Top Tips for Planning a Successful Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaign

This article originally appeared in
Blackbaud’s npEngage on May 27, 2015

In a previous article about peer-to-peer fundraising, Mark Becker, Founding Partner at Cathexis Partners, wrote about four things you should know before starting a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.Today, I’m taking it to the next step, with tips for planning the campaign itself:

Do some research

Many organizations are running peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising campaigns. Consider signing up for one or two to take notes on how the campaign works from the perspective of a volunteer fundraiser. Some things to pay particular attention to:

  • How easy is it to set up your campaign?
  • What tools does the organization provide you?
  • What kind of coaching and support does the organization give you?
  • What do you like/not like about the process of fundraising for the organization?

Also, consider asking other organizations about their P2P fundraising campaigns. Find out what they’ve learned from past campaigns, and what advice they can offer you as you plan and execute your own organization’s campaigns.

Define the right format for your campaign

Your peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising campaign can be built around a big event that your own organization produces, such as a walk-a-thon or gala; a third-party event, like a city marathon; or a do-it-yourself (DIY) event in which the event is constituent-led, such as a birthday, tribute, or memorial.

If you have a big event planned, your supporters already will be focused on the event, so why not leverage that existing excitement by asking them to reach out to their friends and family to extend their support further?  If you don’t already have an event planned, and a third-party event is not already planned in your area, it might not be practical to create one, so consider building your P2P effort around a DIY campaign. This approach takes less time, energy, and cost than creating a big event from scratch.

Create a compelling story

To get your supporters excited about helping you raise funds, you need a compelling story to tell them and for them to tell their friends and family. Start by brainstorming ideas for your campaign, and then review the ideas with your campaign team. Consider the following aspects of the campaign with your team:

  • What mission-critical problem does your campaign solve (why should someone donate)?
  • What difference does one donation make (quantify this to help donors understand the impact of their donation)?
  • How do you want people to feel about your campaign (emotionally touched, inspired, outraged)?

Once you know your campaign story, summarize it, and use it as the “rallying” theme for your campaign.

Choose a technology for now — and the future

Your supporters need a way to create their own online fundraising pages, send emails to friends and family, use social media, and accept donations online. In addition, you need to track the campaign, manage your list of fundraisers, and communicate with them. So, you’ll need the right tool.

Before selecting a tool, make a list of the capabilities that are most important for your organization. Following are some capabilities to consider.

  • Ability for supporters to:
    • create an online fundraising page to tell their own story
    • send campaign emails to their friends and family
    • easily reach friends and family through social media
    • take donations online
    • create campaign blogs
    • add progress thermometers or bars to their fundraising pages
    • organize themselves into teams
  • Ability for your organization to:
    • view the total amount raised across all supporters
    • view the total amount raised across multiple campaigns
    • customize the look and feel of fundraising pages to match your campaign’s and organization’s brand
    • create and schedule auto-emails to coach and support your fundraisers
    • run reports that provide insights on marketing and fundraising trends for P2P campaigns

Be sure to select a tool that not only supports your organization now, but also can grow as your organization evolves. And, be sure to allow time in your campaign plan to get the tool up and running and to learn how to use it.

There are more aspects to planning a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign than one article can cover, but these top tips will get you well on your way. As you work through your first campaigns, be sure to take notes on what works and what doesn’t so you can make your next campaigns even better.

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