For many participants, simply showing up for an event is enough to prove their dedication to a cause. But over the past few years, there’s been a surge in those who go the extra mile and make their own donation. This can mostly be credited to enhanced strategic presence of the donation option and increased attention on participant donations by nonprofit staff.
By making a donation, participants are saying they care enough to be personally invested in your cause. And that comes with even more good news – according to the recently released 2014 Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising study, donors make better fundraisers.
How can we encourage more participant donations?
1. Stop calling participant donations “self donations”
Outside of the world of professional fundraising, people have no idea what “self donation”, “self gift”, or “self pledge” means. To them, it’s simply a “donation”! Cut these meaningless terms from your vocabulary and start talking to people in a way they readily understand.
Be the first to make a donation and show how important it is to protect our rivers!
2. Make the donation step less of an option
When designing your event registration process, there’s no need to sheepishly ask a participant if they “might be interested in maybe making a donation.” Instead, make it an inherent part of the process. Provide something that participants will be energized by!
I can’t wait to do the Run to Save Sea Lions in October! In the meantime, I want to protect them NOW by giving $___!
3. Be transparent about your registration fee
How are you positioning your registration fee? Is it a barrier to entry and something that needs to be constantly discounted or waived? Or is it something that helps defray event costs? Don’t assume participants know why you have a registration fee. Be transparent about where the money goes. And even if you have a registration fee you can absolutely ask for a donation as well. Use language that reinforces the difference between a fee and a donation.
Your registration fee gets you to the start line, but your donation gets us one step closer to a cure.
4. Registration isn’t the only time to ask for a donation
Your participants should be given a variety of opportunities to make a gift. Make sure any donation links you offer to them go directly their personal donation form so they don’t have to go through a search process.
- In coaching emails, provide a link to make a donation
- In their fundraising center, create a pop-up or overlay that encourages a donation
- At the registration table, “sell” $25 pinups that can be displayed with their name at the finish line
5. Personalize communications based on whether a gift was made
If a donation was not made at registration, include a soft ask in your registration confirmation email. Invite the participant to kickstart their fundraising today by being the first donor to their fundraising page. Continue to suggest making a donation throughout your welcome series, and be sure the ask is only being seen by those who did not become a donor since registration.
Success! Your participants made a donation! Now what? Let’s help them become great fundraisers. In your welcome series and other communications, tailor the message by thanking them for their donation and provide the next step in the fundraising process. Try not to overwhelm participants by giving them lots of tasks. Instead ask them to do one thing. For example, you can ask them to change the picture on their personal page to something that supports your mission. One action often leads to another!
What other ideas do you have to encourage participants to make their own donation? Leave a comment and let me know!
There is LOTS more P2P Benchmark data where this came from!
- Download the new 2014 Peer-to-Peer Benchmark Study
- Watch an on-demand webinar about the Study (click “watch the recording”, and register to access the recording)
- Read more about participant loyalty stats