How Prospect Research Factors Into Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is gaining popularity as a new and exciting fundraising strategy. As opposed to other strategies, it relies on the people around you – your supporters, your volunteers, and your advocates. Those key people are the fundraisers in a peer-to-peer campaign. Now don’t worry, they’re not going to put you out of a job 🙂 There is still plenty of work, time, and planning that goes into setting up this kind of a campaign.

Usually these campaigns are structured around some kind of large event – like a 5K run, a marathon, or other group activities. This could be a stand-alone fundraiser or part of your annual campaigns. The goal of the campaign is to enlist participants who are willing to fundraise on your behalf. They reach out to their family, friends, and co-workers asking them to donate to your cause. This is powerful because they are expanding your network by reaching out to their own personal network. It’s a great opportunity to hit some big fundraising goals as well as raising general awareness of your cause

And keep in mind, this kind of campaign may allow you to tap into different demographics like never before. According to this infographic, 87% of both Millennials and Generation X and 77% of Boomers would be open to participating in a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

If you haven’t done a campaign like this before, and you’re feeling overwhelmed – have no fear! There are plenty of resources, like this article here, out there to help you research, implement, and manage your campaign.

Prospect Research’s Role in P2P Fundraising

One of those resources that you may not have considered for this kind of campaign is prospect research. Depending on your organization, you may already have a prospect research tool. Maybe you use it, or one of your colleagues does. Prospect research, or fundraising intelligence as we like to call it, is about finding and using powerful information about your donors in order to confidently frame your conversations with them. The ultimate goal is to make the right gift ask to the right person, at the right time. Tools like iWave allow you to discover things you never knew about your donors and find potential donors you never knew were there! It’s all about focusing on a person’s affinity to your cause, their propensity to be generous with their money, and their capacity of wealth to give.

You may be thinking ok, how does that fit into peer-to-peer fundraising? I’m glad you asked.

Research, Research, Research

In most peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, the development team has to plan out which supporters they are going to ask to play a part. Now, you aren’t just picking names out of a hat here. It is recommended that careful planning and research goes into selecting those you ask to participate. These are going to be spokespeople for your cause – your advocates. So, there are a few things that you should find out about your participants (and hint hint, you can find all this using iWave!).

What is their giving history to your cause? If a donor has just made a significant donation to your cause, it might not be a great time to ask them to participate in a peer-to-peer campaign. And vice versa, if a donor hasn’t given in a while, it might be the perfect opportunity to re-engage that donor.

What is their giving history to other causes? Do they give to other nonprofits and what does that look like? Are they board members elsewhere? Are they monthly donors or do they prefer to give annually? All this information helps in deciding if this would be a good participant.

What is their average donation size? It’s possible that someone who gives regular $500 gifts may be more invested in your cause than someone who gave a one-time $20 gift. Not only that, but maybe your $500 donor has a network of high net worth individuals they can bring on board to your cause. Now don’t get me wrong, small gifts are wonderful and those donors should be thanked! This is just one piece of information you can add to a donor’s profile.

Who Should You Ask?

Now we’ve covered what you want to find out. But what about the who? This is going to vary from organization to organization. It’s a great idea to start with those people that are deeply connected to your cause – they could be volunteers, donors, or board members. No matter who you choose, you’ll want to make sure that they are passionate about your cause. They should care enough about your cause that they are willing to be an ambassador. Essentially, they are putting their own stamp of approval on your organization. And you guessed it, you can find all this information right within iWave.

There’s also an opportunity to include corporate or community partners into your peer-to-peer fundraising. Maybe one of your partners wants to host an event for you. This is a great opportunity to engage your community and to give your partners something tangible to help with.

Matching Gifts

Speaking of corporate sponsors, a peer-to-peer campaign is a perfect opportunity to make sure you know if an employer offers a matching gift program. Don’t know what that is? Picture this, your donor works at a company that offers a matching gift program. If the ratio is 1:1, and your donor gives $100 to your organization, their employer will also donate $100. But it’s possible that your donor doesn’t know their employer offers this program. So, to make sure you aren’t missing out on opportunities to double your donations – make sure you are using iWave’s matching gift data to find out which employers to keep an eye out for.

Engage With Your “Fundraisers”

Once you have that magic list of people to involve in your campaign, you’ll want to make sure it’s the best experience possible for them. You can check out this blog post here on how to keep those people coming back year after year. Be sure to set some fundraising goals for your participants as well as for your overall organization. This helps your volunteers feel connected to your success.

You’ll also want to survey your volunteers to find out ways to improve your campaigns in the future. This is a great opportunity to make sure you are collecting important and key information on your volunteers. Are they donors, past volunteers, or board members? How did they find out about you? Why do they care about your cause? The more information you can collect, the better informed you will be in maintaining your fundraising strategy.

New Donors = New Opportunities

And once you have run your successful peer-to-peer campaign – you’ll have a brand new list of new donors just waiting for you! Make sure you have the tools to learn all you can about those people. They could be your next passionate volunteer or even your next regular donor. Getting a new batch of donors is an excellent time to run a wealth screening. You’ll be able to see right away which donors you should prioritize and which could be your next major gift donors.

There are so many exciting ways to get people involved in your mission. You are doing amazing work and the more you can expand your pool of volunteers and donors, the better! You’ll be able to impact and inspire your community – and maybe even rally your fellow nonprofits to do the same.


About the author: Liz Corney is iWave’s Content Marketing Manager. She has a degree in Journalism, is a fiercely positive team-player and a creative self-starter. She has experience working in software technology, video/mobile games, learning & development, social & traditional media, and communications. Liz is also the co-founder of a local nonprofit organization working to better the lives of homeless women in her community.

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