Peer-to-Peer: Intro, Ideas, and Templates

Born from the ubiquitous crowdfunding model, peer-to-peer propels fundraising one big evolutionary leap forward. Reported to be 300x more effective than typical organization-led fundraising, the peer-to-peer model is perhaps the single most exciting and effective new tool available in your development program toolbox.

What is Peer-to-Peer?

Peer-to-peer (P2P) decentralizes the burden of fundraising from just one person (or team) in your organization to your organization’s greater network. It’s a process of inspiring your supporters to become advocates and fundraise on your behalf. And because they’re reaching out to their own networks with a personalized appeal, the result is a much higher conversion. The authenticity of the connections (with a benign peppering of guilt factor) creates an avenue by which your non-profit’s mission can directly reach a new audience. It’s highly effective in the same way as word-of-mouth marketing - because we respond best to people whom we know personally. If you’ve ever had a friend ask you to contribute to a charity for her birthday, or your nephew asks you to purchase candy to support his school, you’ve probably noticed that you rarely think twice before saying yes, even if just for $5. Now imagine that amplified by multiple networks. That’s the brilliance of peer-to-peer fundraising ask in action!

What are the benefits of Peer-to-Peer?

The obvious benefit is an increased volume of donations. (Did I mention 300 times more?) But because your fundraisers are going outside your existing network, you’ll find that many of these donors are first-time donors. Using this approach makes hitting a short-term goal incredibly easy, but the real value of peer-to-peer is the ability for you to collect contact information from hundreds of people outside of your immediate network.

That sounds great, but how do I put it into action?

Peer-to-peer campaigns generally come in two types: time-based or ongoing

Time-based campaigns revolve around either an event organized by the non-profit, such as a race, or have a timed goal to fund a specific project. They usually run for 6-8 weeks and few are shorter than 30 days. Fundraisers are galvanized by the time restriction and work to raise funds before the collective deadline. 

Popular time-based peer-to-peer campaigns:

  • 5K Run/Walks & other athletic events
  • Build a Building, Buy a Bus, & other impact goals
  • #GivingTuesday & other giving days

For ongoing campaigns, fundraisers will usually set their own timelines and structure these campaigns around personal events like birthdays, graduations, or personal goal challenges. The main campaign itself, however, remains open indefinitely so each fundraiser can begin and end participating as they please.

Popular ongoing peer-to-peer campaigns:

  • Pledge Your Birthday & other special occasions
  • Personal challenges (the most well-known examples being Movember and the Ice Bucket Challenge)

Because Flipcause's peer-to-peer functionality is so much more flexible than other platforms, we'll add another type called creative to highlight some of the special ways you can use peer-to-peer in our platform. Whether you make them time-based or ongoing is up to you!

Creative peer-to-peer campaigns:

  • Board Fundraiser: your board already fundraises. This allows them to have their own landing page.
  • Classroom Fundraiser: have you ever fundraised by selling magazine subscriptions? This is a way you can make that process, or a similar one, more automated. This is also a way you can organize fundraising efforts in the classroom.

Regardless of what type you choose, you can layer on additional elements. You can keep fundraiser signup open or closed, you can keep everyone's progress shown or hidden, and you can also put individual fundraisers into teams to fundraise in collaboration or in competition with one another. Making it into a contest to see who can raise the most funds or recruit the most donors is a great way to drive additional engagement and amplify the impact.

Below, we'll provide you with some campaign examples and actionable insight into each of these scenarios, their applications, and what they can look like. 

Before getting started with any of these, don’t forget to review the other elements required to drive a successful peer-to-peer fundraiser: set out with a clear goal, share your story, determine and coach fundraisers, and follow up with campaign progress to tell everyone about the impact they've made. As always, deliver on promises and thank your supporters generously!