We’re all connected – all the time. On any given day at any point in time each of us is intertwined in the vast digital presence also known as the Internet. In fact, due to networking tools like Facebook the “six degrees of separation” theory that suggests that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away from any other person has now been shortened to 3.57 according to Facebook. These connections and our overly digitized world bring with it infinite possibilities and an immense wealth of knowledge. But it's far more than an encyclopedia: it's an influential network that's built on sharing and connecting with others.
Nonprofit organizations have long since realized the potential of using digital tools to enhance their fundraising strategies, but only recently have they started to explore the potential of peer-to-peer fundraising. If you or your organization still feels in the dark when it comes to the concept of P2P you’re in luck because your organization can begin to harness the power of your supporter networks using these three questions to guide you.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is different than the traditional fundraising model. In peer-to-peer, we are not just making one ask to our direct constituent base, we are also enabling them to make asks of their own. This is the critical interaction in P2P fundraising – a constituent reaching out to their network on your organization’s behalf, ultimately allowing you to connect with a larger audience.
One benefit of this model is that the fundraiser is able to share their story and personal connection to the cause, which brings the mission closer to home for the constituent and their networks. The storymaking element of P2P is a powerful tool in increasing donations and building strong donor relationships.
Before you get too far into creating a new P2P program or campaign, consider how it fits into your overall organizational strategy. Don’t take on a P2P program or campaign because it’s currently trendy. The purpose of diversifying your portfolio should directly fill a need in your organization.
Review the growth goals your organization has set forth for the coming years, and consider how P2P networks can help support those goals. Ask yourself the following questions: How would a P2P campaign support the organization’s current priority? Are there other plans in the making that will accomplish the same goal in a different, perhaps better way? Situating your campaign in the context of your whole organization will help you ensure that you're selecting the right tool to accomplish your goals.
If you decide to move forward with developing a peer-to-peer campaign, keep in mind that it is important to clarify the purpose behind your campaign. Chances are, your organization is complex, and constantly deploying many projects and campaigns that support your mission. Sometimes these campaigns are rooted in advocacy and education, others are meant to raise funds, which is why it is critical to know the goal of your campaign and to make sure it is the driving force behind your entire strategy – from brainstorming to execution.
This seems like a no-brainer, right? Well it should be, but what many don’t realize is that the need for clarity is heightened in a P2P setting, because now we are not just communicating this purpose to our donor base, but we are also asking them to communicate this message to their own networks. And if you’re familiar with the telephone game you know how easy it is for communications to breakdown. While you cant guarantee this won’t happen, you can strategically create concise and focused messaging that is better suited to withstand the natural deterioration communications face as they are passed through many channels.
The world of networks can be complex, but it can also be an incredibly powerful tool in helping your organization fulfill its mission. So don’t shy away from it. Instead, embrace the immense opportunity underlying your supporter connections. And if after you dive deeper into the world of peer-to-peer you realize you need additional support, send us an email, because we would love to be the peer-to-peer experts helping you surface, connect, and engage the idealists dedicated to your cause!