The peer-to-peer revolution

We've had the privilege at See3 to work with nonprofits on some really amazing peer-to-peer fundraising events. “Peer-to-peer” refers to those runs, walks and rides that turn your best supporters into your best fundraisers. Using online tools provided by the sponsoring organizations, people can create their own fundraising pages, solicit their friends to support them and raise hundreds of millions of dollars for important causes. Here’s how we helped Alzheimer’s Association increase their peer-to-peer donations three-fold.

Peer-to-peer events are often siloed from other other fundraising and communications activities. The principles and playbooks are their own thing, with their own specialists, their own software and even with their own conferences! I think we’re going to see that change, though.

How so? Peer-to-peer fundraising plays on the concepts of peer influence and social proof, which are rapidly becoming the most critical mechanisms for development and communications.

Let me explain. We are currently experiencing the decline of authority throughout our society, including brand and media authority. That means advertising and brand messaging simply don't resonate with consumers the way they once did. This trend means that our professional marketing and fundraising messages aren't landing with the power they used to, and our organizational brands are less influential.

Driven by smartphones, we see consumers becoming content creators and social networks connecting us tightly to each other all the time. The result is that you are much more likely to buy a product -- or donate to an org -- if your friend recommends it than if you see an ad urging you to do it. The reach of individuals might be less, but together everyone is the new celebrity endorser.

And so the concept of peer-to-peer -- turning our best supporters into influencers and solicitors -- is the exact direction organizations need to move to gain new supporters and maintain existing ones. What I predict is that we'll see the experts in peer influence become the major innovators in fundraising, retention and organizational growth. And, we'll see peer-to-peer events more tightly integrated into the overall donor journey at organizations.

Got ideas about how to bring peer-to-peer thinking into other fundraising and communications activities? Love to hear about it.

Author: Michael Hoffman
  • Fundraising
  • Event
  • Communication