Smaller peer-to-peer fundraising events proved more profitable in 2014

Asking supporters to perform a simple activity, like grow a mustache, can spread awareness of your cause.
Date Published
04/27/2015

Peer-to-peer nonprofit fundraising is a fantastic way for organizations to reach new donors. A nonprofit can hold an event that encourages supporters to campaign on its behalf to their social network. While conventional wisdom may suggest making the event as large as possible to contact the widest audience, it seems smaller, more personal events have recently proven more successful.

Big events not as successful as they once were
Reporting on findings from the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum report, The NonProfit Times stated revenue for bigger events was down in 2014. Revenue for the largest peer-to-peer fundraising activity, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, dropped about 12 percent. The article lists corporate restructuring, marketing and public opinion as leading causes for the losses bigger events suffered. For example, Susan G Komen for the Cure is facing negative reactions from its fallout with Planned Parenthood. This could have lead to its charity walk suffering a 38 percent decrease in revenue, the publication explained.

Smaller events proved successful this year
The Peer-to-Peer report found some smaller nonprofit events saw an upswing last year. Peer-to-peer events that featured personal activities like shaving one’s head, jumping rope and growing a mustache all saw revenue increases. The ALS Association’s Walk to Defeat ALS increased its revenue 36 percent, and many experts credit that growth to the very popular Ice Bucket Challenge campaign.

Ideas for smaller peer-to-peer fundraisers
An organization can host a small peer-to-peer event with limited resources by being creative and keeping in mind what was successful in 2014.

-Be simple: A good peer-to-peer activity is usually something anyone can partake in. There are some peer-to-peer challenges and competitions that can be grueling, but this year, simple, fun activities like dumping ice water over one’s self, short walks and shaving proved the most profitable to organizations.

-Be fun: Find an activity participants would enjoy. The Ice Bucket Challenge, which provided ALS research with record-breaking funds, was almost entirely supporter-run. Participants did not need to be coaxed into making a video and sharing it with their friends; they willingly wanted to get in on the fun.

-Be relevant: While running a fun event is key, it’s important that the event, also stays on message. It should be full of opportunities for participants to learn about the nonprofit’s mission. The activity itself can tie back to the cause. For example, Movember, a campaign to get individuals to grow mustaches to raise awareness about prostate cancer, was chosen because it was a male-specific activity for a male-specific disease.

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