Peer-To-Peer Means Literally Everyone

September 2, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

When conducting a peer-to-peer (p2p) fundraising program, don’t neglect your employees and former employees. “The nonprofit community is small and people know each other. They often leave their organizations on good terms,” said Brenna Holmes, vice president of digital at Chapman Cubine Adams and Hussey. “You can’t forget about former employees. Stay in touch. They can hook you into new networks. They know new people who you might not know.”

Holmes, along with Emily Dubin Field, director of next generation fundraising for City of Hope, gave some tips on snagging new donors through p2p during Salsa Labs’ recent Fuse 2014 conference in Annandale, Va.

Field’s organization, a nonprofit hospital in Duarte, Calif., has a problem typical of many organizations in the sector: an aging donor base. “It’s great for planned giving, but how do we build a pipeline for the future?” she asked rhetorically. While she admitted hospital management had some reservations regarding p2p, specifically that the organization did not want the donors to get fatigued by another ask, “Peer-to-peer is designed specifically to not take away from anything else but to supplement and complement” an existing program, said Field.

Field found that her new peer-to-peer donors did not fit the common conception of a p2p donor. “A lot of times people think the peer-to-peer fundraiser is young. That’s true but we also have 80-year-olds and 60-year-olds,” she said. “Baby boomers are the highest percentage of our peer-to-peer fundraisers. And, we find the average donation is over $200 on peer-to-peer. It’s definitely not just a program for 20-year-olds who reach out to their friends and family for $10 each.”

Holmes added, “The Boomer generation is that young donor that everyone is looking for. We’re not talking about Millennials, we’re talking about age 45, 55. Focusing on boomers is a good place to start.”

Field and Holmes shared some tips for those starting out in p2p:

  • Personal emails get opened. When the email comes from someone a prospect knows, Field found open rate was about 95 percent.
  • “Peer-to-peer is social,” she said. “When we integrate with Facebook and Twitter we get a ton more donations.
  • Peer-to-peer works because recommendations come from friends and family. People whom the prospect trusts have already vetted your organization.
  • Have a short deadline and a concrete project
  • Encourage fundraisers to personalize their pages, if possible.

City of Hope created a custom platform called OurHope. “It’s a people generator, a revenue generator and a great way to deepen connections,” said Field. “Once somebody is a fundraiser and they raise a lot, you know they’re an influencer and you have the opportunity to make a stronger connection to them.” She said the average donation on OurHope is $233 and the average fundraiser raises just more than $1,800.

For its first p2p campaign, City of Hope raised about $900,000 from 3,000 donors, 70 percent of whom were new. Holmes said it’s important to hang onto these new fundraisers and get them involved in future p2p campaigns. “When people become a fundraiser for the second time, they raise 500 percent more than the first time,” she said.