Editor’s note: We’re pleased to have Mark Becker from Cathexis Partners offer his expertise on how to create fun and successful peer-to-peer events. Are any of these making it into your plans this year? 

by Mark Becker, Founding Partner, Cathexis Partners

Nonprofits of all kinds are finding new and creative ways to use the peer-to-peer fundraising model to raise money and engage with supporters. The same tools and techniques that were once intended for traditional peer-to-peer events are now being used for everything from virtual food drives to mission trips to fundraising challenges. Using these approaches, organizations are raising funds and other types of support year-round.

Taking peer-to-peer fundraising beyond traditional events

Traditional run, walk, and ride events aren’t going anywhere—the model still works. But, in our work with hundreds of nonprofits, we’ve seen that non-traditional, creative peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns have an important place in fundraising, too. They’re typically less expensive to run than traditional peer-to-peer events. They can supplement traditional events, especially during the months between events. And, for organizations using a peer-to-peer software platform for registration and participant fundraising for traditional events, using the same platform for additional, non-traditional campaigns is an efficient use of a tool that’s already in place.

Here are a few examples of approaches to getting your supporters involved beyond traditional peer-to-peer events:

  • Alumni campaigns: If your organization is an educational institution, consider creating online campaigns that allow your alumni to raise funds for the programs at your organization that mean the most to them, such as athletics, scholarships, and research.
  • Challenges: Set up an environment in which your supporters can sign up to do X if their friends and family donate a certain amount of money. Think “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” and you’ve got the idea. There are virtually limitless “challenge” campaigns that you can create.
  • Special days: Everyone has special days, such as birthdays, weddings, baby showers, and other events in their lives. Ask your constituents to “donate” their special event to your organization by asking friends and family to donate to your organization in lieu of presents.
  • Tribute/memorial: These types of campaigns are becoming increasingly common, and often are found in the “cause and cure” and “animal welfare” verticals of the nonprofit space. If you have a mission tied to supporting the fallen, injured, or lost due to disease, disorder, injustice, or war, consider providing your constituents with online tools to raise funds in the name of someone who has touched their life.
  • Virtual drives: If your organization is a food bank or does food drives as part of its mission, get your supporters involved by asking them to create their own virtual food drives. Provide them with online tools and suggested email content to help them use emails and social media to ask their friends and family to donate. Set up the campaign on your website so that your supporters’ friends and family can place items in a virtual shopping cart that represent what you can do with the money they give with their donation amount. This approach can be used for other types of drives, too, such as a virtual clothing drive.

No matter how you approach peer-to-peer fundraising, be sure to consider everything you need to create an effective peer-to-peer fundraising campaign—from planning and launching your campaign, to recruiting participants and tracking your campaign’s success. And, remember to provide your fundraisers with the tools and support they need to be successful. They have a connection to your mission and want to take on the extra work of fundraising. Help them by providing suggested email text that they can send to their friends and family, text to post on their social media channels, and friendly reminders and tips via email, text, and phone calls to keep them motivated in their fundraising.

There are almost limitless ways you can use the peer-to-peer fundraising model to raise funds and engage with supporters. With inspiration, some time, and the right peer-to-peer tools for the job, you can take your campaigns in exciting new directions.

About Mark

Mark Becker, Cathexis PartnersFor more than a decade, Mark has used his deep experience with CRM, CMS, and fundraising software for nonprofits to help organizations get the most from their existing technology tools, implement new technology to address gaps, and find the best overall approach to using technology to support their missions.