SEE ALSO >>> Nonprofit ServicesThe Belfint Nonprofit Ledger

Peer-to-peer fundraising events — for example, walks and runs — have become one of the most common ways for nonprofits to raise money. But are you doing all you can to maximize and safeguard those funds?

Tap Existing Relationships

Peer-to-peer fundraising is often an attractive option for resource-strapped organizations. As opposed to traditional fundraising, which requires you to invest heavily in building relationships with donors, peer-to-peer events let you tap the existing relationships of participants. Instead of relying on staff to get the word out about your organization, you can deploy an enthusiastic battalion of true believers to spread your message and create awareness.

But it’s important to remember that awareness isn’t the end goal — fundraising is. A study by Blackbaud, a software and service provider for nonprofits, found that peer-to-peer event participants see participation and fundraising as separate tasks.

According to Blackbaud, these events are frequently marketed as awareness events, with the fundraising aspect only implied. It’s not unusual, then, for a participant to sign up for a 10K run, pay the registration fee and not pursue fundraising at all.

Goals Lead the Way

One of the most effective ways to encourage fundraising by participants is to set goals. Blackbaud found that 80% of survey respondents who set a goal raised that amount or more. And participants who are working toward a team goal generally raise more than if they’re fundraising on their own. Goals also make it easier for an organization to implement metrics and analyze financial performance during and after an event.

Establish goals at the outset, in the initial materials sent to participants and with online fundraising tools (where both participants and their donors can see goals). Feature the top fundraisers on the event’s website and in posts on your social media accounts, and offer low-cost prizes like T-shirts.

Avoid setting goals too high, though. It’s best to set lower, achievable goals. Not only will your participants be less likely to become frustrated, but smaller donors will be more likely to feel as if they’re making a difference.

Also be aware that, if participation in an event requires meeting a fundraising minimum, a participant might cover the whole amount, rather than actually engage in fundraising that could attract new donors. So while success is usually measured based on the total amount a participant raises, also consider the number of donations a participant generates.

Controls are Crucial

By definition, fundraising involves the handling of funds, which presents the opportunity for fraudulent misappropriation and simple accounting errors by nonprofessionals. Nonprofits, therefore, need to implement appropriate controls from the outset.

The good news is that the use of social media to drive peer-to-peer fundraising means that monies are typically submitted through the Internet, as opposed to the not-so-distant past when participants would collect cash and checks. As with any online transaction, you’ll need effective controls to protect credit card data and personal information and prevent fraud, including firewalls, encryption and similar protections.

Help them Help You

Although peer-to-peer participants shoulder much of the burden with these events, it’s up to your nonprofit to provide appropriate support. Make it as easy as possible — but also as secure as necessary — for them to drum up support.

Contact Us

Looking for assistance with fundraising? For additional information on our nonprofit services, please contact Jon Moll, CPA at 302.225.0600 or click here to email Jon.  In a brief consultation he can assess your situation and determine the best way to proceed.