It’s strange to me that peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising hasn’t caught on more in the nonprofit world.
Even as I write that, it feels like a straw man argument. Who says it hasn’t caught on?
This job provides me with the unique opportunity to speak with lots of fundraisers at lots of different nonprofits all over the country, and peer fundraising is something that I’ve noticed ranks low on the priority list when it comes to development opportunities.
Most fundraisers are familiar with peer fundraising when it comes to boards. The “give/get” model is pervasive throughout the sector. But when it comes to just general supporters who might be interested in raising money on their behalf, a lot of nonprofits are hesitant.
One reason for this that I frequently hear is that the development officers just don’t know how to get started, and more importantly, how to ensure that their peer fundraisers will be successful.
This is a reasonable concern. Afterall, your peer fundraisers aren’t professional development officers. They lack the skills, training, and experience that your seasoned fundraisers have that help them make asks and close gifts (even small ones).
But peer fundraisers have a much more manageable task; they’re raising smaller amounts, and typically just through their own social circles.
There are a few things you can do, however, to set them up for success. Think of this like preventative maintenance you do on your car: it seems like a lot of work for nothing up front, but the end result is a much more reliable machine that will payoff in the long run.
Give Them a CRM
Don’t have a panic attack, database admins, I don’t mean hand over the keys to Raiser’s Edge to a volunteer.
I mean give them a simple, spreadsheet CRM.
Using a spreadsheet as a basic CRM helps volunteer fundraisers be more organized, which will help them raise more money. This will help them better track of who they’ve asked, when they asked them, and how much they asked for.
Better still, coaching volunteers on using a basic CRM helps them better understand the concept of building a gift pipeline, something that will help them reach lofty goals.
Rather than just turn volunteer fundraisers loose on a $2,000 goal, have them fill their spreadsheet with prospects, along with expected gifts. Coach your volunteers on working backwards from their goal to calculate how many asks they’ll need to make. (i.e. - $2,000 goal, 100 $20 gifts, 50% conversion rate = 200 prospects/asks).
This will help them understand the scope of their task, as well as plan an achievable goal.
By the way, we've got a free CRM spreadsheet you can share with your volunteer fundraisers in our P2P Survival Kit.
Teach Them How To Ask
Fundraisers know how to ask. Your volunteers likely don’t.
Many times, they’re asking friends and family members for support, which is a pretty easy ask. However, we see lots of peer fundraisers who throw their campaign up on social media and expect that to be enough.
Sharing a campaign on Facebook certainly helps, but to effectively meet goals, volunteer fundraisers need to make specific asks to their most likely supporters as well.
This is something many people shy away from; it can be awkward to directly ask friends and family for money. But as any good fundraiser knows, comfort comes with practice.
It really comes down to asking the right way. Build rapport, prep for the ask, make the ask, follow-up, and thank.
Before launching your campaign, have one of your fundraiser host a simple “Ask 101.” This can be done via a simple video that gets emailed to your volunteer fundraisers, or even in person if you have the capability.
Give Them a Media Kit
One of the primary fears nonprofits have with P2P fundraising is the loss of control of messaging. This is an important consideration. After all, your team has spent a lot of time and effort honing this message. Will volunteer fundraisers properly communicate your mission and values? While you can control what peer fundraisers put on their campaign pages, it’s much harder to control what they share on their own social media.
You can help minimize the risk by providing them with a media kit.
A media kit is simply a collection of assets your volunteers can use in their campaigns, including things like logos, messaging, images, and more. This makes your volunteer fundraisers’ lives easier, while also helping to keep them on brand.
Here are some things you should include:
- Your organization’s logo
- The campaign’s logo
- Brief blurb about the campaign
- Bulleted list of desired outcomes/missions supported
- Email templates
- Social media templates
P2P is Another Tool in Your Box
At the end of the day, peer-to-peer fundraising is just another tool in your toolbox. It’s not going to be the end-all solution for your development. It’s not going to replace your traditional fundraising channels. And it certainly won’t wreck your fundraising efforts overnight.
But most of the pitfalls can be avoided with some simple preventative measures. Like changing your oil or rotating your tires, take care of your volunteer fundraisers and they’ll take care of you.