What’s the Difference Between Peer-to-Peer & Crowdfunding?

Even though they share many similarities, all online fundraising campaigns aren’t the same.

In fact, there are definite distinctions, particularly when it comes to crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising. Whether you’re an old pro at peer-to-peer or are looking to get your feet wet with online fundraising, it’s important to understand your options to ensure you make the best decision for your supporter base and your nonprofit.

In this post, I’ll break down the differences between peer-to-peer and crowdfunding.


Do you need to raise a lot of money in a short amount of time? Are your donors turning away from traditional direct mailings and phone solicitations? Have you been searching for a new place to connect with donors?

Crowdfunding combines online fundraising with traditional fundraising methods, resulting in a smart and effective solution for many nonprofits.

What Is Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is the process of raising small amounts of money from many people, resulting in a big financial impact. Nonprofits running crowdfunding campaigns use a fundraising platform to create a branded, personalized campaign website. This website includes a fundraising appeal and a compelling story to motivate donors to give.

These campaigns are easily shareable through social media and email. However, unlike peer-to-peer (which we’ll dive into later on), the website and story are managed by the nonprofit.

Why Use Crowdfunding?

  • Quick and Easy: Setting up and sharing a personalized crowdfunding campaign takes minutes. If you’re looking to fund a quick initiative or have another spur-of-the-moment need, crowdfunding is an ideal fundraising solution.
  • Spreads Your Message: Because crowdfunding occurs online, there’s a potential for your campaign to spread far and wide across the internet, reaching prospective donors around the world.

What Does Crowdfunding Look Like?

Almost all crowdfunding campaigns look similar on the surface. However, there are a few different ways you can alter your crowdfunding to meet your organization’s specific needs.

Traditional Crowdfunding: Tell your story on your online fundraising website and share it with your organization’s supporters. Setting a SMART goal and creating a set start and stop date establish a sense of urgency and increase campaign effectiveness.

The Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation hosted a Wildlife Baby Shower crowdfunding campaign to fund the organization’s busy wildlife baby season.


Giving Days: #GivingTuesday and other cause-specific days of giving are great times to run a quick 24-hour crowdfunding campaign.

New Yorkers for Parks, a nonprofit based in New York City, ran a strong #GivingTuesday 2018 campaign that incorporated both crowdfunding and peer-to-peer.

Project-Specific Campaigns: Crowdfunding helps nonprofits fund specific projects and initiative-based campaigns.

North Texas Food Bank partnered with Tenet Healthcare to raise over $10,000 to provide breakfast to Texans in need.


Through crowdfunding, nonprofits can expect increased revenue and a broader online audience.


Are you looking for ways to engage your community of supporters on a deeper level? Have your donors or volunteers asked if there are other ways they can help? Is your base active online?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, peer-to-peer might be the right for your nonprofit.

What Is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a type of community-driven fundraising that activates your nonprofit’s supporters, turning them into personal fundraisers for your cause.

Everyone connected with your organization– donors, staff, volunteers, board members, online followers–has a sphere of influence. Peer-to-peer fundraising taps into that influence. When these folks fundraise online, they’re sharing their passion with their own friends and family, ultimately spreading the word and bringing more supporters into the fold.

Although peer-to-peer appears similar to crowdfunding on the surface, the difference lies in who does the fundraising. With peer-to-peer, it’s all about your personal fundraisers!

Why Use Peer-to-Peer?

There are many benefits to peer-to-peer fundraising, including:

  • A Broader Audience of Donors: When a personal fundraiser shares their campaign website on social media or through email, they’re exposing a new group of prospective donors to what your nonprofit does. This information has the potential to inspire this active audience to give or get involved in some capacity.
  • Activated (Retained) Supporters: One of the best ways to retain your donors is to make them feel a deep connection to what you’re doing. If they can feel like they’re a part of the fabric, even better. By giving your supporters a job, which in the case of peer-to-peer fundraising is fundraising for you, then you help to strengthen that bond.
  • Budget and Resource-Friendly: Because you may have dozens of personal fundraisers helping with the heavy lifting and all the back-end tech work is completed by a fundraising platform, peer-to-peer fundraising is ideal for nonprofits with strict budgets and staff limitations.

What Does Peer-to-Peer Look Like?

Peer-to-peer takes many forms. Sometimes it resembles a traditional fundraising campaign. Other times, it caters to a specific day or time frame.

Traditional Peer-to-Peer: Whether you run a nonprofit or a for-profit looking to do good in the community, you can combine the power of online fundraising with your network’s influence for any engagement campaign.


Agape Therapeutic Riding raised over $57,000 with their Drive to Ride peer-to-peer campaign by engaging 31 members of their community to actively fundraise on their behalf.


Schools, churches, and other civic organizations can also benefit from traditional peer-to-peer. Take Eberwhite Elementary for example. The PTO at Eberwhite created a solid peer-to-peer campaign online, which culminated with their annual Play-a-Thon event.


DIY Fundraising: Fundraising to celebrate a birthday or other milestone is increasingly common. DIY fundraising allows those connected with your cause to fundraise anytime, anywhere, using peer-to-peer.

Amigos de Las Americas participant Alice Johnson used DIY fundraising powered by CauseVox to raise money to support her participation in the volunteer-based program.


Events: Encourage supporters to get involved in a marathon, 5K, or another event. They can use peer-to-peer to sign up, fundraise to participate, and watch their results roll into the final tally.

Neverthirst organized a Workout for Water event in Houston, Texas, where they mobilized 14 event participants through peer-to-peer.


In another superb example, Card Kingdom and Mox Boarding House raised an astounding $117,000 through an interactive fundraising tournament. This “contest of chance and skill” pitted teams of four against one another, with team donation tiers equating to power-ups.


Partner Peer-to-Peer Campaigns: Businesses looking to engage employees often partner with nonprofits in peer-to-peer events.


Junior Achievement of Greater Washington has partnered with dozens of local small businesses and large corporations for their Bowl-a-Thons, including PwC.


Peer-to-peer brings your supporters to the forefront of the fundraising process, ultimately activating and rallying them to be a part of your organization’s success. We see campaigns that use peer-to-peer tend to raise twice as much when compared to typical crowdfunding, proof that activating your community to fundraise can help you grow your fundraising.

Choosing the Right Fit For You

As you can see, there are both similarities and differences when it comes to peer-to-peer and crowdfunding, and the technique you choose depends on your nonprofit’s needs.

If you’re still struggling to determine the right fit for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of the CauseVox team.

CauseVox is an online community-based fundraising platform designed to help nonprofits like yours grow giving and build a community of activated supporters. We make it easy for you to manage relationships and fundraise online with crowdfunding, peer-to-peer, donation pages, and more.

As a CauseVox customer, you’ll receive 1-1 support and guidance from real people determined to help you feel confident and hit your goals. Get started for free and upgrade as you grow.

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