Grab some coffee and sit with me for a few minutes and think about how your year and your projects are going.  Are you adhering to the goals you had set for the year?  Or, do you feel as though things are going off the rails a bit?

At the beginning of the year, I made a resolution.  It’s something that I hadn’t done in a long time.  I said I would define 2015 by focus—I would focus on the things which matter most, recognize my capabilities and let go of the things that don’t hold a lot of long-term value.  In my resolution post, I encouraged nonprofit professionals to do the same and to take a step back and focus on the strategies and projects which would yield the best results.

It’s April, so I figure it’s a good time for a gut check on my own resolution, and a good time for your organization to do the same. 

While my resolution and 2015 focus challenge was pretty generalized to online marketing for nonprofits, I would like to apply it to a specific type of fundraising, my favorite topic in fundraising: peer-to-peer.

Question: Taylor, why did it take you until March to get focused on “focus” for your favorite fundraising topic?

Answer: I’ve been writing other blogs and papers.  Yes, it’s definitely time for a Springtime gut check. Wink, wink.

Whether you need a little a post-St. Patty’s day hangover clarity or some “umph” to psych yourself up for Spring events, let’s challenge each other this April to a greater level of focus for peer-to-peer fundraising in the remainder of 2015. Let’s talk about three areas of focus for peer- to-peer fundraising, which everyone in the P2P space should be evaluating from time to time and zeroing in on to make sure you have laser sharp focus (I’m talking “sharks with laser beams” focus).

Are you ready?


Take a vow to evaluate these three things in your peer-to-peer program this year.  If you have time to make changes for Spring or Fall events, do it!  If not, at least start talking about what positive changes you can make for 2016.  Focus in 2015 to make positive change in 2016.

1. Event Sign Up Form.

Are you asking too many questions? Are you asking the right questions?  Who has time for twenty questions, anyways?  There are definitely questions you need to ask during registration.  But, sometimes I think we want to collect certain data points just for the sake of having more data.  I mean, it feels good to have more data, doesn’t it?  It feels powerful sitting on top of a mountain of data, right?  True….sometimes.  It can also be overwhelming.

Take a step back.  Focus.  Look at the data you are collecting and ask yourself this question: Am I doing anything with this data?

Focus in on the data you’re using.  Is it useful?  Or, is it time to re-evaluate the data you’r collecting during your registration process?  A clunky registration process– one due to too many unnecessary questions — can be the stopping point for people.  If it’s too difficult or asks just a hair too much personal information (information which seems unnecessary), people can and WILL walk away.  I know.  I’ve done it.

Remember, it’s easier to walk away at the beginning of a relationship. 

Don’t let that be a choice.  Ask what you need to ask—questions relevant to why someone would be signing up for your event—and don’t ask much else.  Well, at least not in the beginning.  There are always ways and touch points in which to gather additional data later.  Profiling campaigns, surveys within your online participant fundraising center, and personal touch points like phone calls are great opportunities to tap into the more personal information you need to help build the individual relationships with participants.

2. Event Program (and distances).

With your event, are you trying to be all things to all people? Or are you sticking to your guns and keeping with the original spirit and format of your event, and your mission? Over the years, I’ve had some interesting conversations on this particular topic with a variety of organizations evaluating a variety of events.

Questions like this come up:

  • Should we add more distances?
  • Should we change the fundraising minimums?
  • What always seems to come to the surface is that when you try to be too many events in one, or cater to too many people, you can dilute the mission of the event.

You can dilute the original target market for your event.   Those who signed up for your event because it was focused—very specific either around the event itself or the mission—eventually become confused or bored.

Don’t lose those participants.   Don’t let them find a new challenge.  Keep them coming back to your event by sticking to your guns about what your event is and what your event isn’t.  Keep them excited about recruiting new particpants.

Focus.  Look at your event: Are you trying to be too many events in one?

3. Coaching In Segments.

In the same manner that segmenting your online fundraising campaigns is vital to keeping your reader’s interest and building upon your relationship with them, peer-to-peer coaching communications require the same level of thought.

It’s pretty simple, really.  If I’m a team captain, I want news and information pertinent to team captains.  If I’m an event volunteer, I want to know what volunteers need to know.  If I’m an individual participant, I want to know how I can make a difference on my own, and perhaps I want to know how I can get tapped into the event network or meet a team to join.  Event segmentation doesn’t even have to be that complicated.

One of the simplest distinctions to make is this: Did the participant sign up as an individual, member of a team, team captain or volunteer?  

From there, you can look at things like event participation type, fundraising goals and milestones as they are achieved to get even more targeted.

When you have an hour to block off, grab a coffee, take a walk, sit down in a comfy chair and meditate a little on these three things.  Think about what is going well and what is not going well and determine how you can adjust your focus and fine-tune.

You can achieve peer-to-peer fundraising zen.  This is your year.


Taylor Shanklin is a peer-to-peer boss lady, full-time mom and part-time marketing consultant in the non-profit sector.  Prior to her leap into full-time motherhood, Taylor spent an eight year tenure at Convio and then Blackbaud. In her time at Blackbaud she worked with organizations large and small and worn many hats.  She has led numerous Luminate Online and TeamRaiser implementations, and  has worked as a strategy consultant with the Go! program.  Some of her peer-t-peer projects included working with Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day, National MS Society, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Great Strides, and ALS Association’s Community of Hope.

Taylor (a.k.a., T-Shank) is a total coffee addict and has a particular affinity for peer-to-peer fundraising and has completed several Team in Training events with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, receiving her triple crown for having competed in cycling, triathlon and marathon events. When not working, she is busy chasing around her two kiddos, lifting weights and getting in a little guilty TV time.  Originally from Austin, TX, she and her husband are huge UT Longhorn fans.  You can follow Taylor on twitter @tshankcycles and find her blogging on npENGAGE. Hook ‘em

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