event or campaign created by the nonprofit. DIY virtual events/campaigns allow participants to host their own virtual events or campaigns and invite their friends and family to the events to raise funds for a specific campaign for your organization.

Whether you’re moving an in-person event to a virtual event, or launching a new virtual event or campaign, getting participants to sign up to fundraise for your organization (and providing them with basic details, sample emails, and suggestions about how to raise funds from their family and friends) is just the beginning. Your ability to reach your fundraising goals depends heavily on your ability to engage with your peer-to-peer event participants and keep them motivated to raise funds.

Here are six ways to get your virtual event participants more involved and ultimately increase donations:

  1. Host Facebook Live events.
    Facebook is a great way to connect with your peer-to-peer fundraising participants. Host regular Facebook Live events with your participants on a variety of topics to help them raise funds and keep them motivated to support your cause. Some example topics for your Facebook Live events:

    • Peer-to-peer fundraising tips and strategies
    • Q&A with a top fundraiser from a previous peer-to-peer event or campaign
    • An overview of your nonprofit’s impact on your mission
  2. Issue social media challenges.
    Peer-to-peer fundraising is social by nature. Create social media challenges to get participants more excited about your virtual event and help them engage with their donors. For example, at the beginning of the week, post your challenge online via your website and social media. (For those participants who may not be super users of social media, you may want to email the challenge as well.) Challenges can be related to your organization’s mission, such as “the participant who posts the most dog theme photos wins the challenge,” or generic, like “the participant with the most donor selfies wins”. You can promote the winner online in the following week as part of a “winner’s corner,” or through a special shout out if your virtual event has a live element.
  3. Use theme days.
    Participants who are having fun and feeling as if they’re part of a group are more likely to feel engaged with your organization and with the peer-to-peer event or campaign they’ve signed up to support. One way to foster a sense of community among participants is to establish theme days. For example, designate a “crazy hat” day in which participants wear their most unusual hat and post selfies to your event’s community page, or have your participants wear their favorite sport team’s jersey.
  4. Send out a call for videos.
    Ask participants to create videos to help motivate other participants. For example, ask your top fundraisers to develop a short video about why they’re raising funds for your organization or what have been their most effective approaches for raising funds from friends and family. Be sure to provide them with a few guidelines (length of video, topics, file format), an example video, and an understanding of how you’ll use the videos (to send as inspiration to other participants) so they have context as they create their videos.
  5. Offer incentives.
    Those who sign up for your event or campaign already have shown interest in raising funds for your organization. But a little personal incentive can give them an extra nudge to keep up the fundraising momentum. For example, offer an online gift card, a t-shirt, or other tangible gift for participants who reach specified fundraising milestones.
  6. Get creative with your online space.
    Getting your participants more knowledgeable about your nonprofit and your mission will help them be more effective at sharing your organization’s message with donors. For example, create a treasure map or scavenger hunt for your participants to explore your website so they can become more well-versed with your cause. Make it fun and informative by leading participants to different areas of your website or social media. Give them instructions on how to submit their answers either via social media, online form, or email. Provide weekly prizes for those who have completed the activity correctly, or include a grand prize drawing at your virtual event. This is an ideal approach for participants who are new to your cause.

Keeping your participants engaged and motivated to raise funds on behalf of your organization is key to peer-to-peer fundraising event or campaign success. There’s almost no end to the ways you can inspire participants. It just takes some creativity and a bit of extra work. The approaches in this article will get you well on your way.

Need more ideas or an extra set of hands for your virtual events or campaigns? Contact Cathexis Partners.

by Laura Higgins, Strategic Consultant, Cathexis Partners
Laura specializes in fundraising and community-building events, and has worked with nonprofits for more than 15 years.

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