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People want to raise money and ask their friends to give if it is fun. For everyone. Period.

I recently read “Friend to Friend Fundraising Works So Why Aren’t You Doing It?”  from Idealware and think the best point they make, buried in there three-quarters of the way down, is that it needs to be fun. And fun is, generally speaking, not what nonprofits are best at.

And you can’t blame them. They spend most of their days trying to eradicate poverty, heal the sick and care for the poor. “Fun” isn’t at the top of their minds. But it should be. For them to eradicate poverty, heal the sick and care for the poor they need money and they’re competing directly with companies like Apple, Amazon and Coca-Cola for space in wallets and budgets. And, unlike us nonprofits, they know how to have some fun.

So if you are thinking about getting into peer-to-peer fundraising, friend to friend fundraising, social fundraising or whatever you want to call it, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is:

“How can we make this fun? For everyone?”

Fun for the fundraiser can be in the form of incentives (what do they get out of it), ease of use (keep it simple stupid), support (friendly help for them to get started) and probably most of all, community (connecting them to others who are doing it).

The main part of “everyone” is friends and family who give which should be easy and simple (please keep it simple), they should feel connected to their friend/family member who is asking them and they should have some idea of what their donation is going to do in the way of impact.

The last group of “everyone” is the charity itself. If you’re not having fun then it is hard for your fundraisers and their supporters to really have fun. For charities it should be easy and simple (I think you’re getting the point…), not take up too much of your precious time and keep the goal (fun and engagement… not funds) in mind at all times.

5 To Do’s for Your Friend to Friend Fundraising Strategy

  1. Make it fun. For everyone.
  2. Make it simple.
  3. Focus on participant experience, not your funds raised.
  4. Help connect people.
  5. Give people freedom (to succeed or fail).
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  • jdyonan

    The organization I work for recently began using the peer to peer fundraising model and quickly learned that making it fun (and urgent) was definitely the key to getting people engaged in supporting the cause.  Working as the organization’s “guinnea pig”, I set up a personal fundraising page and developed an appeal to support our early literacy programs through our summer long book drive.  The day prior to one of our big book collections (using a corporate site challenge and a collection truck for the books), I sent out an email to my contacts saying that I anticipated that the truck would collect 1,000 books (the equivalent of $2.50 per book) the next day and my goal was to “beat the truck” or raise $2,500 in 24 hrs.  As an avid bike rider, we set up the appeal to make it look like I was actually racing against the truck.  We took a photo of me on my bike (with helmet, of course!) holding a bunch of children’s books with the headline:  “Help Jennifer Beat the Truck”.  We launched the peer to peer appeal at 1 p.m. the day prior to the big book collection and donations started rolling in right away.  I was amazed at how many people donated to the cause because they wanted to support something that was important to me.  We provided Facebook updates throughout the campaign as well and put that link into the auto responder thank you email that was sent when donations were received.  I can’t tell you how many people commented to me, “Wow, keep peddling, Jen – hope you catch that truck!” or “Did you end up catching the truck?”  My personal campaign raised $2,200 in 24 hrs.  This year, I repeated the appeal and made it “Can Jennifer Catch the Truck this Year?”  We added a new photo of me (see attached) on my bike with a truck right behind me.  Throughout the campaign, FB posts were made about me riding throughout the night with night vision goggles and we even photoshopped an opossum into the photo for the late night posts and updates.  We also did periodic video updates (shot w/my ipad throughout the campaign) like how far along I was in meeting my goal, pretended to have a flat tire, etc.  It was fun and people commented how funny the posts were throughout the campaign.  I raised $2,400 this year and had lots of comments from people about the opossum making an appearance.  

    As we recruit other peer to peer champions to help raise funds, we always encourage a fun photo relating to the appeal and a 24 hr. period to express urgency.  In our Virtual 10K relay each of the 4 people in the relay had a 24 hr. period to meet their goal before handing the baton over to the next champion to complete their leg to of the race.  The goal being to raise $10K in 4 – 24 hr. periods…that appeal raised $15K due to the fun loving nature of the champions and their willingness to engage their friends with fun photos.  Another peer to peer campaign we conducted was during the 2012 Summer Olympics and one of our teams was a family of 5 – we used a photo shopped image of the family members (from a recent family wedding) posing as Olympic winners (see attached) to make it fun and appeal to their friends.  Using the competition or race angle really helps, too as long as you can tie it back to the purpose of the campaign.

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