Emerging Digital Pathways #3 of 5 Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-2-Peer (P2P) campaigns are frequently used among the non-arts nonprofit community in the United States. To understand how an arts organization can take advantage of P2P fundraising options, this article provides a definition of P2P, details trends in the fundraising field, describes of how P2P works, presents two examples of P2P fundraising success by non-arts nonprofits, and shares national survey findings on P2P fundraising.



Peer-to-Peer fundraising (P2P) is the use of a digital platform by an external party to raise funds for an organization by asking friends, family, and peers to donate. Vendors such as CauseVox, Razoo, and Salsa are popular P2P platforms among nonprofit organizations. 


According to the 2017 Global Trends in Giving Report, 33% of all online donations are made through a P2P platform. Additionally, individual donors across generations are receptive to using P2P. 87% of  Millennials and Generation Xers are willing to use P2P for their giving. Relatively high numbers of Baby Boomers (77%) and the Silent Generation (63%) also prefer to use a P2P platform as opposed to other digital fundraising methods. Hence, P2P fundraising is a popular in online giving option, and there is opportunity for arts organizations to use it to increase their contributed income from individuals. 

How it Works

There are three steps to implementing a P2P campaign. First, an organization selects an appropriate P2P platform that offers the services that they need. Second, the organization registers on a host website, and creates a main page for the overall campaign. This main page provides all the required information for individual P2P fundraiser hosts to launch their own campaigns[b2]. Third, the overall campaign is marketed to the organization’s current supporters. Individuals can either donate or create their own individual fundraising sub-campaign, and can share their personal sub-campaign with their peers, often via social media.

Nonprofit Organization Case Studies

Examples of P2P fundraising campaigns come from all types of organizations. Campaigns purposes vary from use for the annual fund, to use for a one-time event. Marathons or walkathons are commonly associated with P2P campaigns. Popular formats often feature engaging and motivating donors to reach a personal achievement, while having their peers support them by donating to an organization. These P2P fundraising events are successful in raising money, but also build a strong community of supporters. Peer-to-peer campaigns offer opportunities to arts organizations worrying about overcoming the challenge of an aging donor base. Peer-to-peer campaigns can solidify relationships with an organization’s existing communities, as well as to expand their reach to new donors. Peer-to-peer options not only increase individual contributed income, but also the awareness of the organization. It is a multi-tier approach whereby arts organizations can ask their donors not only to donate, but also to create fundraising pages and share with their own networks.

Mid-Atlantic US Case-Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Incorporated

Founded in 2001 in Arlington, Virginia, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Incorporated "seeks to find permanent adoptive homes in the Mid-Atlantic Region for dogs and cats from under-resourced shelters or whose owners can no longer care for them." Homeward Trails (HT) provides shelter, medical treatment, and behavioral training for dogs and cats that come into their care. In the past few years, HT began to use P2P fundraising to raise money for initial care for animals they take in, as well as for animals who require special attention before they can be placed with a permanent new family.

Under its donate button, HT's website provides an option for donors to "Sponsor an Animal." This page features animals that need attention, from an MRI to identify a tumor for further treatment, to initial veterinary care for a pet who was brought in as a stray. Clicking on a particular animal's picture takes the potential donor to a P2P fundraising platform, Razoo (now known as Mightycause). If an animal isn't already sponsored by someone, the individual can create a new campaign for the animal with the information provided on HT's website. If the animal is already sponsored, then there is the option to donate to that animal's cause.  

Homeward Trails' main Mightycause’s landing page indicates that the organization cumulative fundraising total via the platform is over $250,000 from 3,297 donors. Public records show a steady increase in HT's contributed income, going from over $260,000 total in 2012 to over S430,000 in 2016. This data suggests that the addition of P2P fundraising opportunities helped raise the organization’s overall contributed income.

New England US Case- The Education Cooperative

The Education Cooperative (TEC) is an organization in located in Walpole, Massachusetts that specializes in creating opportunities for "students 3-22 years of age with moderate to severe special needs." Established in 1968, the organization works with 16 separate school districts within the state to provide "an engaging and supportive learning environment that offers students opportunities to grow as individuals and become productive members of society."

For its 50th anniversary, TEC created a fundraising campaign to build a fully accessible playground for its main campus in Walpole. The Education Cooperative wanted to engage the support of the community it built throughout the school districts it served. To help accomplish this, TEC engaged in a P2P campaign through QGiv. The Education Cooperative branded this campaign around a nautical theme and dubbed its supporters "Playmakers" in their "Navy." Different "sponsorSHIP" giving levels were delineated with Navy inspired names. Through TEC's QGiv platform, it gave its crew of ambassadors, consisting of staff and community members, the information and data they required to inspire their networks to give.

Over 500 individuals and local community organizations participated in the Playmakers campaign. Together the overall campaign raised in excess of $200,000, and construction of the playground was completed in September 2016. The organization continued to reach out to this community of supporters, and as of 2018, TEC also added a therapeutic pool to its main campus.

Survey Findings

Overall, P2P can play a significant role of expanding the communities of all nonprofit organizations. The high level of participation in many P2P based fundraising and volunteering events indicate that donors value their in-person connections with their favorite nonprofit organization. While this tool encourages widespread engagement, arts organizations and their non-arts counterparts have different purposes in using P2P. Only 18% of survey participants identified as having used P2P fundraising at their organizations. Overall survey participants stated that their primary goal of using P2P was to reach new donors. However, case studies show that non-arts organizations appeared use P2P to engage with existing donors. Further, most arts organizations implemented P2P campaigns to raise overall total contributed income, while non-arts organizations tended to use it to support annual and special campaigns such as marathons and walkathons.

Density Map of Survey Participants who use Peer-to-Peer

Density Map of Survey Participants who use Peer-to-Peer

P2P is a digital fundraising platform that strengthens the relationship between donors and arts organizations. It is an interactive platform where donors can be more actively engaged with their organizations and share their contributions with their peers. If arts organizations want to build deeper relationships with donors, they should try to include P2P in their fundraising plan. 

Further series posts:

Part 2 of 5 Digital Fundraising with Text Messages

Part 4 of 4 Mobile Bidding


“2017 Giving Report,” Nonprofit Tech for Good, https://www.classy.org/blog/infographic-the-value-of-peer-to-peer-fundraising/, accessed January 17, 2018.

Terry Harel,“Infographic:  the Value of Peer to Peer Fundraising,” Classy, https://www.classy.org/blog/infographic-the-value-of-peer-to-peer-fundraising/

About,” Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, Inc., January 17, 2013. https://www.homewardtrails.org/about/.

“Sponsor These Shelter Animals In Time to Bring Them to Safety,” Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, Inc., February 9, 2014. https://www.homewardtrails.org/help-out/sponsor-shelter-animals/. “Support Homeward Animal Rescue Incorporated on Razoo,” Razoo, accessed April 4, 2018. https://www.razoo.com/organization/Homewardtrails.

“Pet Fundraising Pages - Fast, Free and Easy,” Razoo, accessed April 4, 2018. https://www.razoo.com/guide/animal-fundraising.

“Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Incorporated - GuideStar Profile,” GuideStar, accessed April 4, 2018. https://www.guidestar.org/profile/32-0086330.

“The Education Cooperative,” The Education Cooperative, accessed April 2, 2018. http://www.tec-coop.org/education-cooperative.

"2017 Global Trends in GIVING REPORT," Nonprofit Tech for Good, Accessed January 20, 2018. https://givingreport.ngo/.

“Playmakers | The Education Cooperative,” The Education Cooperative, accessed April 2, 2018. http://www.tec-coop.org/playmakers.

“The Education Cooperative | Superheroes.” QGiv, Inc., accessed April 2, 2018. https://www.qgiv.com/superheroes/tec.

“The Education Cooperative | Superheroes,” QGiv, Inc., accessed April 2, 2018. https://www.qgiv.com/superheroes/tec.

“The Education Cooperative - TEC – Home,” The Education Cooperative, accessed April 2, 2018.