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What I Learned Working at a Nonprofit: How to Build an Effective Peer-to-Peer Strategy

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Published October 11, 2021 Reading Time: 5 minutes

Get ready to master your peer-to-peer strategy with the inside scoop from Classy’s very own Lead Customer Lifecycle Manager, Rachele Aidala.

Rachele tells us all about what she learned while working for an education nonprofit, including how she grew their peer-to-peer fundraising revenue from $200,000 to $1 million. Get your notebook ready as she gets honest about the experience and tells us which strategies, features, and offerings actually make an impact on fundraising results.

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Building a Peer-to-Peer Strategy: Learning From First-Hand Experience

Many of our employees share a passion for supporting organizations like yours because they’ve walked in your shoes. We often hear Classy staff talk about their takeaways from working for nonprofits, so it only made sense to bring their first-hand experience to the Classy blog.

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Today, Rachele is breaking down her learnings from building a peer-to-peer strategy from the ground up. Read through the key questions we asked her, or jump ahead to what interests you the most. Regardless of your organization’s cause sector, size, or years of fundraising experience, there’s value for everyone here.

Meet Rachele Aidala
Rachele Aidala

Before joining Classy’s Customer Experience team, Rachele used the Classy platform in her previous nonprofit role to support her team’s ambitious fundraising goals. With years of campaign-building experience now under her belt, she taps into her knowledge daily in her current role as a Lead Customer Lifecycle Manager.

Rachele will narrow in specifically on peer-to-peer campaigns for this conversation to help inform and guide your strategy and will pass along valuable insights that you can only get from a peek behind the nonprofit curtain.

But First, Why Does a Peer-to-Peer Strategy Matter?

Hopefully, you landed on this page because you know how valuable a peer-to-peer strategy can be for nonprofit fundraising. Still, we’re here to reiterate that with some key data points.

Peer-to-peer fundraising helps nonprofits mobilize their supporters to spread their message further. Engaged givers become partners in your cause, creating more funding and a more significant impact.

Peer-to-Peer Giving by the Numbers

Classy’s 2021 The State of Modern Philanthropy report showed us just how valuable peer-to-peer is for our customers.

  • The average amount raised on a Classy peer-to-peer campaign is $22,026
  • The average amount raised on an individual Classy peer-to-peer fundraiser is $475, and each page had an average of five donors
  • Four out of five donors who donate to an individual fundraising page on behalf of a nonprofit are brand new to the organization

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Nonprofits see significant results with peer-to-peer fundraising when they use the right tools and lean into the power of networking. Feeding San Diego used Classy to build campaigns that empowered passionate supporters to fundraise on their behalf and increased peer-to-peer giving by 230%.

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How to Elevate Your Peer-to-Peer Strategy: A Behind the Scenes Look

Q: Why did your organization decide it was time to refresh its peer-to-peer strategy?

A: I joined the organization to manage an existing campaign that rallied students to fundraise for a chance to bring their favorite pop star to their school. It was such a fun way to see the power of peer-to-peer fundraising in action.
These students developed genuine relationships with our organization and many are still committed supporters today, ten years later. After seeing the impact a peer-to-peer campaign can have, we began to understand its value and dedicate a real focus to it. We realized it wasn’t just a fit for a one-off annual campaign, but a real opportunity to build deeper relationships with supporters and grow our fundraising revenue.

Q: How did your team know where to start?

A: We started by introducing additional campaigns with a peer-to-peer fundraising element, each focused on different aspects of our programming. We created one for each season and designed them to reflect our organization’s branding to give them a unique look and feel.

Taking this approach made it possible for us to motivate both individuals and companies to get involved all year long. As our founder traveled to speak about our work, he promoted these fundraising opportunities and invited new supporters to join us. While our peer-to-peer fundraising started with just a group of passionate students, it grew to involve a whole spectrum of supporters from entrepreneurs and corporate teams to communities of churches and teachers.

We got to know each of them individually and supported them as they reached out to their networks to fundraise on our behalf. This community grew slowly month over month with bigger and bigger fundraising goals and ambitions.

Q: What resources helped you along the way?

A: I definitely leaned on others in the nonprofit space. People were so generous with introductions to other organizations from who I could learn from. I was also lucky to be working in New York surrounded by so many other like-minded people doing similar things.

My organization would regularly visit other nonprofits’ offices and have open conversations about our respective fundraising strategies. Trading learnings and brainstorming together was so helpful since online peer-to-peer fundraising was still so new at the time.

Discussing topics like fundraiser activation rates, average amounts raised, and the number of emails sent helped us identify where to start when building out our program.

I also really love learning from examples. I was always hunting down other Classy customers to see how they were using the platform. At the time I would have killed for a resource like Best in Classy, but instead, I would scour the internet to figure out how other organizations were leveraging the software to reach their fundraising goals. That inspiration helped us as we grew beyond just peer-to-peer fundraising and tried new campaign types on the platform.

Q: What were the results of your refreshed peer-to-peer program?

A: In the beginning, we had more of an “if we build it, they will come” mindset about our campaigns. We put so much thought and energy into the branding, design, partnerships, and PR leading up to the campaigns that we thought the peer-to-peer fundraisers would come along with the donations.

We quickly learned that it was the supporter relationships we invested in that would materialize into fundraisers. We began to treat our peer-to-peer fundraisers like major donors, both in how we interacted with them and managed them in our CRM.

The focus on this group of committed supporters allowed us to grow our peer-to-peer fundraising program from a few seasonal campaigns to a year-round evergreen stream of revenue. The year I left the organization, we raised over a million dollars from peer-to-peer fundraising revenue for the first time.

Q: What advice would you offer to other nonprofit professionals looking to do the same for their organization?

A: Start small and look for peer-to-peer fundraising opportunities everywhere. Some of our most memorable campaigns came from places I didn’t expect.

It’s also important to remember that people are incredibly generous and want to get involved with your mission, you just have to find them and give them the tools to do it.

Have a plan for how you’re going to support and celebrate each and every one of your fundraisers. Raising money is hard work and everyone needs a different level of encouragement to reach their goals. Be close enough to your fundraisers to know what they need.

How to Launch Your Own Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaign

Classy supports nonprofits and fundraising professionals just like Rachele to build a peer-to-peer strategy that works for them with our peer-to-peer fundraising platform.

How to Launch Your Own Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaign

Nonprofits build peer-to-peer campaigns on Classy with the help of a few key features:

  • Individual and team fundraising pages that can be set up in seconds
  • Mobile-responsive pages with digital wallet payment options
  • Easy editing for fundraisers on the go
  • Built-in tips and coaching to help anyone crush their goals
  • Social and text sharing options directly on each campaign page

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Whether you’re currently using Classy for your fundraising strategy or are curious about which campaign type can drive results for your organization, our checklists for peer-to-peer, crowdfunding, and events are a great next stop.

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