The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Real-World Peer Fundraising Tips from the #CloseTheGap Campaign

The East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) raised more than $30,000 with its first-ever peer-to-peer (P2P) campaign by balancing its lack of social fundraising experience with smart planning and focused energy. EOYDC leveraged Network for Good’s donation pages and peer-to-peer fundraising platform to power their #CloseTheGap campaign.

When Cara Brown, director of communications and assessments at EOYDC, told me about the center’s campaign, I knew I wanted to share their experience with fellow fundraisers. Cara shared these priceless tips, tricks, and “we made this mistake, so you don’t have to’s.”

Nancy: Tell me about EOYDC’s hopes for its #CloseTheGap campaign.

Cara: We moved into a newly renovated and expanded facility just before designing the #CloseTheGap campaign, so we had some ambitious goals.

Initially, we focused on raising money to build out our Mac Lab. We saw the opportunity to piggyback advocacy for greater diversity in the technology field as we “closed the gap” with our campaign.

We repositioned our ask around closing the digital divide between youth of color and all others in the Bay Area. More specifically, we asked for help to build our pilot Mac class into a comprehensive coding and digital arts curriculum.

Nancy: What was different about this campaign for EOYDC?

Cara: Everything! Seriously, this campaign broke ground for us in many ways. That made it incredibly exciting for staff and our P2P fundraisers, especially those fluent in digital and social.

#CloseTheGap was the first time we:

  • Launched a digital fundraising campaign.
  • Set both organizational and individual fundraising goals for a particular campaign.
  • Leveraged P2P fundraising.
  • Incorporated a clear theme and focus (#CloseTheGap) for the holiday giving season. The campaign ran from November 10, 2015, through January 18, 2016 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)
  • Incorporated participation in Black Friday and #GivingTuesday campaigns.

Nancy: Who on the EOYDC team created, launched, and supported the campaign?

Cara: Before Regina Jackson, our president and CEO, departed in early November for her sabbatical, she challenged us to engage in “creative disruption” during her time away. We fully embraced that challenge. With just a few staff members focused on launching the effort, we put together this powerhouse team:

  • Selena Wilson (vice president of organizational effectiveness), our communications team intern, and I brainstormed the campaign concept, funding goal, and how to tie it to our Mac Lab project.
  • I created a campaign framework and work plan, which was outlined in a simple document and shared with the team. I also assigned roles and responsibilities to ensure focus and avoid duplication of effort.
  • Our media team’s student photographers, Brent Bell and Tia Dubar, created the video and researched stats around the issue we’re helping to solve—the digital divide.
  • Our PR coordinator, Taylor Brandon, crafted ready-to-use/edit emails, social posts, and talking points for the fundraisers.
  • Our graphic designer, Brandon Davis, created the visuals.
  • Our executive assistant, Alma Barocio, created a custom card themed around the campaign to send to donors.
  • I sent out weekly email updates to motivate the peer fundraisers.

We developed a fun competition among staff and fundraisers to get the full team involved and excited to support the effort. For example, the staff member who raised the most funds in a given week got to have a Keurig coffeemaker in their office for the week.

We started planning the second week of October and were able to kick off just three weeks later. It was incredibly simple to set up our campaign with Network for Good, which was much appreciated.

Nancy: Did you track the campaign along the way? How did you use the data on what was working and what wasn’t?

Cara: We tracked results as closely as time allowed via the daily and monthly email updates sent from Network for Good and weekly dashboard reports. In order of frequency, we tracked these items:

  • Fundraiser sign-ups and number of fundraisers securing first donations (daily). Outgoing external promo via social media, email, etc. (daily).
  • Outgoing external promo via social media, email, etc. (daily).
  • Fundraiser update email opens (weekly).
  • #GivingTuesday and Black Friday donations.

We used this data to create regular team updates and more formal board reports.

Nancy: What were the greatest challenges your organization faced with this campaign?

Cara: We ran into these four significant challenges:

  1. Learning and executing concurrently.
  2. Getting personalized thank you notes, swag packs, and gifts to donors in a timely fashion.
  3. Understanding influencers for donors who gave via our online donation page during this period (social media, word of mouth, or “regulars”).
  4. Understanding how the matching process worked for #GivingTuesday.

Nancy: What will you do differently next time?

Cara: We took a “plan-do-review” approach from campaign concept onward. We documented our process and results to highlight what to repeat next time and what to do differently. Here’s what we’ll change:

  • Ensure that key staff and I understand and are comfortable managing the donor management system.
  • Prep as much as possible before the launch. Create the swag bags, thank you cards, graphics, all email blasts, social media posts in advance, and automate as much as possible (schedule email blasts, social media posts, etc.).
  • Engage fundraisers via mobile by texting videos and visuals.
  • Mail donation leaflets for fundraisers who are not tech savvy.
  • Have a closing event so everyone can celebrate the outcome they contributed to.
  • Solicit more donor feedback.
  • Ask and support our nonlocal stakeholders to host fundraising parties and events.

Nancy: Share your top “must-dos” for P2P fundraisers.

Cara: That’s such a great question. Here’s my take:

  • Give your campaign an identity with graphic imagery, compelling photos, talking points, video, and a single hashtag
  • Put as much energy into motivating fundraisers as you would into crafting outward-facing fundraising calls.
    • Make it easy for fundraisers to succeed. Offer tips and ideas for promoting their campaign page and securing donations—everything from creating a lemonade stand to giving a short “ask” presentation at their holiday party to introducing desktop donation boxes for the staff. (Check out the great guide Cara created.)
    • I used weekly email blasts—colorful, with funny memes—to acknowledge everyone for everything I could think of. Our fundraisers were motivated by seeing their names “in print.”
    • I stirred up fun and excitement by creating a competition where everyone was a winner—like the One Club for fundraisers who secured at least one donation—and pointed out that you could join by donating $5 to your own page. Make it easy for people to “win.”
    • Celebrate fundraisers at every level, from those who set up their page and secure one donation to those who secured the most donations or raised the most money.
    • Offer giveaways for winning fundraisers. Most of our fundraisers were satisfied with bragging rights and small tokens. Our most popular staff prize was the chance to keep the new Keurig machine in their office for the week. I also created DIY membership cards for the One Club.
    • Give fundraisers the option to customize or sign thank you cards to people who donated to their individual pages.
  • Create a central campaign goal, and theme it consistently across all fundraising channels. Hours before the campaign closed, the very last donor offered $10,000 because they saw our goal on our Network for Good donation page.
  • Maintain the option for donors to make a general donation to the organization, but customize the main giving page so visitors know a special campaign is going on.
  • Nest a few unique, time-sensitive giving opportunities within the overall campaign. We were able to nest in #GivingTuesday and Black Friday (24-hour fundraising sprints), which enabled donors to respond to what was most meaningful to them.
  • Have at least one staff person dedicate 25% to 50% of her time to managing this project. There are a lot of moving pieces. In the end, this focused management will bring the team together and lead to greater success.

Thanks to Cara’s comprehensive and specific guidance, your organization is off to a great start for your next P2P campaign.

Need help setting up your peer fundraising campaign? Download Network for Good’s Peer-to-Peer Campaign Planner, then learn more about how a P2P platform should make it easy for you (and your fundraisers) to succeed.

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About This Blog

Lisa Bonanno
Vice President of Digital Marketing

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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