Armed with a fundraising page, email tools and social media, peer-to-peer fundraisers turn their family and friends into donors. They reach out to people across the country and around the world. Several years ago, I had one friend reach his goal of finding a donor in all 50 states, and this got me thinking about what makes a campaign successful. So, I thought I’d share five ways your organization can increase peer-to-peer fundraising revenue.
1. Make Top Fundraisers Part of the Family
Though your top peer-to-peer fundraisers can often account for one-third to half of the total amount raised, how much are they actually involved in your event?
Consider inviting several of your top fundraisers to your next planning meeting. Ask them what can be improved, and what they would do differently. Find out how they raised their money and what additional help your organization could have provided. Tell them your initial plans for 2011 and listen to their feedback. Let them know their input is important, and make it easy for them to feel involved and invested in the success of the event.
For starters, it will ease your fears that they will stop participating. With top fundraisers raising $10k, $20k or more annually, ensuring their participation over the next 3-5 years should be a priority. When you add in everything else they do, from being an ambassador of the event to raising your organization’s profile in the community, it’s easy to see why these are relationships worth developing.
Don’t stop there, though. Offer them tours and arrange meetings with senior staff members. Follow them on Twitter and retweet relevant posts. Meet for coffee occasionally. Send a birthday card. As Amy Braiterman likes to say, when a top fundraiser starts sending you holiday cards, you have formed a deep relationship with that participant.
Learn why they are involved, what motivates them, and engage them through different channels. Show them what impact their donations will have. In other words, take a page from how you approach major giving and begin treating your top fundraisers the same.
The Ride For Roswell has had great success involving their top fundraisers over the past seven years. Top fundraisers have become important members of their event planning teams, often taking leadership roles in logistics, marketing and fundraising committees. Their energy and passion has helped fuel an incredible growth from $330,000 raised in 2003 to $2.8 million in 2010.
2. Involve Team Captains
Team captains are a great place to start if you’re looking to increase event revenue. The more involved team captains are, the more team members they are likely to recruit. Larger teams mean more people raising more money.
How can you engage team captains? Similar to top fundraisers, find ways to involve them and connect them to the cause. Ask what can be improved, invite them to planning meetings and send team captain-specific surveys. Consider holding a team captain kickoff meeting before registration opens to explain what’s new, what concerns you have addressed and why donations are needed more than ever.
You may also try waiving their registration fee and pre-registering their team to make things easier. Most importantly, let them know their efforts are appreciated and what impact their past efforts have made.
3. Provide Event Donors with Opportunities to Become More Involved
As donor acquisition declined from 2005-2009, peer-to-peer fundraising was one way to find new donors. Especially in the early years of an event, up to 90% of peer-to-peer donors can be new donors. However, new donors are the most difficult to renew. If you can get new donors to a second gift, though, the likelihood increases dramatically that they will give a third gift.
So how can you cultivate new peer-to-peer donors and get them to give again? Here are a few ideas:
- On the donation form, ask donors if they would like to opt in to your organization’s newsletter. You could also ask if they would like to become more involved by receiving news alerts, program information or event invitations.
- Continue engaging them in the donation confirmation email. Include information on who you are and the people you serve. These donors may have given because a friend asked and not necessarily because they know your organization. In addition, provide links of other ways they can get involved, such as upcoming events, current volunteer opportunities and becoming a Facebook fan.
- Update them on the final event results. Include money raised, number of participants, milestones reached, and plans for next year. Most importantly, let them know how donations were used. Every donor wants to know this, but it’s not always disclosed.
4. Offer Incentives & Foster Competition
Many people will raise funds because they want to help your cause. Others will because there is an incentive or because they are competitive. Make sure you account for all three groups.
For fundraisers motivated by incentives, think creatively about what “perks” you can offer. Would your sponsors sell you discounted gift cards? Offering gift cards to those who raise $500, $1,000, or more can be a powerful motivator to keep fundraising.
If gift cards are not in the budget, think of less expensive alternatives. Can perks like preferred parking, complimentary food, celebrity meet-and-greets, or massages be offered at the event? Make a list of all possible incentives you can offer and begin using them next year.
For those with a competitive side, provide an updated list of your top fundraisers and teams on your event home page and in email updates. Acknowledge and celebrate your top fundraisers and teams at every opportunity, including at the event.
YWCA of Calgary’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® has done both the past two years. They offered tiered prizes, hosted a special breakfast for top fundraisers and listed them on their website and in emails. In addition, the YWCA of Calgary gave the top individual and team fundraisers trophies with their names engraved. All of these incentives helped increase event revenue from $100,000 in 2008 to $180,000 in 2009.
5. Highlight Participant Stories
In addition to involving your top fundraisers and team captains, ask if you can tell their stories to other participants. Add top fundraiser and team “spotlights” to your website, emails and social media to describe what motivated your top fundraisers and teams, and how they raised so much money. This will provide inspiration and a fundraising blueprint for others participants. It will also build their confidence.
Hope these tips and best practices will help your organization improve its peer-to-peer fundraising efforts. I would love to hear about how you are managing your peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, so please leave a comment below!