Have you given serious thought to what the real value of your long-term, peer-to-peer fundraisers is to your nonprofit? Though not a common metric, it’s one well worth investigating—so we did. We examined supporters who participated annually in the same event in DonorDrive between 2012-2017. When we compared long-term event participants to the average participant, we found long-term participants raised much more last year and will come back to raise even more this year. Over the six year period, those in our sample had 22 times the dollar impact of the average one-time event participant.
Here’s how their long-term support breaks down:
• They raised three and half times as much annually.
Your returning participants are the backbone of consistent event revenue and contribute more every year.
• Each year the dollars they raised increase an average of 18%.
Or to put that in more telling terms...
• The dollars raised in year six were almost double what they raised year one.
The result is that long-term participants become better fundraisers year after year.
Long-term participants learn to follow best practices
In DonorDrive, our Fundraiser Coach automatically encourages each participant to take key actions that have been proven to better their fundraising success. Our sample group actively used DonorDrive’s fundraising tools. Compared to the average participant:
- 3 times as many opt in for DonorDrive text notifications
- 16 times as many connect Twitter
- 6 times as many connect Facebook
- 4 times more create an avatar
Email has always been considered the backbone of peer-to-peer fundraising and these long-term fundraisers definitely relied on it. Compared to the average participant, they sent 4 times as many emails.
We also saw that these supporters did more than fundraise. With their strong commitment to the cause, 15% of their fundraising total came from their pocket. In DonorDrive, we ask participants to make a donation as part of the event registration process. Donation is second nature to these long-term participants: 95% made a donation to themselves.
Their lifetime contribution really totals up
What is the lifetime impact of long-term participants on the nonprofits they’re passionate about? Over the six-year period, the average raised by each participant was $4,425.
This shows us that their average of $738 a year is close to the giving level of a mid-level donor. But their contribution is more than dollars. These supporters also introduce you to everyone in their network. Since the average network is generally accepted at 250 people today, the introduction can be of big value to the nonprofit. While mid-level donors are generous, they typically don’t introduce the nonprofit to so many of their friends.
More valuable than a mid-level donor
Most nonprofits consider a mid-level donor to be someone who gives $1,000 annually. Within two years, those in our sample group will be raising over $1,000 on average annually. So here’s the true value of your long-term peer-to-peer participant. They:
- Will soon raise as much money annually as a mid-level donor gives
- Fundraise consistently year-over-year
- Increase dollars they raise by 18% annually
- Identify those in their network who are likely to give more
Four ways to encourage long-term participation
There are many factors that contribute to long-term retention of event participants. Here’s what we’ve found that helps keep participants coming back and fundraising:
- Simplify registering for returning participants It’s amazing how many returning participants can be lost because registering was a hassle. In DonorDrive we have Fast Pass™ that lets returning participants quickly sign up for your event this year.
- Make self-donating easier As you can see from the 95% self-donation rate in our sample, DonorDrive’s simple process is very effective. In addition to Fast Pass™ retaining the participant’s payment method (like credit card number), options like Apple Pay® and PayPal OneTouch™ make self-donating as simple as a tap.
- Get lapsed participants back Since returning participants raise two-and-a-half times as much as new participants on average, getting them back is vital for event revenue. Beyond asking past participants back, lapsed participants require special attention. In DonorDrive we have a Lapsed Participant report that allows our clients to quickly spot last year's event participants who haven’t registered yet so they can encourage them to come back.
- Identify long-term participants so you can treat them like major donors These participants are true believers in your mission and their support should be nurtured to increase their activity with your nonprofit and for planned giving. DonorDrive’s interactive Event Performance Monitor dashboard allows our clients to quickly drill down to find returning participants without running a report. Once identified, contact them by email and don't be afraid to give them a call to let them know how much they mean to your nonprofit. This is also a prime opportunity to encourage them to participate again next year.
The overall impact of the long-term event participant on your nonprofit can be massive. By getting your event participants to come back year after year, you’ll improve the success of your event, as well as cultivate more major contributors to your nonprofit.