Finding the Right Timing for Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Email Communications

Last year, we explored how to build a strong email strategy for your peer-to-peer fundraising. We highlighted some key points from a five-session email communications workshop with peer-to-peer fundraising experts as part of the It’s a Peer-to-Peer World virtual conference.

But building a peer-to-peer email strategy isn’t just about planning what you’ll say—it’s also about knowing when to send those messages. Sending emails to your peer-to-peer fundraising participants at the right time can boost engagement surrounding your event and improve your recruitment strategy. 

In this post, we’ll first cover the importance of sending your peer-to-peer fundraising emails at the best time. Then, we’ll highlight best practices for email communication timing, pulled from the conference. Let’s get started.

Why is the timing of peer-to-peer fundraising emails important?

Timing is important because you need to communicate certain things to your participants at specific points during your campaign. For example, your peer-to-peer fundraising communications shouldn’t just be focused on recruiting participants; you also need to do things like equip those participants with the resources they need to fundraise on behalf of your organization. 

Keep in mind that their time is valuable too: Your peer-to-peer fundraising participants will need sufficient time to set up their fundraising pages, engage donors, and, if applicable, prepare to attend your event. Plus, many participants may be first-time fundraisers, meaning they’ll need even more of a helping hand to effectively participate in your campaign. 

That’s why you need a strategic communications plan. This will help you plan out your email cadence in a way that gives supporters enough time to understand what you’re asking them to do and how they can best help you reach your overall fundraising goal

When you equip participants with all of the materials and support they need to succeed, they’ll be much more engaged in and satisfied with the peer-to-peer fundraising process. And if you host an event, stewarding supporters like this before, during, and after your peer-to-peer event will help you boost your supporter retention rate

Key Tips for Timing Your Peer-to-Peer Emails

Here are some key points pulled from the virtual It’s a Peer-to-Peer World conference:

Timing levers

When it comes to the timing of email communications for your peer-to-peer events, there are three big levers you can adjust:

  • Launch – When you send registration, recruitment, and regular communications to your participants.
  • Frequency – How often you send each type of communication.
  • Shift – When to shift communications from recruitment to participant engagement.

Timing by type of event

Let’s take a look at how timing varies by type of event. Let’s break down events into four types:

  • Fundraising events – Fundraising is the number one focus of the event. The audience is there primarily because they care about the cause. These events are often 5k runs/walks, bike rides, or any activity that just about anyone can do.
  • Awareness events – These events require a low commitment, are not difficult physically, and require no fundraising minimum. The goal is typically high visibility of the cause with many participants. Examples of these types of events are large walks, festivals, and even social media challenges.
  • Activity-based events – These events are centered around a physical event that’s often challenging. Participants don’t necessarily have a connection to the cause – they’re mostly in it for the fun of the event. Examples of these types of events are races, mud runs, and obstacle courses.
  • High commitment events – These events require a high fundraising commitment and often a high physical commitment. Most participants have a strong connection with the cause and tend to return year after year. Examples of these events are multi-day walks or bike rides, marathons, and cross-country journeys. 

Now, let’s look at how timing levers vary for each event type:

For fundraising events:

  • Launch: Send recruitment communications about six months out from the event to people who are not registered.
  • Frequency:
    • For recruitment emails, start sending communications about every other month. You can increase this frequency around times you might be running special discounts or other promotions.
    • When people register, start an immediate on-boarding series to welcome them and give them tools and information to get them fundraising right away.
    • Communicate with them about once per month to give them key tools and information. About two months before the event, increase communications to about two times per month. These communications should encourage participants to raise more dollars and recruit others to participate in team fundraising. 
    • In the final two to three weeks, increase this to once per week to ensure they have the information they need for the event and to encourage final fundraising pushes.
  • Shift: About two to three weeks out, begin to shift focus away from recruiting and toward participant engagement and encouragement (anyone registering after this time will not have much time left to fundraise). Consider sending one final “registration is closing” message around this time, and ask if non-registrants might want to donate if they do not want to register.

For awareness events:

  • Launch: For this type of event, plan to launch closer to the event – about three months out. Any earlier, supporters might sign up, but then lose interest by the time of the event.
  • Frequency:
    • For recruitment emails, send communications about once per month, increasing to twice per month closer to the event.
    • As with fundraising events, start an immediate on-boarding series with a welcome message and initial details. Then, begin asking supporters to recruit their friends and family to participate. Increase the frequency of these communications about one month before the event.
  • Shift: In this type of event, there isn’t a shift; continue to recruit participants up until the day of the event.

For activity-based events:

  • Launch: Because people tend to be focused more on the activity than the cause for this type of event, they often register at the last minute. So, as with awareness events, plan to launch about three months before the event.
  • Frequency:
    • While you might include a soft fundraising ask in recruiting email communications, the purpose of these communications is primarily to recruit. Send communications about once per month, increasing to twice per month closer to the event.
    • For participants, send them an onboarding email series with key information, and then ask them to recruit others to participate – but keep the number and frequency of communications to a minimum. As you get closer to the event, you can increase the email frequency to share details and reminders about the event.
  • Shift: Similar to awareness events, continue to recruit participants up until the day of the event.

For high-commitment events:

  • Launch: If possible, launch as far out from the event as one year. This will catch participants while they’re still enthusiastic from the past event and gives them time to build their fundraising and train for the next event.
  • Frequency:
    • Send about one email per month. 
    • Send an onboarding email series to registrants to get them fundraising right away while their commitment is fresh. Then, send monthly emails to encourage them to fundraise and recruit other participants. Around six to nine months before the event, increase communication frequency to about two times per month. One to two months out, increase to about one to two times per week.
  • Shift: High-commitment events will not likely have last-minute registrants, so you can shift focus away from recruiting about one month before the event so you can spend most of your time engaging participants.

Learn more about timing your peer-to-peer fundraising emails

Sending the right message to the right audience at the right time is critical when it comes to planning a successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. 

As you send emails to supporters, keep track of the metrics that will help you assess their engagement with your messages. These metrics include your click-through rate and conversion rate. Your conversion rate will be the number of email recipients who took a specific action after opening your messages, such as signing up to participate in your peer-to-peer fundraiser or raising funds. 

At the end of your campaign, assess your email metrics to determine whether you met your recruitment and participation goals, see which emails were successful, and decide what you can adjust next time around for greater success. 
Learn more tips and best practices for building strong email communications for your next peer-to-peer fundraising campaign or event with the on-demand Email Communications Workshop from the 2021 edition of It’s a Peer-to-Peer World virtual conference.

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