The Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Guide for Advocacy Groups

ByGrassroots Unwired

The Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Guide for Advocacy Groups

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. 

Launch your next peer-to-peer fundraising campaign with Grassroots Unwired. Request a demo.

Get your questions about peer-to-peer fundraising answered with this FAQ.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising FAQ

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: 

What is peer-to-peer fundraising?

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. 

What are the benefits of a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign?

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:

  • Raise more by leveraging your supporters’ personal networks. As mentioned, your supporters have a diverse network of relationships that include individuals who may be interested in your cause. While your organization may not have direct access to them, your supporters do, and they will know how to appeal specifically to their friends and family in a way even highly personalized messages from your organization can’t match. 
  • Engage your current supporters by giving them a new way to interact with your organization. Your advocacy organization likely has many supporters who want to continue helping your cause after making a donation. Peer-to-peer campaigns allow them to make a difference without reaching back into their wallets, helping you build connections with them while also benefiting your campaign as a whole. 
  • Promote other activities at your organizations, such as events. Marketing is expensive, and getting the word out about upcoming events can easily become a full-time job. With peer-to-peer campaigns, you can actively boost your event’s word-of-mouth marketing by encouraging your supporters to discuss your event as part of their fundraising. 

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. 

How does peer-to-peer fundraising work?

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:

  • Recruit supporters to fundraise on your behalf and provide necessary onboarding. Before your peer-to-peer campaign can get started, you’ll need volunteers who have the right passion and training to fundraise effectively on your behalf. Ensure your volunteer recruitment postings include all necessary details so you can attract volunteers with the needed skills for your campaign. Additionally, the right number of volunteers will also depend on your campaign’s size and specific fundraising goals. Once your volunteers have finally been assembled, you’ll need to provide them with the necessary information and tools to begin fundraising.
  • Your supporters set up unique campaign pages to begin fundraising. Peer-to-peer campaigns succeed because of your volunteers’ personal relationships. Many people in their lives will provide support first and foremost because of their connection to the volunteer. Their interest in your cause is likely more of a secondary motivator. Capitalize on this by allowing volunteers to create personal campaign pages that let them tell their stories and connect to potential supporters. 
  • Your organization steps in as needed to provide help and encourage fundraisers. Chances are that several of your volunteers will need assistance from your organization at some point to reach their maximum fundraising potential. Additionally, keeping up a regular messaging cadence will not only improve their fundraising abilities, but help them feel supported by your organization, motivating them to continue being a strong advocate and fundraiser. 

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. 

Improve your peer-to-peer fundraising efforts with these five best practices.

5 Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Best Practices

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:

1. Create a comprehensive onboarding process. 

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:

  • How to represent your organization. While they may not be hired staff at your organization, your volunteers will ultimately represent your advocacy group during your campaign. Ensure they understand your organization’s brand and communication style before fundraising. Provide them with messaging templates and scripts to help them hit all of the right points when connecting with supporters. 
  • How to use your peer-to-peer platform. Your peer-to-peer software should be intuitive and user-friendly, but you should still be sure to walk volunteers through the basics to prevent tech breakdowns during your campaign. For peer-to-peer campaigns, specifically, you can also provide volunteers with advice about how to customize their pages, which may involve playing with templates and uploading photos and even videos. 
  • What to do if they need help during your fundraiser. You can help your volunteers feel supported by giving them resources to turn to if they run into any issues while advocating on your behalf. For example, you can provide volunteers with how-to guides for your software and branching scripts that provide advice for dealing with more difficult individuals. Also, make sure they know who their volunteer supervisor is and how they can get in touch with them. 

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.  

2. Pair peer-to-peer campaigns with events. 

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: 

  • Walk-a-thons. Walk-a-thons, marathons, 5Ks, and other physically active fundraising events that rely on pledge donations pair well with peer-to-peer campaigns. Additionally, if you’re hosting your walk-a-thon in a remote outdoor location, make sure you have software that will be able to function with or without internet access. There are even peer-to-peer platforms that allow your volunteers to check-in guests with their phones, regardless of internet connection. 
  • Auctions. Charity auctions are popular fundraisers that reward guests with prizes in exchange for their donations in the form of bids. As auctions require your team to procure items, they can take quite a bit more time and effort to plan than other events, meaning attracting as many guests as possible is vital for their success. With a peer-to-peer campaign, your volunteers can generate excitement for specific items and help spread news of your event by word of mouth. 
  • Rallies. While not every advocacy campaign has in-person gatherings and demonstrations, those that do can benefit highly from spreading awareness in their community ahead of time. For rallies, marches, and other advocacy-specific events, focus your peer-to-peer efforts on your immediate community to generate a large crowd. 

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.  

3. Encourage your supporters to keep fundraising. 

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:

  • Ensuring help is easily accessible. Give your volunteers a specific supervisor to contact if they run into trouble. If you have a mix of new and experienced volunteers, you can also assign volunteer mentors to your newer ones. 
  • Creating friendly competition. Gamification tools can add an extra incentive for volunteers to raise as much as they can. Consider creating leaderboards or even awarding a prize to your top campaign’s top volunteers. 
  • Providing regular campaign updates. Make sure your volunteers are in the loop about your campaign’s overall progress. Hearing that you’re close to your campaign goal may incite them to try even harder to earn more and close the gap. Plus, keeping up regular digital communication lets them know your organization is still supporting and acknowledging their efforts even if it’s been a few days since their last direct communication with a member of your staff.
  • Setting attainable fundraising goals. Choose your fundraising goal carefully before beginning your campaign. An unreachable fundraising goal may discourage otherwise passionate volunteers, while an underestimate may result in volunteers dropping off near the end of your campaign, resulting in less funds earned. 

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. 

4.  Continue to promote your peer-to-peer campaign. 

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: 

  • Making your peer-to-peer fundraiser part of your digital advocacy campaign. Digital advocacy has dramatically increased in popularity in recent years due to its ability to reach a wide audience quickly. To promote your campaign even further, share your peer-to-peer campaign on social media and help share your volunteers’ posts and campaign pages. 
  • Using multiple channels to promote your peer-to-peer campaign. It’s unlikely all of your supporters use the same communication channels, and the most effective way to reach a wide audience while building additional touch points with supporters is through multi-channel marketing. Consider posting about your campaign on social media, letting your supporters know through email, and getting in touch with community members through direct mail and in-person events. 
  • Offering both deadline-based and continuous peer-to-peer options. Your volunteers have their own schedules, and even the most passionate supporters may not be able to join every campaign. While campaigns with deadlines, such as those leading up to an event, can motivate some volunteers, others might appreciate having the freedom to start a fundraiser on their own schedule. To accommodate all of your volunteers, consider setting up a continuous peer-to-peer effort volunteers can join at their discretion and host separate fundraisers for other events and specific campaign milestones. 

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. 

5. Use dedicated peer-to-peer fundraising software. 

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. 

Improve your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign with peer-to-peer fundraising software.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Platforms

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:

  • Turf-cutting. For your advocacy group’s peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, you may benefit from assigning areas of your community to specific volunteers to reach out to. This ensures everyone in your surrounding community is contacted by a volunteer, which can be vitally important for advocacy efforts concerning local elections and legislation. 
  • Script-branching. While nonprofit peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns can greatly benefit from volunteers going slightly off script and discussing their own connection to the nonprofit’s mission, advocacy campaigns absolutely need volunteers to hit key agenda points. Help your volunteers stay on topic and navigate a variety of conversations by finding a peer-to-peer solution with robust script-branching features. 
  • Real-time reporting. Advocacy campaigns are often marathons rather than sprints, but conversations in the field can change course in a matter of seconds. In these situations, your organization can benefit from real-time reporting tools that will allow you to spot challenges ahead of time and take advantage of opportunities as soon as they arise. 

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’s Peer-to-Peer Advocacy Platform 

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 software is one of the best peer-to-peer fundraising text solutions.

Grassroots Unwired – IC Donors

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. 

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Tip: Explore Grassroots Unwired's 4EventDayApp to improve your campaign

Grassroots Unwired – 4EventDay App

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!

Wrap Up

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: 

Ready to start your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign? Explore Grassroots Unwired. Request a demo.

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