3 emerging trends in peer-to-peer

Data-accelerated segmentation, network mapping and multiple-predictor models. Jeff Shuck, founder and CEO of Plenty, a consulting firm specializing in peer-to-peer fundraising, identified those three emerging trends in the peer-to-peer world during a session at Blackbaud’s annual Conference for Nonprofits in Nashville, Tenn.

Here is how he defined the trends:

  • Data-accelerated Segmentation: This involved using machine learning tools to help surface segments, with a computer directing the search rather than an analyst. People are increasingly reaching the limits of traditional segmentation techniques, such as pivot tables. There are just too many records and variables and people find things they already know, with an inability to find the long-tail segments.
  • Network Mapping: This uses graph theory and network analysis to understand the connections between constituents, it can “help us understand relationships and interconnectivity in our support system.”
  • Multiple-Predictor Models: These forecast models use multiple factors to predict outcomes, built using various kinds of regression analysis. He expects an increase in the sophistication of prediction models as organizations begin factoring multiple dimensions into forecast models. Fundraising results depend on a variety of elements yet fundraisers often resort to one-dimensional thinking, he said, like prevalence of cause, interest in activity, and the wealth of donors. “It’s not just about ‘creating the next ice bucket,’” he said.

Nonprofits are using technology to harness the human connection but Shuck warned that there is harm is thinking that technology can replace the person-to-person touch.

Traditional fundraising has a direct relationship with the donor and peer-to-peer is about passing that on to friends. “Peer-to-peer is about extending our reach,” Shuck said. “We deputize them. All of our stewardship models are built using that framework,” he said. That’s been “reset at bit” because of the Ice Bucket Challenge, which was shared through the ultimate shrine to peer-to-peer fundraising: Facebook.

“We obsess about how constituents are connected to us,” Shuck said. “In a world increasingly driven by peer-to-peer dynamics, how constituents are connected to one another matters a lot more,” he said. “It’s not about who you know; it’s about who they know.”