Turning Peer-to-Peer Fundraisers Into Lifelong Supporters

Nowadays, we connect with one another through technology. We talk with friends and family through group texts on our smartphones, share life updates via Facebook, and, as your nonprofit surely has done over the past year, hold entire fundraising campaigns online.

It comes as no surprise that peer-to-peer fundraising— fundraisers during which participants raise funds on behalf of your nonprofit— relies on tech platforms as well. However, to elevate one-time fundraisers to lifelong supporters for your organization, you’re going to need much more than an effective peer-to-peer platform.

While there are a variety of peer-to-peer platforms in the nonprofit tech landscape, we’re going to focus on Facebook’s peer-to-peer fundraising tools for the purpose of this guide. We’ve chosen Facebook as many organizations see fundraising revenue raised through the platform, but few are truly growing relationships with the users that raise that revenue.

If you’re failing to connect and grow relationships with your one-time fundraisers on Facebook, you’re leaving support on the table. In this guide, we’re going to discuss the following strategies to build relationships with peer-to-peer fundraisers on Facebook:

  • Recognize and express gratitude for each and every participant.
  • Make the most of your peer-to-peer platform’s built-in engagement tools.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer participants to connect with one another and form communities.
  • Collect data about peer-to-peer participants to truly understand your supporters.

At GoodUnited, we specialize in helping nonprofits just like yours optimize their Facebook fundraising strategy. We’ve seen time and time again that making the most of social media is much more than fundraisers, donate buttons, and scheduled posting. It’s about creating experiences and cultivating relationships with all supporters to build intimacy at scale.

Are you ready to create experiences that inspire users to give their time, attention, and money repeatedly, continuing to return and support your organization for years to come? Let’s dive in.

Recognize and express gratitude for each and every participant.

Peer-to-peer participants aren’t your everyday supporter. They’re not donating to your nonprofit behind-the-scenes to receive a tax benefit at the start of the new year— they’re going to their friends and family members, advocating for your organization, and soliciting gifts on your behalf. These supporters go above-and-beyond and your organization needs to thank them as such.

We don’t mean a generic thank-you note posted to your nonprofit’s main Facebook profile, encompassing all of your organization’s social supporters. The goal is to make each unique participant feel seen, heard, and appreciated for their contributions to your cause— and that requires personal acknowledgments.

While the process isn’t as difficult as thanking donors on Facebook, it can still be challenging to discover users that have started fundraisers on your behalf and thank them accordingly. First of all, Facebook doesn’t notify you when users start fundraisers. Further, when you view the Fundraisers tab of your nonprofit’s profile, the page will default to show only fundraisers that have raised $50+ in gifts already and are closest to their end date. This means you could easily overlook fundraisers that are recently started, especially if there are many fundraisers started on your behalf.

Luckily, the developers at Facebook have released a new “Sort & Filter” tool to help your team overcome this challenge. With this tool, you can:

  • Sort campaigns to show the fundraising campaigns most recently created first.
  • Filter to only show fundraisers that your nonprofit hasn’t posted a thank-you comment on yet.

From this tool, you can view the newest fundraisers and post thank-you notes in the comments. As far as these thank-you notes, you’ll want to keep it personal and share next steps. Include specific information about the type of fundraiser (ex: write “Happy Birthday!” for a birthday fundraiser) and encourage the user to review future volunteer opportunities on your website.

Make the most of your peer-to-peer platform’s built-in engagement tools.

After you’ve initiated this first contact between your nonprofit and the peer-to-peer fundraiser with your thank-you comment, a world of possibilities opens up regarding ongoing communication.

What do we mean by ongoing communication? Well, consider the example of Facebook birthday fundraisers, a common peer-to-peer effort that GoodUnited regularly encounters in our work with nonprofits. Birthdays, by nature, only occur once a year— but that doesn’t mean that you should only be connecting with peer-to-peer fundraisers once every 365 days.

To inspire individual fundraisers to contribute their time, attention, and efforts repeatedly, you’ll need to inspire them and forge a strong connection between your cause and their efforts. On Facebook, we’ve found that the best way to do this is through one-to-one conversational messaging via Facebook Messenger.

Facebook Messenger is drastically underutilized as an outreach tool, but we’ve seen a 40x higher advocate response rate, 30x higher fundraising response rate, and 40x higher event participation through communications via Messenger versus email.

Through conversational messaging, you can share:

  • Fundraising tips. You can send tips to help supporters reach their goals. For instance, you might recommend fundraisers make the first donation themselves. You can also send reminders to continue sharing their fundraiser to ensure the effort isn’t forgotten before they reach their goal.
  • Upcoming opportunities to engage. You can market virtual events, volunteer opportunities, and advocacy efforts that are planned in your nonprofit’s near future. Rather than sending out a blanket invite to your entire Facebook following, you can send personal invites to users one-on-one, which is much more likely to elicit a response.
  • Surveys and questions. Ask users to provide additional contact information, as well as other qualitative inquiries. What motivates them most about your mission? How do they want to engage going forward? You can use this information to craft future campaigns.

Research shows that one tried-and-true method for donor retention is continuing to engage with supporters after a campaign has ended. Messenger allows you to have an ongoing, one-to-one conversation with supporters year-round to bolster your relationships.

But how do you get users to opt in to Messenger, to begin with? This is one opportunity to make the most of your thank-you notes from the first section. With your thank-you note, invite users to connect with your team via Messenger, and go from there. You can also invite users to connect with you via Facebook groups, which we’ll explore in more detail in the next section.

Encourage peer-to-peer participants to connect with one another and form communities.

In recent years, Facebook has started to favor groups in its algorithm. Essentially, this means that a user is more likely to see a post made within a group than a post made by an individual such as by one of their friends or on your nonprofit’s overall profile.

So, if you invite your supporters to join a Facebook group and share information with them there, they’re likely to encounter it. But, this is far from the only benefit of inviting supporters to join groups, as these are the perfect conduit for community between virtual peer-to-peer fundraisers.

Groups can be used for all of the following:

  • Updates: If you invite all of your peer-to-peer fundraisers to join one group, you can share any upcoming virtual peer-to-peer fundraising opportunities— such as the virtual 5K example provided in this guide. You can directly invite users that have a proven track record with P2P fundraising to join in on the fundraising effort.
  • Community-building: Continuing with the previous 5K example, participants can connect and bond over their shared interest (the peer-to-peer campaign). They can share training tips leading up to the event and even donate to one another’s fundraisers.
  • Surveys: Similarly with Messenger, you can share surveys and ask questions to learn more about your Facebook fundraisers. According to Double the Donation, philanthropic indicators are valuable to discover major gift prospects. With surveys, you can ask questions about a supporter’s past nonprofit involvement to understand how to engage with them going forward.

This isn’t as straightforward as creating a group, inviting supporters to join it, and leaving them to their own volition. Remember: the goal is to create a positive experience for your Facebook supporters that inspire them to continue engaging with your organization. You should monitor the group and manage the information shared in it, to ensure the conversation is both lively and on-brand. 

Wrapping Up

Peer-to-peer fundraisers go out on a limb, supporting your organization publicly and raising funds while doing so. But, to transform one-time peer-to-peer fundraisers into lifelong supporters, you’ll need to build personalized relationships with each and every one.

That said, we recognize that this may be too big of an administrative ask for some organizations— especially those with many supporters conducting peer-to-peer fundraisers on Facebook at any given time.

If that describes your organization, we’d recommend working with a company that specializes in social fundraising solutions (such as GoodUnited!) to build intimacy with your Facebook supporters. This partner can help you overcome the challenges of virtual fundraising on Facebook. They’ll help you understand your supporters, inspire them to continue engaging, and grow these relationships over time.

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Nick Black

Nick is the Founder and CEO of GoodUnited, a venture backed Software as a Service (SaaS) startup that helps nonprofits like Wounded Warrior Project, American Cancer Society, World Wildlife Fund create 1:1 relationships with their donors through the combination of data science and human judgement delivered in conversational messaging platforms. Nick's work with GoodUnited resulted in being named The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s 2017 Distinguished Young Alumnus. Nick has been an innovator and leader at the intersection of business and social impact for over ten years. The concept for GoodUnited came through Nick's work co-founding and leading Stop Soldier Suicide, a 501c3 that grew from startup to national leader in reducing veteran suicide to the national average in ten years. Stop Soldier Suicide’s growth and impact resulted in Nick being selected as a Presidential Leadership Scholar and a Leadership North Carolina Fellow. Nick co-founded Stop Soldier Suicide stemming from his experiences leading Paratroopers as a Ranger qualified Army Officer with the 173rd Airborne during 27 months deployed to combat zones in Afghanistan. During Nick's six years of service he was awarded two Bronze Stars, an Army Commendation Medal for Valor and as a Field Artillery Officer, was repeatedly ranked 1st among 50 peer Officers in a premier Infantry Battalion. Nick received a BA from The Johns Hopkins University. At Johns Hopkins, Nick was a four-year member of the Varsity football team, the first two-time President of Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity and a four-year scholarship winner of the Army ROTC program. Nick received an MBA from Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. At Kenan-Flagler, Nick was awarded the Rollie Tillman Award for Leadership, selected as a Kenan Institute Leadership