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A number of factors set peer-to-peer fundraising apart from traditional fundraising, but perhaps the simplest distinguishing factor is the number of asks, and the varying nature of each.
First, an organization must ask their supporters to take an additional step after donating in order to support the organization's mission. These donors must then be asked to take action and to fundraise on behalf of the organization. It sounds simple, but many of us nonprofit veterans recognize that this can be a pretty tall order. Many folks – professional fundraisers and philanthropic idealists alike – are intimidated and sometimes even afraid of fundraising.
I recently joined a local initiative in Chicago called The Giving Project. The program is modeled after a similar program in Seattle and organized by the Crossroads Fund, which supports community organizations working on issues of racial, social, and economic justice in the Chicago area through grants and resources. Myself and a group of about twenty other activists have come together to investigate, discuss, and understand the racial and economic justice needs in Chicago, raise as much money we can, and comprehensively learn about and go through the grant making process.
At the end of our first orientation last weekend, each group member divulged their hopes, fears, and support needs. Unsurprisingly, nearly every one of us included fundraising when discussing our fears. Many members have never fundraised before and were anxious about asking their family and friends for donations for the first time. On the contrary, I expressed that my fear was that I’d struggle with fundraising because I’ve asked my friends and family to donate on my behalf for years and wondered – have I exhausted my network? Are my stories and cases for support even compelling anymore, since I’ve done this yearly since my 18th birthday?
Ultimately, the root of all our fears was our sincere hope to bring in substantial funds to create massive positive change for our city coupled with the worry of being rejected. We want to fuel the idealists, activists, and doers with resources, collaboration, and connection, and quite simply – we don't want to fail.
When building your peer-to-peer program, it’s important to understand: your fundraisers hold similar hopes and similar fears. You must equip, support, and empower them so they can reach their goals and make an impact. The question then becomes, what does it take to get them there?
Due to limited staff, many organizations focus on creating a fundraising toolkit to accomplish this goal. Team Rubicon has shown that simply providing a resource like this is very effective in activating and empowering your fundraisers.
Taking this a step further, there’s one crucial element that must be in your toolkit to help your fundraisers conquer their fears and exceed their goals:
In my experience, an explanation of ‘the ask’ is often missing from fundraising support resources. Before diving into email templates, participant center functions, and social media graphics, you must teach your fundraisers how to make an ask. This is important for two reasons: making a good ask is not only more effective in bringing in funds, it also boosts your fundraisers’ confidence.
Give your fundraisers examples of sincere, personal cases for support – bonus points if they are real-life examples from your other fundraisers. Paint the picture of what it will be like for them to sit down with their best friend and ask for a specific donation amount. Be sure people are truly asking, not apologizing. Emphasize that while most people want to give, an ask is what it takes to make it happen.
Your fundraisers are your partners in creating impact. Properly supporting and equipping them to make confident, effective asks is your key to unlocking their network’s potential.