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Hosting a run, walk, ride or other on-the-ground event is a powerful way to bring people together in a shared and memorable experience, remind current supporters they make a difference, and educate and inspire people about your mission. And, it’s an effective way to raise dollars for your cause!
When natural disasters, severe weather or other unforeseen circumstances like COVID-19 prevent you from hosting your on-the-ground event, one option is to take your fundraising virtual.
Taking your peer-to-peer event virtual allows you to engage participants and supporters online, in fun, new and creative ways that motivate, and if executed correctly, can drive more fundraising.
This complete guide will walk you through all of the necessary steps of the peer-to-peer virtual event planning process, plus extra tips and resources to get you on your way fast and avoid common pitfalls.
Here are the 9 tips we’ll cover:
For specific tips around one of these topics, use the links above to jump to the section you need. Or follow along with us from the top! You’ll be raising more and fundraising online in no time.
Let’s get started!
In most cases, going virtual is a great approach, as it offers a wide variety of online fundraising options and flexible timeframes, with little on-the-ground costs. Even if you are simply postponing your peer-to-peer event to a later date, online fundraising can be a bridge fundraising strategy to help you raise revenue until event day.
The first thing you need to do is rally your team! Before you get too far into the planning process, determine who’ll be in charge of the different components of your virtual fundraising event.
Be sure to recruit a virtual campaign leader(s). Having a leader(s) can keep your team on the right path to accomplish your goals.
Once your team is assembled and on board, it’s important to communicate to your registered participants about the change.
Going virtual with your peer-to-peer virtual fundraising software becomes a great opportunity for nonprofits to open up their fundraising to remote supporters across the country. It’s also a way, thanks to social media and social networks, to attract new supporters to your cause.
Content is key! Be specific and concise with the changes you are making and what you are asking people to do.
Here’s a great example of the messaging SPCA Tampa Bay used to take their pet walk virtual:
This is the time to give extra attention to your team captains, top participants, and volunteers and engage them to support you through this change. These are your leaders and influencers, and they will want to help you make this pivot and reach or exceed your fundraising goal.
Here’s a few best practices for firing up your VIPs and participants:
Once you’ve made the decision to go virtual, you’ll need to modify the messaging and registration options for your peer-to-peer event. You might also consider updating the branding for your event to emphasize that your event has gone virtual.
Here’s what SPCA Tampa Bay did for their Pet Walk:
Update your peer-to-peer event site home page.
You can add fun and meaningful activities to engage participants, to feel connected to one another and your cause, and to ultimately help drive the success of your peer-to-peer fundraising. With a virtual event, it’s even more important to involve participants in doing things that remind them why they joined so they feel confident asking for donations. If you already included a “virtual participant” registration option in your event, that’s great! Now all participants can be part of the online engagement.
Here are 5 best practices to drive online engagement:
Motivation & Rewards can provide that extra push to keep the fundraising efforts going strong. For your virtual peer-to-peer event you can still use merchandise/incentives as an incentive!
Remember to highlight your social fundraisers when they hit campaign milestones, recognition is a strong motivator. Reward them with branded t-shirts or other cool swag. Use badges and digital achievements to recognize virtual fundraising and social reach!
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Corporate sponsorships are a great way for nonprofits to bring in additional revenue for their virtual events and campaigns without additional overhead or costs.
Corporate sponsorships are a dollar-for-dollar exchange – and one that can really benefit their brand awareness and your fundraising goals.
A few must-dos when securing your peer-to-peer virtual event sponsors:
Just as you were planning to do with your on-the-ground event, be sure to thank your participants along the way and at the conclusion of your fundraising.
Here are ideas for recognizing and thanking participants:
You have supporters who want to help you – especially through difficult times. Be sure you are offering other online and virtual ways for them to get involved – to donate to you, fundraise for you, volunteer, advance your mission through specific activities they can do on their own, and spread the word about your mission.
Consider launching year-round peer-to-peer campaigns, including: a DIY/Fundraise Your Way campaign, a Memorial/Tribute campaign, or a Donate an Occasion campaign.
Final note about going virtual vs. postponing your Peer-to-Peer event:
In most cases, canceling your on-the-ground event and going virtual is the right approach, but there may times when postponing your on-the-ground event makes more sense. However, even if you postpone, you can still keep your fundraising open and engage your participants online in fun, new ways until your event.
If you want to dive deeper within the peer-to-peer world, look no further! Check out some of our peer-to-peer resources here: