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Become the Next P2P Success Story

Jennifer Mulholland & Jeff Shuck
March 8, 2017

It’s no secret that we at Plenty believe in the power of peer-to-peer (P2P).

We’ve long emphasized the importance of cultivating P2P networks – first introducing the concept in our foundational Seven Success Factors of P2P Fundraising e-book – and have since written countless blog posts on various P2P strategies and implementations. Still, though we’ve defined peer-to-peer extensively, you may still be wondering why we see a peer-to-peer reality as one of the most significant aspects of the new paradigm we are entering – one in which the passion and authenticity of an organization is far more important than its digital marketing strategies or the production value of its largest events.Peer-to-peer fundraising programs have historically been given short shrift (in terms of budget) by decision-makers compared to the more-traditional single-donor based ask. This, fortunately, has started to shift in recent years as nonprofit leaders acknowledge a few realities.

  • First, donor databases are aging, and nearly every organization needs to surface a younger pool of constituents, and engage them in new ways.
  • Second, donors’ interests and behaviors are changing. Niche causes and more direct vehicles for impact (like giving to a hospital where a loved one was treated) have found favor as people seek tighter links between their fundraising dollars and the change they want to see in the world.

In short, peer-to-peer programs aren’t just a revenue stream, they are a growth incubator, and since the momentum in the space continues to build up speed – the ceiling of their potential has yet to be defined. That momentum is of particular interest to us, so we’ve spent a great amount of time in recent years exploring the growth drivers behind peer-to-peer, and now we're sharing them with you. Here are two of the top concepts to integrate into your organization to cultivate growth and transformation.

1. Passion is the Seed of Peer-to-Peer Growth

Great messaging can cultivate empathy. Great design can inspire excitement. In these contexts, it’s common to view emotion as the output of a program or campaign – a barometer of how well your mission statement or case for support resonates with your audience. For truly great movements, however, passion is actually an input. The most successful P2P programs start with constituents who really care. A lack of passion will kill movements before they start.

To avoid that, we’ve started to reframe and reword the conversations we have with our clients to put passion first. When we work on concept development projects, we ask questions like, “Would you donate to this ask?" and  "Would you participate in this event?” Because if these core constituents (the center of the organization itself) won’t do it, and/or ask their friends to do it – then no one else will. Many concepts sound snappy in theory, but fall short when translated through the latter of “Do I care enough to share this with the people I care about?” 

2. The Mechanics of Peer-to-Peer Growth

The beauty of peer-to-peer mechanics is that the primary growth drivers are consistent across program types, regardless of whether or not you have a physical event. We anticipate and evaluate peer-to-peer program revenue through what we call the Peer-to-Peer Revenue Equation, below. There are four main drivers to revenue growth:

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This model is simple, but its built-in flexibility allows for us to see how fluctuations in participation and fundraising impact revenue. For example, instituting a fundraising minimum will bring your activation percentage to 100%, but it also may reduce the number of participants significantly. What would that intervention, as opposed to initiating a fundraising recognition program, do to your overall numbers? These are the types of questions we often explore as we hone in on a program’s revenue strategy.

This is only the tip of the metaphorical iceberg when it comes to creating sustainable peer-to-peer program growth, but these two areas are where you should begin the process. We also encourage you to download our latest free e-book “More From Many: Creating Powerful Peer-to-Peer Movements” for an expanded and complete explanation of these tips as well as advice on how to create your own P2P growth model.

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