If you’re a nonprofit or other fundraising professional, you might be tempted to handle all of the fundraising of your organization alone. But, let’s be real— you can’t ask and answer your own question (at least, not every time). Sometimes, sourcing help from your organization’s base of support is the best way to reach your fundraising goals. That’s when it’s time to empower them with peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising.
Now, just because your most ardent supporters (rather than your nonprofit’s staff) are now fundraising on your behalf doesn’t mean that you can just sit back, relax, and watch the donations flow in. It’s just as important to focus on leadership in your next P2P campaign as it is in your higher-stakes development campaigns, though the definition of “leadership” might be slightly different.
We’re going to explore four reasons to focus on leadership in your next P2P fundraiser:
- Leaders allow you to conduct peer-to-peer fundraising, at all.
- You’re able to cultivate nonprofit brand ambassadors.
- You can add a competitive element to signature events.
- It’s important to lead by example.
P2P fundraising evokes many types of leaders, from the volunteer fundraisers themselves to your nonprofit’s staff. Focusing on cultivating those leaders will reap great rewards for your next campaign. Let’s discover how.
1. Leaders allow you to conduct peer-to-peer fundraising, at all.
It’s simple: peer-to-peer fundraising wouldn’t exist without leaders to begin with. Whether a leader of their own personal social group or a leader on a larger scale, each of your volunteer peer-to-peer fundraisers is a leader in their own right.
P2P drastically extends the influence of your mission, because your donors are collecting gifts from their social networks, who then might share the campaign with their social networks. This structure allows your influence and message to spread quickly when powered by the right leaders!
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a practice of delegation— in that you’re delegating the task of fundraising out to your most ardent supporters. Some people are nervous to delegate, and that’s understandable! By focusing on leaders that you’re delegating this fundraising to (your peer-to-peer campaigners), you can remove much of that stress.
There are a few best practices when it comes to focusing on your P2P leadership, your volunteer campaigners, and giving them that extra guidance and motivation:
- Tell your story. Create an overall P2P fundraising campaign page and make sure it clearly articulates your nonprofit’s story, why you’re raising gifts, and what you plan to do with them. Arm those creating personal campaign pages with this central resource so they’re well prepared to represent you to their audiences.
- Motivate with merchandise. Your P2P fundraisers probably aren’t full-time professionals in the field of fundraising. Throughout the campaign, they may need an extra push to keep their motivation running strong, and nonprofit merchandise is a great way to do that! Consider setting milestones for your fundraisers to hit and reward them with branded merch (think: a nonprofit t-shirt) when they do.
- Use friendly competition. Consider incorporating leaderboards or fundraising thermometers in your P2P campaign and rewarding supporters with the most success. It will help participants feel even more invested in the campaign overall and make it just a little bit more fun for everyone involved.
- Remain hands-on. Interact with your campaigners and make sure they have all of the collateral they may need, whether donation request templates or other campaign support items. Further, update your fundraisers of their progress so they know you’re invested in their success.
They may not be who you think of when discussing leaders in your nonprofit, but those hosting personal campaigns are the leaders and faces of your P2P fundraiser. While it’s the people in their extended circles that are technically donating funds, you need to activate the peer fundraiser to spread the word first.
2. You’re able to cultivate nonprofit brand ambassadors.
Success as a peer-to-peer fundraiser usually equates to having a large social following or a particularly generous, albeit smaller social following. Maybe it’s a combination of the two! Regardless, raising a ton of money through a personal P2P page usually means you’ve made impactful connections with quite a few people that were willing to give.
This means that if you pay attention to those who are particularly successful in your P2P fundraising campaigns— the leaders— you’re separating out those who have the most impactful followings. These are the best people to make nonprofit brand ambassadors going forward.
The ideal brand ambassador is:
- An ardent supporter, such as someone who would want to hold their own P2P campaign for your mission in the first place.
- Someone with strong social connections, i.e. someone that’s super successful when holding said P2P campaign.
Basically, these people need to believe in your nonprofit’s mission and be willing to share it with others to great success.
Focus on these leaders of your P2P campaign and look for potential brand ambassadors. Equip these ambassadors with all the tools they need to spread the word, including nonprofit merchandise, visual collateral like images, social media hashtags, and even event tickets.
In return, ask these ambassadors to simply share why they’re invested in your nonprofit’s work with their greater networks— many of whom were already willing to give, considering the success of your P2P campaign. Beyond that, consider taking this a step further by engaging these supporters in peer-to-peer ambassador fundraising, something you can read more about in the next section.
3. You can add a competitive element to signature events.
Ambassador Fundraising takes P2P fundraising to the next level by leveraging the practice in conjunction with any type of fundraising event, such as galas, auctions, or golf outings.
Organizations can call on ambassadors, highly visible supporters/champions, to supercharge their events. These ambassadors fundraise in the weeks leading up to the event, increasing the event’s visibility and overall bottom line. It engages your most ardent supporters before/during/after the event, it connects your event to a larger audience, and it allows you to raise donations before the event even begins— Ambassador Fundraising is a great solution!
Here’s how it works:
- Choose ambassadors and equip them with social fundraising tools.
- Set them loose to fundraise in the weeks or months leading up to your event.
- At your event, select the winning ambassador and reward them!
Rewarding an ambassador fundraiser could mean allowing the winning supporter to emcee your charity auction— a worthwhile event that you can learn more about through this guide by OneCause. Or, it could simply mean publicly recognizing the winner and awarding a trophy at the event.
Singling out leaders in your P2P processes in this manner, both rewarding a winner and appointing ambassadors at all, is a great way to show love to your donors. It proves that you’re paying attention to the work they’re doing on behalf of your nonprofit, and that appreciation can go a long way.
Further, as many nonprofits hold annual events, this is a great way to ensure donors don’t grow bored with your fundraising. Ambassador fundraising adds a bit of excitement to the regular signature event, providing a new experience year-after-year!
4. It’s important to lead by example.
One of the biggest perks of P2P fundraising is that it exposes your nonprofit to a world of new supporters. However, that exposure is moot if you’re not building authentic relationships with each new supporter along the way!
P2P campaigners are the conduits through which those new relationships are built, and they’re doing so because someone within your organization (or maybe a supporter outside of your organization) drew them in and inspired them to do so. Each new relationship built is a reflection of the one before it, which means your nonprofit needs to look inward to make sure it’s setting a good example.
Ensure your nonprofit is being transparent about the work you’re completing and sharing your nonprofit’s story genuinely. It’s crucial that supporters trust your process to truly “buy-in” to contributing.
Further, if you’re holding a P2P campaign for supporters to participate in, you better have some of your nonprofit’s staffers and leadership participating as well! When participants see your nonprofit’s leadership working just as hard as they are to raise P2P funding, they’ll feel motivated to keep going.
You also need to set a good example for how to thank donors. This could mean your nonprofit’s staffers calling generous donors personally, or simply making sure every single P2P contributor receives a thank-you email after giving. Explore this tip and many more in this list of peer-to-peer fundraising best practices by OneCause.
There are leaders of all forms in peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, from P2P campaigners to brand ambassadors, and even your nonprofit’s internal leadership! Just as with any other nonprofit effort, you want to cultivate these leaders and well-connected supporters for lifelong support.
Focus on the leaders of your next P2P campaign, ensuring they’re prepared to lead and feel appreciated and respected for doing so. Watch your fundraising success now (and in the future!) grow through the practice. Happy fundraising!