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The holidays are a crucial time for those of us in nonprofit work, and with #GivingTuesday just around the corner, you’re likely deep into the planning process, and maybe already executing parts of your strategy for year-end giving. But there’s one key tactic that we want to make sure you’re prioritizing in your plans—a peer-to-peer fundraising strategy. So let’s jump in!
Back to the basics
While traditional fundraising is top-down—often involving one central campaign that leaders of an organization broadcast throughout their channels—peer-to-peer fundraising focuses instead on one-to-one personal relationships and word of mouth. Why is this more effective? Because 92% of Americans trust friend referrals over any other form of marketing. This means your existing supporters have more influence over potential supporters in their circle of peers than you do—an important fact not to be overlooked.
At its core, a peer-to-peer fundraising strategy is just another form of distributing leadership to your community.
So what does peer-to-peer look like?
The peer-to-peer engagement model places your organization at the center, followed immediately by your key supporters, who you give incentives and tools to reach out to their friends and family, so the cycle can continue. Those new supporters reach out to their friends and family, and so on, and you end up with what looks like a never-ending snowflake. But don’t underestimate the humble snowflake—the powerful nature of this model is in the strength of the relationships that hold it together.
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Getting started with peer-to-peer
To get the ball rolling, you’ll need to identify your key supporters. The criteria for defining key supporters aren’t all that different from what you look for in close friends—they’re the ones who show up, stay in touch, and are there for you when you need them most.
Think about who has been at a ton of fundraising events, always on it when replying to emails and texts, and jumps in to volunteer whenever you need an extra hand. Those are your key supporters.
But keeping track of all this information in your head is impossible, particularly when you have a growing supporter base. To effectively stay on top of who your key supporters are, you’ll need a powerful integrated database.
There, you can track all this information and more—like how often or how much someone has donated, how many followers they have on Twitter, and even whether they donated last #GivingTuesday.
With this data at your fingertips, you’ll know which supporters to reach out to as you create your peer-to-peer fundraising strategy.
Giving your supporters the tools they need to succeed
Once you’ve identified your top supporters, you’ll need to equip them with the resources to effectively reach out to their friends and family. The tactics you use to do so can range from quick and easy to a bit more complex and involved—it’s just a matter of the tools and time you have available to employ them. Let’s take a look:
Social media is likely already a part of your fundraising strategy, but its role shouldn’t stop at simply putting your message out there—you need to pay careful attention to how you’re putting your message out there.
The fact is, we know your supporters are likely to be more persuasive in asking their friends and family to donate—so, hand them the figurative mic. By providing them with pre-written copy they can share via social media, or better yet, having a social share prompt pop up to urge them to let their friends know they’ve donated, and ask them to join—you give them quick and easy ways to expand the reach of your fundraising campaign in mere seconds.
But don’t stop there—you’ll want to know which of your supporters are bringing in new donors with this type of outreach. With recruiter IDs, you’ll have the ability to track who from your key supporter list is making waves for your cause (something that’ll come in handy for both future asks and knowing who to thank).
To help your supporters stay motivated and keep the bigger picture top of mind, it’s always good to have a progress bar that displays movement toward your fundraising goal. And, if the progress bar is public, it becomes an impactful way for your supporters to share with their friends and family just how close your organization is to reaching its goal (or how far and in need of dire help)—and move more people to action with a helpful visual.
And, don’t forget recognition can be a strong motivator in and of itself. For example, incorporating a leaderboard into your campaign will help showcase your top recruiters and provide them with a sense of acknowledgement, while also gamifying the process, which is helpful for increasing overall engagement with some friendly competition.
When your top supporters start to become heavily involved in your organization—you know it’s time to put your distributed leadership skills to the test. Their excitement about your cause is #nonprofitgoals, and to take full advantage of it, you’ll need to give them more trust and responsibility.
With a personal fundraising page, you allow them to voice their own connection to your cause, and use their unique point of view to help guide their outreach to friends and family, making it all the more likely to resonate. Plus, it gives them a space to track their progress on an individual level, thus providing them with a sense of ownership over the goal.
What’s more—your key supporters can also take their outreach offline and into their community by hosting their own events. By tapping into their ability to meet potential supporters face to face and speak on behalf of your organization, you greatly expand the circle of people you’re effectively able to reach, both by allowing them to hear from people they’re closer to and trust, and by making fundraising events more accessible to communities you might not have the ability to reach directly.
As you may have noticed, trust is a big theme with peer-to-peer fundraising—and our final tip requires leaning heavily into the trust you have in your supporters. The tip is this: give them access to your database or advanced infrastructure, and allow them to run entire chapters or regions of your supporters themselves.
We know it can feel difficult to let go and allow others to take the reins, but know that in the long-run, the pros outweigh the cons when you have a supporter willing and ready to take on more responsibility. And you have to be ready with the tools that’ll allow you to give them the information and ownership over their work that they need to help your cause.
To make this process easier, we’ve built customizable permission sets into our product, that can conform to each supporter's involvement with your cause, allowing them to see the information they need, while restricting the information they don’t.
Showing your gratitude
Your supporters are your lifeblood. Without them, your organization wouldn’t be what it is today and it wouldn’t be able to get where it’s going.
So, how do you say “thanks, you’re awesome!” to tens, hundreds, or thousands of supporters without losing too much sleep? The answer is pretty simple—it’s all in the way you manage your supporter data. With an integrated database, you know exactly who to thank, and for what, and with a feature like smart fields, you can plug in that information into your emails in just a few seconds.
You can show your thanks for your community in a variety of other ways, too.
For example, rewarding them by giving them a shout-out on your website or newsletter, or reaching out with a personal phone call or letter of gratitude—these are easy ways to show you appreciate the work they do to further your cause, without relying on too much time or money from your overall efforts.
Or, if you’re able, you can host special events for your key supporters to come together and connect about their passion for your cause, or even give out gift cards or raffle tickets for one big prize.
This giving season, make sure you’re tapping into your key supporters as a resource to hit your end of year fundraising goals—you’ll be surprised what a big difference it can make.