[GUEST POST] Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Isn’t Dying — It’s Evolving

Peer-to-peer fundraising, better known as P2P, has been around longer than you might expect. The fundamental core of P2P is simple: get your supporters to take a step past just giving money to your organization, to fundraising to their communities on your organization’s behalf.

The boom of P2P happened somewhere between five to 10 years ago — at a time when fundraising events were all the rage and something that you and all of your friends wanted to participate in (think ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure). Between 2006 and 2015, the top 30 fundraising events in the U.S. grew nearly 10% — from $1.44 billion in 2006 to $1.57 billion in 2015. Incredible, right? Unfortunately, that growth couldn’t sustain itself. 

The top 30 fundraising events in the U.S. have struggled to keep that momentum as this year’s results showed that the 30 largest fundraising events in the U.S. raised a total of $1.37 billion in 2019, a decrease of 1.25% from the year prior. 

Many nonprofits have yet to add this hyper-personalized fundraising strategy into their toolkit, wondering if P2P is just a passing fad due to its decline year after year. But the reality is that P2P has always been around, and it’s here to stay. Unbeknownst to many people, P2P isn’t defined by just fundraising events. It’s defined by human interaction, human connection, human communication and a love for humanity. 

P2P gives supporters a sense of involvement with their favorite charitable organizations, and it places them in a more active role, giving them the freedom, opportunity and power to not just give money, but to raise more money for their favorite organizations. 

With this said, nonprofits need to think beyond just revenue and more about donor acquisition, stewardship, and cultivation — which all leads to retention. And this involves meeting donors where they are and giving them what they want. 

Evolving With the Changing Landscape

The P2P landscape is changing in two major ways. First, while the largest peer-to-peer fundraising programs have been showing declines in revenue in recent years, it’s important to remember that those same programs showed massive growth in years past (think American Cancer Society Relay for Life’s over $400 million revenue in 2008 versus its $161.4 million revenue in 2019). It’s difficult to maintain such an enormous growth year after year, especially when the number of nonprofits continue to bloom — and the competition for donors and dollars steepens. 

Second, we have entered an era where people rely on technology, making it the preferred way to give, participate, and fundraise. While face-to-face, in-person fundraising still reaps its benefits, participation is being challenged by a more convenient opportunity: virtual events. Especially in today’s landscape, with the rise of COVID-19 causing in-person event cancellations across the globe, virtual events offer an alternative way for nonprofits to host fundraising events without having to cancel events altogether. And chances are, your organization may have a higher participation rate and raise more dollars because supporters can join in on the fun no matter where they are, and will invite friends and family to join as well. 

So, no — P2P isn’t a fad that is dying; it’s an involved strategy for nonprofits that is evolving. If nonprofits learn how to keep pace and evolve with the changing landscape, P2P has the potential to take those organizations to newer, never-seen-before heights. 

Discover tips and best practices for peer-to-peer fundraising:

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NonProfit PRO is the go-to source for nonprofit management and strategy. Developed for thought leaders and innovators, we cover an array of topics focused on leadership management, development, fundraising strategy, technology and much more. We offer a magazine, website and daily e-newsletter, NonProfit PRO Today, with a fresh look and quick, hard-hitting content as the go-to source for modern nonprofit professionals. NonProfit PRO also offers a wide range of tools, including a live, multi-day conference, webinars, video, custom publishing, research and more.

By Nhu Te, Editor-in-Chief and Content Director, NonProfit PRO

Nhu Te graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.A. in English and Drexel University with a M.A. in publication management. In her free time, she enjoys gallivanting through the streets of South Philly with her trusty sidekick, Momo the Ferocious (a 6.5-pound Yorkie).

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