Home / alumni advancement / Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Series: Method Breakdown

  • Rachael Stein
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  • contact - direct - directed - donations - donor - email - fundraise - fundraising - message - method - methods - peer - peer-to-peer - push - social - social media - social networks -

Did you know that while fundraising requests sent by organizations only have a 1 in 2500 response rate, requests from friends have are responded to about 1 in 4 times? That is a 300 times higher response rate – clearly demonstrating how leveraging peer networks can be a powerful fundraising tactic. But how can an organization actually harness peer-to-peer engagement? Well, as we explored in our recent Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Whitepaper, there are actually multiple ways to engage your alumni base in peer fundraising!

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Let’s break down the different methods to spur peer-to-peer fundraising.

1. Social Sharing

Prerequisites: You need social integration for alumni to publish posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other networks through your site. This can be done with the APIs of social networking platforms, or if you use an alumni engagement tool, this is a common fundraising management feature.

Execution: When alumni actually make a donation, prompt them to “share” your campaign on their own social networks. You can have a pre-written blurb and link to the donation portal that alumni can press a button to automatically publish, reducing the burden of sharing but allowing for distribution of your content.

Effect: While social shares aren’t directed, the donor is likely to have at least some friends on their social networks that they went to school with, and so the visibility from this broad sharing is still likely to be effective. This method is not extremely compelling because it doesn’t ask specific friends to donate, but it does increase awareness of your fundraising campaigns.

2. Social Push

Prerequisites: Like social sharing, you need social integration for alumni to be able to automatically publish posts on social media through your donation platform. However, social push integration can benefit from even greater integration, because alumni are “selecting” friends to share content with. If you can design your alumni donation portal such that it includes drop down, searchable lists of an alum’s friends through social integration, it will greatly reduce the burden of sharing content and increase the effectiveness of this tactic.

Execution: After an alum makes a donation, prompt them to share the campaign with a pre-selected number of friends via email or social media direct message. This automated form of outreach should have a pre-written explanatory blurb and link, but be send through the donor alum to make the request seem like a personal appeal.

Effect: This method gives alumni the flexibility to select which friends receive the campaign message, which can result in more targeted, efficient contact. Additionally, because this is a direct and personalized appeal, it is more likely to be successful than any organizational outreach could be. However, alumni may not select the optimal friends due to relative unawareness of capacity and propensity to give, so the flexibility still has some inefficiencies.

3. Directed Push

Prerequisites: Like a social push, this method requires social integration of both content outreach and friend lists. However, the directed push method also requires an understanding of wealth capacity and propensity. We detailed these issues in our recent Capacity to Give and Propensity to Give whitepapers. You need these metrics to ensure optimized social targeting.

Execution: Assess the wealth capacity and propensity of your alumni base, giving people rough “scores” in these categories. When everyone has a “score” it is easy to prioritize who should be contacted. When any alumni makes a donation, they should be prompted by the donation portal to share the campaign with a certain number of specified friends (as in, pre-selected). This “share list” would be automatically generated by analyzing an alum’s social media friends who have not already been contacted by peer-to-peer sharing, and displaying a certain number of “high priority” contacts to share with. For greater functionality, allow alumni to skip or accept your suggestions one by one, and if a certain name is “skipped” then autopopulate it with other high priority contacts until a suitable number is reached.

Effect: This method is highly compelling, targeted, and efficient. However, it is the most difficult to execute, because it requires a strong database of tracked information, full social integration, and wealth capacity and propensity analysis.


With these methods in mind, you can start utilizing peer networks to maximize your fundraising. For more tips on how to effectively harness your alumni interconnectedness, check out our Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Whitepaper!

Rachael has started as a Marketing Intern at QuadWrangle in January 2015. She is a current junior at Harvard studying sociology and economics. She participates in varsity women's rugby, LGBTQ activism, and social enterprise advising.

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