I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m liable to spend an hour reading online reviews before I buy a book. I probably won’t visit a restaurant without checking the menu beforehand. And you won’t catch me at a movie without first watching (and over analyzing) the preview.
What about you? How do you go about making purchasing decisions for yourself and your nonprofit?
If you’re a “wing it and go” sort of person, then full speed ahead and good luck! But if you’re a “let’s take the time and think through this” type, well then, stay with me.
When it comes to finding the right software, knowledge is buying power. Understanding what you need, why you need it, and how each software program can help you and your nonprofit community will save you time and money in the long run.
Ask these 7 questions (and follow the checklist below) to help determine the right peer-to-peer fundraising software for you.
1. Will You, Your Fundraisers, And Your Donors Feel Comfortable Using It?
Here at CauseVox, we’ve analyzed hundreds and thousands of peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns with one mission: uncover what works and what doesn’t. Through our research, it quickly became apparent that the single biggest factor in the success of a campaign is experience.
If you, your fundraisers, and your supporters have a good experience giving, fundraising, and sharing, then it’s more likely to be successful.
With all that being said, the most important question to ask when evaluating peer-to-peer fundraising software is: Is it easy?
Ease of use ensures 1. You don’t have to spend hours upon hours learning, setting up and managing the program. 2. Your eager, go-getter fundraisers don’t give up the fundraising process halfway through. 3. Your donors follow through while making a gift online.
True, “comfort” and “ease” are in the eye of the beholder. However, there are some common elements to an easy platform, including:
Clean and uncluttered appearance
Uncomplicated, clear setup and donation progression
All in all, the main goal is ensure a smooth, seamless experience for you and your users regardless of device, generation, or tech savviness!
When looking at peer-to-peer fundraising software, consider each age group that may participate. Would your parents or grandparents be able to use it? If so, you’re on the right path. If not, it’s back to the drawing board.
The Testicular Cancer Foundation recruits fundraisers and inspires donors with their easy-to-use peer-to-peer fundraising websites.
2. Is It Personalizable?
You’ve worked hard to create and maintain your nonprofit’s brand, and you may use a certain logo, motto, or specific color scheme. The last thing you want is for your fundraisers and donors to get confused or turned off by what appears to be a third-party website.
It’s natural to wonder if the donations are actually going to the right place if the link redirects to an outside source or shows another company’s logo.
Personalized peer-to-peer fundraising websites remove this hurdle. Adding your logo, color scheme, and even creating a custom URL guarantees a seamless transition, ensuring everyone feels confident about supporting.
Did you know that fundraising powered by CauseVox is designed for you? Our design editor and white label approach guarantees all your communications, fundraising, and donation pages look and feel like they’re coming from you. This ultimately drives up trust, improves conversion rates, and increases average gift sizes.
Amigos de las Americas uses similar branding on their website and peer-to-peer fundraising campaign sites.
3. Do I Need a Coding Degree To Set It Up?
Some say that learning the basics of software coding is easy, but that the mastery is quite difficult. I don’t know about you, but the mere mention of “coding” makes me anxious.
Thankfully, there are peer-to-peer fundraising software programs out there that don’t require a software-developer job title to manage. As you evaluate your software options, consider those that handle all that back-end coding for you.
Make sure the program offers embeddable website codes, hosts web pages on its own server, and features secure site access.
At CauseVox, our platform has beautiful, flexible, and easy-to-use templates that can align with your brand and share your story. Anyone, regardless of tech skills, can create an effective campaign with a few clicks.
It takes less than a minute to create an account and get started on a peer-to-peer website for CCAN’s annual Polar Bear Plunge.
4. What Options Do I Have?
Many nonprofits start the peer-to-peer fundraising journey with a traditional online format. However, there are unlimited ways to run this type of community-driven fundraising: events, DIY fundraising, team fundraising, etc.
Ideally, the peer-to-peer fundraising software you choose should offer options when it comes to how you run your campaign.
It’s normal to start slow and adjust your process over subsequent campaigns, adding and removing options as needed. However, the more options you have, the more customized your campaigns will be for your unique donor base.
A donor for the Pensacola Habitat for Humanity uses donation tiers on her fundraising website.
5. Is The Data Accessible?
The data collected during the process of fundraising is yours, and it’s invaluable when it comes time to thank and retain your donors.
Information such as a donor’s name, gift amount, address, and email should always be accessible, easily downloaded, and managed.
So why is it that some peer-to-peer fundraising software programs hold this information hostage unless you specifically ask for it? Before you commit to a peer-to-peer fundraising software, explore each option’s data collection and management practices, and avoid any programs that don’t allow for immediate access.
CauseVox gives nonprofits quick access to donor and donation data, helping you improve your retention efforts through better communication and relationships.
6. Where Do I Communicate With Supporters?
Communication fuels fundraising. It’s the stories you and your personal fundraisers share that inspire others to give. So naturally, storytelling features are a must-have in peer-to-peer fundraising software.
The best peer-to-peer fundraising software programs have:
A place to share your (or your supporter’s) story that is front and center
The ability to add images and video
An impact meter to track campaign progress in real time
A blog feature to keep your audience up to date on what’s happening with the campaign
Social sharing buttons to make sharing these stories easy
CauseVox provides multiple ways for you to communicate with supporters, including importing contacts and messaging, a blog feature, email communication, and social sharing.
CauseVox gives you and your supporters numerous ways to connect.
7. What Support Is Available?
If you and your supporters are relatively new to online fundraising, questions about the process are bound to arise. You may wonder about the best practices for setting up a website or need initial assistance navigating the dashboard. Some fundraisers and donors are likely to have questions along the way.
Small and medium-sized nonprofits often don’t have the capacity and resources to be on-call to answer these tech-related questions.
To ensure everyone gets the support they need to ace peer-to-peer fundraising, find a software program that offer person-to-person support. Ideally, you want the program to have multiple ways to connect to customer service, including email, in-app messaging, and one-on-one service. A robust resource library and tutorials are important.
When it comes time to narrow your search and select a peer-to-peer fundraising software, look for one that meets the requirements outlined in this post. By taking the time to understand your options and find one that fits your nonprofit’s needs, you’re on your way to experiencing a positive peer-to-peer fundraising experience.
If you’re ready to get started, give CauseVox a try. CauseVox makes it easy for you to manage relationships with your supporters and create personalized peer-to-peer campaigns while also providing a remarkable giving experience your supporters will love.
With CauseVox you get more than a tool. We combine powerful fundraising tools with best practices and an experienced team to guide you to success.
You can get started for free and upgrade as you grow.
Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Software Checklist
Easy to Use
Uncluttered, clean appearance
Intuitive design for multi-generational use
Easy website and account setup
Clear progression for donors
No third-party branding
No Tech Skills Required
Offers embeddable codes
Secure website and donation processing
Additional Fundraising Options
Supporters individual, event, DIY, and team fundraising
Customizable form fields
Giving options, including donation tipping and recurring giving
Ability to host multiple campaigns at once
A donor data collection system
Access to donor data
Place to write nonprofit story
Upload images and video
Social sharing options
Automatic custom donation receipts and email confirmations
Resources, including best practices, toolkits, tutorials
Did you happen to listen in on the first-ever community-driven fundraising summit? It was a jam-packed day of inspirational anecdotes, educational sessions, and expert speakers. There were literally hundreds of takeaways– so many in fact, that we had to compile a 26-page document just so sort through all of them!
During the summit, we dove into community-driven fundraising and DIY fundraising with Noah, Rob, and Chris from CauseVox, learned email best practices from Brady, talked donor retention with Steven, discussed digital storytelling with Julia, and heard from four different nonprofits about their experience with community-driven fundraising.
As each session progressed, it became clear: community-driven fundraising is the future of fundraising.
Here are 11 direct takeaways from the first-ever community-driven fundraising summit.
1. Fundraising Looks Different Today
There’s no denying that fundraising today looks different than it did a decade ago, let along 50 years ago!
What started as localized fundraising evolved to mass fundraising and eventually Internet-fueled fundraising. During these “advancements,” nonprofits focused less on building relationships, and more just reaching out to as many prospective givers as possible. Email blasts and display ads became the norm, and they didn’t help with donor retention in the least; they merely rented attention.
Even with so much digital noise, each touch lacked a personal touch.
But today’s donor doesn’t want that noise; they want to feel appreciated and part of a community. Therefore, nonprofits must build relationships with donors starting by laying a foundation of inspiration. From there, they can engage and activate those supporters, and eventually rally them to lend support in many ways, including using their influence to encourage others to get involved with the cause.
Today’s fundraising is less about the transaction and more about the relationship.
2. People Don’t Engage With Brands as Much as Before
Trust in brands is decreasing, and there’s an across-the-board decrease in brand engagement on social media. This shift is due to many factors, including ever-changing Facebook rules, ad blockers, hyper-personalized feeds, and limited access to messaging systems– all of which limit the ways brands communicate with followers.
So, who are people engaging with? Their friends, family, coworkers, and other networks, of course.
People are looking to others for information and inspiration, meaning that you can tout your organization’s great work until the cows come home, but that same message means much more when it comes from your supporters.
Bottom line: invest in your current relationships. These people will become your vocal advocates down the road.
3. It Takes a Community to Change a Community
CauseVox co-founder Rob Wu opened up the first-ever community-driven fundraising summit with a quote: “We believe that it takes a community to change a community.”
This theme, which focuses on the power your supporters have in sharing and ultimately growing your mission, was built on throughout the event.
Your community includes everyone your nonprofit partners with: your donors, volunteers, board members, staff, online audience, and more. Each one of these people has a voice, and that voice is helpful in retaining those partners and inspiring new ones.
If you’re struggling to raise money and fulfill your organization’s mission, refocus your efforts on building your community.
4. Fundraising is a Common Struggle Amongst Nonprofits
We heard it from GLAAD’s Priya Patel, MPPH’s Jake Vermillion, CCAN’s Danniele Fulmer, and N Street Village’s Makenzie Delmotte: fundraising is difficult.
Whether you struggle with getting your message across, engaging current donors, repeating the same campaigns over and over, asking the same people, and offering a fresh perspective; recognize that many are in the same boat.
The difference between organizations poised to thrive in this new fundraising environment and those that may not survive is a commitment to relationship building.
“Some organizations will thrive from this increased chaos, some will be unprepared, and some will merely fight it and lose.” – Seth Godin
5. DIY Fundraising Engages Your Community Year-Round
DIY fundraising similar to peer-to-peer in that a supporter raises money on behalf of your organization, but with DIY, it’s on your supporter’s own terms.
This community-driven fundraising technique can happen any time, from any location. All it takes is a program (set up by you), some guidelines, and eager supporters ready to rally.
6. Focus on the Donors You Have, Not the Ones You’ve Lost
Steven Shattuck of Bloomerang presented a startling fact: Only 5% of lapsed donors return to an organization. So if you’re spending your fundraising dollars on donor recaptures, it’s best to take a step back and consider other more effective ways to raise money.
The good news is that first-time donor retention is trending upwards, meaning your money is better spent nurturing these future vocal advocates.
Although it hurts to say it, your best bet is to focus on the people you already have, not the ones you’ve lost.
7. There are Proven Ways to Retain Donors
Steven also reminded us that 100% of donor retention is virtually impossible, but there are many proven ways to boost your numbers. These include:
Proving your organization is effective
Sending segmented communications
Timely thank yous, and thanking before asking
Sending warm, humanized stories
Surveying donors for feedback, especially first-time donors
Above all, make your donors feel part of your cause.
8. Personal Fundraisers Need Guidance
Fundraising may be second nature to you, but you simply can’t assume your personal fundraisers know the ropes. Supporting them is essential if you want to maximize their reach and continue building stronger relationships.
Even though the Chesapeake Climate Action Network had been running the same fundraiser for 14 years, the team knew fundraiser guidance was vital if they wanted to grow the event. According to Danniele Fulmer, “we needed to hone in on our support efforts for fundraisers.” CCAN did this by creating step-by-step resources (a toolkit) for fundraisers to use as they walked through the process. They also send weekly emails, video tutorials, and held one-on-one phone calls with fundraisers near the end of the campaign.
These extra touches help improve and enhance the fundraiser experience.
9. Attention is the Most Valuable Currency
One of the most common statements during the first-ever community-driven fundraising summit was: Attention is the most valuable currency.
But what does this mean?
In our increasingly connected world, we’re all bombarded with messages. We hear from our friends and family, and also brands and businesses marketing to us. Getting noticed is hard, but necessary in order to get in front of your supporters.
Per Julia Campbell, effective storytelling drives attention. Try:
Flipping the script and doing something that’s unexpected or timely.
Giving your nonprofit audience the opportunity to tell their own story
Finish a story by asking your reader to complete a specific action (donate, share, etc.)
Focus on how you’re making your audience feel
Once you get their attention, you can steward and build from it.
10. Humanize Your Emails for Better Response
When it comes to fundraising emails, many of us are missing the mark. We’re swapping out person-to-person emails with mass-produced, impersonal blasts; which don’t do anything but alienate supporters from the real work you’re doing.
Email is still a strong source of nonprofit funding but as Brady Josephson explained, “by sending more human-sounding emails, you get more clicks, opens, and donations.”
Brady suggests building a strong first-impression by:
Sending your email from a person (preferably a supporter’s peer or someone they know), not an organization
Creating an authentic subject line
Using copy that sounds like it’s written from a person.
Keep in mind, people give to people and not machines.
11. Continue Learning and Evolving Your Strategy
As nonprofits continue to fine-tune the process, we’re bound to hear new best practices, tips, and tricks to help you and your nonprofit on your journey.
Take the time to rewatch the summit recording and review notes from the event. Highlight any areas you’d like to learn more about, and reach out CauseVox and your nonprofit peers for inspiration and support. When you’re ready, slowly incorporate elements of community-driven fundraising into your plan, and get ready for stronger relationships and deeper engagement.
And don’t forget to stay tuned. The conversation around community-driven fundraising is just getting started!
Are you ready to ramp up your community-driven fundraising efforts? If so, schedule a one-on-one chat with a member of our team. We’ll walk you through the CDF process, and help you imagine how your organization can amplify your reach, acquire new donors, and raise more money for your mission.
Kenny works tirelessly to ensure TCF is providing education and support to young males about testicular cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer among young men under 35. This includes managing day-to-day operations and the organization’s fundraising efforts.
Undoubtedly, one of Kenny’s biggest hurdles is a common one all of us in the nonprofit world face: fundraising.
More specifically, he has found it difficult to sort through donor data and segment donor groups on top of everything else he has going on. He used CauseVox (very successfully, we might add) to raise money for TCF, but sorting through all that information and keeping up-to-date on donors and fundraisers was cumbersome.
In early 2017, Kenny jumped on board as a Beta tester for CauseVox’s integration with Zapier. Soon after, he found that this web application integration program helped streamline his workload, saving him valuable time.
Are you considering using Zapier to help manage your back-office workflows? If so, here is some more information from TCF’s integration experience.
An Early Start With Zapier
Kenny was an early fan of Zapier. In fact, he began using this service back when the company started in 2013.
In a nutshell, Zapier is designed to help professionals organize and maintain correct, timely data across hundreds of possible platforms. According to Kenny, Zapier works for him because “It’s a decision-driver. If CauseVox is my north star, and I want to integrate other platforms to CauseVox, then I use Zapier.”
For more information on Zapier, check out this post.
3 Favorite Integrations
Kenny uses three key Zapier integrations to manage the fundraising process for TCF. He believes these application integrations help him operate more efficiently by moving information from point A to point B. He also believes that Zapier fosters easy, real-time communications with others stakeholders.
Google Sheets: By integrating Google Sheets, Kenny can provide all the fundraising participants a look into campaign progress, donor lists, etc. without going through the process of signing them up for back-end access on CauseVox.
“What’s nice about the Google Sheet integration is that it gives us a real-time list… then, we can share it with other collaborators,” he explained.
Slack: If you communicate to other team members with Slack, you’re in good company. Kenny loves using Slack and appreciates how he can send automatic communications to others using this integration.
ConvertKit: Kenny relies on ConvertKit to send emails to his donors and fundraisers about important information, emotions, and reinforce best practices. He tells us, “ I use it to send fundraisers a drip email sequence, so we don’t have to send out individual emails. The time savings is incalculable!”
Adding fundraiser’s to this email automation system also helps Kenny keep them activated throughout TCF’s 30-day campaigns. “That’s the biggest accomplishment of the Zapier integration [for me],” Kenny notes.
But what Kenny doesn’t want to do is overcommunicate, which is why he loves ConvertKit’s metrics. “With all communications, the last thing you want to do is be over communicative and have someone lose interest entirely. By looking at my ConvertKit open and click rates, I’ll see which emails are most effective and which need some fine tuning.”
Surprise, It’s Easy!
What surprised Kenny most about the CauseVox integration with Zapier? He loved how easy it was to set up, and believes there’s “no reason why people shouldn’t use it!”
However, he advises, “don’t run before you walk.”
He encourages other nonprofits to forget the idea of failing. Instead, focus on setting up the integrations you need, and checking your work to ensure you don’t set something up and then forget about it. Trial and error is key to a more streamlined workflow.
All in all, Zapier can help improve your work experience, just like it did for Kenny at the Testicular Cancer Foundation.
If you’re wondering how to start using Zapier with your CauseVox account, request a one-on-one demo with a member of our team. We can guide you through the set-up process and answer any questions you have.
Just like romantic relationships, your organization’s relationships with its donors thrive on communication, appreciation, loyalty, and trust. And just like a romantic relationship, if your donors don’t know you love them, they might not stick around.
You can start building a passionate, unbreakable love for the ages by letting your donors know how much you like them. (No smooching, though. This isn’t a perfect metaphor.)
So. Much. Love.
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
This is about more than mushiness. Showing love and appreciation to your donors addresses a very real nonprofit problem: donor retention.
Sure, some of the reasons donors leave are unavoidable. In these cases, it’s really not you, it’s them. Budgets shift, priorities change, and people…die (16%!). There’s nothing you can do about any of that. Some things don’t work out. You’ll never retain 100% of donors forever and ever.
But a lot of donor-organization break-ups are completely avoidable with the right communication. Donors who don’t know what their gifts accomplish, don’t know that you appreciate them, and never hear from you are going to drift. They’ll forget all about you, think you don’t need them, or fall for someone else, like an organization that actually, you know, talks to them.
What’s an organization to do, getting ghosted about half the time, and struggling to maintain donor relationships?
Get better at relationships.
Can’t Help Falling In Love With You
I guess we could call this “cultivation,” if you insist. I like “donor love” though, because this is, at its heart (get it?) about emotions. It’s about how you make donors feel.
You can’t fake donor love. For one thing, people know when they’re being patronized, and no one likes false enthusiasm. Likewise, this isn’t a transaction in which you give a requisite amount of appreciation in return for a guaranteed amount of loyalty. “Donor love” works best when you have actual gratitude for your supporters.
If you’re feeling kind of cold about the whole thing, I get it. Sometimes when you work in fundraising, the whole thing gets overwhelmed with numbers and goals and it’s hard to connect. And sometimes (shh…) sometimes individual donors can be annoying, and make you feel sort of sour about the bunch of them. The burnout is real. You’re not a jerk if you’ve wound up in this “not feeling it” place, but you can’t afford to stay there.
I like to think about it like this: Just as no one is obligated to date you, no one is required to give to your organization.
Think about your total contributed income last year. Not a dime of that was compelled. No, all of that contributed money exists because people (including the people who make up corporations, foundations, and governments) decided they wanted to make a difference and that giving to your organization was the best way to make that happen.
Those people are awesome.
When I consider donors in this light, I get a little misty and overwhelmed, honestly. I want them to know how much I appreciate them, and what heroes they are. Getting yourself into the right heartspace will go a long way to creating an actual love for your donors, which you authentically express.
When A Nonprofit Loves A Donor
You don’t have to stand outside a window with a boombox to let your donors know you appreciate them. In fact, I really advise against this.
This is not what I mean.
Instead, encourage your donors to make things long-term by communicating these important messages:
“We’re In This Together”
Donors want to feel like they’re part of something. Just like talking solely about yourself doesn’t usually get you a second date, only talking about how great your organization is or how much you need money, leaves the donor out of the conversation.Instead, emphasize how donors power the work that you do. Offer donors a place in your community. Point to their gifts to demonstrate how they’re part of the team solving the problem.Lean heavily on the words “you” and “your” in your communications, as in “You did it!/ With your help/Because of you/Your generosity did Specific Good Thing.” This makes it personal for the reader and demonstrates the direct result of their giving.
“You’re A Hero”
Donors want to make a difference. Make the donor the hero of the stories you tell. Show them how they make change happen, what the impact of their gift is, and who and how they’re helping.
World Bicycle Relief show’s donors the difference they made in one person’s life.
“We See You”
Nothing says, “I don’t know who you are” like an email that starts out, “Dear Friend,” unless it’s a voice mail message after you’ve asked not to be called. You can communicate a lot before your donor even gets to your actual message, so it’s worth it to be thoughtful.Luckily, technology is here to help. Use your CRM to organize your donor data so that you can remember relevant facts about them and respect their communication preferences. Then, segment your donor communications so that your messages are always relevant to the people you send them to.
“We’re Ready To Take The Next Step”
Just like a romantic relationship, your donor relationships can deepen over time. You don’t just keep going on first dates with the same person, unless you’re trapped in a romantic comedy.Even if your donors want to get more serious, you have to make the first move with a call-to-action. Let them know what their options are, whether it’s participating in a peer-to-peer campaign, volunteering, or donating their birthday to DIY fundraise.
Start showing your donors the love they deserve today. Don’t let them forget you exist, think you don’t need them, or keep their connection casual. Try:
The phone can be a fundraiser’s best friend. This month, start treating your new donors like new dates–call them the next day to say thanks. It doesn’t have to be a big production, just let them know you received their gift, and appreciate it.In my experience, most donors are simply tickled to discover you aren’t calling to ask for money, but just to say thank you.
Take a look at your standard thank you letter. Does it make you feel warm and fuzzy? Does it sound like a robot wrote it? Is it basically just a tax receipt? Do you send the same one every single time?Oh no, my friend. This will not do.Would you write a love letter that started, “On behalf of…”? Of course not! A thank you letter is like a love letter to your donors. It should convey your gratitude, show what they made happen, and make them feel awesome about themselves and you. This is definitely a place for “You are a hero!” to ring loud and clear.
Just as you wouldn’t send the same person an identical love letter four times a year, donors shouldn’t get absolutely identical letters multiple times. You don’t have to send a completely different letter, but consider switching out stories, impact updates, and other details at least seasonally.
Asking Them Out
A person who only talks to you when they want money is not someone you should date. Likewise, if you only communicate with your donors when you’re asking them to donate, they may start to feel like walking checkbooks, and walk right out the door.Regular impact updates and inspirational storytelling about your cause will help keep donors interested. So will inviting them to do something that isn’t giving money: attending events, volunteering, and simply inviting them to come and see what you’re doing. Consider in-person events like a tour of your facility, a field trip to see your work in action, or an open house.Joining a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign is another way for supporters to deepen their connection with you. If you don’t have anything scheduled, offer your supporters an option to raise money independently with DIY fundraising.
Sometimes, you’ve just got to bring someone flowers out of the blue, just because you like them. In the same way, little surprise expressions of appreciation can really make a donor’s day.Consider sending “just because” thank you notes to your long-time supporters. Send birthday cards and anniversary congratulations. Shout out a supporter on your social media. Think outside of the box.
You’ve Got The Best Of Our Love
I feel very cheesy telling you that love is the answer. But love is the answer to donor retention, or at least a very big part of the answer. (I mean, a fundraising CRM and a fundraising platform that allows you to easily communicate with supporters and activate them to become advocates is going to help, too.)
If you feel overwhelmed at the idea of crafting an entire donor retention strategy, start with love. Look for opportunities to show your donors you appreciate them, and work from there. You really can’t go wrong starting with love and gratitude.
Are you trying to raise money for your nonprofit with minimal resources and limited time? If so, you’re not alone. When it comes to fundraising, these are just a couple of the hurdles nonprofits face regularly.
Although fundraising has evolved and arguably improved over the past decade, it’s common for nonprofits and charitable organizations to rely on tried-and-true fundraising methods like direct mail to raise money.
If you deal with these common fundraising obstacles and haven’t yet branched out to community-driven methods like peer-to-peer fundraising, there’s no better time like the present to get started.
A Quick Recap Of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
You give $50. You share the campaign with your friend, and she gives $100. She recruits someone who gives $30, and another who gives $20.
Now, the organization has $200, and four supporters. That’s more than each donor would give alone, and a lot more impactful than each gift by itself.
That’s the premise behind peer-to-peer fundraising; smaller gifts raised individually by go-getters (aka personal fundraisers) combine to make a bigger difference for a cause.
This fundraising technique is an effective way for a nonprofit to raise money, build awareness, engage supporters, and get in front of a new audience of potential donors. And when you add a fun, event-element to the traditional online peer-to-peer campaign, you can engage your community on a whole other level.
Whether you’re a peer-to-peer pro or just getting your feet wet, it’s helpful to look at what other organizations do to rally their supporters. Check out these 12 successful and creative peer-to-peer fundraising event examples, and see if you can try any at your organization.
There are limitless reasons why your supporters may want to raise money to honor someone. It could be their birthday or a special holiday, or it may be in memoriam for someone who lost their life.
Honorary fundraisers are often organized on your supporter’s schedule (often called a DIY fundraiser), and, in many cases, a nonprofit or charity suggests the event type, such as a symbolic gesture or race (more on these below).
For example, The Painted Turtle encourages donors, volunteers, and other supporters to donate their birthday by running their own birthday FUNraiser.
Similarly, The Testicular Cancer Foundation also encourages peer-to-peer fundraising for events such as “Cancer-versaries,” where the supporter chooses to participate in a symbolic gesture such as not shaving over a one-month period.
Entire fundraising events can also be in honor of a person or a group, such as people dealing with a life-altering illness.
Pro Tip: Giving your supporters the option to fundraise any time they want helps make the process more accessible.
Each year, Junior Achievement of Greater Washington organizes around 25 bowl-a-thons in their community. The organization partners with local businesses, professional organizations, and corporations, to rally employees, friends, and family members to raise money and participate.
To help manage the sheer number of donors, participants, and bowling teams, Director of Development and Events Lauren Meltzer, relies on CauseVox’s event-friendly fundraising software.
Regardless of how large or small your bowl-a-thon efforts are, it’s clear that 1. people love bowling and 2. there’s a potential to raise a lot of money.
After dozens of successful bowl-a-thons, Junior Achievement of Greater Washington estimates that they bring in between $4,000 and $65,000 per event! Jackpot!
Pro Tip: Encouraging participants to join bowling teams increases their accountability.
3. Polar Plunge
Jumping into a freezing body of water in the middle of winter; why not? Polar Plunges are an innovating and exhilarating way to get your supporters outside and active in the middle of winter.
Check out what Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Inc. did in 2019.
Over the month-long fundraiser, the organization engaged 2353 donors through 38 teams and 265 plungers, ultimately raising over $140,000.
An event of this magnitude takes the 3 P’s: preparation, permits, and a touch of patience, but the energy you’ll experience is priceless.
Walk-a-thons can be localized, such as a local high school service group, or nationwide, occurring simultaneously in many cities. Like other activity-based events, supporters raise a set amount of money to participate.
In 2018, Hope Worldwide organized an Atlanta-based walk-a-thon to raise money for orphans in Africa and powered their fundraising efforts using CauseVox’s peer-to-peer fundraising software.
Pro Tip: Add options to increase buy-in, such as a Fun Run or a 24-hour relay.
5. Work Out for Water
There’s no denying the popularity of Crossfit. There’s a chance many of your supporters are already getting their fitness fix at the local Crossfit studio, so a WOD-inspired peer-to-peer fundraiser may work for you.
Take Neverthirst’s lead and organize a Crossfit event (or more) at a nearby gym where participants have the opportunity to compete and raise money for a good cause.
Neverthirst loved that they could monitor each personal fundraiser’s progress from a central website while giving them the autonomy to share their personal story. In the end, Neverthirst felt like this event helped expand their reach “like never before.”
Oh, and they raised over $200,000 in the process!
Pro Tip: Some of your personal fundraisers will need guidance, while others will want creative freedom. Be ready to offer creative guidance or prompts to help your supporters tell their story.
6. Virtual Running Event
Finally, there’s a solution for supporters who want to run in an organization’s charity race but don’t live close enough to participate!
Virtual running events resemble a traditional 5k/10k/marathon with participants raising money to be a part of the race, all of which rolls up to the nonprofit organization’s main goal. However, there’s one caveat: instead of running together, each personal fundraiser runs at a specific time or date on their own.
A great example of this comes courtesy of Operation Jack Foundation. Back in 2016, the Operation Jack Foundation organized a virtual marathon to help raise funds for autism awareness initiatives and got the attention of 15 runners and 119 donors in the process.
Pro Tip: Create a cohesive feel by posting updates from runners on the day of your virtual event.
7. Live Crowdfunding
Live crowdfunding combines the power of peer-to-peer with that of social media. This technique builds off of an in-person fundraising event by reaching out to those unable to attend and asking them to give during a set period during the event.
This can occur during a typical gala-type event, or at any other type of in-person fundraiser, as long as the results can be tracked and reported to the crowd in real time.
VisArt’s Visibility Arb Lab Campaign used a Live Crowdfunding format, complete with live updates and a thermometer!
Pro Tip: If you don’t have a large screen to display your real-time results, use a fun stand-in prop such as a thermometer or a jar of jelly beans.
8. Outdoor/Active Events
Do your supporters live on the wild side? If so, a simple walk-a-thon may not offer enough excitement. Why not try a more active outdoor activity such a hike, climb, or skydiving session?
The Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois’ Over the Edge for Girl Scouts event built on this idea by asking supporters to challenge themselves or their friends to rappel over a building. They encouraged fundraisers to test the limits of their comfort zone while making a difference. “No prior ropes experience is necessary, just a drive to make a difference,” noted the organizers.
Consider your local options, gauge supporter interest, and get to work planning an event everyone will remember.
Pro Tip: Encourage friendly competition, such as the Girl Scout’s “Toss Your Boss” challenge, where coworkers create a company team and fundraise to send their boss rappelling.
9. Trivia/Game Night
Game and trivia nights are almost guaranteed to reach another part of your supporter base. Plus, they’re a surefire way to bring a touch of competition and strategy to your fundraising event.
The Gauntlet, a fundraising event organized by for the Mox Boarding House and other area nonprofits by ENGAGE and Card Kingdom, engages teams of tabletop game players for a fun and strategy-filled afternoon. Since 2013, the charitable drive has raised nearly $480,000!
Pro Tip: Take Card Kingdom’s lead and set up a live-feed during the event.
10. Symbolic Gesture
Symbolic gesture peer-to-peer fundraisers bear a second mention because they’re extremely effective whether supporters are DIY or group fundraising.
Junior League’s Little Black Dress Initiative is a prime example of an event where participants do an activity that’s symbolic to the campaign. For this example, LBD fundraisers wear a black dress every day over a week-long period to raise awareness about generational poverty.
Whether it’s growing a mustache, shaving a head, or wearing a silly hat, a simple gesture may be more than enough to get a donor’s attention.
Pro Tip: Ask supporters to document their “gesture” and share them on your social media handles and main fundraising website.
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteers are twice as likely to become donors than those that don’t volunteer. Tap into this charitable subset with a work-a-thon, which brings your community together through sweat equity and fundraising.
By connecting your supporters to your cause, not just through your story, but through action, you’re creating a stronger bond and helping with future retention.
The Grapevine Faith Christian School held a fun and fruitful Work-a-Thon, and raised nearly $100,000. According to their website:
Work-A-Thon is an annual event where Grapevine Faith students and staff serve others in our community. Similar to a walk-a-thon, we are raising funds for our school as we serve our community.
Pro Tip: Offer multiple options for participants so that there’s equal opportunity to participate. For example, you don’t want to recruit a bunch of grade school children to clean using harsh chemicals, but they could probably be excellent paper-towel runners.
Do you remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? That fundraising event took the internet by storm and got the wheels turning at many nonprofits. If you don’t recall, it was a social-media driven fundraiser where nominees were asked to either dump a bucket of ice water over their heads or donate $10 to the ALS Association.
Although the jury is still out whether or not a challenge of this magnitude will ever be replicated, it also gives some excellent guidance about how donors want to engage.
Brainstorm ways you can challenge your own supporters, such a fast or new habit challenge. If your challenge relates to your mission, that’s even better!
Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask supporters to “nominate” others to participate. A friendly push can have a big difference.
Did you happen to notice a similar theme in most of these fundraising events?
When you add a fun, funky, creative element, people come out of the woodwork to participate.
Take these ideas and incorporate them however you see fit to extend your reach and meet your goal. To use a cliché, you’ll be successful if you keep the “fun” in your fundraising.
Have you noticed that it’s getting increasingly difficult to meet the needs of your entire donor base? It seems like we have so many different ways to connect with our donors, but all that noise often drowns out the impact.
Even if you cater to each donor’s communication preferences and fine-tune your fundraising, there’s still a chance you’re missing out on much-needed funds from some of your donors.
So, how do you ensure you reach as many supporters as possible?
The answer may lie in DIY Fundraising.
DIY? Tell Me More!
Here at CauseVox, we often describe DIY fundraising as having “Unity in the cause, but a diversity in the ‘why.’”
By combining the power of peer-to-peer fundraising with the appeal of personal flexibility, DIY campaigns are perfect for generous nonprofit supporters who:
Care about your cause
Want to fundraise outside of a typical campaign window
Desire fundraising flexibility in a structured environment
DIY Fundraising often looks something like this:
Sarah is an occasional volunteer living in your community. She loves your cause and wants to find a way to give back in celebration of her upcoming birthday. After poking around your website, Sarah learns that she can raise money for your nonprofit online. She clicks on a link and is prompted to create an account and set up a fundraising website. After reading through materials you provide to help make the setup easy and painless, Sarah adds her own personal story to her fundraising page, along with a couple of pictures and a video explaining why she supports your cause. Finally, she shares the website with her social media followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and emails a few friends and family to directly ask for support. As her birthday nears, Sarah is thrilled to share the great news that she’s reached her goal to support your nonprofit!
Providing Sarah the option to fundraise on her schedule and the resources to do so boosts your nonprofit’s finances and reach, while also engaging your loyal supporter (Sarah).
It’s a win-win-win for everyone!
6 Stellar DIY Campaigns
Over the years, nonprofits and charities from around the world have used CauseVox to power their personalized DIY fundraising campaigns.
CauseVox-specific features like one-time campaign setup, branded websites, and custom domains help organizations create long-term fundraising solutions, even with limited financial and staff resources.
The six nonprofits highlighted below are prime examples showing the power DIY fundraising has on an organization and its supporters.
Amigos de las Americas is a Houston-based nonprofit offering volunteer opportunities for students wishing to travel and serve abroad for two weeks up to nine months. To help fund each student’s travels and other expenses, Amigos relies on student-driven DIY fundraising.
Amigos views fundraising as a way for students to remove the financial burden from their families and also build leadership skills.
How Amigos Supports Fundraisers
The organization provides substantial oversight and assistance to help students fundraise for their trip, including access to the CauseVox online fundraising platform, a fundraising webinar, and an additional guidebook.
Student groups are encouraged to fundraise as a team.
How Amigos Fundraisers Succeed
Each student joins the Amigos program for different reasons, including leadership experience, learning about a different culture, and helping others.
Take Gerardo P., a 16-year old student from Portland, Oregon looking to fund his summer experience. He used his personal fundraising page to explain his intentions for joining the program.
“With your support, I will be able to make a journey across Latin America and help other communities in the Dominican Republic by putting leadership in motion and starting a sports league in their community.”
Then there’s Arielle P., who’s eager to visit Costa Rica to gain real-world skills. She explains:
“I am not going as a tourist, but will live with a host family and share their day-to-day life. Combined with my community-based project, this authentic cultural and language immersion will allow me to make a positive impact in a community while gaining real-world leadership skills.”
Each fundraiser’s story is different, but it relates to Amigos’ mission to create a world where each young person becomes a lifelong catalyst for social change.
How DIY Fundraising Helps Amigos
DIY fundraising allows participants to raise money to fund their own trips while reaping the benefits of the organization’s trust name and robust support system.
Features such as templated fundraiser stories/content guide students as they create what is likely their first fundraising campaign. At the same time, Amigos as an organization knows that their branding will remain intact thanks to CauseVox’s customizable websites.
World Bicycle Relief
World Bicycle Relief works to bring bicycles to needy people and communities around the world. For $150, the organization can place a high-quality bicycle which can improve a person’s access to food, water, education, and employment.
A large portion of World Bicycle Relief funds come directly from DIY fundraising campaigns.
How World Bicycle Relief Supports Fundraisers
World Bicycle Relief encourages supporters to get creative when it comes to their own fundraising efforts. Their main fundraising website states:
“Host a dinner, sell lemonade, organize a bike ride…do whatever inspires you to make a difference. Whether you want to mobilize one entrepreneur or provide bikes to an entire school, we can’t wait to partner with you.”
A stellar toolkit including prompts, marketing materials, and best practices, supports fundraisers who need extra guidance.
How World Bicycle Relief Fundraisers Succeed
Individuals and groups create personalized fundraisers for World Bicycle Relief.
April and Michael Joyce created their fundraiser to coincide with the 4-day pro-am charity challenge Trois Etapes Giro. They set a goal of $50,000, and raised enough money to fund 342 bikes!
Although Nathan R. hasn’t run a marathon in over eight years, that didn’t stop him from committing to the Illinois Marathon and raising nearly $8,000 for World Bicycle Relief in the process.
“I am striving to raise funds for 52 bikes, or 2 bikes for every mile of the marathon!” he wrote on his website.
Regardless of the size and scope of each campaign, every dollar earned rolls up into the organization’s main goal, creating a bigger, more significant impact.
How DIY Fundraising Helps World Bicycle Relief
DIY fundraising isn’t a new technique for World Bicycle Relief, but they have fine-tuned their process over the years.
The fully-branded and customized websites, automated welcome emails, and real-time data tracking help the organization comfortably manage hundreds of campaigns at a time, and leave them room to help each personal fundraiser make the most of their campaign.
The Autism Community In Action
Because of The Autism Community in Action (TACA), families across the United States receive essential support and education about autism. In 2017, their work reached nearly 55,000 families!
The organization relies on community-driven fundraising, particularly DIY fundraising, to support its vast programming efforts.
How TACA Supports Fundraisers
Everyone arriving at TACA’s online fundraising page is directly asked to give and consider fundraising in honor of someone they know impacted by autism, and the organization offers to help fundraisers get their website up and running.
These DIY campaigns happen any time and aren’t necessarily tied to a special event like a birthday or anniversary.
How TACA Fundraisers Succeed
Fundraisers are asked to share their own story on their personal fundraising page. Many TACA fundraisers are family members of those with autism who’ve found support and hope through the organization.
A great example of the power of DIY fundraising comes courtesy of #TeamJordan, a family that raised over $22,000 from 87 donors in honor of their daughter. Jordan’s family shared her journey and highlighted how TACA played a role directly on the website.
#TeamChristopher’s family used their fundraising page to share a video of their son. They also wrote a story about their autism journey and directly asked their friends and family to consider a gift.
Stories make up the core of TACA’s DIY fundraising campaigns and are effective because they’re real and speak to the good work of the organization.
How DIY Fundraising Helps TACA
With each campaign, big or small, TACA’s work in the autism community becomes more recognizable. At the same time, the organization raises money and families can talk about the struggles and successes they experience along the road.
Endure to Cure Pediatric Cancer Foundation
There’s no real way to describe the emotional, physical, and financial stress and pain pediatric cancer have on families. To assist those most impacted, Endure to Cure Pediatric Cancer Foundation invests funds into research and treatment, and provides direct support to patients.
Online donors give to a DIY fundraiser to support two major initiatives. Small Miracles gives patients gifts and experiences as they go through treatment, whereas Travel for Treatment Assistance proves invaluable financial support for treatment-related expenses.
How Endure to Cure Supports Fundraisers
With the click of a button, fundraisers can start their campaign through a CauseVox-powered fundraising website. A vast majority of Endure to Cure fundraisers are marathon runners who train and compete in support of the organization.
Fundraisers either participate as part of Team E2C on a scheduled hike/run or on their own.
How Endure to Cure Fundraisers Succeed
Fundraisers are given access to an online fundraising platform fundraising tools and tips, and impact stories about beneficiaries to help build out their own web page.
Jackie B. is scheduled to run in the London Marathon and raised a whopping $9,554 (and counting) toward her efforts. Jackie writes on her fundraising page, “At the London Marathon, I will once again push the limits of physical and mental endurance to reach the finish line, 26.2 miles from start. Only this time, my inspiration will come from children who struggle with cancer each and every day. And knowing that our donations can make a difference.”
Ben M. uses a personal impact story in his website copy, and writes about why this cause is so important to him.
How DIY Fundraising Helps Endure to Cure
DIY fundraising directly engages philanthropic-minded athletes looking to support a cause that directly impacts lives. Connecting the fundraising process with an in-person activity such as hiking or running a marathon helps increase buy-in and sends a real message to prospective donors that the cause is worth all that effort.
eSight is a revolutionary eyewear product designed for those who are visually impaired. According to the company, “There are 441 million visually impaired people in our world today, but with eSight’s breakthrough electronic glasses they can engage in virtually all Activities of Daily Living.”
But with a price tag of roughly $6,000, many individuals needing these life-changing glasses must fundraise to raise enough money.
How eSight Eyewear Supports Fundraisers
To help the low-vision community, eSight partners with CauseVox on a continual DIY fundraising campaign. Eyewear recipients can set up a fundraising account and start raising money for their own product in a matter of minutes.
In addition to the online platform, eSight also gives fundraisers advice and a thorough toolkit to reach their goals.
How eSight Eyewear Fundraisers Succeed
For eSight, a majority of the fundraisers creating campaigns do so to support the purchase of their own set of glasses, including Emily A., who shared her story and rallied 23 donors to support her eSight purchase.
However, some individuals and groups create campaigns in honor of a family member or their own journey, such as Christy P. After raising enough money to pay for her own set of glasses, she “kept the momentum going” by continuing her campaign.
Similar to the Amigos fundraisers, each eSight story reads differently depending on the fundraiser’s individual journey, but the solution remains the same.
How DIY Fundraising Helps eSight Eyewear
Per eSight Affordability Manager Jamie Silverberg, finding a simple, user-friendly platform to host their DIY campaigns was a primary concern. “ At eSight, one of our core values is simplicity, and we love how simple it is to navigate through CauseVox, both from an administrative, and a consumer perspective,” he explained.
Customer service was another priority for eSight. Since they’re working with upwards of 600+ fundraisers at every given time, the organization needed to know they had technical support on the backend.
The eSight team knew that DIY fundraising was the right solution, and they found a good fit with CauseVox.
Committed to bringing Israeli innovations to impoverished areas of Africa, innovation: Africa uses the funds they raise to provide light and power to children, doctors, and entire communities.
Online fundraising, particularly DIY fundraising, helps inspire grassroots donors and spreads the organization’s message amongst potential donors.
How innovation: Africa Supports Fundraisers
There are no limitations when it comes to DIY fundraising for innovation: Africa. They welcome everyone to fundraise.
‘“Maybe you’re running a race, climbing a mountain, remembering someone you love or celebrating a special event. Or maybe you just want to turn an average week into an opportunity to do something good. No matter what your reason, we invite you to sign up today. Let us help you build a campaign you can be proud of.”
Innovation: Africa created a strong webpage on their main website that explains the fundraising process, tells the organization’s story, outlines the importance of social media in fundraising, and highlights a handful of stellar fundraising page examples.
How innovation: Africa Fundraisers Succeed
Ranan L. used the resources provided by the organization to create a DIY campaign for his Bar Mitzvah tzedakah. He included a personal story, explained innovation: Africa’s work, and engaged 174 donors in the process. A timely update announcing that he met his goal of $18,000 helped keep momentum strong!
Entire groups can also create a DIY campaign, as was evidenced by Congregation Beth Torah and the Miami Chapter. By combining efforts, groups can fundraise to support large-scale efforts such as community-wide irrigation or solar systems.
How DIY Fundraising Helps innovation: Africa
Innovation: Africa provides the website and the resources, but it’s because of the loyal fundraisers who work hard engaging their friends and family that the organization was able to raise $324,000.
As you can see, DIY fundraising gives your nonprofit supporters the autonomy to share their own story and fundraise when they see fit, but with structure and resources supplied by your nonprofit. This helps keep your organization’s message streamlined while giving your supporters the freedom to share their story of “why.”
Everyone benefits with DIY fundraising.
CauseVox strives to make the DIY fundraising process easy and painless. With one-time setup, personalized sites, custom receipts, smart notifications, and full ownership over donation processing and donor data, you can keep up with your fundraisers without hiring extra staff or incurring added stress.
To learn more about how CauseVox can help you and your supporters with DIY fundraising, request a demo.
David Cohn, executive director of First Tee of Southeast Wisconsin, knew that peer-to-peer fundraising could potentially help his nonprofit raise money, so he turned to CauseVox to help power a brand new community-driven fundraising event to support the organization’s mission.
100 Holes of Golf, a “marathon,” of sorts, engages participants who’ve raised anywhere from $500 to $1000 or more in a rousing game of golf, with every dollar going right back into the nonprofit.
First Tee’s peer-to-peer fundraising event website powered by CauseVox
Creating a fundraising campaign from scratch is notoriously difficult, but Cohn and the team at First Tee of Southeast Wisconsin met the challenge. In fact, they exceeded their goals and reached a new audience of donors using CauseVox-specific features such as a professional, customizable layout, campaign replication, and easily managed personal fundraising pages.
With two strong campaigns under their belt, Cohn is eager to get started perfecting a third peer-to-peer fundraising event with CauseVox.
About First Tee of Southeast Wisconsin
When young children learn core values such as playing fair, honesty, and integrity early on, they’re likely to practice them throughout their lives. Thankfully, there are organizations like First Tee of Southeast Wisconsin out there to help instill these values and nurture future generations through golf.
So, what exactly does golf have to do with life skills?
According to Cohn, the two absolutely go hand-in-hand. “The mission of The First Tee of Southeast Wisconsin is to impact the lives of young people and their families by providing educational programs for youth that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.”
David is part of a two-person team committed to bringing the game of golf to children throughout the Milwaukee region. Their work is invaluable but unfortunately, there’s a lot to do, and limited resources to get it all done. With such a small staff, every second counts in ensuring the organization gets their message across to guarantee enough funding to continue this essential programming.
Small Team Struggles
It’s amazing just how much David and Program Director Tom Gerke accomplish in a given day. Like similar small nonprofit organizations, The First Tee of Southeast Wisconsin’s limited staffing means each employee must pull their own weight, and then some.
“I am constantly pulled in many different directions,” notes David. “As the Executive Director and also the staff member responsible for all of our fundraising efforts, I always have to balance my time and resources effectively.”
Now or Never
Efficiency is especially important when it comes to fundraising. In 2017, David began searching for a fundraising technique that educates and inspires as many potential donors as possible. However, he didn’t want to spend his already maxed-out schedule fixing technical glitches or walking people through the online giving process.
David wanted to raise money online, without the common pitfalls.
After researching his options, David decided to try a peer-to-peer fundraising event because it seemed like a natural fit for the organization.
“I had high expectations for its potential,” said David, adding that mobilizing his biggest supporters to share the organization’s mission with others was paramount for continued growth.
The Right Solution: Why CauseVox?
The next step was finding the right online fundraising partner–a software program that makes the process of online fundraising easy and effective.
“Once we settled on the golf marathon idea, we explored multiple options for a software partner. We knew we wanted to find an all-in-one platform that allowed our players to easily create and manage their own fundraising page while providing an easy way for their supporters to contribute to the event. CauseVox checked all of those boxes for us,” David noted.
By using CauseVox to power his organization’s peer-to-peer fundraising efforts, David was able to raise money without the added stress of learning a new software program or spending a large portion of his proceeds.
A First Tee peer-to-peer fundraiser’s personal page powered by CauseVox
David pointed out three CauseVox features that helped him meet his fundraising needs. These include:
Ease of Use: David noted CauseVox’s simple platform that’s easy to use whether you’re an administrator or a personal fundraiser. Within minutes, fundraisers can set up a fundraising page and share it across multiple networks. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many of our fundraisers have told us how easy the process was to set up their fundraising page and share with their networks. We have not had any issues or challenges in helping them set up their pages.” At the end of the day, an easy platform saves an organization valuable time.
Cost: Pricing is often one of the biggest hurdles for small nonprofits to overcome. Unfortunately, some online fundraising platforms fees don’t equate to superior service. But David found: “Based on our volume and needs, we have found CauseVox to be an ideal investment.”
Consistency: If an online fundraising campaign works, you should be able to replicate it for years to come. Campaign replication helps ensure consistency and saves an organization time. David loved this specific CauseVox feature. “It was easy to replicate our event in the second year, copying most of the content while having the ability to make any needed changes.”
Considering functionality, cost, and the time savings, CauseVox was a smart choice for The First Tee of Southeast Wisconsin.
Hitting a Hole in One
In its first year, The First Tee of Southeast Wisconsin ran its 100 Holes of Golf campaign on CauseVox and raised $18,778, and impressive effort for any first-time peer-to-peer campaign. Then, in 2018, they mirrored their campaign and wound up raising an astounding $55,903. Wow!
This sort of growth is huge. Yet, to David, the fundraising wasn’t just about the dollars raised. “Not only has [peer-to-peer fundraising] brought in significant funds, but it has introduced many new friends to our work,” he told CauseVox.
Raising money. Engaging supporters. Growing a community.
Through CauseVox-powered peer-to-peer fundraising and key CauseVox features such as an easy to use registration and website creation, team fundraising, social sharing, and campaign replication, The First Tee of Southeast Wisconsin is reaching a broader donor audience, engaging supporters, and raising money at the same time.
Congratulations to David Cohn, Tom Gerke, and all of The First Tee of Southeast Wisconsin supporters for their tremendous fundraising successes and notable community impact. You’re a testament to the power of community-driven fundraising!
Let Us Help You
The struggles David experienced are common for most nonprofits. With limited funds and time, it’s easy to put new and expanded fundraising efforts on the back burner.
We get it. It’s increasingly hard to make ends meet.
But CauseVox is here to help. We created a simple, effective, personalized fundraising platform that can help you raise money for your organization without the need for extra staff.
CauseVox makes it easy for you to manage relationships with your supporters and create personalized fundraising sites, peer-to-peer campaigns, and donation pages, all in one place, while also providing a remarkable giving experience your supporters will love.
With CauseVox you get more than a tool. We combine powerful fundraising tools with best practices and an experienced team to guide you to success.
These mythical beings appear out of nowhere, bearing money and enthusiasm.“Oh, I just drove by your office and saw your sign,” they say. Or, “ I was looking at charities online, and you seemed great. How can I help?”
Poof! There they are!
While these occasional encounters are delightful, “Wait for donors to appear,” is not a solid strategy.
“Maybe if I do some kind of spell, new donors will appear…”
So, how do you find new supporters on purpose?
Old-Style Solutions: No Longer Enough
Finding new people to support your cause has been a challenge for nonprofits since there have been nonprofits. There are some classic fundraising traditions for introducing an organization to new people, such as buying or renting a list of prospective donor names from another organization or street campaigning.
The first problem with these techniques is that they rely on cold-contacting strangers. They require you to pin all your hope on people who haven’t expressed an interest in your organization and don’t have a reason to trust you. Sometimes, these people will give, but the connection won’t run deep.
The second problem with these techniques is that they haven’t kept pace with the world. We’re in a new era; one that relies on interpersonal connections, social networks, and peer reviews. Social media has boosted the power of the word-of-mouth recommendation, and cold-contacting strangers just isn’t how it works anymore. Fundraisers have to adapt.
Instead of reaching out to strangers and hoping to make a connection, it makes more sense to get a human introduction. How do you do that? With a community-driven fundraising approach.
A Community-Driven Fundraising Approach
Community-driven fundraising leverages your current supporters’ social networks and connections for your organization. It transforms community members into supporters and supporters into advocates for your cause. It’s
based on relationships instead of transactions.
And sometimes, it really does seem like magic.
The relationship-based aspect is crucial; it’s what makes community-driven fundraising stand out from the crowd. People pay attention to their friends and families more than organizations. They know that a message from a
friend is more likely to be relevant and personal.
Before you start drawing up your community-driven fundraising plans, you must identify your community.
“Our community is everyone!” you may think. You’re not alone. It’s easy for fundraising professionals (and boards, oh my goodness, it’s easy for boards) to think that their goal is to solicit the support of “the general public.” That’s simply too broad a goal to be meaningful.
Instead of aiming for “every person in the world/our town/whoever encounters us,” it’s better to aim at a specific target. Consider your current donors. Do they have any similarities? When you look at your donor data, do any trends emerge? Once you have an idea of who your donors are, you can start to craft donor personas to inform your fundraising efforts.
A donor persona is an imaginary person with the details of the donor group you want to reach. For example, you might find that about half of your donors are married women in their fifties who have a deep personal
connection to your cause, have kids in college, and give an average gift of $200. From this information, you can create “Peggy,” your imaginary ideal donor.
Your description could go something like this:
Peggy knows quite a bit about our cause, and wants to go beyond the basics–she doesn’t need a beginner’s explanation of what we do. Peggy hasn’t retired, and is advanced in her career. She doesn’t have a lot of spare time, but she has more now that her kids are out of the house. She’s comfortable giving about $200. Peggy is enthusiastic about our organization, but her heart is with the cause, not us. If she thought someone else was pursuing the cause better, she might go there.
Donor personas help you stop shooting in the dark, and start aiming your communications at people who are likely to be interested. Now, instead of trying to reach a random stranger, you’re trying to reach Peggy. You can
create events you think she’d come to, and share stories you think would inspire her.
It’s possible you may have more than one donor persona to target. Different groups in your community will have different interests, and personas can help you clarify who each communication is trying to reach.
Retention And Recruitment Go Together
To start finding new supporters, first look to your existing ones. There are two major reasons to do this: retention and recruitment.
The donors you already have are more likely to stick around. Statistics show that most first-time donors are also one-time donors–they do not continue to support an organization after that first gift. So as you go looking for new donors, don’t ignore your existing ones. New donors look bright and shiny on board reports, and yes, you do need
them, but your stalwart supporters are likely to have greater lifetime value.
But treating your existing supporters right is also important for finding new ones. Even if you have a small number of supporters, the potential of their reach is exponential. Everyone comes to your organization with an existing social network of friends, family, and other connections. With the right inspiration and opportunity, some of your supporters will become advocates for your organization and ambassadors to the rest of your network.
They’ll bring their people to you.
Getting Started With A Community-Driven Fundraising Approach
Community-driven fundraising helps your supporters reach out to their networks on your behalf, on their own terms. It works in three phases: Inspire, Activate, Rally. Think of those words as your magic spell, if you will.
No eye of newt necessary, just inspiration, activation, and rallying.
First, you must inspire your community with storytelling. Whether you tell them via video, print, or through pictures and social media posts, human-based stories make people care about your cause, show the impact a donor could have on someone’s life, and the change you’re trying to make. Storytelling helps demonstrate why the cause is important on an emotional level. Giving is an emotional activity–invoke empathy with your story.
This video from Casa Congo’s campaign on CauseVox is a great example of simple, but dynamic, storytelling.
Next, activate your supporters by giving them something to do. This transforms their relationship with your organization–it’s even less transactional because now they’re working with you. Invite supporters to get active by joining a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, or attending a fundraising event.
Even the smallest number of supporters can be activated. A peer-to-peer campaign is a great way to get board members more comfortable with fundraising. If you feel like you don’t have a strong enough core of supporters for an organization-launched campaign, invite your existing supporters to try DIY fundraising, like raising money in honor of a holiday or birthday.
Finally, rally your personal fundraisers by giving them tools, updates, and encouragement as they fundraise on your behalf. Invite their feedback, and continue to communicate with them throughout the campaign.
Of course, a community-driven fundraising approach is not actually magic. Some supporters will not become fundraisers. That’s okay. The great thing about community-driven fundraising is that every phase is good for your
supporters and organization. People who don’t become passionate advocates will still be inspired supporters, and that’s good news.
New Supporter Housekeeping
There are a few more things you can do to attract new supporters. These things aren’t glamorous, but they’re important. Remember to:
Make sure your donation page makes sense and that it’s incredibly easy to make a donation. CauseVox can help with that!
Include a call-to-action in each communication piece you send, so that your supporters always have the option to do something like donate, sign up, start their own campaign, etc.
Capture email addresses and contact information at events where you meet new people
No Magic, Just Community
It’s pretty cliche to tell you that the magic was inside you all along, but in this case, it’s true.
Those mythical new donors are already connected to you. If you inspire, activate, and rally your existing community, new supporters will begin to appear. The power of community isn’t magical, but it sure is extraordinary.
HOPE worldwide, an international faith-based organization that mobilizes volunteers to deliver disaster relief and community empowerment programs for families in need in 60 countries, is one of the thousands of nonprofits that use CauseVox’s online crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising tools to power their own #GivingTuesday and year-end campaigns.
Since 2014, HOPE worldwide has used CauseVox’s fundraising platform to exponentially grow their online fundraising efforts and stand out from the noise. So, we recently spoke with Russ Hargrove, Vice President and Chief Development Officer at HOPE worldwide, to unpack their success and how CauseVox has helped them streamline and grow their online fundraising.
Here’s what we learned.
HOPE worldwide: Challenges & Solutions
Volunteers, often high school and college-aged students, are the people who fuel HOPE worldwide’s mission and boost fundraising efforts. After serving on the field for as little as seven days, many of these volunteers come back home with a great appreciation for the work they’ve done, and the needs that remain out there. According to Russ, “our challenge is to raise funds from our dynamic volunteer population in a way that is strategically organized.”
In 2014, Russ and his team found a solution to help them mobilize hundreds of volunteers from around the world: online fundraising on CauseVox.
What did they look for in an online fundraising platform? Russ notes the factors that led HOPE worldwide to the platform include:
Reliable: The platform needed to operate effectively without fail “We appreciate that CauseVox works…It’s reliable, doing everything a crowdfunding platform should,” said Russ.
Individual and Personalized: Russ wanted to ensure that each personal fundraiser had the opportunity and the flexibility to personalize their fundraising page and their outreach.
Responsive Customer Service: If a problem arose, Russ needed to know that his online fundraising platform was there to assist.
Cost Efficiency: HOPE Worldwide wanted to balance features with cost, and sought a platform that allowed them to take home the most amount of money without losing key features.
Engaging: The same high school and college students that power HOPE worldwide’s impact are also helping drive the organization’s fundraising strategies. Russ wanted a platform that was engaging for these young donors and fundraisers. “We recognize that we’re building for the future. They’re not the highest net worth, but they’re involved, and that involvement filters up,” he said.
#GivingTuesday: Past & Present
“We see #GivingTuesday as the launch of our giving season,” Russ explained. He told us that all the messaging and “buzz” about #GivingTuesday tends to stick with donors. So, even if they can’t give on that day, they do later on.
And they’re definitely doing something right because their fundraising totals have increased significantly over a three-year span. “In 2015, we raised $8,000. In 2016, we raised $12,500, and in 2017, we raised $21,000!” said Russ.
The essential funds raised on #GivingTuesday go directly into the HOPE Youth Corps scholarships– allowing low-income students to attend the two-week service leadership programs located in 18 places.
#GivingTuesday Campaign Snapshot
Fundraising Staff Size: 5
Length of Campaign: 1 Day
Total Funds Raised: $21,000
# of Personal Fundraisers: 16
To elevate their #GivingTuesday results, HOPE worldwide follows these fundraising best practices:
Build-Up: Preparing donors is a key factor in HOPE worldwide’s fundraising successes. They use the days and weeks before #GivingTuesday to thank donors and other supporters for their past gifts and participation in volunteer activities. In these communications, they also mention future #GivingTuesday and year-end efforts. Keep in mind; they don’t make an officially “ask” before #GivingTueday. They focus instead on stewardship. “The week before Thanksgiving is all about storytelling and thank yous. We shower [our supporters] with good stewardship…”
Gift Match: Gift matches are an effective way to leverage a donor’s dollars, and they often encourage donors who are on the fence about giving to “give it a go.” HOPE worldwide relied on a gift match during their #GivingTuesday campaign to maximize their fundraising efforts, and it worked in reaching an unprecedented one-day campaign goal.
Multi-Channel Approach: Online donations were the bread-and-butter of their #GivingTueday campaign, but since HOPE worldwide has a diverse donor population, they made sure not to alienate donors who prefer to give in other ways. In addition to their CauseVox-powered site, they used direct mail and personal meetings to capture every possible donation.
Finishing The Year Strong
HOPE worldwide followed their stellar #GivingTuesday showing with an equally strong year-end outreach campaign in 2017. By the end of December, they raised $331,000!
During the busy 6-week period from Thanksgiving to New Years Eve, Russ and his team continued to follow online fundraising best practices while also unifying their online and offline fundraising themes across all platforms.
“In 2017, we combined the tried and true strategy of obtaining a matching gift donor for gifts through December 31, with the social network building strategy of benefitting our youth service scholarship programs. We were able to capitalize on the energy that a matching gift brings while at the same time engaging the youth make the campaign fresh and grow our network reach,” said Russ.
Building On Their Successes
Now that they have three years of online fundraising under their belts, HOPE worldwide is busy fine-tuning their formula for 2018’s campaigns. “In this infinite space, we could be giving time and energy to hundreds of fundraising initiatives at any given moment. Knowing where our high-yield opportunity and keeping focus [on them] can be challenging,” Russ notes.
Once again, Russ plans to use a matching gift and multi-channel approach to drive year-end fundraising efforts. However, he’s also considering adding another component: recurring giving.
“A major feature of [2018’s] messaging will be focused on recurring monthly giving. We hope to turn many of our seasonal givers into regular members of our COMMUNITY OF HOPE monthly giving program,” he explained.
HOPE worldwide is an excellent example of an organization that continues to build on their triumphs; ultimately bringing more and more engaged supporters to the table.
Congratulations to HOPE worldwide. We can’t wait to see what you accomplish this year-end!
If you are interested in using online fundraising to elevate your #GivingTuesday or year-end campaigns, schedule a demo with CauseVox.
CauseVox is a community-driven fundraising platform designed to help nonprofits grow giving and build a community of supporters activated for their cause.
CauseVox makes it easy for you to manage relationships with your supporters and create personalized fundraising sites, peer-to-peer campaigns, and donation pages, all in one place, while also providing a remarkable giving experience your supporters will love.
With CauseVox you get more than a tool. We combine powerful fundraising tools with best practices and an experienced team to guide you to success.
Anne Watson, Executive Director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County Indiana, is a big fan of technology. In fact, she came to work in nonprofits after spending years in the tech industry, and she believes that technology is essential in today’s fundraising landscape. “I am very interested in utilizing technology to furniture or mission, from both the programmatic standpoint and in fundraising,” she told us.
Back in 2016, her organization was going through some significant changes, and she looked to technology to fill in the gaps. For Anne, online fundraising was the solution in St. Vincent de Paul Society’s efforts to transition from a thrift store-based fundraising to an online, awareness-centric method.
Our CauseVox team had the opportunity to talk with Anne about her experience using our online fundraising platform to engage donors and raise money. She provided some great takeaways about how she successfully uses CauseVox to power her crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising efforts, and we couldn’t wait to share them with you.
Fundraising and Engagement Snapshot
Number of campaigns on CauseVox: 11
Active CauseVox campaigns: 4
Total funds raised: $125,000
About St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County
“The St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County is an organization dedicated to serving those in need by providing food, clothing, financial assistance, and educational courses,” Anne explained.
Although their two standalone thrift stores closed over the past year, they’re still dedicated to raising awareness and serving over 50,000 members of their community.
In the 2018 fiscal year, the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County is focusing their development efforts on donor retention and new donor recruitment.
Solutions To A Common Problem
Small budgets, limited resources, overworked staff: these are just some of the common problems nonprofits across the world face every day, and St. Vincent de Paul is in the same boat. “We lack resources, both capital and human, to get everything done that we want to get done in a day,” Anne explained.
Her solution to this problem is technology.
“Whatever platform we use, it has to be simple enough that our staff can create impactful campaigns in a short amount of time, and that our donors find it easy and convenient to use.”
After searching high and low, and trying a few different platforms out for size, Anne believes that in CauseVox, “we have found a winner!”
What Else Matters In A Platform?
In addition to needing a platform that’s user-friendly for all parties, Anne was also eager to find a service that looked professional and blended in with the organization’s main website but didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
The first online fundraising company she worked with didn’t quite fit the bill, literally.
“While the platform worked for us, the cost was exponentially high,” she explained. Anne knew she wanted to continue with peer-to-peer campaigns, but she couldn’t justify the high costs. Finding an alternative platform was the next step, and she quickly found that CauseVox fit her budgetary needs. “CauseVox has an easier to manage platform, was cheaper, and overall, a good fit for our needs.”
Over time, Anne discovered that, in using CauseVox, peer-to-peer wasn’t her only online fundraising option. She found that Everyday Donation Pages were also a great tool to help capture donations all year long, even outside campaign windows. “We love the ability to create both campaigns and donation pages based on our needs,” said Anne.
Lessons Learned & Takeaways
Throughout the past three years, Anne and her team have learned the best ways to attract donors online. These are some of her favorite techniques, many of which are also online fundraising best practices.
Using Impact Metrics
“Our donors really loved the impact metric we have started to use for #GivingTuesday. We measure our progress by the number of people served through the campaign. On average, a $34 donation can help one person. This has helped us to meet our goals for #GivingTuesday.”
Dollars don’t tug at a donor’s heartstrings, but impact does. Many nonprofits use impact metrics to help donors understand the true, human impact of their donation.
Promoting Personalized Fundraising Pages
“When running peer-to-peer campaigns, it’s really good when fundraisers personalize their pages and tell people why they are fundraising for our cause. This helps donors identify with the fundraisers more.”
Setting up a fundraising website takes a minute. From there, personal fundraisers can share their unique giving story to help encourage their friends and family to get involved in the cause.
“The social sharing buttons have helped a lot in social media. It allows us to spread the word about our campaign and get others involved while still driving traffic to our fundraising sites.”
Every CauseVox fundraising page comes pre-set with social sharing options. With the click of a button, fundraisers share their campaign page on social media and through email. At the same time, donors can also share the campaign on their handles. This sort of exposure is what helps elevate campaigns exponentially.
Elevating Year-End Efforts
“We incorporated #GivingTuesday into our year-end campaign. It’s on the same day as an event we run for members of our organization, a Family Reunion, of sorts, and a great opportunity to talk to people face-to-face.”
St. Vincent de Paul Society’s multi-pronged approach to year-end fundraising is definitely worth mentioning. In combining their traditional year-end campaign with #GivingTuesday, and a supporter appreciation event, the organization organically capitalizes on the excitement of the season. They also add multiple non-ask touchpoints throughout the season, particularly around Thanksgiving.
The organization typically shuts down during the week between Christmas and New Years, arguably the busiest time for donations. However, Anne and her team have found that online fundraising gives them the freedom to be home for the holidays, and still watch the donations roll in.
“We’ve had success incorporating the CauseVox page on social media, email, and even our old-school communication. The integration is great and easy. “
Nonprofits use many avenues to communicate with supporters, but Anne found that CauseVox made integrating their old systems with the new ones easy.
After seeing the phenomenal results of peer-to-peer fundraising firsthand, Anne and her 8-person team at the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County are “all-in” on online fundraising.
Besides continuing to use CauseVox for day-to-day donations (Everyday Donation Pages), the organization will also run peer-to-peer and crowdfunding campaigns such as #GivingTuesday, and for the Sweet Dreams Ministry on the CauseVox platform.
“With a limited staff and limited budget, I want to use technology the best we can,” Anne concludes. We’re thrilled that CauseVox is part of this plan!
With CauseVox you get more than a tool. We combine powerful fundraising tools with best practices and an experienced team dedicated to helping you succeed. And we sweat the details so you don’t have to. Handling everything from security and hosting to centralizing your data. We’re here to help!
Thousands of organizations like the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County use CauseVox to grow their impact by inspiring, activating, and rallying people to advocate for their cause.
See how CauseVox can help you streamline and grow your nonprofit’s digital fundraising.
Click here to book time with our team, so we can answer your questions, show you CauseVox’s platform, and share customer examples you can learn from.