Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Peer Fundraiser
Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Peer Fundraiser
In an era where many of us are immensely blessed, there's still so much need in our communities. From veterans and children to animals and cancer research, there is always someone we can help. The problem for many of us isn't a lack of desire to help, but not knowing how we can help.
Most of us don't have pockets deep enough to run with corporate supporters. But surely there's something we, as individuals, can do to help. Right?
Yes! It doesn't matter how deep your pockets are or how great your reach is, there's a way for the everyday person to contribute to their favorite nonprofit organization. The answer is peer fundraising.
What is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?
Peer-to-peer fundraising, or social fundraising, is when individuals organize campaigns to raise money among their peers for a larger organization. You probably think of the types of fundraisers you did as a kid for your school or sports team, and you’d be right. Students and athletes selling wrapping paper or hosting a baked sale is an excellent example of peer-to-peer fundraising because they’re collecting donations from friends and family for a larger organization.
Did you know that your favorite nonprofits can also benefit from peer-to-peer fundraising? In recent years, peer-to-peer fundraising has gained popularity and is a lucrative option for individuals wanting to support their favorite cause.
By hosting a peer fundraising campaign, you can bring awareness to a new audience and allow your network to invest in a worthy cause. You might be concerned that no one will want to give to your fundraiser, but we think you'll be surprised by the response of your peers. Like you, your peers might think their contributions are too small to make a difference compared to corporate supporters. A peer-to-peer fundraiser shows them that no contribution is too small to make an impact.
So, if you’re wondering what kind of peer-to-peer fundraiser you should host, we’re here to help. In this article, we're going to help you learn to host the best fundraising events possible.
Planning Your Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Events
Before you begin any type of fundraising, it’s wise to first make a plan so your efforts are as organized and effective as possible. Here are a few things to consider before you get started:
Who will participate in the fundraising events? Some peer-to-peer fundraisers are run by a single, mission-oriented person. Others are run by an entire team. The avenue you choose is up to you! Whatever you choose, make sure the fundraising team shares your passion for the mission.
Decide what you’re raising money for. Before you can choose a fundraiser, you have to know who or what you’re raising money for. Knowing what you’re raising money for will help you choose your fundraiser and motivate your team to peer fundraise more enthusiastically.
What kind of peer fundraiser is most appropriate for this need? If you follow our guide to planning an effective campaign, you already have your budget and fundraising team lined up. Now all you need is to choose the type of peer fundraiser or fundraisers, as some projects will require more than one campaign. We will share campaign examples later in this article.
While all fundraisers, big and small, are impactful, not all are created equally. Meaning, not every fundraiser is a good fit for every need. For instance, if you want to raise funds for new team jerseys, a simple bake sale could cover the expense. However, if your goal is a new animal shelter, a bake sale would not be appropriate.
How long will the fundraiser run? The answer to this is largely dependent on your financial goal and what type of fundraiser you choose to hold. You may not know exactly how long your campaign will run, but setting an estimated time frame will help your team know what to expect. Plus, having an estimated end date will motivate them to fundraise as much as possible within the allotted window.
Establish a way to track the success of the fundraiser/event. While tracking how much money you raise is helpful, it’s not the only way to gauge the success of a campaign. A few things to keep in mind while evaluating the fruits of your labor are:
- Which campaigns brought in the most money?
- Which campaigns were most efficient?
- Which campaign did the public/supporters seem most excited about?
- Which team members worked well together?
- Which team members thrived in their assigned task?
Knowing the details of your peer fundraisers will not only help your campaign more effectively in the future but also recognize the team members who excelled in their roles. There's something to learn from every campaign, so don't be afraid of failure. You'll turn it into a success next time.
Recruiting and Motivating Participants
If you are planning a peer fundraising campaign, you might have one of two feelings.
- Excitement knowing you can easily recruit a team of people who share your love for the mission.
- Dread, knowing the last thing your friends want to do is solicit people for money.
We understand that fundraising, while crucial to your chosen mission, isn’t always easy. Soliciting supporters is one thing, but asking people to approach family and friends can be difficult. So, no matter which category you fall into, we have some tips to make peer fundraising less daunting and more doable.
Assigning Roles for Your Peer Fundraiser vs. Recruiting Volunteers
Let's address category number one first. You have a team of people ready to help, but you still have to assign roles.
As head of the campaign, only you know the best way to dole out tasks. You could spearhead the operation and assign tasks to your team, which is fine. However, you can delegate roles while still being conscious of everybody’s strengths.
You know your team members best. When assigning roles, take into consideration what those strengths and weaknesses are. Consider letting your go-getters take on the bold operation like a polar plunge or head shave (more on that later). Ask your more reserved team members to organize an online silent auction or crowdfunding campaign. If you have staff with strong community ties, let them organize a festival or run. When you work with your team member’s strengths, they will feel safer under your leadership and their campaigns will be more lucrative.
If assigning tasks makes you cringe, you can always invite your team to volunteer for tasks. Tell them which campaign you plan to run and let everyone volunteer for the role they feel most comfortable in. Fundraising should be fun, after all. Letting your group members choose their roles will help them feel more comfortable and avoid burnout.
Motivation Through Visuals
Fundraising can turn exhausting very quickly if people don't feel like they're making progress. The fact that every donation counts often doesn't register unless people can see the progress. If you are chipping away at a large goal, try providing a visual reminder like a fundraising thermometer or a puzzle to your team. It will show them that no contribution is too small and, even if it doesn’t feel like it, they are getting closer to the goal.
If you have a large fundraising goal, consider offering incentives to keep up morale. Along the thermometer, display incentives like pizza parties, ice cream socials, gift cards, or anything that will motivate your fundraisers. These may seem like small rewards, but everyone likes to feel appreciated and it will make the task feel less daunting.
Friendly In-House Competitions with Rewards
What some people love even more than a pizza party is friendly competition. If you’ve divvied up tasks among your team, you could have an in-house competition to see who can raise the most money the fastest. The winner gets a prize better than all the rest!
Scheduled Check-Ins and Reports
Scheduling time each month to check in on your fundraisers is a good way to monitor the success of your efforts and address any concerns your team may have. Set this time apart from any other meetings you have. Serve coffee, donuts, or whatever treat your staff enjoys.
During the meeting, ask for:
- Financial reports. How much revenue has everyone brought in?
- Personal victories. Does anyone have a good story from their fundraising efforts?
- Logistical concerns. What potential roadblocks could we encounter?
- Personal concerns. Is anyone feeling burnt out? Is anyone unsure of how to handle their duties? How can you help them?
There are a lot of moving parts when running peer-to-peer fundraisers and things can get overwhelming, but being available to your team is one of the most valuable things you can do to keep everyone motivated.
Running a Solo Social Campaign
If you find yourself passionate about a mission but unable to find a team to help, don't panic. There are so many ways you can raise funds all by yourself! While having a team can achieve larger goals, they also come with a lot more work. By running a fundraising campaign on your own, you can bypass assigning roles and managing and motivating people. Plus, thanks to modern technology, your reach could be just as great as an entire team of people. So, if a solo fundraiser is in your future, the following fundraising ideas apply to you too.
Creative Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas
Once you’ve established how much revenue you need to raise and who is going to participate, it’s time to make the big decision: How are you going to raise funds? The good news is the options are practically endless! From online to in-person campaigns, there are so many creative peer-to-peer fundraising ideas and we are going to share some of our favorites below.
- Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a way for many people to contribute donations to a peer raising money for a nonprofit organization. Typically, the fundraiser sets up a crowdfunding website explaining the mission of the nonprofit, why they are passionate about the mission, and anything else that would entice their peers to donate. Don't worry if your peers aren't familiar with your nonprofit organization. They'll be excited to learn about it.
- Honorary fundraiser. Also known as a DIY fundraiser, honorary fundraisers are set up on behalf of someone else to raise funds for a nonprofit. Typically, the person being honored has an association with the mission of the nonprofit. For example, an honorary fundraiser might be held on behalf of someone who lost their life to cancer and the funds would be donated to a cancer research organization.
- Birthday fundraiser. Birthday fundraisers are a generous way to ask peers to donate to a cause on the fundraiser’s birthday instead of traditional presents. The fundraiser typically announces the birthday fundraiser on their social media platform with a donation link to their chosen nonprofit organization.
- No-shave month. In recent years, a no-shave month has been initiated to raise awareness for men’s health issues like testicular and prostate cancers. You’ve probably heard of these months referred to as No Shave November, Don’t Shave December, or Mustache-Only March. Participants donate their monthly cost of grooming (ie. Razors, shave cream, salon visits) to no-shave.org. To date, they have raised over ten million dollars!
- Head shave for cancer. Cancer patients aren’t the only ones darning a shaved head. Friends and loved ones of cancer patients often show their support by shaving their own heads. The fundraiser works by allowing peers to bid on who gets to shave the fundraiser’s head. The highest bidder gets to do the shaving and the money is donated to cancer research nonprofits.
- Polar Plunge Challenge. A polar plunge is for bold fundraisers who want to raise money for the Special Olympics and their athletes. Participants collect donations from their peers and, in return, plunge into a cold body of water in the winter.
Polar Plunges are great peer fundraising options to do independently but are even better with a crowd. The Rotary Club of Athens, Georgia raised $25,000 from their peers and took the Polar Plunge together! Plunging into icy water is less daunting when you do it with friends who are up for a challenge.
- Virtual running event. Virtual races gained popularity during the 2020 pandemic when crowded races weren’t ideal. Now, participants can register for a race and run, walk, or jog on their own time and in the location of their choosing. To raise money, peers can pledge a set amount for every mile the participant completes and the money is donated to the racer’s chosen nonprofit.
- Virtual silent auction. You’ve probably seen extravagant silent auction baskets at local fundraisers. Now you can have a virtual silent auction without all the frills but bring in just as much revenue, if not more. All you have to do is choose an online silent auction platform, connect with a representative, and let them guide you through the rest.
- Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI). Founded by the Junior League of London, the LBDI is a peer fundraiser that raises awareness for poverty and poverty-related issues. Participants wear their favorite little black dress (or outfit) and share their photos on social media to spark conversations and donations for poverty-related nonprofits.
- Challenge fundraiser. Inspired by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, challenge fundraisers are fun, friendly ways for people to raise money from their peers using social media. The premise is simple: challenge your peers to do something they probably don’t want to do (like shave their head or dump a bucket of ice water on themselves) or donate $10 or $20 to your nonprofit of choice. Don’t be afraid to post a video calling out your friends on social media. A bold challenge is all part of the fun!
- Day of Giving. Declaring a day of giving like Giving Tuesday (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving) is a simple yet effective way to encourage your peers to donate to nonprofits. All you have to do is let everyone know in advance who or what you’re raising money for. Utilize social media to get the word out and advertise in the days leading up to your Giving Day. Then, make a post or video of yourself thanking everyone for their participation.
Money isn’t the only thing you can give on a Day of Giving. British Boxing Day is a great example of this. Celebrated the day after Christmas, people are encouraged to box up things they no longer use and donate them to charity. You could encourage your peers to donate food to the local food bank, clothes to local shelters, or even labor if there are nonprofits in town that could benefit from a work day. The sky is the limit!
Event Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas: Festivals, Walk-a-Thon, Dance-a-Thon and More!
If you have collected a team of people ready to peer fundraise, you can extend your efforts to event campaigns. Some of our favorite event-based peer-to-peer fundraising ideas are:
- Walk-a-Thons. Also known as walking marathons or sponsored walks, walk-a-thons are fundraisers in which supporters pledge a set amount for each mile the participants walk. Walk-a-thons are popular fundraisers for school-age children or anyone who prefers gentler exercising to long-distance runs.
- Bike-a-thons. Bike-a-thons are just like walk-a-thons, but with biking! Get a group of your favorite cyclists together, collect donations, and see how far you can ride before your legs tire out. Keep in mind that bike-a-thons may require the help of local law enforcement to redirect traffic. Check with your local authorities before hosting this kind of peer fundraiser.
- Dance-a-thons. In true a-thon spirit, this marathon involves pledges and dancing! Utilize a local school or church gymnasium, hire a DJ, and see who can dance the longest.
- Bowl-a-thons. If dancing and biking aren't your thing, try picking up a bowling ball for a unique, group marathon. Bowl-a-thons are family-friendly fundraising campaigns that people of all ages can enjoy.
- Work-a-thon. Maybe your nonprofit organization doesn’t need money, but a day of good hard work. Instead of collecting monetary donations, reach out to your friends and family for a work day. Motivate them with a prize for whoever can work the longest. You’d be amazed how a day of work can turn into a fun competition everyone looks forward to! Especially when snacks and beverages are provided. Remember, most people work better with the smell of pizza wafting through the air.
- Community festival. Community festivals will require more manpower, planning, and upfront funds, but if you can swing it, we promise they are worth it. Take advantage of fall, Christmas, and springtime festivities to host a festival the whole community can enjoy. When you tell your local townsmen that all the proceeds will go to a good cause, they will be happy to donate.
- Movie night. Who doesn’t love a good movie night? Nobody we know! Rent a projector and set it up in a local park or football field and watch your friends and family line up for tickets. Be sure to host concessions and a bake sale for extra income. It’ll be a night they won’t soon forget!
- Trivia Game night. Trivia night is another fundraiser the whole family can enjoy. Charge admission, divide into teams, appoint a host, and watch your friends and family compete for first prize. Don’t forget to offer a prize for the winner!
- Golf tournament. Hosting a golf tournament could be the most lucrative fundraising campaign you run. Plus, there are a variety of ways to make money in addition to the golf tournament itself. After booking a golf course, sell tickets to golfers or teams who want to compete. Then, sell add-ons like mulligans, caddy services, and golf cart rentals. Don’t limit yourself only to ticket sales. Ask local businesses to sponsor your event. At the tournament, sell raffle tickets, host an auction, sell merchandise, and serve dinner. All the proceeds (which will be substantial) go to your nonprofit!
- Scavenger hunt. Scavenger hunts are a great way to pull together the entire community. Write riddles, hide clues around town, and sell tickets to the event.
- Bake sale. The humble bake sale is one of our favorite peer fundraising ideas for several reasons:
- It requires very little upfront cost. If each person or family donates one or two baked goods, you’re looking at the cost of flour, eggs, butter, and anything else people typically have in their pantries.
- Anyone can participate. Older people love to show off their baking skills and small children love to help. It’s fun for the whole family!
- Bake sales are the perfect addition to any of the above events. Hosting a festival? Sell apple turnovers and pumpkin cupcakes. Hosting any kind of exercise-a-thon? You can bet people will be hungry. Planning a movie night or a golf tournament? Spectators will want a snack.
Leveraging Social Media for Campaign Success
We cannot say enough about the importance and effectiveness of using social media to promote your peer-to-peer fundraising ideas. For starters, it’s an easy and free way to advertise your plans. Most of your personal network is already connected with you on social media, so all you have to do is post regularly about your fundraisers and invite them to join in!
- Fundraising on Instagram. Another way to use social media is for the challenge fundraisers we discussed earlier in the article. Remember the Polar Plunge and ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Those challenges were hosted on Instagram and Facebook and their reach was incredible.
If your campaign involves a challenge and “calling out” another person to join in, social media is your platform. All you have to do is record a video of yourself doing the challenge, add the proper hashtags for optimum reach, call out a family or friend to carry the torch, and hit post! It’s that simple.
Research shows that people spend more time scrolling through Instagram stories than through news feeds, so don’t limit yourself to only posts. Share information about your fundraiser in your stories. Share videos of the challenges you complete or the events you’re planning. Record live videos of yourself describing your fundraising plans and why the nonprofit is dear to your heart.
You might feel silly spending so much time in front of the camera, but remember that you are the face of your peer fundraiser. People want to learn about your mission.
- Fundraising with Facebook. If you are hosting an in-person event, creating a Facebook page for the occasion is a great way to keep everyone informed and updated. When you create the page, add a few pictures to showcase what attendees can look forward to. Add as much information as you can, from the price of tickets to what kind of food and entertainment will be provided.
Facebook groups are also a great way to know how many people to expect at your event. When you invite friends to your fundraising event, they can respond with their plans to attend. Keep in mind that not everyone will RSVP and many people will decide last minute to show up.
As the event draws near, post updates and reminders to keep the festivities at the forefront of everyone’s mind. People are busy, after all, but we all need a little something to look forward to when the days get long. Let that be your community festival, movie night, or walk-a-thon! Then, after the event is over, post pictures from the day so everyone can see what a success it was!
- Fundraising with X. X might be the last platform you think of using for your peer fundraiser but don’t count it out. It’s a valuable place to share information about campaigns with your peers.
The rules for posting on X are a bit different than Instagram and Facebook, so here are a few things to remember:
· You only have 280 characters to tweet, so make sure all the important information is included.
· Include a link either in the tweet itself or in your bio.
· You don’t have a lot of space, but try to include why the nonprofit is important to you, even if you have to do a series of posts. The more passionate you are, the more others will be inclined to give.
· Include a clear call to action. Are you asking for volunteers? Monetary donations? RSVPs? Make sure your audience knows exactly what to do next.
· Add at least one picture. A tweet with a picture stands out from the sea of tweets on the news feed, so be sure to include something eye-catching.
Using Technology for Your Online Fundraising Campaign
These days, with access to the entire world at the tap of our fingers, fundraisers are not limited to selling wrapping paper door to door. Thanks to the internet, social media, and online fundraising platforms, we can run a myriad of effective fundraisers from the comfort of our homes without compromising our impact. Some of our favorite peer-to-peer fundraising ideas that utilize technology are:
PayBee is an online platform that puts relationships at the heart of fundraising. Their mission is to attract new supporters, build lasting relationships, and increase your impact with one platform designed to inspire limitless generosity. By supporting the entire donor journey from start to finish, they help nonprofits raise more year after year by:
· Attracting new donors to support your cause. Impactful fundraising tools expand your outreach and leave lasting impressions on donors throughout their giving experience.
· Build meaningful relationships. Automatically tap into your supporters’ strengths and passions to build lasting relationships with your supporters and inspire them to give time, dollars, or talent.
· Level up your fundraising results. Unlock future giving potential and improve outcomes through unified data, people, and tools, available all in one place.
- Peer to Peer Fundraising forms and donation pages built for mobile-first supporters. Delight your supporters and your development team with beautifully designed donation forms that make the giving experience quick and simple while also displaying your fundraising results to encourage donors to keep pushing you towards your fundraising goals.
- Increase recurring donors. Automatically prompt one-time supporters to become recurring givers and boost your donor retention rates.
- Improve donation conversion rates. Personalize the giving experience for supporters by using AI-powered technology to dynamically generate recommended donation amounts based on a donor’s likelihood to give.
- Flexible payment options. With support for PayPal, Apple Pay, debit, credit, and ACH, you’ll empower supporters to support your mission however their heart desires.
- Host in-person & virtual events. Boost in-person and virtual event revenues and first-time supporters with powerful event ticketing, management, registration, auction bidding, and fundraising tools.
- Attract new donors with peer-to-peer tools. Engage your biggest champions as fundraisers within their network, attracting more donors to join your cause and further your mission.
- Organize engaging auctions. Host dazzling auctions and gala events without stressful paper bids and long checkout lines.
- Streamline Email and Text Communication. Personalize and automate your donor communication with integrated communication tools; use an expansive set of templates, donor groups, and AI-assisted content generation to create, send, and automate reminders, personalized acknowledgments, appeals, and newsletters in minutes.
- Raise funds on-the-go. With modern payment methods like Tap to Pay, you’ll collect in-person donations through a mobile app in seconds. Drive donations from any mobile device with text or bill-to-carrier campaigns.
- Enable your supporters . Empower supporters with a personalized portal to manage their donations. Within minutes, donors can increase monthly donations or download tax receipts - no staff time required.
- Optimize your donation forms. Quickly A/B test which fundraising tools and fundraising strategies convert more donors so you can supercharge your fundraising effectiveness and exceed annual goals.
- Share results quickly. Customize and automate fundraising and donor reports to automatically surface and share actionable learnings.
Schedule a demo today and see how Paybee can help you host the ultimate virtual gala.
Engaging the Community and Building Partnerships While You Fundraise
If you don’t already have deep ties to your community, fundraising is the perfect time to form them. Not only do your friends and family want to support your campaign and participate in a challenge, but so do local business owners. While they probably share an interest in your mission, it also benefits their business in two ways:
1. Donations are a valuable tax write-off.
2. Advertising. Advertising. Advertising.
That’s right, supporting local fundraisers actually benefits the business owner as much as they do your nonprofit, so don’t be afraid to reach out for support. When approaching a business owner for help, don’t just ask for a donation. Ask for sponsorship.
While donations are typically one-time contributions in the form of goods, services, or money, sponsorships are almost always money and can be a long-term arrangement. This means you’ll receive valuable funds for your mission and, if the campaign is successful, a long-term investor.
In return for their valuable contributions, you will display their company logo on things like t-shirts, banners, and plagues as a “thank you.” Not only does this provide prime advertisement for your sponsor, but it builds positive rapport between the business owner and the community. It’s a win-win!
Measuring Campaign Success
Like all business ventures, you need to track the success of your peer-to-peer fundraising ideas for several reasons:
- Taxes. While contributions to nonprofits are typically tax-exempt, it’s wise to keep proper documentation for every penny spent and earned, just in case.
- Transparency. Tracking your income isn’t just for the IRS, but also for the generous supporters who support your fundraiser. They want to know exactly how much money you raised and how you invest it.
- Efficiency. While all fundraisers are valuable, not all are efficient. We mean that not all fundraising efforts are worth repeating. When you crunch the numbers, if your bake sale paled in comparison to food truck revenue at your walk-a-Thon, you’ll know how to better spend your energy next time.
- Showing gratitude. Showing gratitude to supporters is an important, yet sometimes overlooked, part of fundraising. A simple “thank you” note or email is a simple way to tell people their contribution, no matter the size, is appreciated.
Tracking your income doesn’t have to be difficult. Depending on the type of campaigns you host, a simple Excel spreadsheet could do the trick. However, if your fundraiser has a lot of moving parts, people, or complex events, consider a CRM like Paybee or Qgiv. They are designed to make your fundraising efforts more organized and efficient.
FAQs About Fundraisers
What is peer fundraising?
This has been a detailed article of the ins and outs of peer-to-peer fundraising, but it’s actually pretty simple. Peer fundraising is when an individual (like you!) raises money for a nonprofit organization they are passionate about. These can be simple fundraisers like bake sales and raffles or more extravagant campaigns like 5K runs, festivals, and virtual auctions.
How do I convince people to donate to my fundraiser?
Perhaps the most intimidating part of peer fundraising is the thought that no one will donate to your campaign. What if you put in all that work for nothing? What if no one cares about your mission? Rest assured that undoubtedly, there is someone within your network who shares your love of charitable giving. A few things you can do to ensure people donate to your mission are:
- Don’t scrimp on planning. When people see the time and care you put into planning your fundraiser, they’ll see your heart for the cause. Even if they have never heard of the nonprofit or don’t share your love for the mission, they are likely to donate. Because they care about you.
- Choose an appropriate fundraiser. While you want to choose a fundraiser that fits you and your team’s skill set, also keep in mind your peers' budget. If the bar is set too high or outside people’s budget, they won’t be able to contribute. For instance, many people won’t be able to participate in a golf tournament because the tickets are pricey. But everyone can buy a brownie at a bake sale and many people can attend a festival or movie night. When you have a campaign that fits everyone’s budget, you let them know no contribution is too small.
- Advertise. Advertise. Advertise. It’s impossible to donate to a fundraiser you don’t know is taking place. Make sure that whatever fundraising option you choose to run, you advertise properly. Hang up fliers around town. Run an ad in the paper. Most importantly, post about it on social media.
Is peer-to-peer fundraising cost-effective?
Yes! There are many avenues you can take for peer fundraising, all at different price points. Even if you have no startup money, you can run a bake sale or raffle with donated goods.
Is crowdfunding the same as donations?
No. Crowdfunding offers tangible rewards to supporters based on funding tiers while donation sites focus on raising money without incentives.
Now You Can Host the Perfect Charitable Event
We hope our guidance and examples have put to rest any hesitations you have about hosting your own fundraiser. Even if you've never raised a single dollar for charity, you can easily become a pro at fundraising and your nonprofit will be eternally grateful. Don't forget that no matter which avenue you choose, peer fundraising campaigns should be fun. Grab a few friends, choose a mission, and have a blast connecting with supporters. You can do it!