Three ingredients for successful peer-to-peer initiatives

Collaboration, coordination, and creativity

Third party fundraising initiatives are events that your supporters create themselves. These include campaigns created around participation in endurance events (like marathons or walk-a-thons), celebrations (like weddings and birthdays), and memorials for loved ones, or just about anything your supporters think up to raise money for your cause.

Initiatives like this offer people interested in supporting your mission a very personal form of involvement at an emotional level, where the passion of their fundraising typically raises more than at a traditional event.

These P2P fundraising are great but established guidelines on everything from the event plan, promotion, to proper execution need to be respected. It is a delicate balance but you can leverage your volunteer’s enthusiasm all while maintaining organizational standards with a few key strategies in place.

Three ingredients for success

Successful fundraising events organized by your supporters require coordination, collaboration, and creativity.

  • Coordination: designate someone in your organization to be responsible for coordinating with volunteers.
  • Collaboration: Create an atmosphere of trust and support so that participants feel acknowledged and understand the guidelines.
  • Creativity: Even if supporters are organizing something traditional, such as a cocktail, true success depends on the ability to make it a memorable event.


Why create a peer-to-peer program for your organization?

1. Engage new participants

Many people may be put off by organized events, but would love the opportunity to contribute in their own way. A survey of third party participants shows that for most, their personal campaign was their first contact with the cause.

2. Increase geographical reach

Third-party fundraising activities have no geographic boundaries. Your supporters can organize an event in their area, far from your offices. Managing an outside event program primarily via a website with online tools is absolutely feasible, effective, and significantly reduces the cost of operation.

3. Meet new donors

Donors of third party campaigns are usually new to your cause. This is an easy way to build your database and cultivate donors who were brought to you through a personal connection.

4. Identify potential major donors

When an individual organizes their own personal campaign or third party event then raises over $50,000, they probably have contacts who may be willing to give larger donations. Supporters that raise large sums can be immediately identified and segmented to receive additional stewardship.

5.Engage with minimal costs and better efficiency

Engage these new supporters without additional hours or startup dollars. Once set up on a digital fundraising platform like Zeffy, third party events are significantly more cost effective than traditional fundraising programs.

6. Fundraise during the off-season

Between your signature events, you can encourage supporters to create third-party campaigns to balance out your fundraising year round.

7. Add flexibility to your fundraising

Organizations no longer have to say “no” to supporters who want to create their own events, and they don’t have to create time-consuming work-arounds to try and accommodate these requests. 

What you need to implement a successful peer-to-peer program

  • A clear vision and action plan
  • A dedicated person to be responsible for coordination with participants
  • A participant toolkit and clear instructions
  • Proper support for volunteers
  • A recognition program


Support matters

You’ll need a part-time or full-time employee who will provide personal customer service to the event organizers. Be sure to offer their name, number, and email on all outside events communications.

Make sure your supporters contact the coordinator before organizing their event. How can you ensure this? Don’t provide all the information and fundraising tools on your website. Instead, advertise the tools you will provide after they have contacted you. Provide the following on the website for downloading by the registered participant:

  • Fact sheet on your organization
  • Basics of fundraising
  • Basics of hosting an event
  • Online tools available – approved campaign logos, letters of support, key messaging and other fundraising templates

Don’t forget that an outside event leader may experience fundraising fatigue. Stay in touch with them to recognize this and suggest other ways they can have an impact, perhaps through other volunteer or advocacy work that does not require asking for funds until they are motivated again to do so.

Recognize the effort

Create a recognition program to acknowledge the efforts of your volunteers going the extra mile for your organization. Design a recognition program around the objectives of your fundraising program. Here are some ideas:

  • Share the successes of top fundraisers and top teams with stories in newsletters and on a campaign microsite and main website of your organization.
  • Consider offering an “All Star” program for long-term and high-achieving participants with experiential rewards, such as a recognition lunch at the local affiliate in their area.
  • Include an “honour roll” on the website main page and on participant pages.
  • Use social media to celebrate their efforts, including blogging, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Include a message board on your website for others to comment and support their favorite participant.
  • Offer the ability to post tributes allowing participants to share who they are acting in memory of.


Get your kit ready

Here are some items to include in the package you provide volunteer event organizers:

  • FAQ – What the Organization Can Do For You
  • Event Approval Form
  • Promotion and logo usage
  • Sponsorship info
  • Tax receipt info
  • Donor acknowledgement email script
  • Liability and cancellation details


Third party fundraising agreement checklist

  • Event information
  • Event contact information
  • Promotion / marketing responsibilities
  • Event support
  • Insurance coverage
  • Budget expectations
  • Proposal understanding
  • Signatures


Don’t forget to provide:

Your organization’s core values to be respected
Ethical fundraising & financial accountability code
AFP code of ethical principles and standards of professional practice


A deeper level of volunteer engagement

An outside event program offers an organization the opportunity to raise money at a relatively low cost of fundraising, while providing a deeper level of engagement with the organization’s strongest supporters.

This dedicated group is caring, motivated, volunteering, and asking for guidance. Respond with a program that educates, empowers, and encourages them. They are not looking for the hand out or for you to run their event for them. They are looking for a “hand up”, assistance, and guidance on how to make an impact by combining their passion with your mission.

With online activity increasing as a whole, managing an outside event program primarily via a website with online tools is absolutely feasible, effective, and significantly reduces the cost of operation.   Should your organization lack the resources or need guidance to put any or all of these best practices into effect, Phil is here to share our experience and knowledge with you!

Events Ideas

  • Holiday Party
  • Galas/Parties
  • Birthday Celebrations
  • BBQ
  • A-thons: walk, skip, read, bike, dance, knit, swim, bowl, skate
  • Sporting Events and Tournaments
  • Car Wash/Pet Wash
  • Auctions
  • Matching Gift
  • Bake Sale
  • Raffles
  • Garage Sale
  • Arts and Crafts Show/Sale
  • Automatic Paycheck Contributions
  • Boss’ Challenge
  • “Dress Down” Days