The global pandemic irrevocably challenged tried and true peer-to-peer fundraising formulas in 2020. In-person events were no longer a reality and an estimated 62% of nonprofits pivoted to a virtual campaign to help continue to engage fundraisers in their mission. In some cases, signature peer-to-peer events were replaced with multiple campaigns to encourage participation by fundraisers in different regions or with varying interests.
While diversifying campaigns and the swift pivot to virtual lowered some fundraising and participation expectations, reduced overheads from the cancellation of in-person events may have helped virtual event profitability. The Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study also highlighted that fundraisers who did participate during 2020 raised an average of 35% more than in 2019, most notably in registration fee free and DIY events.
While we’ve been living “together apart,” peer-to-peer has been both a virtual enabler and a social inhibiter to fundraising, reminding us of the sense of community achieved by successful in person events in years past. Nonprofits will need fresh ideas to reignite that community and stay relevant to their fundraisers in 2021 and beyond. There is no one size fits all and your organization’s peer-to-peer strategy will depend on your mission, your fundraisers and your resources. Here are some takeaways from 2020 to engage your supporters and avoid Zoom fatigue.
- DIY Fundraising increased during the pandemic as a result of in-person event cancellations and supporters looking to champion their causes during regional lockdowns. There are so many inspirational stories of peer-to-peer fundraisers stepping up to support causes close to their hearts that evergreen DIY peer-to-peer fundraising should be on every nonprofit’s strategic radar. Empower fundraisers to support your mission in a way that is meaningful to them. Give them the tools to be able to fundraise for their birthday, complete a challenge or even livestream a birthday challenge! Supporters that are motivated enough to create their own fundraisers won’t be too shy to ask for donations and share your mission with their networks.
During the pandemic, a new Guinness World Record for the most money raised by a charity walk (individual) was set by Captain Tom Moore who raised over $44.5 million for the National Health Service in the UK while completing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday. Before passing away earlier this year, Captain Tom Moore also topped the UK music charts and received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.
- Hybrid events have quickly become a focus of post-pandemic fundraising as in-person events cautiously make a comeback. Although it feels like lockdown life has ended, COVID-19 is still a part of our consciousness. Everyone will be experiencing varying emotional responses to reopening and have different levels of risk tolerance. Give your supporters participation options and make it easy for them to get involved, remember to be mindful of potential safety concerns and transparent with your planning.
- Get creative with your event concept. Galvanise your supporters with a new challenge or reimagine a signature event. Keep your concept close to your cause, while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, attempting to replicate another organization’s P2P success isn’t in your best interests if it doesn’t resonate with your fundraisers.
JDJ Charitable Foundation partnered with comedian and influencer Nicky Cass encourage fundraisers to complete a virtual 5k Challenge. The campaign will improve the quality of life for lung cancer patients as well as fund leading non-small cell lung cancer research. Fundraisers will log their 5k on July 24 on their fundraising page to activate a milestone badge and complete the challenge. Donors also unlock a character video skit performed by Nicky Cass based on their donation amount. Finding unique ways to interact with peer-to-peer fundraisers and donors will help your organization stand out from the virtual crowd.
- Fundraising can be about more than money. While you’re workshopping your event concept, think about enriching the community supporting your cause with ways to connect beyond fundraising. Aside from physical challenges, you can livestream events or create other opportunities to inspire and engage your fundraisers.
Dedicated to the lifelong pursuit of learning and discovery for all, Chicago Public Library Foundation created an online space for avid readers to connect and participate in their Read-A-Thon. Logging books read to their P2P fundraising pages to earn places on reading leaderboards while sharing their passion with their networks. Donations also earned raffle tickets for the prizes presented at the livestream finale. The success of their fundraisers saw the campaign goal increased from $70,000 to $85,000 in the lead up to the finale.
No matter what fresh ideas you bring to your peer-to-peer fundraising, remember to keep it simple and ensure communications with your audience are timely and relevant: celebrate, motivate and don’t be afraid to incentivize or offer time-sensitive encouragement. Think about engaging ways your audience and their networks can connect with your mission and support your goals, then give your peer-to-peer fundraising strategy every chance of success by investing resources into achieving its potential.