Fishing for P2P Fundraisers

As professional fundraisers we often feel like fishermen. We dangle our best case messaging like bait over a pool of potential donors and wait patiently (or not so patiently) until they take it and make a gift.

But when it comes to peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising, the fishing becomes even more challenging. As a P2P fundraiser you’re trying to get your community of supporters to not (just) give, but to fundraise on behalf of your organisation.

And once you successfully “catch” a fundraiser (once you get them to register for your event or your campaign), you need to lure them again…enticing them to actually fundraise.

So what kind of bait does all of that require? More than you probably think…

The simple “worm” of a suggestion

The easiest (and dare I say obvious) way to first “lure” and catch a fundraiser is to simply suggest it. We all know that the #1 reason why people donate is because they were asked. Well, the same rule applies to getting your community to fundraise. Simply asking them to register and fundraise for your P2P event or campaign can turn into quite a catch!

Now, there’s a way to do this that might not be so obvious. Your organisation should present the option to fundraise on the same level and with the same frequency as the option to donate. To do this, start by giving P2P fundraising a good piece of real estate (location! location! location!) on your website. A great example of this comes from the National MS Society in the US. They promote their “Get involved” (fundraising) option right next to the “Donate” option on their home page. Plus, three out of the seven photos on their home page feature ways to “get involved” as a P2P fundraiser.

Once you’ve prioritized P2P on your website, start incorporating it into your organisation’s general campaign communication. I love how Heifer International has fully integrated P2P fundraising into their current Ecuadorian relief campaign. As you’ll see from this recent email they sent me, they’ve given fundraising the same level of importance as making a direct donation.

Want to make the most out of your “worm”? Your case for fundraising will be even more enticing if you explain the impact that’s made possible when someone fundraises now for your organisation. Heifer did this well by highlighting the number of Ecuadorians impacted by the earthquake…then added “they are counting on us”…”.to rebuild their lives”…”please don’t wait.”

Showcasing others who took the bait

Adding “fundraise” alongside the “donate” option on your website and in your messaging will certainly help make the idea of fundraising more familiar to your community. But just because they know about fundraising, doesn’t mean they’ll feel comfortable doing it…regardless if fundraising is required as part of their participation in your event program.

One of the best ways to to convince your participants to actually fundraise is to showcase other people who are actually doing it….people “just like them” proving that it’s fun, easy and normal.

Walk MS– the national 5K walk series of the National MS Society–does a great job of “normalising” fundraising by adding testimonials from their fundraisers to the tips & tools section of their event website. These “secrets of success” give a more human (and credible) touch and gives non-fundraising participants the sense that others are doing it (so they can too!)

We also applied this same tactic when building the email communication strategy for Pieta House and their international walk series called Darkness Into Light. While their 130,000 participants are not required to fundraise, we began showcasing the ones who have been successful in our recent email. Here’s a glimpse at a version of that email which was sent to the non-fundraising participants:

Giving your bait a boost

Our example from Pieta House’s Darkness Into Light also reveals one more way an organisation can lure participants into fundraising: offering an incentive.

Sure, people love to get free stuff. But this “Fundraising Star” badge serves as a doubly good piece of fundraising bait…and here’s why….

Participants are motivated by incentives like the badge because it serves as a medal of honor. They wear it proudly on the event and it has value because they had to earn it. Furthermore,  it helps fundraisers identify and align themselves with the special “club” of other participants who are wearing it too.

But, there’s more. By creating that special club of fundraisers we are actually creating more fundraising bait. Everyone wearing a badge will serve as a walking, talking advertisement for fundraising…proving that fundraising is both doable and normal…and effectively luring the non-fundraising participants to give it a try the following year.

Now that kind of bait is hard to beat!


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