The Top Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits

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Most modern fundraisers are more than aware of peer-to-peer fundraising. P2P fundraising campaigns combine the sense of mission with the social and competitive aspects of charitable giving, making it one of the most engaging – and most successful – methods of fundraising out there.
While you may have heard of the more popular P2P campaigns like 5K runs, Walks and Dance Marathons, there are many more campaigns you can use to leverage the power of P2P fundraising for your cause.

  1. Best Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas
  2. Easy Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas
  3. Unique Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas
  4. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas for Schools
  5. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas for Cancer

Best Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas

Best Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas

1. A Run/Walk:

Hosting a run or walk is one of the most popular P2P fundraising campaigns for a good reason.

These are fun, large in scale, and can bring together multiple groups (and their networks) to fundraise for your cause.

One of the basics of any P2P campaign is giving participants tools that are social, mobile, and fun to raise donations on their own for the cause.

Participants form teams or fundraise on their own, giving them options for how to be involved.

When designing your run/walk, be sure your team thinks through the following fundraising questions:

  • What peer-to-peer platform are you using? What’s the mobile experience like?
  • What social elements will be part of your event?
  • How much do you need to raise? What’s your budget?
  • Will you have a theme?
  • What’s your launch timeframe?
  • Who and how will you promote?
  • How will you attract participants?

2. Golf Outings:

Golf outings are a great way for nonprofits and their supporters to raise money for a cause before the event, using traditional P2P methods, and then take the competition to an even higher level on the course itself.

An easy way to use social fundraising for your golf outing is to add competitive elements to up the ante and the fun.

  • Have foursomes fundraise as a team, with every dollar going to support the cause.
  • Include at-the-hole competitions for individuals or teams.
  • Have a corporate sponsorship ‘golf-off.’

This allows participants and businesses to leverage their social networks far beyond the golf course!

3. Bikeathon:

As biking becomes more and more popular with Americans, bikeathons are a growing way for nonprofits to raise money and engage supporters.

One of the best things about bikeathons is that many riders participate as teams instead of individually.

Riders can either raise money as solo participants or have a team fundraising page that highlights all of the riders involved.

Here are five must have “easy to fundraise” elements that are make or break to bikeathon success:

  1. Participant Experience: Is it easy for participants to invite others and fundraise through email and social channels?
  2. Registration: Can participants easily re-join an annual campaign or event?
  3. Social Sharing: Can participants easily share, recruit, and fundraise through social channels?
  4. Mobile Responsiveness: What is the participant mobile experience like?
  5. Fundraising Flexibility: How is your site equipped to handle individual and team registration?

4. Ambassador Fundraising:

Ambassador fundraising is a subset of P2P fundraising that takes the competitive nature of P2P campaigns to new levels.

By identifying a handful of top supporters and highlighting them as Ambassadors, nonprofits can maximize incoming donations.

These Ambassadors do a bulk of the social and in-person fundraising, and at the end of the campaign a big party reveals which Ambassador raised the most money.

Top three keys to fundraising success with Ambassadors include:

  • Selecting the right Ambassadors
  • Creating an engaging campaign
  • Motivating Ambassadors for ongoing success

Easy Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas

Easy Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas

1. Pub Crawl:

Who doesn’t love a social pub crawl, especially if it comes with a charitable twist?

Nonprofits can turn to local restaurants and bars to see if they offer discounts or percentage nights (for example, 10% of sales would go to a nonprofit organization) and then plan a pub crawl around these locations.

Participants can take the excitement to the next level by breaking into teams and competing in challenges at each location as a way to raise more donations. Or create wrap around events that tie into a larger peer-to-peer campaign.

Here are 4 wrap around event ideas to boost your fundraising efforts:

  1. Have a garage sale in your neighborhood
  2. Host a BBQ cookout
  3. Initiate a book sale at work
  4. Put on a Karaoke night with friends

Read more on how Hill Country Ride used wrap around events to exceed fundraising goals.

2. Viral Social Media Campaign:

While this is technically an ‘easy’ peer-to-peer fundraising idea, it is also the goal of every single nonprofit organization to go viral.

Think of the Ice Bucket Challenge benefiting ALS or the Bottle Cap Challenge promoting recycling.

By creating a challenge on social media and using organic shares and networking to promote this campaign, nonprofits can raise money without investing any overhead funds.

Innovative ideas for a social media campaign include:

  1. Put together a virtual Scavenger Hunt like United Way
  2. Initiate a Sing-A-Thon like the Indianapolis Children’s Choir
  3. Challenge your donors to try something new like Movember
  4. Create a photo challenge like #NoMakeupSelfie

Bonus! The best viral campaigns also serve as a way to increase brand awareness and get a nonprofit noticed, which can have long-term benefits and create new, dedicated supporters.

Unique Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas

Unique Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas

1. Casino Night:

We all want to feel like James Bond sometime in our life, and casino nights are the perfect place to give your donors a taste of the high life.

While casino fundraisers might start off as traditional nonprofit events with online ticket sales and online donations, what happens at the event really takes the P2P elements to the next level.

Participants can set up online giving pages where others can donate to the nonprofit, and the attendees who raise the most get more chips to use at the tables. To really amp up the donations, keep these tips in mind:

  • Give your participants access to a donation link or page that they can easily send to their networks.
  • Make sure donors know that these additional efforts are part of the ongoing competition by having a leaderboard on your giving page.
  • Announce the winners at your casino night event, and ‘pay out’ the top winners by giving them extra chips to use at the tables!

2. Creative Campaigns

One of the great parts of being involved in nonprofit fundraising is getting to flex your ‘creative chops’.

By bringing creativity to the forefront, there are plenty of ways to use your nonprofit’s mission as a jumping off point for creative P2P campaigns.

Just look at Well Aware, a nonprofit dedicated to providing people in African countries with access to safe, clean drinking water. Running with the water theme, the Well Aware team launched Shower Strikes as a fun, creative way to raise money through P2P fundraising.

Today, the Well Aware Shower Strike campaigns:

  • Has raised over $1.5 million for water relief in Africa.
  • Engage more than 285 team members who go on shower strike to raise money.
  • Leverage additional P2P functionality like matching donations and social media.

3. Personal Challenges & Events:

In the last few years, this bucket of P2P has become more and more popular thanks to the growth of social media and digital platforms.

Personal challenges are when individuals raise funds on their own to benefit a charity, and at the end of the campaign period they take on a challenge of some sort – such as running a marathon barefoot or walking across an entire state.

Challenges like this require P2P fundraising pages that are easily shareable across multiple social media platforms, since many times these campaigns are shared and reshared with many networks.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas for Schools

School-Specific Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas

1. Classroom Wars:

A staple school fundraiser that children can participate in, Penny Wars, have been around for decades.

Schools can upgrade this traditional campaign and make it P2P-friendly by turning simple Penny Wars into Classroom Wars!

Here are the 5 steps to running a successful Classroom War:

  1. Set up individual giving pages for every participating classroom.
  2. Send out emails and announcements to parents, PTO members, and other key stakeholders to let them know about the upcoming Classroom War.
  3. Give parents, students, and teachers the messaging they need to share the campaign on social media.
  4. Keep everyone updated by posting the scores (how much each classroom has raised) in your cafeteria, gym, and other areas around school.
  5. Announce the winning classroom at a school-wide assembly and award the winning class with a pizza party!

2. Giving Days:

Giving Days are great for schools since there are quite literally hundreds to choose from throughout the entire year.

Whether your school wants to have its own Giving Day or take part in a larger charitable cause, Giving Days are an easy way to mobilize your students into an army for good.

To really maximize your school’s giving potential, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Announce your Giving Day early. Give students, parents, and teachers enough time to get ready and start spreading the word.
  • Give students the option to set up their own fundraising page inside your larger fundraiser. This is a great way to get students interested in and passionate about fundraising at an early age.
  • On the Giving Day itself, plan plenty of activities and fun surprises for students – and share everything on your school’s social media page to bring in even more donations.

3. ‘Charitable’ Birthday Parties & Memorials:

For school-age children, celebrating a birthday is fun and exciting. Plus, it’s also a great occasion to fundraise for a worthy cause.

Any nonprofit can turn birthdays, or any other big event, into exciting fundraising opportunities (and teach kids about fundraising) by adopting a charitable birthday party strategy.

Instead of celebrating birthdays and memorials in the traditional way, a classroom or any nonprofit can set up a P2P fundraising page that:

  • Individually honors the student or person celebrating a birthday.
  • Provides a donate now button or link to fundraising page.
  • Is easily shareable across email, social media, and other digital platforms to encourage giving.
  • Provides easy-to-understand benchmarks and milestones to track progress.

Once your classroom hits its P2P fundraising goal, celebrate by making a donation to your favorite charity (or giving back to your school) and have a fun party to thank your students for their hard work.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas for Cancer

Cancer-Related Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas

1. Shopping for a Cure:

Hosting shopping events are a fun and social way for nonprofits to raise money for cancer research while bringing together supporters in a casual environment.

There are two different ways to host a Shop for a Cure:

  1. Work with local boutiques and/or thrift stores to get items donated. Then, attendees can bid on the items they want to take home like a standard auction.
  2. Ask attendees themselves to bring in items, making the event more of a ‘swap’ than an auction.

If you really want to maximize donations, open up your online auction page to people not in attendance, which will bring in more donations from outside sources.
Just make sure to share your event information on social media and across other platforms to spread the word!

2. Head Shaving Fundraisers:

One tried-and-true P2P fundraising campaign is the head shaving fundraiser, because it combines multiple aspects of traditional P2P campaigns, including:

  • Ambassador fundraising
  • Social media and digital networking
  • Personal challenges

To run a successful head shaving fundraiser, have participants sign up online and create a personal P2P fundraising page to share with their networks.

People can donate and vote on what kind of haircut they want participants to receive.

Then, on the big day, thank the donors and participants and reveal which haircuts everyone is going to receive – whether it’s a full shave or a mohawk!

3. Dance Marathons:

Dance Marathons are traditionally associated with children’s hospitals and children’s cancer research, making them the perfect P2P fundraising idea.

Because they require lots of participants, most Dance Marathons are often hosted by schools and universities with a built-in participant population.

Students set up individual or team P2P fundraising pages and leverage their extensive social networks to raise money for the cause.

Having a strong online presence (including on social media!) throughout your Dance Marathon promotion and fundraising stages ensures your organization:

  • Can reach the right people and audiences to successfully promote your cause.
  • Builds a sense of excitement and competition before, during, and after the Dance Marathon.
  • Creates a sense of community and inclusion with your Dance Marathon campaigns.
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