The Future of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Ed Lord

Ed Lord

Chief Strategy Officer

I make it a point when talking with professionals at nonprofits of every size to ask the question: What’s the most important thing you need to know about peer-to-peer fundraising right now? It’s interesting that so many give the same answer: I just want to know where peer-to-peer fundraising is headed.

The sector is definitely in flux, but that’s not a bad thing. Peer-to-peer is the fastest growing space in both giving and fundraising. At DonorDrive we’re constantly examining the data in our software from thousands of events, over a million participants, and hundreds of millions of dollars raised. This large sample gives us a solid overview of trends we see happening. Here’s what’s going on right now:

Fundraisers want options in how they support and what they support

The signature event and general donations really need a boost. Supporters want more options to express their passion. They already have choices in how they get services, receive news, watch TV and shop. They want and expect choices in how they will support you.

This is evidenced by the growth in DIY. The number of organizations adding DIY campaigns to their fundraising in DonorDrive grew by 125% over the past two years. DIY has become a necessity for organizations to retain existing supporters, attract new ones and give your most ardent supporters a chance to fundraise more.

We’ve also seen more nonprofits packaging their events and campaigns to make them more appealing to supporters. World Vision’s 6K Walk for Water, CMN Hospitals’ My Miracle Birthday campaigns and Epilepsy Foundation’s Lemonade for Livy virtual lemonade stands are examples of fundraising on a more personal level. Each program is branded, packaged and provides everything the supporter needs.

Supporters want more choice not only in how they raise money, but where it’s spent

Organizations that have policies and bylaws that allow for supporters to choose what part of the organization’s mission they want to support will benefit from allowing them to fundraise for specific programs. World Vision’s My Cause has been attracting supporters by letting them choose if the funds they raise build wells or supply farm animals to the developing world. Savvy supporters are looking for their dollars to have the biggest impact.

Supporters want to host their own events for your organization

Not every supporter wants to join in a signature event. You may have a neighborhood that wants to host their own walk or gathering. Or maybe a corporate partner would like to do a series of events for their staff to show commitment and build teams. The extra effort required to accommodate these events in your software can pay off big today.

This is a not to say walk or runs or other events are doomed to failure in the future. There is still a large section of the population who want to participate in these events, so they will provide income for years to come. There’s a portion of the population that won’t come out to walks or runs. Appealing to them requires nonprofits to think outside the run/walk box. The idea is not to replace traditional funding sources, but to augment them and raise additional funds.

Supporters expect you to come to them

Traditional recruiting through channels like newspapers, the mailbox, commercial TV, and radio have become less successful in finding supporters. If these aren’t working for you anymore, it’s because your supporters are elsewhere. Research shows that they’re multitasking their entertainment. 87% of consumers are now using a second device while watching TV. So while they’re watching Netflix, they’re reading eBooks, watching YouTube videos and talking to friends on social media. As a result, supporters today are too busy to come to you, so you need to go to them. Engage them where they play.

This also means you can’t just put up a website and expect to have a successful DIY program or a virtual event. You need to go out, find supporters and let them know that there’s a new way they can impact your cause.

Communities may no longer be geographical

The activity in digital communities is huge. The popularity of Pinterest’s 200 million predominantly-female and Reddit’s 234 million predominantly-male active users shows that social sites are attracting a more focused demographic. If your cause resonates in one of these social forums where the conversation is more focused, you can expect bigger community engagement and will find spaces that are fertile for recruiting.

What’s most clear is that it’s not business as usual for nonprofits anymore. In order for your organization to grow, now is the time to adopt new practices, start new initiatives and use your data to better understand the supporters of your cause.

Ready to explore how DonorDrive can help you?