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The Four Faces of Peer-to-Peer Events

Why, What, and How

Peer-to-peer events are an amazingly fast-growing source of funding. P2P event fundraising grew 55% in 2015. The top 30 peer fundraising programs alone raised nearly $1,530,000,000 in 2016.

Tapping into the deep and wide networks of your supporters make P2P events an excellent way to recruit and inspire new constituents to get involved in your cause.  And, as you add more supporters to the “base of your giving pyramid,” over time, you will be able to grow your overall program.

Advancements in fundraising technology make it possible for any sized organization to do something in the peer-to-peer space. From an operational standpoint, you can have a P2P event up and going in no time.

So, how does your organization get more involved? First, understand which of the four peer-to-peer types of events is best for you. 

Four Types of Peer-To-Peer Fundraising Events

Participatory peer-to-peer fundraising events range from the classic “-athons” – walk, run and bike rides – to more novel events like hair shaving or growing, water dumping or diving, bar crawl, or dedicating your birthday to a cause. The common thread is that an organization recruits participants who then ask their peer networks to donate and support the event.

 #1: Proprietary

Your organization owns, plans, and operates a fundraising event or challenge. Participants usually pay for entry and can use the event to do additional fundraising via a web-based platform.

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]EXAMPLES[/post_wrapper]

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]PROS[/post_wrapper]

  • Greatest potential for revenue of all the four types.
  • Strong connection to brand.
  • Ripe for corporate sponsors.

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]CONS[/post_wrapper]

  • A lot of effort to plan, pay for, and execute the event.
  • High financial risk if the event is underutilized or canceled due to force majeure.

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]Right for you if…[/post_wrapper]

  • Your organization has a critical mass of supporters within a specific geographic area.
  • Your organization has the ability to and is willing to invest significant funds and staff time to launch the event.   

#2: DIY

Your organization creates a digital/online platform for individuals to create their own fundraising event, activity, or challenge. Events usually happen offline, like birthdays, weddings, and parties, but could be virtual too. The fundraiser creates and manages the event themselves with support from the organization.

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]EXAMPLES[/post_wrapper]

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]PROS[/post_wrapper]

  • Easy to manage once the technology platform is set up.
  • Lowest barrier for entry for a participant.
  • Many options for people to participate.

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]CONS[/post_wrapper]

  • Lower revenue potential.
  • Requires considerable promotion to spur action.

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]Right for you if…[/post_wrapper]

  • Your constituency is decentralized.
  • You have an active online community.
  • You want to get started with peer-to-peer without much risk or upfront costs.

#3: Third Party

Your organization becomes a partner with an existing event, which allows a number of your constituents to participate in another organization’s event. The fundraiser agrees to raise a certain amount of funds for the organization in exchange for the participation.     

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]EXAMPLES[/post_wrapper]

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]PROS[/post_wrapper]

  • Low overhead cost.
  • Low barrier to entry.
  • Lower effort to organize and operate your team within the event.

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]CONS[/post_wrapper]

  • Less revenue potential compared to a proprietary event.
  • Weaker connection to the brand and cause.

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]Right for you if…[/post_wrapper]

  • Your constituency has deep affinity toward this type of event.
  • Your constituency is decentralized or willing to travel to an event out of town.
  • The 3rd party event is popular and its brand can boost the awareness of your organization.

#4: Crowdfunding

You rally your constituents to promote and make donations to a specific event, project, or giving period. It falls on the fringes of peer-to-peer fundraising because not all crowdfunding efforts ask supporters to solicit their networks. The best crowdfunding efforts use a web-based fundraising tool and a robust promotional strategy to maximize awareness.      

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]EXAMPLES[/post_wrapper]

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]PROS[/post_wrapper]

  • Rallies constituency to focus support on a singular, focused event.
  • Provides a compelling call-to-action for a cause.
  • Raises awareness. 

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]CONS[/post_wrapper]

  • Considerable effort to create, promote, and execute a giving day.
  • Risk of underperforming if not promoted successfully.

[post_wrapper tag=”h3″ classes=”indent-h3″]Right for you if…[/post_wrapper]

  • Your organization has a tangible set of projects with direct impact.
  • Your constituency responds well to a call to action.
  • Your organization has a large constituency and well-known brand.


So, How Do I Get Involved?

Appoint a Leader and Make a Plan

With any initiative, two keys to success are: 1) identifying a single person who is accountable for the success of the effort, and 2) writing a plan. Your plan should answer the following questions: What are the measurable objectives? What are the deliverables needed to achieve the objectives? What tasks are necessary to create the deliverables? Who is responsible for the tasks and when are they due? How much will it cost?

Determine Your Technology Needs

Assuming that your organizational goals and assets align with one or more of the types listed above, the next step is to secure a peer-to-peer online system. This process can be more nuanced, however here are a few resources to get you started. 

Consider Getting Some Expert Advice

Don’t know what you don’t know? Consider bringing in a coach to get you started, or to reinvigorate or organize your existing processes. Give us a call – Benefactor Group can help guide you through the various types of peer-to-peer events, technology options, and general best practices.

Survey Your Constituents

Not sure where to start or what to do with peer-to-peer? Start with a survey to your constituency and ask them what kind of events they would be willing to participate in and fundraise on behalf of your cause.

joined Benefactor Group with over ten years of experience in non-profit fundraising, operations, and management.

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