Companies like Amazon and Facebook are making online platforms impossible for NGOs to ignore. Organisations like Charity:Water, Heifer International and the National MS Society have peer-to-peer fundraising at the core of their business, and they’re doing phenomenal work.
But what is an online peer-to-peer fundraising platform actually? Is it a community? Is it an event website? Is it to raise awareness and funds? Is it for the fundraiser, for the donors or for the charity?
It’s so much more than any of that. It’s a state of mind. It’s an approach to a problem. It’s how we’re going to solve the world’s problems.
An online peer-to-peer fundraising platform is a method of problem-solving.
The simplest definition: An online peer-to-peer fundraising platform is so many things, executed in many different ways, but the function is always the same. Whether it’s a 10k run, cycle event, coffee morning or a birthday party an online peer-to-peer fundraising platform can help us raise more funds so charities can get closer to the causes they are fighting for.
So what is a great platform?
This definition is not so simple. The best platforms are notorious for seeming not complicated at all .
It’s easier if we break things down a bit. If you know what to look for, it’s easier to identify good online platforms when you see them – or perhaps when you can’t see them at all.
A great online peer-to-peer platform:
1. Creates a trustworthy brand
Your fundraisers come to your platform because they believe what you believe. It is key that you continue to show them why they’re doing it. A trustworthy brand commits people for life. Be honest, be transparent, be grateful… it will bring you the kind of loyalty you need.
Your platform is not for people that just want to make a donation or are looking for detailed information about the cause (they have a different platform). And it is certainly not for those who believe in something different from what you i.e. tobacco companies, resellers, politicians, etc.
2. Is about people
Dont forget! We are dealing with people, and people are not “a function” in your platform. People come to your platform because they want to be inspired by what you believe. Therefore, it should be a place of inspiration, it should spark a dialogue. Focusing on people, it should showcase testimonials, videos and storytelling. A good email and notification functionality and back-end are key to making it feel like a dialogue, a unique and personal experience.
3. Features innovative design
The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative ways to help people raise funds and connect to the cause. Innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology and can never be an end in itself.
4. Is meaningful
Fundraisers are looking at you for a meaningful experience. An experience that allows those people affected by your cause to heal, fight or give back, to honour or remember a loved one. It is important that they can share their story and that they feel heard.
5. Is facilitating
It’s a fact that people find it hard to ask – especially for money. It is our job as a charity to help our fundraisers to ask, ask big, ask often and ask again. Communicating and facilitating tools to those who don’t know how to ask is crucial.
6. Makes it easy
Making it look easy isn’t easy. So focus! Make it easy to sign up, to start fundraising, to level up and to return to do it again. This is what satisfies the fundraiser. A solid user experience is essential to a fundraiser’s performance.
Also, bear in mind the platform is not just for your fundraisers. It is also for their peers, so make it easy for them to share their support, donation and care.
7. Is unobtrusive
A peer-to-peer online platform fulfils a purpose. It’s a tool, simply a means to an end. It is neither general nor specific. The design should, therefore, be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s personal story and self-expression.
8. Is thorough
Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy of the process show respect toward the consumer. Make sure your UX is spotless, straightforward and logical. TEST!
9. Is as little as possible
Less is more because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the pages are not burdened with non-essentials. Make it pure, and focus on simplicity.
10. Is about impact
It’s about that day when [fill in the cause – i.e. nobody dies from cancer). When you believe in something, showing it is the key. Often online platforms are very good at telling you about what an organisation does and how it does it, but forget about the why.
11. Is integrated
A good platform isnt achieved with a link, a welcome email and a donation button alone. It’s a merger of all these principles into something that is meaningful and deliberate.
Just like a great business plan is nothing without expert execution, a great online peer-to-peer fundraising platform is nothing, for example, without careful consideration of the fundraiser’s needs.
12. Makes community a priority
We can’t do it alone. We need our community. We need people who believe what we believe, to achieve what we want to achieve and join the fight by raising funds.
Unfortunately, today, I see very few charities that take (peer-to-peer) fundraising seriously. Too many settle for mediocrity and, as I see it, therefore do not take their community, their tribe, seriously
It’s all about the love.
Take a look at your current product, and ask yourself Does this make me fall in love with the cause? Is your online peer-to-peer platform contributing in an innovative way? Does it show a trustworthy brand? Is it about people? Does it show impact? Is it meaningful, does it facilitate, make using it easy? Will it (or does it already) look outdated or will it break in a few years?
These are really hard questions to answer. But it is our duty to work within these constraints to create a platform fundraisers will fall in love with.
Because those that believe what we believe will help us.
Because love is a really strong emotion.