The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic of 2020 has taken quite a toll on the world as we know it. Not only has it led to a tragic loss of life all over the globe, by far the most terrible aspect of all, but it has also impacted economies, businesses, and nonprofit organizations in a range of negative ways, forcing many to close their doors. 

Even in the best of times, nonprofits can struggle to get the support they need to survive, and the pandemic has brought with it a whole host of new challenges and problems, forcing nonprofit staff to think outside the box and find new ways for their supporters to help. One of the best methods you can turn to in these unprecedented times in peer-to-peer fundraising.

What is peer-to-peer fundraising?

Before understanding how peer-to-peer fundraising can help your nonprofit, it’s first wise to understand what peer-to-peer fundraising actually is and how it works. Put simply, peer-to-peer fundraising is a specific kind of crowdfunding that has become increasingly popular in recent years. 

It's basically a multi-tiered approach to the concept of crowdfunding. Instead of having one central campaign page that everyone donates to, peer-to-peer systems allow your followers to create their own personal fundraising pages, all of which contribute to your organization’s aims. 

With peer-to-peer fundraising, you can spread out your fundraising efforts through multiple pages, campaigns, and avenues, bringing in funds from a wider pool of sources, and the whole thing is fueled through users sharing their pages with friends, family members, colleagues, and community members, hence the ‘peer-to-peer’ part of the name.

How can peer-to-peer fundraising help?

Now that we understand how peer-to-peer fundraising works, it’s time to figure out how it can help nonprofits struggling during COVID-19. Put simply, it’s all about placing your most loyal and fervent supporters in the best possible position to support your organization. 

By giving your supporters the tools they need to set up their own fundraising campaigns and pages, you can essentially build up a kind of ‘fundraiser army,’ with all donations flowing through your ‘generals’ and into your organization. 

It’s a win-win on both sides too: your organization gets the money it needs to pursue its aims, and your most trusted supporters get a whole new way to help the cause they care so much about. The best benefit is that it allows these individuals to become so much more influential. 

Of course, you could simply ask your loyal donors to make donations at this time, but why stop there? Through peer-to-peer fundraising, you can ask them for help in collecting dozens or hundreds of additional donations through their own circles of peers. 

The potential for this kind of fundraising is effectively limitless and there are so many ways to keep expanding your circle with new donors getting involved each day, and new campaigns being set up all the time to contribute to the overall fund.

Challenges 

One of the best ways to make the most of peer-to-peer fundraising is by setting up fundraising challenges. This has proven to be a hugely popular technique and a very effective one too, getting donors and supporters involved and engaged in fun and exciting ways. 

Potential techniques include physical challenges, like people walking, running, or taking part in sports and asking for sponsorship from those they know. You can also try non-physical challenges, including bake sales or asking supporters to change their appearance in a fun way, like altering their hair color, or going a whole month without shaving.

These challenges engage donors and make them feel like a part of a collective effort. Challenges can also lead to friendly competition, with enthusiastic donors setting up their own individual campaign pages and calling on their friends, families, colleagues, and other loved ones to support them along the way, all while raising funds and building awareness for your organization.

Tips and tricks

Here are a few tips and tricks to bear in mind for effective and efficient peer-to-peer fundraising:

  • Use fundraising and peer-to-peer platforms your supporters are familiar with
  • Don’t make the challenges too complicated, and try to make them as inclusive as possible
  • Be ready to answer questions and communicate with supporters regularly
  • Gather data during the campaign to learn about its effectiveness and make improvement
  • Set up virtual communities where participants can engage with each other
  • Actively engage with participants throughout the process and help them feel valued for their support

About the Author(s)

Jessica Chapman (she/her)

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