Most modern fundraisers are more than aware of peer-to-peer fundraising. Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns combine the sense of mission with the social and competitive aspects of charitable giving, making it one of the most engaging – and successful – methods of fundraising out there.
Especially with the rise of virtual fundraising and as nonprofits continue to find ways to extend reach past the pandemic, it’s important to create “share-worthy” events. When you are excited about it, others get inspired too.
Engaging twists and fundraising ideas are essential to bear fruit in peer-to-peer fundraising—especially in the virtual fundraising landscape. Let’s dive into the top 30 peer-to-peer fundraising ideas broken down into the categories below!
Hosting a run or walk is one of the most popular peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns and for good reason.
They are fun, large in scale, and can bring together multiple groups (and their networks) to fundraise for your cause. Participants form teams or fundraise on their own, giving them options for how to be involved.
One of the basics of any peer-to-peer campaign is giving participants tools that are social, mobile, and fun to raise donations on their own for the cause.
When designing your run/walk, be sure your team thinks through the following fundraising questions:
Golf outings are a great way for nonprofits and their supporters to raise money for a cause before the event, using traditional peer-to-peer 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.
This allows participants and businesses to leverage their social networks far beyond the golf course!
As biking becomes more and more popular with Americans, bikeathons are a growing way for nonprofits to raise money and engage supporters.
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:
Ambassador fundraising is a subset of peer-to-peer fundraising that takes the competitive nature of peer-to-peer 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, virtual or in-person, reveals which Ambassador raised the most money.
The top three keys to fundraising success with Ambassadors include:
Many nonprofits have redesigned their peer-to-peer events during the COVID-19 pandemic with creative and exciting ways to get people to join in virtually. Fundraising walks that typically were large gatherings were changed to virtual walks, runs, or rides that took place entirely online, bringing fundraising and fun to the virtual world.
Although everyone will participate separately, these campaigns work the same as traditional walks and runs. Participants secure pledges, log their times, and have fun all online while supporting your mission and participating in a memorable experience.
Check out how HCRA took their ride virtual here.
Create a scavenger hunt where people walk, bike or drive to pre-assigned locations in your area and answer questions at each site. At each place, there are questions related to a theme such as environmental, wildlife, historical, etc.
One nonprofit had people form teams and each person donated $40 to play. There were 12 stops in three hours, and it culminated in a party outside with prizes. Their scavenger hunt raised almost $10,000.
The opportunities are endless for ways you can tie this idea back to your mission.
Create online challenge campaigns around a theme and have teams complete activities, games, or hit fundraising goals. From shower strikes to virtual bowling events, you can harness the power of peer-groups and competitive giving to deepen engagement and drive results.
Prostate Cancer Foundation even did a push up challenge!
In today’s social media connected world, awareness campaigns have become one of the fastest-growing nonprofit campaign ideas for good reason – they work!
A virtual awareness campaign is a great way to spread the word about your cause and reach wide new audiences of potential supporters. Develop a multimedia awareness campaign to highlight your mission or a specific project related to that mission.
Wishlist drives are another easy way to generate support for your organization without necessarily asking supporters to make donations.
Create an online wishlist of the tangible goods your nonprofit needs, and include a link to your wishlist on your nonprofit’s site to give donors easy access and an alternative to making financial gifts.
Products relating to your mission will be most effective, but dedicated supporters will likely be happy to help with more mundane items like office supplies, too.
Who doesn’t love a social pub crawl, especially if it comes with a charitable twist?
Nonprofits can turn to support 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!
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. The social media wildfire took off, starting with one person’s network and multiplying from there.
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.
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.
Grab some popcorn! Movie nights are a terrific way to raise money and enjoy a cozy night with your favorite flick.
While you will have to secure the rights to the film of your choice, the rest of the planning for this fundraising event is relatively simple:
Ask your team to donate the price of a movie ticket to your page, and you’re all set. This is a great option for Ambassadors looking to build their network!
A car wash is an easy and profitable fundraising event for nonprofit organizations. Between the event’s simplicity and everyone being outdoors, it’s hard to find a better fundraiser!
You’ll just need to invest in soap, sponges, and promotion. Your nonprofit’s staff and most loyal volunteers can help wash cars the day of.
You can even make it a team fundraising competition—who can wash the most cars?!
Car washes are fundraising staples that speak for themselves; they’re low-cost, quick, and easy ways to bring in funding.
Empower your supporters with a team fundraiser!
To make your Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser successful, you’ll need to motivate your fundraisers.
How? Instilling a healthy dose of competition by encouraging them to create teams and acknowledging the most successful fundraisers at the end of the challenge.
With the help of your peer-to-peer fundraising solution, guide the campaign by:
A birthday fundraiser leverages the power of social media and the excitement surrounding your supporters’ birthdays. Rather than receiving traditional gifts, individuals may wish to raise donations on your nonprofit’s behalf.
Here’s how it works:
This tactic is extremely useful for generating year-round revenue. You get the donations, and supporters can feel proud that they’ve helped your organization.
Everyone remembers the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge, right? That viral challenge was a huge win for The ALS Association, helping them raise over $115 million!
Viral challenges have been a mainstay of digital fundraising over recent years. The move to virtual engagement has only made it easier to engage donors with funny or unique online challenges.
Innovative ideas for a viral challenge campaign include:
Try creating your own unique challenge for supporters to complete and share online, along with a dedicated hashtag and clear instructions for donating to your cause online.
Everyone has a reason for giving. Allow supporters to honor and pay tribute and celebrate loved ones with personalized giving opportunities.
These campaigns bring a community together to provide powerful testimonials and create something good out of loss.
These campaigns raise more and reach more with a peer-to-peer fundraising solution, with the opportunity for each participant to set up their own fundraising page and give their tribute to honor the loved one.
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.
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.
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 peer-to-peer elements to the next level.
One of the great parts of being involved in nonprofit fundraising is getting to flex your ‘creative chops’.
There are plenty of ways to use your nonprofit’s mission as a jumping off point for creative peer-to-peer 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 peer-to-peer fundraising.
Today, the Well Aware Shower Strike campaigns:
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 peer-to-peer fundraising pages that are easily shareable across multiple social media platforms, since many times these campaigns are shared and reshared with many networks.
Spare yourself the hassle, and organize a bowl-a-thon ripe with team fundraising challenges, social activities, and fun giving opportunities leading up to the bowling alley.
You can even take this team fundraising peer-to-peer idea virtual! Check out how Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County Pivoted to Virtual Bowling.
A Serve-a-Thon fundraising event helps your organization raise money performing some needed community service! Just like your fun run, your participants can accept pledges for the amount of trash they pick up.
Your participants can ask for donations from their families, friends, and peers. Pledges can serve per item of trash or per pound of trash!
For example, someone might donate a dollar for every aluminum can you pick up or $5 for every pound of garbage your collect.
All you’ll need to do is recruit volunteers, collect pledges, and get to cleaning!
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 peer-to-peer-friendly by turning simple Penny Wars into Classroom Wars!
Here are the 5 steps to running a successful Classroom War:
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:
Are YOU Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? There’s nothing more fun than a little trivia competition.
Most importantly, build up the excitement with fundraising challenges before the trivia night. You might even frame your trivia categories around your cause so that your evening is both entertaining and extra-educational.
Anyone can compete in a trivia tournament, but more importantly, almost anyone can plan one with next to no hassle.
You could even make the trivia students vs parents! Let the competition ignite your fundraising.
Charity classroom competitions are a fun way to get the whole school together and raise money for a cause with peer-to-peer fundraising. Students and teachers will take pride in their classroom and ignite peer-to-peer fundraising competition!
Structure a classroom fundraising campaign with something close to your community and cause and watch the givingg wildfire spark.
While this does mean you’ll have to put some thought into planning, it also means that almost everyone will have a ‘why’ in their fundraising (and you’ll raise more because of it).
Calling all bakers! A charity bake-off is a classic way to engage your supporters and raise some money for your cause—and did we mention eat a lot of goodies, too?
To pull off this event, you’ll need some sort of theme (bonus points if it relates to your cause!) and plenty of willing participants. Charge a small entrance fee and sell tickets to the big event for all your hungry guests.
Charity bake-offs are low-cost and offer a high return on investment. They also do a stellar job of encouraging engagement from your supporters, which is beneficial for your donor retention.
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:
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. Spread the word on social media!
One tried-and-true peer-to-peer fundraising campaign is the head shaving fundraiser, because it combines multiple aspects of traditional peer-to-peer campaigns, including:
To run a successful head shaving fundraiser:
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 peer-to-peer fundraising pages and leverage their extensive social networks to raise money for the cause.
Dance Marathons are traditionally associated with children’s hospitals and children’s cancer research, making them the perfect peer-to-peer fundraising idea.
Peer-to-peer fundraising events will be an important part of nonprofits’ strategies going forward. Whether as in-person events, virtual events, or as modern, hybrid engagement opportunities, peer-to-peer tactics give organizations an unprecedented level of flexibility and reach. Plus, they give donors the ability to call on their network.
With the right technology and strategies on your side, your nonprofit can begin building out an exciting calendar of peer-to-peer events—maybe even one of the ideas above!—to secure more support in 2021 and beyond.
Using comprehensive software like OneCause makes it easy to plan and execute a complete peer-to-peer strategy, including events, ambassadors, and gamification. But, we learn best by seeing what others do, so check out how U.S. Ski & Snowboard Foundation to Expand Their Donor Base.
We’re just scratching the surface of peer-to-peer fundraising. Keep digging deeper with these resources: