Most organizations that run peer-to-peer campaigns are thinking about short-term wins. They are looking for a spark to energize their donor base. They are searching for ways to attract new donors. They are eager to enlist their board in their fundraising efforts. Or, in many cases, they just need more money. NOW.
In most cases, the return on their investment is immediate. More donors. More donations. Higher gift sizes. And a good time was had by all.
But all too often, these same organizations opt out of running a second P2P campaign the next year. Sometimes, they say that they don’t want to “bother” their donors and ambassadors again. Sometimes, they don’t have the organizational bandwidth to make it happen. Sometimes, it just falls off their radar, added to the bottom of an ever-growing to-do list.
Unfortunately, by not running follow up peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, these organizations are leaving money and momentum on the table. They are missing irreplaceable opportunities to increase a) the number of donors to their organization, b) the average gift size, and c) overall donor retention rates. In short, organizations that skip a year in their peer-to-peer fundraising cycle are making it harder to retain their donors and to delight new ones.
There are (at least) two reasons why you should implement a yearly P2P campaign. Both apply to donors and ambassadors, but let’s focus the first on ambassadors (i.e. peer fundraisers) and then on donors.
Reason #1: Habit Anchor Your Ambassadors
No matter your fundraising style, you have work-related “anchors” in the form of events or campaigns that you run every year. They may include an annual campaign, a year-end campaign, or a gala event.
You innately know when each of these events take place over the course of a year. They anchor your entire calendar and determine the ebb and flow of your outreach.
When your peer-to-peer fundraising activity becomes an organizational “anchor,” it habituates your ambassadors to your schedule.
When you create a habit for your ambassadors, you prepare them to support your work. You build “muscle memory” around their participation as successful ambassadors in your campaign. This gives them a “taste” of the prior campaign and the willingness to do it again.
Why is this so important? Because, on average, the ambassador who participates a second time for you raises twice the amount as the previous year. The more you center your campaign around ambassadors, the better the results will be.
If your ambassadors don’t know when you are planning to run your campaign, they may not have the energy available to give to you. Their attention will be pulled elsewhere. Last year’s $1,000 ambassadors may have ‘just enough’ energy to volunteer for one organization this year. If they don’t know when you plan on running your campaign (or if you’ll run one at all), they are more likely to accept a request from another organization.
Donors want to give. Ambassadors want to help. Your job is to make it easy for them.
If you skip a year, you lose momentum. You lose their attention. You lose their willingness to step up and lead.
Reason #2: Donor Relationship Expansion
It’s hard to turn a small donation into a monthly recurring gift. It’s even harder to turn a mid-level donor into a major donor. And it’s even harder than that to get new donors to donate at all. Donorbases, like Rome, are not built in a day.
In a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, you are going to meet many new donors who may not have known your organization existed. They will donate because someone close to them asked them to, not necessarily because they’re passionate about your cause. In most cases, even after they contributed, they won’t know very much about your organization.
Once you have these new (uninitiated) donors, P2P campaigns empower you to build relationships.
How can you get them to know and love you? Through patience, time, and hard work.
It takes time for new donors to learn about you and your work. To understand the impact that their donation has made. To deem your cause worthy of their attention and generosity.
But the only way to cultivate those relationships is to maintain the connection.
That can take months if not years to develop.
Skip a year and they are gone. You will be out of sight, out of mind. And someone else – another worthy cause – will step up and take your place.
This sad truth is the case for both donors AND ambassadors.
You are in an ‘attention war’ with other organizations for the hearts and minds of your supporters. These are good people who like to give and want to help. Because that is true, others are vying for their attention and donations too!
When you actively choose to skip a year, donors will move on to someone else who is paying attention. Once donors are lost to your competitors, reacquiring them will cost way more.
The practical step then would be to run even a small campaign in Year 2 if for no other reason than to hold on to your donors for an additional year. That will push you to stay in front of them even as you are planning in your mind to run an even bigger campaign in the following year.
- Ambassadors will achieve higher fundraising goals for you each time they run a peer-to-peer campaign. Habituate them to your process so they know what to expect.
- Like flowers, donors need attention and care. You will be out of sight, out of mind if you don’t stay in front of them.
- Running annual peer-to-peer campaigns will drastically improve your rates of donor retention.