When we discuss peer-to-peer fundraising our focus often is on the online components; however, the offline activities surrounding our event allow us to improve relationships and connections with our supporters, thus potentially improving our online outcomes. While today we tend to talk from inboxes and social media feeds, we still need the human touch to develop and grow relationships. And these relationships can be vital to fundraising success. Below are some ideas on how your organization can engage your supporters by paralleling some offline activities with those online.

Event Kick Off
Generate excitement by kick starting your event with your supporters in person. Organize a fun outing allowing your supporters to meet each other and giving teams to the time to consort. Here your organization can provide fundraising tips and share this year’s financial and mission related goals. This is also a great opportunity to give props to last year’s top fundraisers and show your appreciation before diving into the hard core fundraising.

AIDS Arms Lifewalk coordinators found a creative way to kick off their event and promote fundraising on day one. Six months before their event, all teams are invited to attend a kickoff party which includes a silent auction. Any money participants spend that evening on individual auction items is credited toward the participant or team’s goal. So fundraising begins the night of the kickoff!

Onsite Training
Do your fundraisers know how to use the online tools your organization provides them? By offering a training opportunity, your organization shows that you are invested in their fundraising success. It also provides a great opportunity to interact with team captains that may be new to your fundraising campaign.

Valencia College Foundation invited their FirstONE campaign team captains to train at a campus computer lab where they registered, created a fundraising page, and learned how to use the online tools. At the kickoff event, they extended the learning piece by setting up different stations where people could learn various aspects of the campaign including how to create a fundraising page to solicit gifts. Additionally, the development staff hosted a help line where fundraisers could call should any questions arise during the campaign.

Host a Mini-Event

Team RMHC runners cook brunch at a local chapter after a quick training run. The gathering allows the fundraisers to become more connected to the organization's mission and compliments their online fundraising efforts. Image courtesy of Ronald McDonald House Charities, Inc.

Team RMHC runners cook brunch at a local chapter after a quick training run. The gathering allows the fundraisers to become more connected to the organization’s mission and compliments their online fundraising efforts. Image courtesy of Ronald McDonald House Charities, Inc.

Somewhere in between those six to eight months before your event; provide an opportunity to bring your participants together. Auctions, volunteer days and meet-up groups are popular offline mini-events that bring the organization’s participants and supporters together.

Ronald McDonald House Charities Inc.’s Team RMHC Chicago Marathon participants have several opportunities to run and train together. Leading up to the marathon, their event coordinator hosts a run and brunch at a local chapter house. Participants meet for a short training run early in the morning, and then cook brunch at the house where they have the opportunity to meet the children and families the funds are supporting. Talk about a great way to connect the participant to the mission!

And I know what you are going to say, “But we don’t have time to organize another event!” Get creative! Consider asking your sponsors and supporters to assist you with this effort to show how they are socially responsible. Contact your local barista to host a day to raise awareness giving supporters the opportunity to meet you, and learn more about your upcoming event and your mission. Ask a sponsoring restaurant to host a happy hour on your behalf or to donate a percentage of each meal to the organization and invite participants and supporters. And if that still seems too much, mobilize your team captains to host their own mini-events (pot-luck dinners, garage sales, bake sales, etc.) to raise money and awareness for you. They can turn in the money raised and get credit for it online.

Pick Up the Phone
Find your outliers, your top 10 or so fundraisers or team captains, and check in with them about their efforts. No answer? No problem.  Even if you are leaving a voicemail, the simple effort of picking up a phone can go a long way.

And if they do pick up the phone there are a number of directions you can go with the conversation. Start by thanking them for being involved!! This could be the most important part of reaching out, even if you find nothing else to talk about. But if your participant is willing to chat it may not only foster a stronger connection, but provide you with a wealth of information.  Find out what has made them so successful this far, can you assist them in their efforts, how do they keep their team so motivated?  Keep the call short and if they have several questions or comments, consider setting up a coffee or lunch meeting where you can really take time to listen and dig into their ideas or concerns. You may learn some interesting things about your participants and your event.

Remember, peer-to-peer fundraising works when our supporters reach out to their network, their relationships. Continuing to build those relationships between your own organization and participants is essential for fundraising success. These offline activities bring the human touch back into your online fundraising event by giving supporters an opportunity to learn, provide feedback, connect and, perhaps, foster a stronger sense of community within your event.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As a Blackbaud consultant, Jennifer Peters combines her knowledge and nonprofit experience to help customers maximize their fundraising potential with Blackbaud Sphere’s Friends Asking Friends. Jennifer loves seeing her client’s peer-to-peer fundraising websites move from thought to fruition. Her day to day activities allow her to work with a variety of organizations to build their online fundraising site while guiding them with best practices along the way.

Prior to joining Blackbaud, Jennifer served the nonprofit sector through various development and communication roles with non-profit organizations such as Project Medishare for Haiti, Drug Prevention Resources, Inc., Alley’s House and The Mended Hearts, Inc. Her background consists of event planning, peer-to-peer fundraising and eMarketing.

When she’s not working, Jennifer can be found either walking her three dogs, hiking/kayaking/biking around White Rock Lake or traveling to satisfy her wanderluster soul.

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