You probably see Peer to Peer (P2P) fundraising all the time and don’t know it. It is present on every social media platform, during times of crisis, national or international disaster, at the holidays, or during school fundraising drives. We walk, run, and shop P2P. Likely you have participated at least once, been moved to the point where you feel you have to act. For some, it may be the plight of stray animals that leads them to action, for others it could be eradicating childhood illness. Whatever the cause, P2P fundraising takes advantage of a wide network in order to get the job done, and it’s been a roaring success.
One of the best-known P2P campaigns has to be Relay for Life. This enormous event began in 1985 when Dr. Gordon Klatt spent 24 hours circling a track without stopping to raise money and awareness for cancer. Over the years, the event has grown and grown and grown and these days it can be found in just about every community. The premise is pretty simple, participants gather teams to spend a single night not resting while they work the track and raise money from personal donors.
Relay for life strikes at the very heart of P2P. It takes a smaller network and broadens its scope in order to maximize fundraising potential. There are countless others that follow this model using walkathons, road races, and lots of other ideas…remember the ice bucket challenge for ALS? A great example of a P2P fundraiser that went viral.
If you decide to launch your own P2P campaign, strive for authenticity. Don’t try to guess what might catch on and go viral, instead just speak your own truth. Tell your story, why you’re fundraising, what you have to bring to the world. By doing this you’re way more likely to get willing participants to chip in a little to your cause and spread the word.
Getting the word out is the whole idea. So while you want to encourage those who see our fundraising campaign to join the effort, you also want to encourage them to share it with their own networks. Keep things upbeat and interesting and you’re far more likely to garner the shares you need to run a successful P2P campaign.
P2P doesn’t simply mean creating a website, adding a share button, and sitting back to watch the donations pour in. Like in anything, there is effort involved. And also like with most things, the more thought you put in, the better the results will be.
Consider ways you can make your own P2P event capture the attention of those who have never met you in person. After all, you are asking your network to share the needs of a complete stranger with their friends and family. Better make it interesting.
An actual event is a great way to make your P2P stand out. It doesn’t have to be on the scale of Relay for Life, and it doesn’t even have to be in the real world. A virtual event can be just as effective.
Play to your strengths. If you’re not athletic, don’t decide you’ll run 20 miles in order to fundraise. As an artist, you already have an interesting skillset that you can use to your advantage. Why not organize a P2P around an all-day art-a-thon. There are a few ways to do this. You can invite people to an open studio style event, setting up a donation page prior to the date of the open house so that all those who wish to visit the studio must first become a backer. Pick a date and plan a marathon of work. Participants come in, watch you do your thing, and get a backstage tour of how it all comes together.
If you don’t have the space to invite the masses, why not a virtual open studio. Again, pick a date and on that day live stream it up. Invite potential donors to watch as you embark on a relay of art, a ceaseless studio session to create a buzz and garner exposure for your work.
If you would rather get others involved, organize a participatory event. It doesn’t have to be complicated. If you have the means to create a road race then, of course, go for it, but there are lots of things to consider and cost can end up being a huge factor for an event like that. Instead, take a page from the Ice Bucket Challenge. Dare potential donors to perform online to engage them in the process. You could challenge them to create their own work of art, or something beyond silly. Just make sure it’s safe.
How you plan our own P2P is limited only by your imagination. In these days of vast, virtual networks, there is no reason not to leverage the connections you already have to make others. The more people you reach, the more likely you are to find the ones excited about your work and ready to get involved in the effort.