What is peer-to-peer fundraising? Ultimate P2P Fundraising Guide

What is peer-to-peer fundraising? The Ultimate P2P Fundraising Guide

March 26, 2023
10 minutes
Hand-illustrated image of three people from the torso up. The center person is answering a question Jeopardy-style, "What is peer-to-peer fundraising?" She has her eyes closed and her finger pointed in the air while the two people on either side look annoyed with her. Art by Sophie Cunningham.
Alex Trebek (RIP): Hey folks, welcome back to Nonprofit Jeopardy! This round, we're adding a brand new category to the board: Peer-to-peer fundraising!

{The crowd goes silent. Each opponent looks blankly to the left and to the right.}

Alex: Alright, let's get started. Tabatha, you're up!

Tabatha: Hmm, I'll take Peer-to-peer Fundraising for $1,000, Alex.

Alex: Great, for $1,000, what is peer-to-peer fundraising?

{Silence takes over again}

Do, do, do, do, do, do, dooooo. Do, do, do, do, do, doo, do, do, do, do, do. 🎶

{Beep beep. The buzzer sounds. Alex cuts to commercial break}

If you're anything like us, you totally wish Nonprofit Jeopardy was a thing, too, especially the version where they actually ask you questions. But for stars and giggles, let's say it exists—would you be able to answer the question? If not, don't fret! According to the 2019 Global NGO Technology Report, nearly 60% of nonprofits have yet to launch a peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising campaign. That's a whole lot of orgs who're missing out on a prime opportunity to leverage their networks to raise more money online.

It's time for our nonprofit friends to get a slice of this huge fundraising pie and launch a P2P fundraising campaign. Join your other nonprofit friends (40% to be exact) that have been talking so gleefully about this fundraising goldmine.

Read on and prepare to be wowed by the awesome power of peer-to-peer fundraising.

What is peer-to-peer fundraising?

Peer-to-peer fundraising, also known as P2P fundraising, is a strategy in which supporters ask friends and family to donate to a cause they’re invested in. Peer-to-peer fundraising allows nonprofits the opportunity to lean on their dedicated supporters who fundraise on behalf of their organization—often with the help of social media and networking.

The differences between peer-to-peer, crowdfunding, and social fundraising

Now that you’re almost an expert on P2P fundraising (we can tell you’re a fast learner), let’s take a quick detour. You may have heard peer-to-peer fundraisers called crowdfunding campaigns or social fundraisers. While these types of campaigns are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between the trio. In fact, we have a whole guide comparing peer-to-peer fundraising vs crowdfunding. In short, here’s how to tell these three types of fundraising apart.

  • With P2P, social fundraising, and crowdfunding, supporters seek donations from their network.
  • However, P2P fundraising is a type of crowdfunding in which supporters create personal pages to fundraise. With crowdfunding, there’s a single campaign site that people contribute to.
  • Social fundraising is a type of P2P fundraising focused on using social media to spread the word, but it’s also used as more of an umbrella term for viral fundraising

How does peer-to-peer fundraising work?

First, a nonprofit creates a fundraising campaign in their online fundraising platform. Then, the nonprofit launches its campaign by inviting its supporters to customize individual fundraising pages in the platform. Their supporters then use the power of their social networks to get the word out about the nonprofit P2P fundraiser and hopefully raise tons o' cash for their favorite org.

Each supporter's fundraising page is connected to the nonprofit's main fundraising campaign page. The components of the campaign page are up to the nonprofit, but things you might find are a goal progress bar, a listing of the supporters who are fundraising on behalf of the organization, background information on the campaign, such as the potential impact on the community once the goal is met, and of course, a donate button.

A Jeopardy screen with categories related to fundraising

Why should nonprofits consider peer-to-peer fundraising?

Nonprofits work super hard year-round to raise funds. How nice would it be to lean on your dedicated supporter base to not only donate regularly but to serve as advocates of your organization and rally others to donate as well?

If you're reluctant to take on this tactic because you think it may scare donors away, ponder this: hundreds and thousands of people are already peer-to-peer fundraising. It's pretty well-documented that almost 70% of American adults use Facebook. Add in data collected from the 2019 Global NGO Technology Report showing that only 45% of US and Canadian NGOs are fundraising through Facebook, raising collective billions of $$, and the math is pretty clear: you need to get your Facebook fundraising act together.

Shameless plug: Funraise has a built-in Facebook fundraiser integration—and according to our statistics, fundraisers who use the Facebook integration raise 83% more! If you're gonna get into peer-to-peer (and you should), you might as well max it out, honey! Get all that juicy donation data and sync up your Facebook fundraisers with your sweet customized peer-to-peer campaign pages.

When should nonprofits use peer-to-peer fundraising?

If your nonprofit is considering launching a peer-to-peer fundraiser but unsure of when it may be appropriate, here are some instances where a peer-to-peer campaign would be perfect:

  • New program or project launch
  • Popular giving days, or you can even make up an annual giving day of your own
  • Matching gift fundraisers
  • Silly fundraiser (ED pie in the face, polar bear plunge challenge, etc.)
  • Birthday or anniversary fundraisers
  • a-thons (jog, run, walk, jump rope, paddle boat, roller skate, etc.)
  • Accessibility-focused fundraising campaigns
  • When a global pandemic strikes (looking at you, COVID-19)

There really are no boundaries when it comes to launching a campaign. Just make it impactful and relevant, and you'll be well on your way to fundraising success.

Benefits of peer-to-peer fundraising

As peer-to-peer fundraising steadily gains in popularity amongst nonprofits, the benefits of adding P2P campaigns to your fundraising strategy are becoming more clear. Check out these benefits of peer-to-peer fundraising:

  • Boost your fundraising revenue
  • Make the most of giving days
  • Expand your nonprofit’s donor base
  • Up event attendance
  • Create more impactful fundraising campaigns
  • Strengthen current donor relationships
  • Increase your nonprofit's social media presence

Boost your fundraising revenue

If your nonprofit isn't making big use of peer-to-peer fundraising pages, you're making a big mistake. Big. Huge.

Make the most of giving days

For nonprofits, giving days often center on more than just incoming donations; they're a way to focus on impact while getting the community involved and expanding awareness around your org.

Expand your nonprofit's donor base

When you have a supporter fundraising for you through peer-to-peer fundraising, that person is vouching for you to their network. When their friends and family donate on their donation page, it's because you are now in their circle of trust.

Up event attendance

Many fundraising campaigns culminate in a big event. If that’s the case, you’ll have way more attendees if you lead up to the big day with P2P fundraising.

Create more impactful fundraising campaigns

Hey fundraiser, imagine if there were 20 of you. Or 100. Or 1,000. Think of the reach and resulting revenue you'd be able to bring in. That's the power of peer-to-peer fundraising tools. You raise more without doing more.

Strengthen current donor relationships

By empowering your donors to fundraise for you, you build trust and loyalty, making those relationships better than best.

Increase your nonprofit's social media presence

Especially as we've all gotten used to being remote, today's peer-to-peer fundraisers bring in the bulk of their bucks by harnessing the power of social fundraising. And every time they follow, share, and shout out your nonprofit, your social media footprint increases.

Peer-to-peer fundraising statistics

You don't have to take our word for it: these peer-to-peer fundraising statistics should give you all the proof you need to start peer-to-peer fundraising events, campaigns, and friendly competitions.

  1. The average nonprofit peer-to-peer fundraiser on Funraise raises $1220, which is double the average for top P2P programs.
  2. With the industry-average one-time donation amount of $125, that means that your (Funraise) P2P fundraisers are worth 10 times a one-time donor.
  3. An average of 8 people donate to an individual fundraiser’s peer-to-peer campaign. (So, doing the math from the previous bullet point… each donor gives an average of $152.)
  4. P2P campaigns featuring video stories raise 150% more than those without video. (Nonprofits Source)
  5. Over half of the people who receive an email about crowdfunding campaigns donated (Nonprofits Source)

In addition to these impressive stats, Fast Company reported that social media is dramatically changing how nonprofits raise money through P2P fundraising, as if we need to tell you that.

All P2P signs are leading to $$$.

Peer-to-peer fundraising best practices: Key components for successful peer-to-peer campaigns

Once your nonprofit decides to take the leap and launch a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, there are four peer-to-peer fundraising strategies that will make it successful:

  • Urgency
  • Goals
  • Emotion
  • Momentum


Time is on your side when it comes to planning a successful campaign. Using the tactic of your fave infomercials, creating a sense of urgency for your P2P campaign is your best bet. Whether it's a 24-hour fundraiser like one of the most popular nonprofit giving days to date, Giving Tuesday, or a campaign that lasts a week, a month, or year, setting a timeline is best practice.


After you've set your timeline to create a sense of urgency, you need to establish a fundraising goal. The goal can be as big or as small as you'd like—just don't get too caught up on whether your goal is too low or too high. Many nonprofits often reach their goals for their peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns while the campaign is still running and use that as an opportunity to increase the initial goal and push for more support. There's no rule against this, and in fact, it can work in your favor. Who wouldn't want to help you double your goals, or triple it, even?!


Tugging at those emotional heartstrings is a tale as old as time. If you can create an emotional connection with your potential donors, you're golden. Nonprofits are naturally good at this, but for the sake of a time-sensitive P2P campaign, your messaging should be synthesized and specific. This means telling hyper-personal and/or compelling stories to create a deeper connection to your organization's mission.


The final key component to a successful peer-to-peer campaign is building momentum for your fundraiser before and during the campaign. Consistently communicating with your supporters and updating them on your goal progress is the best way to keep them in the loop and build excitement. Plan ahead and post snippets of how the peer-to-peer donations will be put to use, the impact your org has on its constituents, top donors to your campaign, and so much more.

Setting your peer-to-peer fundraisers up for success

You've got supporters who want to help you fundraise—now what? It's in your nonprofit's best interest to provide your peer-to-peer fundraisers with all the tools they need to host a successful peer-to-peer fundraiser. That includes providing them with key message points, email and social sharing templates, fundraising strategies, and ideas. They've committed and it's up to you make sure they have a funding good time raising $$ for your org.

Because we love our nonprofit friends and aim to make your lives easier, we created a peer-to-peer fundraising toolkit. This toolkit is specifically made for nonprofits to hand over to their supporters to help them fundraise on your behalf. And you can even brand it to fit your organization. It's a win-win for all!

Peer-to-peer fundraising pages: Key site elements

With a clear strategy in place and supporters who are raring to go, you’re almost ready to launch your glorious P2P campaign. But wait! All your amazing supporters are going to need their own fundraising sites to collect donations. For a successful peer-to-peer campaign, make sure your sites include the must-have features below:

  1. Customizable pages
  2. A fundraising goal
  3. Compelling storytelling
  4. A seamless giving experience
  5. A+ visuals
  6. Mobile app compatibility
  7. A focus on impact
  8. Countdown timer
  9. Progress bar

Customizable pages

When your supporters reach out to their network on your behalf, they’d better have a site that looks, acts, sounds, and smells like them. (Full disclaimer: we’re still working on the smell-o-vision.) Make sure your fundraisers can personalize their pages with their own images, videos, and text.

A fundraising goal

Before your fundraiser can start fundraising, they need an initial goal. Provide guidance for how they can set it, and remind them that they can always up the ante later.

Compelling storytelling

Your story is what differentiates your organization and brings in the donations. Now, it’s time for your supporters to tell their stories. Each P2P site should highlight the fundraiser’s personal connection to your organization, tugging at their network's heartstrings and inspiring them to give generously.

A seamless giving experience

While your supporter is doing the fundraising, that P2P page is still a reflection of your organization. That means the donor experience should be silky smooth, with a consistent brand, clear story, and minimal-click giving.

A+ visuals

We eat with our eyes first, and the same is true for donations. (Yeah, that sounded a lot deeper before we wrote it down.) For those who are not familiar with your organization, impactful visuals show them why they’re parting with their hard-earned dollars. Whether it’s infographics linking contributions to specific results or glossy photos showing the real-life people you’re helping, smart imagery equips your supporters for success.

Mobile app compatibility

Mobile compatibility is always important, but it’s even more so for peer-to-peer sites. Many of your supporters will be reaching out to their networks via text or even (gasp!) word of mouth, so your sites need to be clean and clear on any device.

A focus on impact

Conveying your impact is number one in the fundraising strategy handbook. But when it comes to soliciting donations from people who’ve never even heard of your organization, it becomes all the more important. Break down how each gift makes a difference through hard numbers and compelling visuals.

Countdown timer

A campaign is time-sensitive, and if you want to meet your strategic and financial goals, your site needs to convey clear deadlines and the nightmarish consequences of not meeting them. Okay, okay, “nightmarish” is a bit strong. But by adding a countdown timer to your site, you lay out a clear timeline and lay on the motivation.

Progress bar

In addition to a countdown, showing each supporter’s individual progress toward their goal, as well as how that contributes to your overall campaign goal, encourages donors to give just a little bit more. And yes, it’s proven: Giving increases by an average of 35% when fundraisers use a progress bar. (Nonprofits Source)

Pro-Tip: You can set up your progress bars to show off the impact in books purchased, meals provided, or trees planted in addition to the money raised.

Peer-to-peer fundraising examples in the wild

We've talked about all the things you need to launch a successful campaign, so how about some P2P inspiration to help you set sail? Check out a few of our favorite peer-to-peer fundraising examples that showcase the magic of P2P fundraising.

Dressember—a huge nonprofit peer-to-peer fundraising success

Dressember brings together their advocates to fundraise on the organization's behalf through their annual peer-to-peer fundraiser. Every December, they encourage their supporters to fundraise by wearing a dress every day of the month.

What we 💙 about it:

  • Creates a sense of urgency with its nonprofit peer-to-peer campaign by focusing on one specific month and they set a clear goal of $3M.
  • Tells powerful stories that create an emotional connection.
  • Dressember doubles down! Over the weeks leading up to and right after Giving Tuesday 2019, Dressember used Funraise's Facebook integration to raise $340,000—increasing their year-over-year Giving Tuesday totals by 245%. Read the case study for more shocking stats.

Called to Hope

Called to Hope is a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign by The Jonah Inheritance, a nonprofit that builds sustainable health systems in Nigeria. The Called to Hope Mission Trip is their P2P initiative to raise funds to build a community medical center. This P2P site has all the bells the whistles—it's visually beautiful and gracefully holds the weight of the subject matter.

What we 💙 about it:

Called to Hope's P2P donation program features:

  • A customized site with compelling colors and visuals.
  • Custom team and individual fundraiser sites.
  • Impact cards.
  • Compelling storytelling video + graphics!
  • A gorgeous gold fundraising progress bar.
  • A comprehensive and downloadable social media toolkit.
  • Social media fundraising.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)—peer-to-peer giving campaign for refugees

Step With Jillian is a part of the larger USA for UNHCR Step With Refugees peer-to-peer giving campaign.

What we 💙 about it:

  • Uses the power of celebrity to launch an impactful campaign. UNHCR supporters pledged to join Jillian Michaels in completing 100 miles during July to raise funds for refugees.
  • Sets a clear goal of 100 miles.
  • Creates urgency by limiting the fundraiser to the month of July. Talk about impactful!

PIKE NOW Chapter Challenge

The PIKE NOW Chapter Challenge is a unique peer-to-peer fundraising campaign by the Pi Kappa Alpha Foundation. Funds raised by individual donors and fraternity chapter teams go towards education, training, and personal and professional development for undergraduate fraternity members.

What we 💙 about it:

PIKE NOW's P2P donation program features:

  • An impact report with donor and overall impact stats.
  • Social media fundraising integrations.
  • A progress bar to generate excitement.
  • Options to fundraise individually or work with a local fraternity chapter.
  • Council and club membership eligibility for donors.
  • An exciting matching donation challenge.
  • Visual storytelling and graphics.

10 tips for your P2P fundraising

Now, you’re ready to get started. With those key elements squared away and examples aplenty to inspire you, here are some more ways to ensure a successful P2P campaign.

Send automated email updates

Your P2P sites are part of a larger campaign, and a successful P2P campaign relies on engaged and excited supporters. Send out customized and automated emails and texts to your fundraisers when they hit key milestones to keep up the momentum.

Consider commitments

Everybody's different, and some people thrive with a hard deadline and a lot of pressure. For those folks, you can set nonnegotiable fundraising goals at the start of the campaign. If they don’t meet their commitments, you charge their credit card the remainder. Talk about motivation!

Equip your supporters with a toolkit

Your supporters are working hard to fundraise on your behalf, so make it as easy on them as possible. Prior to kickoff, send them a fundraiser's toolkit with resources to succeed. This could include:

  • A communications timeline.
  • Fundraising tips.
  • Key messaging.
  • Sample texts and social posts.
  • Email templates.
  • Logos, visuals, and relevant photos and videos.
  • Everything they need to say a resounding thank you to everyone who donated—and to keep those new supporters connected to your organization.

Motivate your supporters

Sure, your supporters are fundraising on your behalf because they love and believe in you, but everyone can use a little extra motivation. Consider fundraising incentives, like matching gifts, as well as personal incentives, like a shout-out to top P2P fundraisers in your newsletter or a gift card to the local coffee shop.

Turn up the emotions

Storytelling connects us across beliefs and generations. To make lasting connections with your supporters’ supporters, you need to tell a powerful story about why your work matters and how they can make a difference.

Keep things attainable

As we all know, fundraising can be a bit overwhelming even when you know what you’re doing. Break down stretch goals into per-person amounts so your supporters don’t feel stressed out. Asking them to get 20 $25 donations is a lot less anxiety-inducing than asking them to raise $500.

Plan for the future

Make sure you have a reliable and efficient way to collect data on all your new donors. Without that vital intel, every single donation will be one and done.

Say thank you again and again

P2P fundraising is a lot of work, and your supporters deserve to feel appreciated and recognized. Keep them updated throughout the campaign and thank them in a myriad of ways. For a big P2P campaign, you might consider a special thank-you event for all your fundraisers.

Give an update

Once the campaign has ended, don’t leave your newfound donors wondering what happened. Provide your supporters with everything they need to update their P2P site with the total raised, the impact, and what your organization is doing next.

Follow up

You’ve thanked your amazing fundraisers, updated the campaign site, and taken a day off for a well-deserved massage. But there’s one more step: you need to reach out to all those new donors, who represent a plethora of fundraising opportunities! Thank them for giving, invite them to an upcoming event, and maybe let ‘em know about your monthly newsletter.

They say it takes a village, and that’s why peer-to-peer fundraising works. With peer-to-peer pages, you’ll have a whole team of supporters working to advance your mission, collect donations, and amplify your impact.

P2P fundraising key takeaways

  • Peer-to-peer fundraising is for every nonprofit. Period.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising ideas are appropriate for every nonprofit fundraising campaign.
  • Asking your supporters to fundraise on your behalf is not passing the buck; it's a way to exponentially increase your revenue without increasing your budget.
  • To ensure the success of your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, focus on the four key components: urgency, goals, emotion, and momentum.
  • Funraise's peer-to-peer fundraising platform is your key to more impactful P2P fundraisers: The average nonprofit peer-to-peer fundraiser on Funraise raises $1220, which is double the average for top P2P programs.
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