This type of social fundraising has long been popular with nonprofits, but the shift to virtual engagement tactics have made it more relevant and easier to execute than ever before. P2P campaigns are naturally virtual-friendly, taking place primarily online and relying on web-based fundraising technology.
At OneCause, we specialize in supporting nonprofits making the shift to virtual fundraising and engagement strategies. We’ve seen firsthand the difference that the right strategies can make for missions of all sizes. We recommend peer-to-peer fundraising because it’s extremely adaptable and can be adjusted to fit a variety of fundraising contexts, like larger year-end campaigns, virtual galas, and standalone fundraising challenges.
However, the biggest challenge of any peer-to-peer fundraising campaign is definitely recruiting the right volunteer fundraisers to drive it to success. Having the right fundraisers on your side is especially critical today, while in-person engagement is still not feasible for many organizations.
Here are our top recommendations for recruiting the best peer-to-peer fundraisers for your next campaign:
- Look in the right places.
- Illustrate your mission whenever possible.
- Make getting involved easy.
- Develop clear expectations.
- Provide incentives and community.
When planned well, peer-to-peer fundraising is an extremely flexible and scalable strategy that holds long-term value for your organization. And it all starts with your volunteer fundraisers! Let’s dive in.
1. Look in the right places.
For some types of peer-to-peer fundraising, like DIY-style individual campaigns, allowing any and all supporters to get involved is the right approach. However, for more targeted or time-bound campaigns, casting a wide net isn’t necessarily the best move.
A more targeted digital strategy will yield the greatest benefits for large-scale peer-to-peer fundraising. Look at specific segments of your support base to find your fundraisers. For these peer-to-peer campaigns, we recommend exploring these groups of supporters:
- Recurring individual donors. These donors show passion and commitment. Serving as a fundraiser is the perfect way for them to increase engagement and grow their impact on your mission.
- Committee members and volunteers. Those who’ve shown accountability in past campaigns or projects and have active networks in the community are ideal recruits.
- Board members who consistently reach their fundraising goals. Your board members are more invested in your nonprofit’s success than anyone, so gauge their interest in peer-to-peer campaigning.
- Anyone else who actively expresses interest. If a supporter proactively volunteers to serve as a fundraiser, that’s an excellent sign of their dedication to your cause and you shouldn’t ignore their interest.
- Community and social influencers. Look for individuals with large social media reach and networks. Those networks are the backbone of successful peer-to-peer campaigns and will help you amplify your results.
Be sure to keep another key characteristic in mind: time. Even the most passionate and well-connected fundraiser can struggle to meet their goals if they don’t have the time to devote to promoting your campaign. Think about a potential recruit’s age, parental status, and career when recruiting. When in doubt, simply ask potential fundraisers if they’d have enough free time.
Think of other additional qualities you’d like to see in ideal recruits, like:
- CSR opportunities and connections. Eligibility for corporate philanthropy programs and connections to corporate CSR leaders are great examples.
- Employee matching gift programs. Matching gift programs and volunteer grants can help your volunteer fundraisers boost the impact of their donated time or money, but your recruit must work for a participating employer. For instance, according to Double the Donation’s guide, ExxonMobil will donate $500 per 20 hours volunteered by an employee at an eligible nonprofit. In a monthlong campaign, your most dedicated volunteer fundraisers might easily spend 20 hours or more promoting your mission to their networks.
- Personal, family foundations or donor advised funds. If you know of other philanthropic opportunities in your base of support, try targeting them with your recruitment efforts. For instance, supporters with DAFs are great individuals to focus on building stronger relationships with.
While you shouldn’t recruit someone solely because they might be eligible for a large corporate grant, it doesn’t hurt to identify these opportunities in advance, especially if you already know that many of your supporters work for large corporations.
2. Illustrate your mission whenever possible.
One of the most effective ways to motivate potential fundraisers to get involved with your next peer-to-peer campaign is to let them see your mission in action.
Stay on the lookout for opportunities to share “mission moments,” like testimonials and videos highlighting your nonprofit’s on-the-ground work in the community. You may choose to share reports on the impacts of your programming and stories directly from constituents for instance.
Build these mission moments into your virtual events and ongoing marketing efforts. Let everyone see the real-world impact of your nonprofit and its supporters. By focusing on impact and the roles played by your volunteers and donors, your audience will be more likely to want to grow that impact and get involved in new ways.
For a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, make sure you come up with specific campaign goals and a vision statement connecting those goals to tangible impacts. How will this campaign benefit your mission and constituents? How will a supporter’s involvement directly impact the community? Once you’ve identified ideal segments of your supporter base to recruit, show them content that answers these questions and highlights your mission in action.
3. Make getting involved easy.
Potential peer-to-peer fundraisers often talk themselves out of getting involved because they’re unsure of exactly how big the commitment will be. Make getting involved an easy decision by clearly explaining what the role entails and how long the campaign will last.
Most importantly, let fundraisers know upfront that being a part of your peer-to-peer campaign won’t be a massive undertaking. During the campaign planning process, fully define the different tasks that volunteers will likely need to complete, and then come up with ways that your nonprofit can and will support fundraisers during those tasks. For example:
- Provide email, social media, and letter templates. This is probably the easiest and most effective way to simplify your fundraisers’ tasks. The templates you develop will vary based on your campaign and its context, ranging from simple Facebook posts explaining your campaign’s goals to longer donation request letters for campaigns leading up to events like online auctions.
- Offer dedicated support. One or more staff members should lead the process of managing and supporting your volunteer fundraisers for the length of the campaign. With a single point of contact to whom they can direct their questions, fundraisers will be more likely to actually seek out the help they need. Otherwise, they may feel unsure about who to ask or whether anyone will notice (much less, answer) their questions.
- Develop specific guidance. Having your fundraisers add a personal touch to your campaign is one of the greatest benefits of peer-to-peer fundraising, but you still need to retain a degree of control over how your campaign is represented. Develop concrete guidance similar to a brand book or style guide that provides your volunteers clear explanations of your goals and specific phrases that your organization uses when describing its work. Fundraisers should definitely customize their messages to reflect why they’re drawn to your mission, but giving them concrete guidance to build from will make their job easier and ensure more cohesion for your campaign overall.
Additionally, if you’ve hosted peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns in the past, consider securing a testimonial or quote from past top fundraisers. If previous fundraisers had amazing experiences spreading awareness and generating support for your cause, their stories can be extremely helpful for convincing potential recruits to get involved.
4. Develop clear expectations.
You should do some of the heavy lifting to make campaigning easy for your fundraisers. It’s important to let your volunteer fundraisers know that while they won’t be left completely on their own, they will have specific goals and targets to aim for. This applies more to time-bound, strategic fundraising campaigns rather than free-form, DIY-style P2P campaigns that supporters might launch on their own.
If your organization manages a large volunteer program, you’re likely already following this best practice. Defining roles and expectations is an essential part of effective volunteer recruitment, regardless of the exact position they’ll play or campaign they’ll join. Ensuring that your volunteer fundraisers understand their goals and expectations from the start will help to maximize the chances that your recruits are committed to following through.
Have conversations with your potential fundraisers to answer questions like:
- Are you open to soliciting donations from your network of friends and family?
- Are you comfortable using different digital channels like social media and email?
- Do you think your network of contacts will donate to the campaign?
- Can you provide a personal touch to the campaign and discuss what the mission means to you?
If a potential fundraiser answers “no” to any of these questions, they might not be the right fit for the role. It’s ok to be selective – remember your campaign success depends on it!
As you get to know your potential recruits, discuss their network of friends and family. Do this alongside communicating your broader revenue goals for the campaign. Your insights and efforts at this stage can help connect fundraisers not just to the goals but how they can help you get there. The shared process of goal-setting allows it to be a collaborative process, setting achievable goals with your volunteer rather than simply giving them a number to reach on their own.
5. Provide incentives and community.
Incentives never hurt when it comes to boosting engagement! Catch the attention of potential volunteer fundraisers with a variety of perks and prizes set to different fundraising levels or goals. Tangible prizes like merchandise are always a popular choice, but consider more engaging options like volunteer-only virtual events, discounted memberships, and more.
One of the most effective incentives to offer volunteer fundraisers? A sense of community around your mission.
Foster a sense of community among your volunteer fundraisers to actively grow your relationships and help them make new connections with one another. A sense of community will deepen engagement both during your campaign and in the future.
The easiest way to facilitate these interactions (especially amid the shift to virtual engagement) will be to use group chat tools or private Facebook groups. Or if your peer-to-peer software, like OneCause, has built-in messaging (email and text) – even better! Use these platforms to let fundraisers share tips, encourage one another, and provide accountability for reaching their goals.
While developing a stronger sense of belonging among fundraisers will naturally be easier for smaller, community-based organizations like schools, any organization can foster community with the right approach. Get personal and directly engage with supporters. Discuss your mission and what it means to each person. Celebrate your wins together and study your losses to learn for the future.
In addition to any incentives you offer, proactive recognition is a must. Fundraisers offer their support and hard work for free not because they want something in return but because they care about your mission.
Recognizing them and celebrating their impact goes a very long way to strengthen your relationships, encouraging them to stay involved in the long run. Celebrate your volunteers before, during, and after the virtual events you might host as part of your P2P campaign.
Even amid this year’s challenges, growth is still possible for nonprofit organizations, especially for those that invest in their relationships. That’s why peer-to-peer fundraising can be such an effective choice for many nonprofits. When planned and managed well, these campaigns make it easy to dramatically grow your audience, raise money, and strengthen relationships with key supporters.
But it must start with an effective recruitment process. Heading into the year-end giving season and another unpredictable year, setting up your campaigns for success from the start will be a beneficial move. Best of luck!