9 Tips for Recruiting and Retaining Peer-to-Peer Participants

Peer-to-peer fundraising offers big benefits for your nonprofit. It’s a powerful fundraising approach. It helps to get the word out about your mission, attract new donors to your nonprofit, and deepen relationships with your existing supporters.

One of the most important components of a strong peer-to-peer fundraising event or campaign is your participants, or volunteer fundraisers. They’re the ones who sign up to raise funds on behalf of your organization – driving donations from their own networks of friends and family.

Aside from your nonprofit’s own staff, participants are the people who have the most power to make (or break) your peer-to-peer fundraising program. So, let’s look at some proven tips to help your nonprofit recruit and retain more peer-to-peer participants.

1. Target potential fundraisers.

Think about your ideal peer-to-peer participants. Then, begin segmenting your audiences based on various characteristics and target them with different messages. For example, consider where they live. For those in your nonprofit’s service area, you might invite them to sign up to run/walk/ride in your event. For those outside of your service area, you might invite them to join virtually.

Or, consider if they’ve participated in the past. For past participants, you could segment them by their past participation, past team membership, and past fundraising. This approach would allow you to send targeted messages — such as an early announcement email to past team captains that invites them to register and reclaim their teams for your current campaign.

TIP: Learn more best practices for creating effective peer-to-peer fundraising emails. Read the guide, Building Powerful Emails Communications for Your Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaigns and Events.

2. Make the registration process easy (and compelling).

People can be put off by a long registration process. Here are some ideas to make your online registration page more streamlined and inspiring:

  • Keep it as short as possible. Collect only the information you must have – such as contact information, emergency contact information, a liability waiver, and t-shirt size. You can collect more information later.
  • Explain how you’ll use the information collected. Tell registrants how you’ll use their information. For example, let them know what types of email communications you’ll be sending them. Tell them why you need an emergency contact and how you will use it.
  • Add celebratory language. On the registration page, include inspiring messages. For example, include language that lets registrants know that by registering, they’re on their way to making a big impact for your organization’s mission.

Learn more peer-to-peer fundraising tips and insights: Join the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Roundtable on September 12th at the 2023 OneCause Raise conference. Learn more.

3. Move participants from registrants to fundraisers.

Fundraising can seem intimidating to people who have never done it before. So, make it easier for your supporters to get started. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

  • Include fundraising prompts on your registration confirmation page and auto-email confirmation. After saying thank you, let participants know that they can make your event an even bigger success by inviting their friends and family to donate. Include a link to a video or tip sheet that gives them some basic steps to get started. Also, include a prominent button that they can click to set up their fundraising dashboard/page.
  • Set up a series of automated emails that encourage registrants to get started with their fundraising. For example, one email might invite registrants to set up their fundraising page. The next might include some simple steps and templates to help them start fundraising with friends and family. The next might include a video from a top fundraising participant offering tips on how to fundraise.

4. Give participants a good story to tell.

Keep your supporters excited about helping you raise funds by giving them a compelling story that’s easy to understand and share with friends and family. As you build messaging for your fundraising campaign or event, be sure to address key questions, such as:

  • What makes our organization unique?
  • What impact are we having on our mission?
  • What problem does this peer-to-peer fundraising campaign solve?
  • How do we want people to feel about our campaign?

5. Provide participants with robust, yet easy-to-use, software tools.

Make sure your peer-to-peer fundraising software supports a great participant experience, including:

  • Easy event/campaign registration.
  • Simple, yet effective email tools for reaching out to friends and family.
  • Progress meters to share how participants are doing.

As you research your options, start by defining the must-have features (like the ones listed above) then consider other functionalities that will help take your campaign to the next level. To help you get started, this list of top nonprofit fundraising software providers will give you a good sense of the range of options available.

6. Offer great coaching and support.

Give participants fundraising ideas, tools, tips, and encouragement throughout the campaign. For example:

  • Offer email templates they can use to solicit donations from friends and family.
  • Send them regular emails with tips and examples for fundraising success.
  • Check in with your fundraisers to ask how things are going and to thank them for their work.

Want a deeper dive into peer-to-peer fundraising best practices? We’ve rounded up all of the most important tips to keep in mind as you plan your campaign.

7. Provide incentives.

A little personal incentive can give participants an extra nudge to keep up their fundraising momentum. For example, offer a T-shirt, an online gift card, or some other gift for participants who reach specific fundraising milestones.

Look for a peer-to-peer solution that has incentives capabilities built into the software. For example, the OneCause peer-to-peer solution offers leaderboards for top fundraisers and recruiters or badges for when participants meet half their fundraising goal, raise 100 dollars, exceed their fundraising goal, etc.

This will make participants feel seen and recognized. And the best part is the software does the work for you!

8. Say thank you.

Take every opportunity you can to thank participants and remind them of their impact on your organization’s mission. This will help keep them motivated to continue fundraising and to return as participants for your other peer-to-peer events.

When the event or campaign ends, send them a wrap-up thank you email. Let them know how much money your organization has raised from their support, and tell them what your organization will be able to do with the funds.

9. Listen.

Get feedback from your peer-to-peer fundraisers during the campaign or event as well as once the effort ends. This will help you to understand what’s working and what’s not so that you can make adjustments as needed.

Use short online surveys during your campaign or event so that your fundraisers can easily give you feedback. You can also use in-person or virtual get-togethers to solicit feedback from your fundraisers and let them share lessons learned with each other.

Attracting and retaining participants is key to your nonprofit’s peer-to-peer fundraising success. Put the tips in this article to work, and you’ll be well on your way to recruiting a loyal group of volunteer fundraisers for years to come.

Author: Jon Reich, Cathexis Partners

Jon has provided nonprofit organizations with technical services and expertise for more than 15 years. He also has a wide range of media experience from his previous work for interactive gaming, motion graphics, and 3D animation studios.

Wrapping Up

Check out these additional resources to boost your peer-to-peer fundraising: