P2P Fundraising: Small Organizations Can Benefit Too!

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This article written by CanadaHelps was originally published on Hilborn. View


According to Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada, the top 30 2014 non-profit Peer-to-Peer (P2P) campaigns in Canada raised more than $275 million. Don’t let the high profile and large budget of these top events deter your small-to-medium sized organization from launching a P2P event. Today, there are hundreds of small charities across Canada running successfully P2P events. A P2P fundraising event has the potential to positively benefit your non-profit, including:

  • deepening your relationship with your current supporters
  • raising awareness of the work you do
  • attracting new donors to dramatically grow your fundraising program

However, as a small to medium-size non-profit, it’s critical that you “right-size” your event.  In others words, that you match the type/scale of the event you choose to your available resources.

Here are 5 important tips to “right-size” your P2P event:

1. Choose a Manageable Event Type

Keep your event manageable and think outside of the box. Events such as runs and swims require a lot of planning, logistics, and work with third parties (e.g. municipal governments) to make them successful. The key is to choose an event type that can be managed with the resources you have. If weather is a risk and you don’t have a budget for tents, simply look indoors.

Consider a stationary event over a run to avoid the complexities of coordinating traffic management, the need for more signage, and other expenses such as portable bathrooms, more extensive insurance, etc. From clean-a-thons and read-a-thons, to virtual-thons, with the power to really raise awareness for your cause and work, there are many types of P2P events that can be kept manageable while providing a great experience for your participants and even the broader community.

2. Think About Your Supporters

Great events don’t have to be huge! For example, just three canoes and nine committed paddling fundraisers may be enough to meet your camp’s fundraising goal to build that new craft cabin. Spend time figuring out who are the core supporters your organization can count on. Then, choose an event type that they’ll embrace (it may turn out your core supporters are not in for a physical challenge).  A great way to increase participation is to create a team-based event where your most loyal supporters commit to participate as team captains, ready to recruit their team members. Engaging your core supporters in these ways during the development of your event will mitigate risks and allow you to effectively forecast and plan.

3. Set Realistic Fundraising Goals

Sharing your fundraising goal and the important work your organization will do if your goal is achieved with the public and your participants is key to rallying participation. It’s often said that success breeds success, and a great rule of thumb is to work to ensure you reach 30% of your fundraising goal within 48 hours of the campaign launch to create the momentum and excitement to help get you to the finish line. To achieve this, it’s important to spend time setting a realistic fundraising goal, estimating how many people will participate, and the average number and amount of donations they will receive.

Considering your own donation information, publicly available benchmark data for P2P events, and getting input from your core supporters will help. If you’re not confident in your forecast, consider having a more conservative goal to share publicly and an internal stretch goal that you will work to hit. You’ll be thankful you did this later, when you see how ecstatic your supporters are when they’ve reached that goal.

4. Minimize Costs

When you think of P2P fundraising, you will often think of t-shirts, free hats, free food, sponsor giveaways and prizes. These costs can quickly add up, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many creative ways to do more with less. Look for sponsors and partners to donate or lend you their support. This can be in the form of sound equipment, tables, water, etc. Or, do a bring-your-own-lunch at the end of the event. If your budget doesn’t permit for event t-shirts, ask everyone to dress in your charity colours.

5. Make it Memorable

One of your primary goals when creating a P2P fundraising event should be to create a memorable experience for your supporters – after all, you want them to join again next year! The trick is to make them feel connected to your cause and the people involved. Think about how you can deepen the passion they feel for your cause and foster relationships through the people they meet, the experiences they share, and the difference they feel they’re making as part of a team.

Fun is another way to drive engagement. Did they enjoy participating? Are they talking about the event with their friends and sharing photos on Facebook?  Also, remember that the little touches matter – small mementos that keep your cause top of mind months later, like photos of your work with messaging that makes it clear your impact without them would be impossible.

For more tips on getting started and succeeding with P2P fundraising events, download this free whitepaper.

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