It’s no secret that returning peer-to-peer event participants are more engaged and raise more money than new participants. Returning participants are passionate, loyal, and effective fundraisers. As common sense dictates, and as the upcoming Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising study confirms,  they are the solid base of your event.

What are you doing to make sure participants can’t get enough of your cause and your event? 

Keep them coming back for more by applying what you already know about loyalty!

new vs returning

What can we learn from the pre-commitment?

Before leaving a salon, they ask you to make another appointment. After getting an oil change, you get a sticker with information on when you should come back. Having people make a pledge or a commitment in advance increases the likelihood that they’ll return. If you’ve made your event an unforgettable experience (and hopefully you have!), use that to your advantage!

Find ways to capitalize on participant enthusiasm and ask them to immediately commit to the next event – provide a calendar invite they can easily access from their phone at the event, give them the option to sign up to be the first to know when the next event is announced, or ask them to take a public pledge to continue fighting for your cause. Be sure to remind them of their pledge when you’re asking them to come back!

What can we learn from consumer loyalty programs?

For years, nonprofits have been creating fundraising tiers and programs that reward participants for their fundraising. While this practice should absolutely continue, it’s time to get serious about recognizing participants who come back year after year. Look to frequent traveler programs, retail loyalty cards, and even credit card points systems for ideas.

If you worry that your data isn’t good enough, trust your participants to tell you how long they’ve been involved and start tracking it. Develop an alumni program for your veterans and be sure to present them with gifts and recognition that allow them to show off their years of involvement both at and away from the event.

What can all peer-to-peer events learn from cycling events?

P2P Retention from StudyAs seen here, more than half of cycling event attendees are repeat participants and these events seem to have the market cornered on participant loyalty.

Cycling events offer a “choose your own adventure” event experience that can be challenging, while also including all skill levels. Through the activity of riding, riders feel a sense of community, even though not all of them are necessarily connected to the cause.

Look for ways to provide fun options for all your participants at your event. Add a stroller jog to your 5k, or build excitement throughout your walk course by providing optional components, like a maze. These activities give participants another element to unite around and look forward to year after year.

Think about other brands and activities you’re loyal to and focus on what they’re doing to keep you coming back for more. Participant retention is hard work, but by looking for inspiration in other places, chances are you know more about how to retain them than you think you do!

Join me for a more in-depth look at the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising study in two upcoming webinars.  

Not Just a Number in the Crowd: How Each Participant Impacts an Event
Tuesday, June 30 | 2:00 p.m. ET

It Takes a Team: How Team Performance Affects Your Bottom Line
Wednesday, July 8 | 2:00 p.m. ET


Shana Masterson has been a fundraiser since 2001. In 2014, she joined Blackbaud as a senior consultant. Her unique skill set as both a peer to peer fundraiser and a technologist allows her to focus on maximizing peer to peer campaign revenue through success planning, road mapping, communication calendaring, configuration recommendations and more.

Prior to joining Blackbaud, Shana led the American Diabetes Association’s online fundraising and communication strategy for the national special events team. She also worked for the National Brain Tumor Society, the American Cancer Society and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Connect with Shana on Twitter or Linkedin.

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