Is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Still Achieving Social Profitability?
Time to examine initiatives and participant engagement
The question, “Is peer-to-peer fundraising dead?” was recently posed to me. It struck me that as it relates to fundraising walks and rides, that may be the wrong question. Why not ask instead, “what are the leading causes and organizations doing right? How are they able to keep participants actively engaged and returning year after year to their signature events?”
While some large and small events, programs and campaigns have seen a downturn in their registrations and a drop in fundraising dollars, others have held their own. How are they doing it in this extremely challenging and competitive climate?
In Canada, walks still account for half of the 30 largest P2P programs, with bike rides coming in second. Consistently topping Canada’s list are the Ride to Conquer Cancer and the Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life.
I believe that causes facing declining enrolments and revenues have lost sight of the value proposition of the event for the participants, as their experience is not necessarily aligned to their expectations or efforts to support the cause. It is these very participants who are raising the money and are their greatest storytellers, with the potential to amplify support, who are becoming less engaged.
It is vital that causes celebrate these participants by creating memorable event experiences that more than live up to what they have sold.
Take successful events like The Ride to Conquer Cancer or OneWalk, for example. They place value on the entire participant journey, recognizing that the commitment of time and money made is worth celebrating all along the way. Participants believe that they are doing something meaningful and of consequence – making their experiences that much more important and impressive.
From registration to re-registration, these events implement every tool possible to make each individual not only feel like they are part of a caring community, but also like a VIP for participating.
Every aspect of the experience is carefully considered and executed with an eye to building relationships from Day 1. Whether it is a unique app that participants can share with friends and family; updating their personal participant pages and fundraising goals on the event website; retail partner programs offering VIP discounts; a series of parties leading up to the big event day; all are designed to help build excitement, camaraderie and a sense of belonging. Providing these ‘cause ambassadors’ with a sense of community empowers them with shared experiences and knowing that they are part of something greater.
Peer-to-Peer is far from dead for event experiences that live up to expectations, recognizing that people are the backbone of their cause and their most valued assets. Realize that even causes have to deliver the best possible customer service to ensure that participants can’t wait to do it all over again the next year!
Successful events and programs are ever-evolving, finding relevance to the cause and creating new shared experiences and know that it can’t be the same old formula year after year. Be prepared to assess your event every thee-to-five years with consideration to the experience you offer your stakeholders. It will be – So Worth It!