Insights from the 2020 Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study

Insights from the 2020 Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study

By on Mar 30, 2021


peer-to-peer fundraising events, charity walks

The Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study is making its eleventh highly anticipated appearance on the desks of peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraisers everywhere. In 2020, with little warning and without any training in “pandemic-affected peer-to-peer fundraising,” this industry soldiered on and continued the necessary work needed to support critical missions. Though peer-to-peer fundraising faced declines last year, there are many bright spots and insights we can pull from our collective experiences and the data contained in this report.

The 2020 Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study has been released months ahead of its normal schedule to bring you data-driven recommendations to help guide your decision making this year and beyond. The data highlighted in this study represents a careful analysis of 687 organizations that produced 31,035 peer-to-peer fundraisers from January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020. More than 9.4 million people combined to raise over $1.3 billion during that two-year period. Data represents both overall metrics, as well as metrics in one of five fundraising categories:

  1. Walks/5Ks with a registration fee.
  2. Walks/5Ks without a registration fee.
  3. Cycling/Spinning events.
  4. Challenge events, such as marathons or personal dares.
  5. Do-it-yourself (DIY) fundraising.

Though many traditional events became DIY in 2020, previous walks, runs, rides, and other traditional events were included in the category they previously fit into for the purpose of this study.


A Sampling of the Data from the Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study

Online Registrations by Month

The first two months of 2020 started on a hopeful note. Registrations were up year-over-year, in a reversal of the trend we have been seeing over several years. But with the pandemic affecting numbers starting in March, April saw the largest decline in number of participants registering for an event. Though the trend line started to move in the same trajectory as in years past, the rebound was not as significant as many had hoped, with August seeing the “best” post-pandemic outcome. For the year, registrations were down 54%.

Online Fundraising by Month

In probably some of the best news of the study, as the pandemic wore on, fundraising started to catch up with previous years’ levels. Overall, online fundraising was down “only” 40%, which indicates that although participants numbered less, they continued to fundraise and, in some cases, fundraise more on average than previous years. It also points to the accelerated shift in funds from offline to online.

Online Fundraising Averages

Overall, the online fundraising average was up 35% year-over-year. When looking at that number alone, one might assume that due to steep declines in participation, the participants who remained were more dedicated to the mission. However, when digging deeper, fundraising averages were actually down in the Cycle and Challenge categories. The elimination of fundraising minimums for many of these types of events, as well as the removal of the culminating event, contributed to these declines.

For walks and 5Ks with and without fees, the organization’s mission tends to outweigh the interest in the activity, so when the activity was taken away, the drive to fundraise for those participants was not.


What does that mean for 2021?

  • Previously in-person events that continue to be offered as virtual-only will continue to see decreases as participants will not be motivated to register for this type of event for two consecutive years.
  • As more hybrid-style events (with safe in-person options) are offered, and participation increases, fundraising averages will decline for Walks and 5Ks, but increase for Cycle and Challenge events.


What else can I learn in the 2020 Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study?

The above is just the beginning of this 40+ page report filled with data, insights, and actionable recommendations to improve your 2021 P2P campaigns. You’ll also find:

  • Analysis and breakdowns of each P2P category to see how your specific campaign measures up.
  • In-depth fundraising metrics to benchmark your participants against.
  • Answers to burning questions, such as:
    • How did returning participants perform last year?
    • Did Facebook Fundraising benefit from pandemic-driven social media use?
    • How did news-worthy events affect crowdfunding?
  • Early indicators of how Spring 2021 events are stacking up.

While no one wants to relive 2020, we can reflect on the successes and challenges of the unprecedented year to carve a new path for P2P fundraising this year and beyond.

Download the 2020 Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study today for data, insights, and actionable recommendations to improve your 2021 P2P campaigns.


Shana Masterson has been a fundraiser since 2001, and now helps a number of organizations improve their fundraising in her role as a senior principal consultant at Blackbaud. 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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