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Top Five Tips For 2014: Tip #1 Treat Your P2P Fundraisers Differently Than Your Donors

Jeff Shuck
January 6, 2014

Here at Plenty we love the new year and the enthusiasm and rejuvenation it brings!

Over the holidays, in addition to consuming vast quantities of butter and potentially wearing a dangerous sweater or two, the Plenty team spent its time reading fundraising advice from the past year and combing through the numerous advice columns for 2014.

We thought we’d follow tradition and offer you our top five pieces of advice for the year ahead.

Tip #1: Treat your peer-to-peer fundraisers differently than you treat your donors.

To do this, you first have to recognize that donors are not the same as peer-to-peer fundraisers. In a traditional fundraising relationship, you as a nonprofit organization have a direct relationship with your donor. You meet the donor, tell them about the better world you’d like to create with their help, and invite them to join you. You ask for a gift, and then you (hopefully) follow-up to not only thank them, but more importantly to tell them the impact their gift helped create.


However, in peer-to-peer fundraising, you are almost never directly connected with the donor. Instead, a motivated constituent – an event participant, a campaign member, a grieving relative, a social media supporter – decides to ask their network for support on your behalf. In essence, you deputize the constituent to fundraise in your stead.


This can be fantastically powerful, because you can leverage your relationship with one constituent into gifts from dozens or sometimes hundreds of supporters.


But note that while the gift comes from a donor, the donor is not connected to you. The donor is connected to the constituent. In all likelihood the donor’s gift is more indicative of their level of friendship with the fundraiser than their commitment to your organization. That doesn’t mean that the donor isn’t important – what it means is, if we care about donors, than the constituent in the middle is even more important.


The mistake that most organizations make is to follow-up with the donor, who does not know you, and neglect to steward the constituent, who is not only supporting you but is committed enough to you to ask their friends to commit to you too. Think about this: How many brands inspire you to mobilize dozens of your friends to make a purchase decision? Probably not many.

When you follow-up directly with the donors of peer-to-peer fundraisers, you risk alienating them, because they aren’t really connected to you. And further, you are jumping over dollars to get to pennies – the real value is in the fundraising constituent. The fundraiser is the network node to a powerful level of impact. But all too often, the fundraiser isn’t thanked at all.

In 2014, we encourage you to think about and steward peer-to-peer fundraisers differently than you do your donors. This requires thinking about donor contribution in a new way. Yes, it is critically important to thank your donors! It is just as important to thank your fundraisers. A fundraiser who may have never directly given you any money may be responsible for dozens of donors who do.

The value is in the connection. Make sure to recognize it!

Learn more about your peer-to-peer fundraisers and their networks with our free resource, "The Family Tree of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising"!

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