5 Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Ideas

Peer-to-Peer fundraising connects people and engages communities. It inspires and activates your supporters to make a difference for your cause. Whether you’re a pro at online fundraising, or are considering embarking on your first campaign, peer-to-peer fundraising can be a perfect fit for your organization.

A Quick Overview Of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

When I say, “peer-to-peer” I’m talking about an online fundraising campaign that relies on volunteer fundraisers reaching out to their social networks to raise money for a nonprofit cause. You might call it “crowdfunding,” or “social fundraising,” but it all means essentially the same thing.

The benefits of peer-to-peer fundraising include:

  • Expanding your reach to new supporters
  • Raising more money, with less burden on staff
  • Empowering your volunteers and supporters to get actively involved with your organization

Make Peer-to-Peer Your Own: 5 Ideas

Your peer-to-peer campaign can be as unique as your organization. Check out these ideas from recent campaigns:

1. Issue A Challenge

The Example

Can we all agree that we’ve talked enough about the Ice Bucket Challenge? Yes, it is a now-classic example of a peer-to-peer challenge, but let’s use a new example: the Junior League of Atlanta (JLA) and their “Little Black Dress Initiative.-

JLA members commit to wearing the same dress five days in a row, along with a button reading, “Ask me about my dress.” This demonstrates how generational poverty affects women’s access to resources and professional opportunities.

The advocacy campaign raises awareness about how generational poverty affects women’s access to resources, invites discussion about those issues, and raises funds.

The nature of a challenge makes it easy to share with friends and family. Participants can simply announce that they’re participating, which starts the conversation. The JLA’s  “ask me!” button takes it even further by inviting anyone the participants encounter to ask about the challenge.

 The Little Black Dress Initiative is fast on its way to becoming a tradition–2017 will be the third year the JLA takes it on. The JLA has raised nearly $125,000 with the challenge since its inception.

The Takeaways

Like the Little Black Dress Initiative, your peer-to-peer challenge should be:

  • Attention-getting: Wearing the same dress for an entire work week gets noticed, and even if it didn’t, the button invites people to take note. Think about attracting attention to your challenge.
  • Connected to your cause: The JLA wants to talk about generational poverty affecting women, and the challenge invites people to consider how opportunities might be limited if you only had access to one professional outfit.
  • Shareable: A challenge is a great way to introduce people to a big issue, like poverty, in a concrete and understandable way.

2. Start A Competition

A friendly competition can really up the ante on your peer-to-peer campaign. Whether it’s a sports game or a trivia contest, when there’s a possibility of winning, people go all out. For a seriously fun example, take a look at The Gauntlet.

The Example

Each year, in Seattle, teams compete in The Gauntlet, a fundraising tournament. Community members and gaming industry pros alike form teams to raise money for charity and compete in a day of gaming. Raising money “unlocks power-ups” for the tournament, making the campaign competitive from start to finish. Last year, the teams raised $138,751, more than double their goal!

The Takeaways

Like The Gauntlet, your competition should be:

  • Fun: Competing in The Gauntlet is fun! In addition to playing games, participants come up with team names and some even get into the spirit with costumes. Look for opportunities to be silly.
  • Relevant: Seattle has a gaming industry and community, and The Gauntlet appeals to their interests. Playing games is something they’re already doing, and the competition allows them to do it for charity. What do your supporters already like to do?
  • Team-building: Okay, this one is optional, because individuals like competitions, too. But if it makes sense for your organization, consider a competition based on teams. Teams can connect existing groups to your cause, give people with varying commitment levels a way to participate, and get more people onboard with your fundraising. Plus, teams amplify the competition and fun!

3. Get Physical

Fundraising walks and runs are many people’s first experience with peer-to-peer fundraising.

Online fundraising streamlines the process, helping participants tell your story, rally their support networks and handle payments.

It also keeps everything on message and makes it easy for you to monitor your overall progress, and can also transform supporters into fundraisers whether they’re participating in the actual event or not.

The Example

Walk for Water is a walk that raises money for clean water access in rural Rwanda. Instead of just hosting a walk, the Paseo Del Ray Church that hosts Walk for Water uses the walk as an opportunity for storytelling. People carry containers of water as they walk, in solidarity with Rwandans who must spend significant time each day walking to collect the water they need to live.

20 Liters Water Walk

Paseo Del Ray Church makes it easy for supporters to become fundraisers. They include a clear call to action right on their website. In true peer-to-peer style, anyone can join the cause and make a difference with a couple of clicks.

community driven fundraising
20 Liters encourages supporters to fundraise anytime, anywhere in any way they see fit

The Takeaways

Like Walk for Water, your walk or run event should:

  • Tell a story: Storytelling is what makes people care about your cause. Walk for Water tells a story of how water insecurity impacts everyday life in Rwanda. Engage your supporters’ imaginations.
  • Inspire fundraising: After you’ve told the story, don’t be afraid to explicitly ask people to become fundraisers. Make it as easy as possible to start raising money.

4. Make An Occasion High Impact

I’m not here to knock birthday presents, but who really needs another scented candle from their sister-in-law? Another collection of decorative soaps? One more pair of novelty socks?

Your supporters may also feel that they have reached their tchotchke quota, and want to make their special events less about presents and more about making a difference. Help them supercharge their special event by turning it into a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. 

Using an online fundraising platform, participants can “donate” their special day, and direct the friends and family who would have given them a gift to donate to their chosen charity instead.

This is a great way to introduce your supporters to peer-to-peer fundraising because it is simple and doesn’t require a lot of time or effort, but still can make a big difference. It also offers your supporters the benefit of helping to make a change they value, instead of receiving presents that they may not want.

The Example

Check out Project Healthy Children, and how they’re utilizing Rethink Charity’s High Impact Birthday project. Supporters use the High Impact Birthday platform to choose Project Healthy Children, then create their own fundraising page. Next, they share the page with their friends and family, who make donations as they wish.

A birthday or holiday is an opportunity to make an impact

In addition to raising funds, High Impact Birthday gives Project Healthy Children an educational and marketing opportunity. The peer-to-peer aspect puts the organization in front of people who may never have heard of them before. They take advantage of this by making a quick, concise, and impactful case for the work they do.

Project Healthy Children quickly links the money donated to a major impact and helps us understand what they do.

The Takeaways

Like Project Healthy Children, make your special occasion campaign:

  • Impactful: Make the case for your cause, and quickly explain what you do and why it helps.
  • Easy to use:Your online fundraising platform should be a breeze.

5. Connect With The Calendar

Awareness months, birthday months, anniversary months…there’s a month for everything, and it just so happens that 30 days is an excellent length for a peer-to-peer campaign.

If there’s a month associated with your cause, try scheduling your campaign during it. You’ll benefit from the buzz that already exists around the month, may be able to tie in with other actions and organizations associated with your cause, and will have a built-in sense of urgency.

The Example

GLAAD wanted to raise $75,000 to advance equality and accelerate acceptance for all LGBTQ people. What better month to do that than June, Pride month, which is already dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ folks?

The Month of Pride campaign offered a new way to celebrate LGBTQ pride during June. It also benefited from a $75,000 match for donations made up to June 30, which helped push the time-sensitive nature of the campaign.



In total, 73 fundraisers brought in $79,562 from 689 donors during the campaign.

The Takeaways

Like GLAAD, make your campaign:

  • Timely: Connect with existing months, days, holidays, or events.
  • Time-sensitive: A clear end date drives action.

Your Peer-to-Peer Campaign

These five ideas are a jumping off point, a way to get your wheels turning as you approach your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Maybe you’ll create a challenge, run a competition, supercharge a physical event, or boost a special occasion.

Maybe you’ll do something brand-new! Your options are only as limited as your creativity, and I’d love to hear about how you’re making peer-to-peer fundraising your own.

To Learn  More About Peer-to-Peer Fundraising, Check Out These Resources:

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Primer For Nonprofits

The Ultimate Guide To Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-Peer fundraising connects people and engages communities. It inspires and activates your supporters to make a difference for your cause. Whether you’re a pro at online fundraising, or are considering embarking on your first campaign, peer-to-peer fundraising can be a perfect fit for your organization.

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