Your Small Staff Can Make a Big Impact Using P2P Fundraising | npENGAGE

Your Small Staff Can Make a Big Impact Using Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

By on Sep 11, 2019


Healthcare, Nonprofit, Nonprofit Fundraising

So, you’ve seen the fundraisers that your friends and organizations are doing on your social media feed. Some are reaching out to friends and family for contributions for a cause they care about.  Others are combining their fundraising with a fitness challenge or some other personal goal or celebration.

Social media and personal networks are powerful, but what is it your friends are doing, exactly, and how does it work? Does it actually work?

Can you and your staff make it work for your organization?  The time to find out has never been better.

At Major Health Foundation, we were intrigued and wanted to try. It is just the two of us and through a few campaigns we were able to raise more than $10,000… and we learned a lot along the way.

What is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?

Your friends who are asking for contributions for a cause they care about are doing something called “peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising.” Friends who are doing fundraisers that tie their requests to a personal challenge, celebration, or event are doing “do it yourself (DIY) fundraising.”  Neither concept is brand new, but the upsurge in their popularity indicates that something must be working.

Download the 2019 Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study

Here’s why. In traditional fundraising, an organization or its staff are asking for contributions.  Donors may be impressed by the organization’s mission, impact or track record, and they make a contribution.  History shows us that traditional fundraising works, but it’s not effective with every type of donor. Its reach must be broad, and it’s hit or miss unless the organization has done careful research. Organizations with a small staff may not have time for that kind of research, and even if they do, calling on potential donors is time-consuming and generally requires a lot of follow up. And, direct mail, a traditional fundraising staple, calls for a generous budget.

Why Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?

In P2P fundraising, donors see that their friends, as opposed to a faceless organization, are asking for a contribution for a cause that is important to them personally. Perhaps they have set a goal, and ideally they even have a personal reason for caring about the organization’s mission.

Find out how to simplify your peer-to-peer campaigns.

We did a peer-to-peer campaign to raise money for Baby & Me Tobacco Free, a program that gives free diapers to expectant mothers every time they test tobacco free. Our biggest champions were parents of program participants and the nurse navigator who wrote the original grant. Their friends – who we might not normally reach – knew how important this program was to them and wanted to help.

We only had 14 fundraisers, but they raised a total of $6,192.

What is DIY Fundraising?

DIY is similar, but the friend has attached their own hobby, talent, activity or event to their fundraising. For example, you know that your friend is an avid runner who is trying to reach a personal record, and they are issuing a challenge to you to motivate them with contribution to an organization they care about.

We fell into a DIY campaign when only one fundraiser stepped up in a P2P campaign we were trying. We moved a basketball-themed bracket campaign into a pop-a-shot campaign where all hospital staff rallied to help one physician raise enough money to get a matching gift. Our average donation was $53!

A very popular DIY social media trend right now is asking for contributions to an organization in celebration of a birthday instead of a personal gift. Do you want to help your friend reach a personal record or wish them a happy birthday?  Of course you do!  And, there’s a little button right there on their Facebook post that will do it with just a few key clicks, complete with a personal message from you.  Easy!  You feel good about it, your friend appreciates your support, and the organization receives your contribution.

Is it Easy Money?

Like any successful fundraising, it takes work. But, organizations with a small staff might be the best suited for P2P or DIY fundraising.

Your first post will probably never go viral and contributions will not suddenly stuff your mailbox (our first try was a big failure). However, if you’re willing to run a few campaigns and to study the results, you can develop your own best practices for what works in your community, and recruit new fundraisers, new donors, and new friends in the process.

Eventually, with time and work, the process will become organic and require less and less guidance from you and your staff, and voila!  Your small staff has effectively built a terrific fundraising network.

Join Angela and KaLeigh for their bbcon session, Two Steps Forward: Growing Your Peer-to-Peer Results,” to hear all their lessons learned and the six best practices they developed. Register today!


Angela Gill is the executive director of the Major Hospital Foundation in Shelbyville, Indiana, and has twenty-five years of fund development and philanthropy experience.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Philanthropic Studies from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and sits on their alumni board.  She has two children and will become a grandmother for the first time in May.  She enjoys weightlifting and beating her nephews in arm wrestling competitions.

KaLeigh Lee is the administrative assistant of the Major Hospital Foundation in Shelbyville, Indiana. She began working in the nonprofit world in February 2018. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Franklin College, and she is a currently a graduate student at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. She is a volunteer manager at Rupert’s Kids Arcade, and she sits on the planning committee for the local Relay for Life chapter. She is an Alfred Hitchcock fanatic, and she spends most of her time at home painting with her new husband and small zoo of pets.

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