Setting and evaluating your nonprofit peer-to-peer fundraising strategy


This is the first installment in a three part series on peer-to-peer fundraising, summarized from the comprehensive guide “The P2P Fundraising Handbook” by Carly Samuelson. In this first installment, we’ll discuss organizational strategy towards peer-to-peer fundraising, as well as campaign preparation. You can read the second installment, on the before and after of campaigns, here.

What to think about before getting started

The first thing that all nonprofits need to do – whether an organization is just starting with peer-to-peer fundraising or has existing campaigns – is to evaluate what the org expects from the campaign. Here are some questions that Samuelson says to ask:

  • Does the org have a solid, creative peer-to-peer fundraising idea that it’s willing to invest in?
  • Does the org have sufficient staff, volunteers and leadership to run a successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign?
  • Does the org have a fully-featured online fundraising platform to support the campaign?
  • What are the metrics for success?
  • Is there organizational leadership buy-in?

According to Samuelson, before jumping in on a new peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, nonprofit fundraising professionals need to put together a 3-year strategy for the campaign, create a realistic budget and set fundraiser and donor participation goals. Having the various stakeholders in an org agree to a an acceptable expense ratio is an important step, as is determining how you plan to expand your campaign in the second and third years of fundraising.

Fundraising goals for participants

Once you’ve thought out what kind of peer-to-peer fundraising campaign you’d like to run – say a walk-a-thon or online-only memorial campaign – you should determine how you want to approach participation from a fundraising perspective. In general, says Samuelson, there are three main fundraising goal schemas that nonprofits work with: fundraising minimums, suggested goals, and “raise-what-you-can” goals.

The main advantage of setting fundraising minimums for participants is that nonprofits can set firm guidelines what each fundraiser will (minimally at least) bring in, which makes expense planning and fundraising goals much easier to set. However, setting fundraising minimums could also lead to lower fundraiser participation numbers.

Suggesting a goal for fundraisers, on the other hand, allows nonprofits to attract more participants while also strongly encouraging them to reach a goal that is inline with what the organization hopes to receive from that fundraiser’s donors. This goal schema is the most widely used in peer-to-peer fundraising.

A third option, and probably the least used of the three, asks fundraisers to “raise-what-you-can.” Obviously, this makes financial planning harder for campaign organizers. While it can be an attractive option to a wide range of possible supporters, many of those supporters will likely end up not raising any funds whatsoever, so nonprofits need to weigh this option carefully.

Like to learn more? Download the free, 6-chapter ebook, “The P2P Fundraising Handbook” today!



Chad Catacchio


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