Peer-to-peer fundraising is a non-profit activity where supporters take part in a challenge such as a walk, bike ride or other real or virtual challenge, and reach out to their network of friends, family, neighbours and colleagues for donations.

Compared to the global average, Not for Profit organisations in the US and Canada have an exceptionally high adoption of peer-to-peer fundraising at 39%, with Australia & New Zealand not far behind at 37%.  

While the global pandemic caused downward trends in many fundraising income streams, the recovery in some regions saw a 30% increase in revenue in 2021 over 2020. And with the strong return of in-person events in 2022, peer-to-peer fundraising activities are back, giving NFP’s the confidence to increase the number of peer-to-peer activities in each calendar year.  

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The Flexibility of Peer-to-Peer

It’s unsurprising that peer-to-peer fundraising is popular with Not-for-Profit (NFP) organisations and supporters alike.  For the NFP it is relatively easy and inexpensive to implement, depending on the style of activity. Medium and large organisations might choose an event that involves online support, culminating in a community-wide physical event such as a walk, marathon or cycle.  But a decent ROI can be achieved by a small charity or organisation with limited resources, when the activity is entirely virtual, or a smaller physical event contained within their own organisational community.  The most important keys to success are down to frequent promotion and engagement, and keeping it simple.


The Champion Effect

For supporters, peer-to-peer fundraising harnesses two things – the love of a challenge, and the universal fact that people love to support a champion.  And that champion does not need to be someone of great physical prowess – just someone who is passionate about a cause and willing to put themselves on the line. According to a 2018 empirical study by the University of Queensland School of Psychology, success in the peer-to-peer fundraising context is influenced more by the champion than by the charity—a phenomenon they called The Champion Effect. The enthusiasm of the fundraising champion when communicated to others frequently raised larger amounts. 


Planning Your Peer-to-Peer Activity – Choose Your Challenge

So how does one do a peer-to-peer fundraiser? Firstly you must choose your challenge and decide if your activity will be wholly web-based, or feature an onsite event. Options tend to fall into these categories – 

  • Athletic campaigns — Walks, marathons, cycles, kayaking, swimming, gym challenges.  Examples: riding a historical trail: stadium stomp (group step exercises in the bleachers); Burpees for Bowel Cancer; Ride the Night (cycling for domestic violence support); The Pink Walk for Breast Cancer. 

  • Personal sacrifice/improvement campaigns — These involve difficult or even extreme experiential challenges, such as shaving your head, eating chillies, or taking an action that raises awareness of the cause involved. Examples: Dry July; Febfast (no sugar for a month); Ice Bucket Challenge for MND/ALS,  CEO Sleepout for homelessness (also adapted for high school students – conducted on their basketball courts with supervising teachers).  
  • Novelty/Themed campaigns

    — Participants carry out an activity that is humorous, embarrassing, quirky or out of character. Examples: Red Nose Day for the Abused Child Trust; Daggy Jumper Day (wear an ugly sweater in public to support homeless people in winter); Polished Man (men wearing nail polish to support men’s health); Ice bath slide challenges like Chill Factor or The Big Freeze for MND/ALS; The Great Duck Race (racing giant or small rubber duckies – various charities)

  • Tribute and Awareness Events — Participants undertake an action in honour of a loved one or to raise awareness.  This can be a physical activity but doesn’t need to be competitive.  Examples:  Walk to D’Feet MND (those with the disease can walk or wheel with their families, or honour those who have passed); A Million Paws walk for the RSPCA to raise funds and awareness of animals subjected to cruelty; Birthday challenge in Honour of a loved one.


Planning Your Peer-to-Peer Activity – Analysing your Capability

The choices of activity are endless but there are key points to consider with your team to help make your decision:

  • Is the Activity Safe?  Analyse the risks, consider insurance, plan for onsite procedures, issue warnings for participants undertaking challenges at home.
  • Does the Activity fit with your brand? Consider if it will appeal to supporters and retain reputation integrity
  • Simplicity – Can the activity be simply explained and easily understood?
  • Resources – Physical resources required and cost. Human resources to manage the activity – even if digital, people will be needed to manage promotion, support and communication.
  • Suitable date and time of year – Consider the weather for an outdoor event, check clashing or similar events by competitors, check school holiday times and sport grand final events if relevant. 
  • Digital Capacity – A Facebook and Instagram account are essential, a website, a digital fundraising platform, and preferably a CRM.

Your Digital Engagement – Crucial to Success

A digital fundraising platform is central to managing your peer-to-peer fundraising activity – making it possible for your supporters to set up a customised page, share with their networks and solicit donations. If you don’t have one, this is the time to invest in one.  If you do have one, you might want to consider if it has the capacity to facilitate other fundraising activities and record participants in an integrated CRM? 


SupporterHub is a high-quality, easy to use innovative digital platform for peer-to-peer fundraising activities, with supporter page and donation processing capability, along with other digital fundraising features, including email and sms marketing tools and a CRM (donor database), all in one platform. The advantage of the CRM is that peer-to-peer supporters and their networks who donate can be harnessed for repeat events in the same or future years.  

In a peer-to-peer fundraising study in 2020 by Masterson, Miller & Thomas, it was found that a returning participant raises almost 4 times that of 1 new participant. With this in mind, investing in an integrated system like SupporterHub sets you up for the future and reduces the effort required for each dollar of income. And if you plan more than one peer-to-peer activity in each calendar year, you will reap the added financial benefits of returning participants very quickly. The SupporterHub platform has additional capacity to manage event ticketing, auctions, raffles, automated renewals and regular giving, streamlining your fundraising, event and donor management and further improving overall efficiency and cost effectiveness.


Social Media, Email and SMS Engagement

The frequency of social media, email and other digital communication by each participant and the NFP itself is the dominant factor in the amount of funds raised in any peer-to-peer activity. Regular Facebook and Instagram posts, utilisation of supporter videos, personal stories, inspirational and motivating emails and SMS are essential to maximise your results. 

SupporterHub with its integrated design where emails, social media links, supporter fundraising pages, donation collection and your CRM are all connected makes it easier for you to access data and communicate at the optimum frequency.  Ultimately your supporters and their networks will take actions such as sharing on their socials or donating more frequently. 


The Future – Making the Digital Personal

The pandemic changed much of the nature of fundraising, and paved the way towards a brighter and more digital fundraising future. The importance of personal connection will never change, but if we utilise the digital to enhance that connection, it can only benefit our mission. 

If you’re ready to harness the bounty of peer-to-peer fundraising, make better connections with your donors, and streamline running your not-for-profit, find out more today by booking a demo or contacting us with any questions you may have.

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