How many people know about your P2P fundraiser is a huge factor in determining how many people participate. As it’s hard to predict which people will fundraise substantial amounts, it’s best to simply get lots of people signed up.
P2P fundraisers work great if they are not done too often
We found there was a burn out effect if people attempted to do P2P fundraisers too often. Even our two events, which were separated by over 4 months, felt too close together. We think two or three P2P fundraisers a year is about the maximum an individual could do.
Pick a really good P2P system
A part of our increased success for our Christmas fundraiser over our other ones was the use of a stronger P2P system. How long it takes to set up a page and how easy the system is to use can make a big difference in how many people sign up and how much time it takes you to run the campaign.
Offer lots of help and guidance
We had blog post examples of success, template messages, offered one-on-one Skypes for guidance, and we still could have improved in this area.
Give some reason why people should act now
People are very good at procrastinating so it's critical to create a sense of urgency. Some ways to do this are to center it around a particular date, such as Christmas, or to offer time-limited donation matching
More automation is better, but be willing to put in extra manual labor if need be
Automation really helped tasks that had to be done again and again (e.g. tax receipts) but sometimes we needed a feature but it was not available or automatable. For example, our system did not have a way to do donation matching. In these cases, we found it worthwhile just to put in the additional labor.
Setting up our own P2P fundraiser is likely a better plan than connecting with a pre-existing one.
We considered just syncing up with larger fundraising events (such as Live Below the Line), but found the benefits were often very small for much larger fees, and gave us much less control over what charities people would fundraise for.
Things to do better next year
More outreach to interested groups.
We did not expect our Christmas P2P event to do so well. In hindsight, we wish we had marketed it more and earlier to other possible groups that might have been interested in joining. We started marketing about a week into December. It would have been better to have worked on it 1-2 months before.
Solve currency problems
The biggest technical problem we had this year was that our system was not built to accept different currencies. People found this both confusing and likely donated less because we used the Canadian dollar instead of the American dollar. The Canadian dollar is a weaker currency and thus one dollar donated was only equal to about $0.80 USD. A few possible solutions we are looking into are changing P2P systems, using the American dollar as our main currency, or making several pages with different currencies (although we already tried this a bit, and it was confusing and difficult).
Highlight the match more
We had a match, which many people saw, but some donors did not notice it or said it was not highlighted enough. We plan on making it clearer for people in the future.
More distance between the Charity Science walk and Christmas
Above we talked about how it’s easy for people burn out. We have decided to move our Charity Science Walk to the middle of summer to give more distance between it and our Christmas fundraiser.
Set up two tiers of engagement
The final big improvement we want to do next year is to have multiple levels of engagement. Some people wanted to only do a little bit, whereas some people were more gung ho and would have appreciated a higher effort, higher returns option.We think it’s important to keep it really easy to join and sign up, but also put in an extra challenge for those who desire it.
Some other lessons learned
- We are considering not asking people to run birthday fundraisers if we think they’d do a Christmas fundraiser in the next 3 months.
- More mentoring with individual fundraisers was worth the time
- P2P works better the larger a network or following you have.
- There are lots of tasks volunteers can do for P2P fundraisers
- The Canadian dollar is a bad currency to use for international donors. American dollars is a better choice.
- Manual matching was time-consuming. It would be great to get a system which made it automatic.
- We looked around a lot and ended up using Causevox as our P2P system. If we were in the United States we likely would have used Classy instead.
- Might be worth coordinating with an American charity and/or a British charity to get more tax deductibility, although this was not as big a concern as we expected it to be).