Red Light, Green Light for Peer to Peer Fundraising in 2015

Hello blogosphere!  I know it’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me. It appears that so far I’m not doing great with my New Year’s resolution to blog more. Eek!  Well, you can’t go back; you can only move forward, and I look forward to sharing creative fundraising ideas with throughout 2015.

Speaking of looking forward to new fundraising ideas in 2015..

I’m excited to introduce you to a new npENGAGE blogger, Shana Masterson!  Shana joined the Blackbaud team in October as a Sr. Consultant, specializing in peer-to-peer fundraising. Shana has been of one my fundraising BFF’s for quite some time now and I’m eager for her to share her fundraising know-how with you, the npENGAGE community.

A couple weeks ago our friends at the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum reached out to us for ideas on a post they were writing about what to Start and Stop doing in 2015. Shana stepped up to the plate, took this on and shared some peer to peer fundraising musts.

Here is Shana’s complete list of things to green light (start doing) and red light (stop doing) this year!

Green Light: Embrace Your Complainers!

As a Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser, you sometimes feel like your only job is addressing complaints from your participants, volunteers, committee members, other staff, etc. And it can be extremely frustrating. How many times do you really have to walk someone else through the registration form, explain the number of porta-potties available on the route, or justify the fundraising minimum for your event?

In 2015, it’s time to truly embrace your complainers! Recognize each call or communication from someone expressing a grievance or seeking help as an opportunity. An opportunity to listen, an opportunity to help, an opportunity to build a long-term relationship. After all, that person cared enough to pick up the phone, send an email or seek you out. In many cases, these are or can be your strongest supporters.

They need someone to understand them, even if their particular complaint can’t be solved. By putting in the time with your squeakiest wheels, proactively seeking their input, and being their partner, you will see stronger fundraising results and higher retention.  Don’t resent your complainers – embrace them!

Green Light: Bring IRL Back!

Technology has made communicating with event participants easier and more accessible as each year goes by. You can reach thousands of people with one email or one text message. Your website and your Facebook page contain all the info a potential participant might need to get and stay involved.

But the best digital strategy around won’t ever replace “in real life” interaction with your participants. Despite all the innovative new ways we have to reach our participants, personal interaction continues to be the best way to build solid relationships that ultimately lead to more engaged participants.

Make it a resolution to get out of the office as much as possible in 2015 to meet with team captains, sponsors, potential participants and more. Stop by their office with a simple gift of gratitude (like a “thanks-a-latte”), arrange a quick meeting for coffee, hold events to show off the impact of their fundraising, and make an effort to meet as many people as possible if your peer-to-peer program involves an event. While “machine-to-machine” communication is becoming increasingly important to get right, “face-to-face” communication is the biggest must have of 2015.

Red Light: Stop Chasing Unicorns.

While Unicorns are amazing mythical creatures; they’re a myth for a reason. I bet there aren’t many of you out there who didn’t get a call, or think to yourself, “What’s our Ice Bucket Challenge?” We’re always asking each other, “What are other non-profits doing to generate revenue through peer-to-peer?”

In 2015, it’s time to stop chasing those unicorns. More often than not, one brilliant new idea is not going to fix your campaign. It takes sustained hard work and dedication to the fundamental principles of fundraising. Tweaks to your campaign should focus on what is best for your campaign, based on data, surveys, participant needs, etcWhat worked for XYZ charity won’t necessarily work for yours.

Rededicate yourself to learning more about fundraising, or teaching your staff to be better fundraisers. More often than not, fundraisers are thrown into this job and expected to figure it out for themselves. We need to better educate ourselves and better prepare staff to be successful in the fundamentals. There will be less unicorn chasing if we concentrate instead on creating our own unicorn.

Red Light: Stop Letting the Wrong Cooks in the Kitchen

A common mistake made by fundraisers is designing your program based on your own personal preferences and biases. It is usually done with the best of intentions, trying to make the best possible decisions to recruit more participants and help them raise more money.

The problem is generally compounded when there are multiple people involved in the process, all bringing their own sense of intuition with them. You’ve seen it happen – an email is written and then has to go through three layers of approvals and edits. By the time the email is sent, it no longer resembles the original and has often lost its luster.

What’s worse than having too many cooks in the kitchen is having too many people in the kitchen who don’t know how to cook. In 2015, commit to changing your decision-making and approval process. Base your decisions on data and fact, and involve only those who have the most expertise in that particular area. You’ll free up time for many staff and have a product more likely to appeal to your audience.