Don't Fear the Peer: 5 Tips for Nonprofits Exploring Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Don't Fear the Peer: 5 Tips for Nonprofits Exploring Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

New to peer-to-peer fundraising? There’s nothing to fear! DonorCommunity has 5 tips for nonprofits who want success.

You’ve done the asking, but now it’s time to let your supporters do it. Are you both ready?

You might be a superstar fundraiser, but you can’t do it all yourself. For some organizations, just the thought of peer-to-peer fundraising sets off alarm bells. It’s okay if you and your organization’s members solicit, but asking your supporters to fundraise for you? Yikes!

However, many successful nonprofits engage in peer-to-peer fundraising. It’s a powerful and effective way to extend your capacity to generate funds, and if you know what you’re doing, asking donors to help build your donor base doesn’t have to be a scary proposition. Here are 5 tips to help supporters help you by becoming fundraisers themselves.

1. Tell them not to make the ask

Some of your supporters will be reluctant to go to people they know and ask for money, especially if they’ve never done fundraising before. You can empower your donors by teaching them how they can encourage their peers to give without explicitly asking.

Coach them on the power of awareness through casual conversation, online and otherwise. Give them examples demonstrating how easy it is to bring up the subject when they talk to friends about what they’re doing. Once your supporters realize the hard part isn’t asking for a donation, but raising awareness, they will be more inspired to do their part and share about the cause they love with their peers, be it over coffee between work shifts, or by writing a compelling post on Facebook, or whatever.

Peer-to-Peer Power Tip: Show supporters how to use their social media networks to start casual conversations about their participation in your fundraising effort. Offering to help them add something that promotes your cause to their email signature might also be a good idea.

2. Help them focus on the “why”

If you haven’t watched the amazing TED video by Simon Sinek about the importance of “why,” here’s an excerpt that cuts right to the important part. Watch the entire TED presentation if you have the time.

Once you have supporters helping you with peer-to-peer fundraising, it is essential that these individuals clearly understand themselves and why they’re helping you. This will allow them to communicate the message sincerely.

This, more than anything else, can help supporters go from casual donors to fundraisers. When they can tell the story of why they became involved, they become invested in the process, helping them move from being able to claim, “This is a good cause,” to “This is my cause.”

Peer-to-Peer Power Tip: Share the TED talk with your peer-to-peer fundraising supporters. Be on the lookout for people who show signs of ownership and investment by using the pronoun “my.” They’re going to be your most powerful advocates.

3. Dial up the attention factor

Using fundraising software to track the progress of peer-to-peer fundraising makes it easy to see who might need a bit of extra personal attention. Many supporters will sign up with enthusiasm, only to strike out a bunch of times right at the start and lose heart.

When you come across a supporter who hasn’t yet gotten any donations, fire off a heartfelt email to re-spark their faltering enthusiasm. Often, the only thing they need is acknowledgement, so recognize their effort and encourage them to keep it up.

Peer-to-Peer Power Tip: Giving up is the default reaction to hearing “no” a couple of times at the very start. Whether it’s an email or a conversation, acknowledge that fundraising to peers isn’t always easy. Try giving them some examples of your own struggles when you started. These supporters were passionate to start with, and they can become successful fundraisers if you just help them keep that passion burning.

4. Focus on incremental successes

Nothing kills the progress of peer-to-peer fundraising efforts faster than stress over progress. Websites or social media pages with empty donation thermometers are depressing to supporters helping with peer-to-peer fundraising, as well as a turn-off to potential donors.

The easy fix for this is to have each peer-to-peer fundraiser donate to their own campaign. It doesn’t have to be a substantial amount, but it means the donation thermometer is no longer at zero. There’s already progress.

Peer-to-Peer Power Tip: According to the book The Science of Giving, a fundraising goal sitting at zero can actually deter people from choosing to donate. Ensure your supporters all move past an empty starting point; it’ll help them feel better about their work, and it increases donations.

5. Manage expectations

Some of your peer-to-peer supporters will want to commit to a substantial fundraising goal. It’s fantastic if they reach the goal, but is it realistic?

If a fundraising goal is unattainable, it’s ultimately going to be self-defeating and a major downer for hardworking supporters. You don’t want that to kill their enthusiasm. Work with supporters to set reasonable and conservative goals that they can raise later if they find they overshoot the moon.

Peer-to-Peer Power Tip: Impress upon your peer-to-peer fundraising supporters the importance of asking for a specific amount. Research shows that 50% more people give when they’re asked to make a donation of a specific amount.

Nothing to be scared about!

There’s no reason a nonprofit just starting out with the idea of peer-to-peer fundraising can’t be successful. All it takes is a focused effort to empower your supporters to do what it takes to be effective askers.

Bonus Peer-to-Peer Power Tip: Be on the lookout for peer-to-peer superstars. A single successful supporting fundraiser can generate exponentially more than an army of well-meaning people who are still struggling to get their first donation. Identify your top 10 to 15 fundraisers, then incentivize them and offer them your assistance. Trust me; if you take the time to invest in these dedicated supporters, they’ll become your new heroes.