Grassroots advocacy campaigns gather their strength from bringing people with shared concerns together to fight for a common cause. However, even the most well-connected advocacy groups won’t be able to reach out to every individual who might be interested in their mission.
Fortunately, advocacy groups can leverage their supporters’ personal networks, find new supporters, and increase their revenue in the process. They can accomplish this by running a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is commonly used by nonprofit organizations to raise funds for their mission, but these types of campaigns can also be hosted by advocacy organizations to earn both donations and attention for their cause. Additionally, as technology has evolved, many advocacy groups have turned to digital advocacy, which inherently pairs well with peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns as supporters can use their own social media networks to advocate on your behalf.
To learn how to get started, this peer-to-peer fundraising guide for advocacy groups will walk through the essentials of starting a campaign, including:
Due to the variety of advocacy groups out there with unique missions and audiences, no two peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns will be completely the same. However, many of the same resources and best practices will work for a wide range of campaigns with the right adjustments for their specific situation. To get started, let’s begin with some foundational knowledge.
Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns have several moving parts, and while the right tools can help your advocacy group stay organized, you’ll need to be familiar with peer-to-peer fundraising fundamentals before you can put them to use. To help, here are three must-know questions about these campaigns:
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a method of gathering support and donations by having volunteers fundraise on your organization’s behalf.
For advocacy campaigns, these interactions will primarily involve discussing your advocacy group’s mission and what individuals can do to help. In some cases, this might be donating, while others might also ask for petition signatures, hand out educational materials, or even ask for support in reaching out to elected officials.
Before starting your advocacy group’s peer-to-peer campaign, decide what action you want supporters to take after a conversation with your volunteers. Then, design your campaign’s goals, messages, and training materials around that objective.
Peer-to-peer fundraisers are popular amongst both nonprofit organizations and grassroots groups due to their numerous advantages. For advocacy groups more specifically, your campaign can help you:
Of course, peer-to-peer fundraisers also help bring in additional revenue, and when coordinated effectively, the bulk of the work will be done by volunteers. This frees up your staff to work on other important campaign projects. Your staff will still need to be hands-on and readily available for volunteers, but setting up a peer-to-peer campaign can allow you to cover far more ground than if your organization was asking for donations without volunteer support.
Peer-to-peer campaigns can be more complex than other types of fundraisers. Rather than one, unified campaign, they can be thought of as many individual campaigns, all working towards one common goal. Fortunately, peer-to-peer campaigns still generally follow three basic stages:
There are several smaller steps within each of these stages, such as establishing campaign goals, creating training materials, and hosting peer-to-peer events. Make sure your peer-to-peer platform and advocacy software provide you organization and your volunteers with core messaging and communication tools to stay in touch from the beginning to the end of your campaign.
Like all campaigns, a peer-to-peer fundraiser’s success ultimately depends on the practices and strategies used. To set your campaign up for its best chance of success, here are five tips for advocacy groups:
As mentioned, your volunteers will need training in order to both properly use your software and represent your organization. After assembling your volunteers, plan onboarding sessions that will go over:
Additionally, provide all of your volunteers with a schedule for their hours and a way to check in and record their hours. Properly recording volunteer hours will help your volunteer supervisors manage and schedule volunteers. Plus, nonprofits running advocacy initiatives can benefit from volunteer grants, which usually require accurately reporting hours volunteered.
Peer-to-peer campaigns can be hosted by themselves or in conjunction with an event, helping to raise funds and market other engagement opportunities at your organization. Theoretically, almost any type of event can be paired with a peer-to-peer campaign as long as their goals align.
Here are a few popular events commonly hosted alongside peer-to-peer campaigns:
Make sure to coordinate your peer-to-peer campaign and event schedules carefully. Starting your peer-to-peer campaign too far in advance may result in early contributors forgetting about your event, while beginning too late may prevent volunteers from collecting as many donations as they could otherwise.
The success of your peer-to-peer campaigns ultimately depends upon your volunteers. This means that one of your organization’s first priorities should be providing volunteers with the motivation and tools they need to succeed. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to help encourage your supporters, such as:
Remember that while your campaign’s first goal is to raise funds, you should also make sure your volunteers have a good experience. Doing so can help you form a solid support base to pull from for future campaigns and spend less time re-recruiting volunteers.
While your volunteers make up the bulk of your peer-to-peer campaign’s fundraising force, your organization shouldn’t just leave promotional efforts to them alone. Your advocacy group can help spread the word, attracting new volunteers and donors, alike, by using strategies such as:
Continuing to promote your campaign and sharing your fundraising progress can also work in your campaign’s favor and help encourage donations. For example, if you provide updates that show you’re close to reaching an important fundraising milestone or are close to your campaign’s deadline, donors who had been on the fence about giving might be persuaded to make a contribution.
Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns can become fairly complicated, and it’s easy to get disorganized or run an inefficient campaign without the proper software support. Using dedicated peer-to-peer fundraising software will help your campaign stay on track and provide your volunteers with new ways to reach out to potential supporters.
For example, consider how you want your volunteers to communicate with supporters. Will they be chatting face-to-face? Video conferencing? Texting?
Additionally, think about how you want your volunteers to collect donations. Will they be submitted to unique volunteer campaign pages or to your organization’s general donation page? Will volunteers always ask for a donation in their first interactions or will those be saved for follow-up meetings?
Answering questions like these will help guide your organization as you begin to research your software options.
There are a wide variety of available peer-to-peer fundraising platforms. However, as an advocacy group, your needs will differ slightly from those of nonprofit organizations.
While collecting donations is still important, your organization will require added support for advocacy-specific goals. When browsing peer-to-peer solutions, look for options that can adequately support your advocacy campaign by offering the following features:
Additionally, think about how your peer-to-peer platform will work alongside your events. Some solutions may be entirely separate from your event management tools, while others might come with features specifically tailored to helping events run smoothly.
Grassroots Unwired is one of the top advocacy software platforms available for canvassing campaigns. Among their range of software solutions, they also have two peer-to-peer platforms that advocacy organizations can use to improve their canvassing efforts and event days:
Grassroots Unwired’s IC Donors peer-to-peer solution is one of the top texting apps for campaign fundraising. The IC Donors app is built to connect with canvassing software, giving your canvassers a new way to connect with community members while on the go.
Texting is the new up-and-coming approach to peer-to-peer communication. Supporters are far more likely to check and respond to texts than they are to emails. When used in conjunction with your canvassing campaigns, the IC Donors app will help to ensure that you reach all of your supporters, even when they’re not at home.
If your peer-to-peer campaign is paired with an event, consider investing in Grassroots Unwired’s 4EventDay App. With the app, your volunteers can continue collecting donations and advocating on your behalf efforts even during your event. Just have your volunteers download the app to their phones, then set them out at your event to check-in guests using their phones by scanning tickets and remotely processing donations and sales.
The 4EventDay App even works offline, giving your event the freedom to go totally paperless, no matter how remote you are. Plus, by checking in guests with your volunteers’ phones, your supporters will never have to wait in line, allowing them to get straight to your event!
Effective peer-to-peer fundraising requires planning, investing in the right resources, and taking active steps to maintain your campaign’s momentum. In exchange, your advocacy campaign will be able to connect with a wider, previously inaccessible support network while also building strong ties with your current base.
Of course, both advocacy and peer-to-peer campaigns are complex endeavours that need dedicated research ahead of time. To help your advocacy organization learn more about how to run a successful advocacy peer-to-peer fundraiser, we’ve put together these three top resources: