5 Steps to Planning the Ultimate On-the-Ground Peer-to-Peer Event

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Since the advent of social media and online fundraising, peer-to-peer events and campaigns have become a popular form of nonprofit fundraising. 

The opportunities with different types peer-to-peer campaigns are endless—each with its own set of important steps that should be followed to ensure fundraising success.

On-the-ground peer-to-peer events occur when the organization coordinates participants to a specific location to participate in a common activity.  They can include:

While these on-the-ground events are exciting and often quite successful, they can also be more complex for nonprofit teams to plan. Have no fear, we are here to help make the planning and execution easy! 

As you’re thinking about your next run, walk, or bikeathon, here are the 5 steps to to ensure your on-the-ground event is second to none:

Start planning early

Start Planning Early

However early you think your team needs to start planning, start earlier! The most important part of planning is making decisions to set your event up for success down the road. Here’s your must-have steps to get planning early:

  1. Make sure you have an easy-to-use peer-to-peer platform. The simpler your peer-to-peer software makes it to recruit and register individuals or teams, the more you can attract new donors and quickly sign up those already committed to the cause.
  2. Launch your peer-to-peer fundraising site (which includes all event, mission, and registration details) at a minimum of three months before the actual event date (earlier if possible).
  3. Promote and recruit individual and team registrations. These are the backbone to any successful peer-to-peer campaign.

Remember, the earlier you start planning, the more time you’ll have to hash out critical strategies, such as marketing, promotion, and the day-of activities. 

Come up with clearly defined goals

Come Up with Clearly Defined Goals

Without clear goals, there is confusion in what your team is working towards. In the world of on-the-ground peer-to-peer events, goals can help set the tone for every other decision down the road. 

Your goals can be financial or non-financial.

  • Financial: such as, how much you hope to raise and how much you’re going to charge for admission
  • Non-financial: such as, how many attendees you hope to attract and how many sponsors you want to have 

While lofty goals are always good, it’s smart to keep in mind your team’s track record and historical benchmarks. Just remember that it’s easier to hit – and exceed – your goals when they’re grounded in reality. 

TIP: As you’re building out your goals, remember that peer-to-peer events rely heavily on participant involvement and engagement, which means they need to be held to a high standard. Set participant engagement goals and then build accountability in your participants through gamification, mini-competitions, and leaderboards throughout your campaign. 

Set a reasonable budget

Set and Maintain a Reasonable Budget

Budgets are never a glamorous topic. While on-the-ground events are incredibly lucrative and can be quite successful (another reason why they are so popular!) they also come with a unique set of elements that can make budgeting especially important.

Here’s recommended steps to keep your budget under control and your proceeds high!

  • Set your budget early in the planning process. Things like advertising, participant giveaways, and route permits can take time!
  • Plan for the unforeseen. Make sure to leave a little wiggle room for unexpected costs—it never hurt to plan ahead!
  • Build a spreadsheet with an itemized list of all of your current and projected expenses.
  • As you compare vendors, keep a running list of prices alongside these line items.
  • As you confirm vendors, simply remove the other contenders from your spreadsheet to stay organized.

Your budget is dependent on your goals (and vice versa), so they need to be determined together. On-the-ground events have specific requirements and needs (route permits, awards, SAG drivers, etc.).

Remember, if you have clear goals in mind and are confident in your promotion strategy, a reasonable budget shouldn’t be too hard to maintain.

Build a creative concept to build momentum

Build a Creative Concept to Build Momentum

Regardless of the type of peer-to-peer event your team hosts, most attendees will be there for the same reasons: 

  1. They want to support your cause
  2. The events are fun and engaging
  3. People of all ages can participate

Because peer-to-peer events also rely heavily on social networking and media sharing, donors are equally as invested in bringing in new attendees as the nonprofit itself. 

The first step in the process is building a creative concept that will find and attract new supporters. Next, it’s time to actually register these attendees and continuously build momentum towards your event. You can build registration momentum and help peer-to-peer participants drive donations by:

  • Creating a mobile-first experience to make it easy for people to register, donate, and engage with your organization. 
  • Building a robust social campaign to increase conversation and build excitement about your upcoming event. 
  • Recognizing and celebrating your top peer-to-peer participants and/or donors in the weeks leading up to your on-the-ground event to pump up the competition. 

Think about ways to make your event unique, such as online leaderboards. With your concept in mind early in the planning process, you can get your registration site set up and start seeing registrations come in. 

Tie your theme and promotion back to your mission and provide enough resources and education so that donors and supporters can share your mission with others.

Surround yourself with the right team

Surround Yourself with the Right Team

On-the-ground peer-to-peer events require some serious people power. While a robust volunteer network is a must, it is important that someone from your internal team is in charge of managing all your volunteer staffers.

When in doubt, here’s key best practices to creating the right team:

  • Tap into your supporter base – look for those who have volunteered before, we lead recruiters, fundraisers or just love the cause!
  • Assign team leads to specific areas of the campaign (such as fundraiser relations, marketing, and your online platform).
  • Hold a kick off meeting – make it fun. Creating a social and collaborative atmosphere, gets everyone excited and engaged,
  • If you can, provide swag. Show those core to your campaign that they are special.
  • Communication: define your methods for communication (email, social, text, meetings). A good team gels with the right tools and communication process.

Bonus On-the-Ground Peer-to-peer Event Planning Checklist

Bonus! Your On-the-Ground Peer-to-Peer Event Planning Checklist:

Make sure nothing slips through the cracks when you’re planning your next on-the-ground peer-to-peer event!

  1. Set firm goals for your upcoming on-the-ground peer-to-peer event
  2. Find the right online fundraising platform for your team and needs
  3. Pick a time and date that will maximize attendance
  4. Come up with an engaging concept that will appeal to a wide audience
  5. Determine the budget for your event based off of your campaigns
  6. Start recruiting volunteers and assigning team leads
  7. Take your site live and get fundraising! 
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