A Solution for Fundraisers During COVID-19: How peer-to-peer fundraising can help nonprofits

How can peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising help nonprofits make up for cancelled events and lost revenue during this crisis? The answer is simple. Your most loyal and engaged donors still believe in your mission and want it to succeed. By “calling them to arms” and equipping donors with tools to fundraise for your cause, your nonprofit can grow your donations and reach new supporters.

There’s a lot written about P2P, DIY, and crowdfunding. But simply put, P2P should be about enlisting your “army” to fundraise on your behalf. If we think of giving as an opportunity for your donors instead of a transaction, P2P is a compelling new way to engage them for your cause. Your donors want to help, but pounding them with emails linked to a web form is no longer an effective approach. This doesn’t give them the opportunity to participate in anything more than a transaction. P2P has unlimited potential in times like these to help nonprofits serve their donors, and vice versa.

There are myriad statistics regarding P2P fundraising available on the web, but here are some highlights:

  • The average P2P fundraiser page raises $568
  • The average P2P fundraiser raises funds from 8 donors
  • The average P2P donation size is $66
  • There is a 35% average increase in giving when a goal meter is featured
  • Campaigns with personal videos raise 150% more than those without

While P2P has been around a long time, we haven’t experienced its full potential.  The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has created a need for nonprofits to innovate and raise funds digitally. When you can’t have an event, participate in a walk-a-thon, or meet face to face with major donors, nonprofits need a solution that is more than emails asking for funds. People want to help, and P2P campaigns can be appealing. They allow supporters to make a difference simply by personalizing an ask to their networks about a cause they deeply care about.

Unfortunately, P2P campaigns often are not planned out or executed appropriately. There are a lot of general tips and guides online for building P2P programs, such as developing a goal, targeting your supporters that have social circles, encouraging personalization, and even incentives. However, in these unprecedented times you have to be overtly strategic, conscious, and sensitive:

  • Ask for Permission First – In difficult times, you have to ask your donors for permission. Let them know you are aware they are facing their own challenges right now, and understand they may not be capable of helping.
  • Make the Barrier to Participate Small – Consider $10 or $20 challenges. Don’t make it hard to participate or create high expectations.
  • Avoid “You-Centric” Messaging – Make sure you focus on how donors feel and what they get out of it. Incentives are fine if they don’t come across as transactional, but the messaging should be about them, not you. Your donors are the heroes. Engage them in the idea that they are keeping your mission alive by doing this.

Finally, I know that like most Americans right now, you are doing all you can to survive and keep your mission moving forward. Now is the time to not only ask, but give your supporters an opportunity to serve you. Just remember to be sensitive and focus on how they can benefit by serving you. They want to do it, and they will.


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