Welcome to Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada

david_korea_picBy David Hessekiel

Peer-to-peer fundraising has a proud history in Canada stretching back to Terry Fox’s historic trek across Canada in 1980. But until now it hasn’t had a place for peer-to-peer fundraising professionals to share winning strategies.

Welcome to Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada, the first conference and online hub 100% focused on helping make your programs even greater.

Our decision to launch a conference and an information-rich website was inspired and encouraged by the many Canadians who’ve traveled to our US conference over the last few years and engaged in our US-focused distance learning programs.

Please join us on October 20th in Toronto at the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Conference, an event featuring excellent speakers committed to helping you succeed, great opportunities to build your network and the premiere of our benchmarking study ranking the largest Canadian peer-to-peer fundraising programs.

Embrace what we’re building and together we’ll create a year-round community with an “all for one and one for all spirit” that will help all peer-to-peer fundraising programs in Canada. I encourage you to

Send us news of your accomplishments and questions on how to deal with challenges.

— Connect with us on Linkedin and Twitter.

— Sign up for our live and recorded webinars.

— Dive into this website for articles on best practices.

And please tell your colleagues about Companies & Causes Canada so together we can tap the power of peer-to-peer fundraising to support important efforts to build a better world.

David Hessekiel
Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada

Is DIY fundraising making your day or driving you nuts?

By David Hessekiel
P2P Fundraising Canada Founder

Six years ago, a leader in our industry told me to keep an eye on independent or third-party fundraising. Nonprofits were uncomfortable with supporters “doing their own thing,” but the pendulum was swinging in that direction.

“Sure, sure,” I replied, but I didn’t prioritize that sector because my eye was fixed on the world of runs, walks, rides and endurance fundraising Fast forward to August 2016 and “do it yourself fundraising” is a hot topic for almost all Canadian organizations seriously engaged in peer-to-peer.

Numerous groups have set up portal pages encouraging supporters to dedicate their birthdays, arrange tributes, organize events or choose virtually any activity. Only a few groups are bringing in big bucks this way, but in age of social media it’s clear that DIY is here to stay and growing. Over the summer, I’ve spoken with dozens of members of our community in Canada and the U.S. about DIY fundraising and it is clear that:

  • they want to learn more
  • this area is the “wild, wild west” of P2P with lots of obstacles to be overcome

That’s why we’re excited to be undertaking a serious study of this marketplace to help establish a common language, identify best practices and provide guidance on major challenges.
Whether you call it DIY, independent fundraising, third-party events or something else, we’d like to learn about the status of your efforts and the questions you have.

Please email me today with your thoughts – and enjoy the waning days of summer.

As Olympic Couple Goes for Gold, It Also Launches a DIY Campaign

When American decathlete Ashton Eaton and Canadian heptathlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton begin their quests for gold next week at the 2016 Summer Olympics, they will have big fans at World Vision.

Ashton and Brianne are vying to become the first married couple from different countries to win medals in the same Olympics. If they are successful in their quest, they will likely become one of the biggest stories of this year’s Games.

And, if that happens, it will likely help them achieve their goal of getting 500 people to sponsor children through World Vision.

Before the Olympics, the couple set up a do-it-yourself fundraising campaign for the charity — hoping to use the attention that comes with competing at the Olympics to help do some good.

Their campaign has yet to fully take off. But World Vision will be promoting it heavily beginning today, when Brianne starts her quest for gold and again next week, when Ashton aims to follow in the footsteps of past American Olympic greats.

P2P Fundraising in the News: Pickles and Lemonade Edition

Summer might be in its dog days, but there’s been quite a bit of news bubbling up recently about Canadian peer-to-peer fundraising efforts.

Here are a few items that have caught our attention in recent days:

What’s In That Bucket?

A Toronto marketing company is looking to capture the magic of the Ice Bucket Challenge with a month-long campaign called #WhatsInYourBucket. Instead of getting dumped with water, the agency’s employees will get dumped in the material of their choice. Participants have gotten pretty creative, as you can see from the video showing a fundraiser getting doused in pickles.

One challenge is being posted each business day in August to raise money for ALS charities.

Ride to Conquer Cancer Results

Times have been tough in Calgary, but that didn’t stop 1,400 riders from raising $6.35 million during the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, according to the Calgary Herald.

Starting Young

Finally, it doesn’t get much cuter than these two young girls who are selling lemonade to raise money for endangered species at the Calgary Zoo. The zoo was so inspired by their enthusiasm that has decided to launch a new do-it-yourself campaign called “I Blank for Wlidlife” that aims to give people the ability to create their own fundraising campaigns on its behalf.

How the MS Society of Canada Is Rethinking P2P for a New Era

Becky Mitts - updated 2016

Becky Mitts

Like many longstanding peer-to-peer campaigns, the MS Society of Canada’s Walk MS series has been trending downward since its heyday in the late 2000s.

As peer-to-peer fundraising has matured, legacy events such as Walk MS are seeing their revenues get chipped away by a growing number of competitors — and a widening menu of choices.

Social and digital technology are making it easier than ever for nonprofit supporters to launch their own, stand-alone campaigns. Meanwhile, smaller nonprofits and regional charities have been starting their own programs, giving donors even more choices.

It’s no surprise, then, that events like the MS Walk — which has been a spring staple in communities across Canada since 1991 — are no longer pulling in the revenues they once did.

But rather than scaling back, the MS Society of Canada is doubling down.

The organization is putting a renewed focus on legacy P2P programs like MS Walk and MS Bike —choosing to view them less as massive revenue opportunities and more as a way to begin relationships with donors that will span decades.

“MS Walk exists to raise money, but it also exists to introduce people to the MS Society,” said Becky Mitts, MS Society of Canada’s Senior Manager, National Event Strategy. “It’s the first time a lot of people interact with us.”

This insight is changing the way the organization thinks about — and plans for — the event.

Rather than using it solely as an opportunity to raise money, the MS Society is changing the way it communicates with participants. It is positioning the money raised through MS Walk as an investment in an organization that is making an impact.

By doing so, it hopes to engage P2P fundraisers in a relationship that extends well beyond the event itself and leads to greater donations and support in the future. This shift is allowing the organization to focus on the walk not as a single event, but as the first step in a path of engagement with the MS Society.

“We’re mapping out what are the opportunities to get them engaged with the organization as a whole,” says Mitts, who will be a featured speaker at Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada’s annual conference on Nov. 1 in Toronto. “It pushes us to tell our story better. If you’re going to fundraise on our behalf, we’re going to tell you what we’re doing with your investment.”

At first blush, the MS Society’s approach appears counter intuitive — especially as new P2P models are growing more popular and legacy programs are earning less favor.

Twenty of Canada’s 30 largest peer-to-peer fundraising programs posted revenue declines in 2015, according to the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Top Thirty Benchmarking Survey.

Overall, fundraising totals at these top 30 programs dropped by 8.6 percent in 2015 — and the MS Society’s two signature programs struggled.

MS Walk, Canada’s 7th-largest P2P program, raised $9.6 million in 2015, down 8 percent from $10.4 million the previous year.

MS Bike, which ranked just below the walk at No. 8, saw its revenues decline by 5.4 percent, to just under $9.1 million. Despite last year’s decline, MS Bike has seen steady increases in revenue over the years. And while the organization isn’t giving the program a strategic overhaul, it is nonetheless stepping up its investment and looking at new ways to engage riders.

“We’re going to invest in bike as a program,” Mitts said. “If we are not investing in it now, five years from now we’re going to have a declining program on our hands.”

The fact that these two programs still collectively raise more than $18 million for the organization is only one factor in that shift. The organization also recognizes that these longstanding programs also engage more than 50,000 people annually in its work — and those 50,000 people have tremendous long-term value to the MS Society if they are properly engaged.

“The impact will ultimately be more people engaged with us in the fight to stop MS,” she says. “We can only do that with more people involved in fundraising and more people involved advocacy work. We need to widen our constituency.”

So far, the new approach is paying off, Mitts said. MS Walk has hit its fundraising goals for 2016, with the exception of Alberta, which has seen considerable money directed toward disaster relief. It also reached its goals for metrics such as the percentage of participants who made a personal donation and the average number of solicitation emails sent by participants.

But Mitts says it will take several years for the organization to be able to measure the full impact of the change in philosophy.

“It’s not a one-year fix,” she said. “To achieve the great things we want to achieve with walk, it’s going to take a few years to see results.”

Want more insights from Becky Mitts and other top P2P fundraising professionals? Join us on November 1 in Toronto for Canada’s only conference devoted exclusively to P2P fundraising.

How Canadian peer-to-peer fundraising programs are finding success even amidst falling revenues

Like many longstanding peer-to-peer campaigns, the MS Society of Canada’s MS Walk series has been trending downward since its heyday in the late 2000s.

As peer-to-peer fundraising has matured, legacy events such as MS Walk are seeing their revenues get chipped away by a growing number of competitors — and a widening menu of choices.

Social and digital technology are making it easier than ever for nonprofit supporters to launch their own, stand-alone campaigns. Meanwhile, smaller nonprofits and regional charities have been starting their own programs, giving donors even more choices.

It’s no surprise, then, that events like the MS Walk — which has been a spring staple in communities across Canada since 1991 — are no longer pulling in the revenues they once did.

Read the full August 2, 2016 article in Charity Village

Looking to Add Spice to Your Fundraising Walk? Try Legos

6454408915_fe55a8feeb_bAnyone who has ever stepped on a Lego knows the damage one of these small plastic building blocks can inflict on a bare foot.

Imagine if you had to walk across a 10-foot-long path filled with nothing but Legos.

We have one word to describe the thought of such a journey: Ouch!

But a number of nonprofits are beginning to turn this painful idea into a reality — all in the name of raising money.

In Marblehead, Mass., for instance, a family organized an event called the Lego Firewalk Challenge, which challenged participants to walk across a bed of Legos in their stocking feet to raise money for research into finding a cure for acute lymphocytic leukemia.

The event was a big hit with kids, many of whom recorded their walks on video and uploaded them online.

The Lego Firewalk Challenge is the latest entry on the growing Big List of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaigns — a resource that catalogs all of the different ways people raise money on behalf of their favorite causes.

The list is a great resource for organizations that are looking for new ideas for P2P events.

It also shows you the crazy things individuals will do for charity.

In fact, some people are willing to go a step beyond Legos and walk across a course filled with shards of broken glass — all in the name of charity.

Oh, what people will do!


A Creative Way to Thank Your Best Fundraisers

Do you thank your best fundraisers often enough?

Most likely you send notes. You make calls. You offer rewards.  Even with all of these steps, you know it’s not possible to fully thank your most outstanding peer-to-peer participants for everything they do to help your organization.

Today we offer you a simple way to honor the peer-to-peer fundraiser who inspired you the most over the last year.  Nominate him or her for the Cash, Sweat & Tears Canada Award. Simply fill out the short nomination form to publicly recognize your volunteer as one of Canada’s best.

Our judges will recognize one especially inspiring volunteer at annual conference in November — and all nominees will be recognized in the Cash, Sweat & Tears Canada Honor Roll.

Do it today — the final deadline is August 1. Act now. It’s free and easy. Just fill out this simple form and let your best volunteers know how much they mean to your organization.

The 2016 winner will join some amazing company.

The inaugural Cash, Sweat & Tears Canada Award winner, Lovisa McCallum, has raised more than $317,500 for Cystic Fibrosis Canada through its annual Great Strides Walk.

Lovisa is a true champion for the cause. In addition to her work as a peer-to-peer fundraiser, she is also an exemplary volunteer — serving as the President of the Toronto & District Chapter of Cystic Fibrosis Canada, as well as several other committees.

But it is her participation in the Great Strides Walk that is truly exceptional. Each year, Lovisa rallies coworkers, family, and friends to support the walk — raising huge sums of money through her personal network.

How a Startup P2P Event Is Quickly Becoming a Corporate Darling

Miracle ChallengeWhen Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals began testing a new, virtual peer-to-peer fundraising campaign three years ago, it wasn’t looking to lure corporate supporters.

It simply wanted to get people moving.

The campaign was centered on getting participants to engage in a physical fitness walk every day for 27 consecutive days. Participants were encouraged to collect pledges for completing their daily walking challenges — with a goal of helping them raise money for the organization while beginning a habit that would improve their health.

But when the organization started pitching it to companies, Staci Cross, Children’s Miracle Network’s vice president of activation, said she quickly realized that they had struck corporate gold.

As the organization talked about the campaign to some of its existing corporate partners, many of them were quick to sign up — in large part because it provided them with an opportunity to provide a ready-made wellness program to employees while also allowing them to achieve their corporate philanthropic goals.

“It’s attractive for many companies because it combines charitable giving, employee engagement, and employee wellness,” Cross said. “It’s rare to find something that hits on all three levels.”

It’s no surprise, then, that Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has high hopes for the new program, the Miracle Challenge, when it formally launches across Canada and the U.S. this fall.

The campaign has already raised $1.5 million and recruited more than 12,000 participants in a handful of markets during its testing period. Now, as it rolls out the Miracle Challenge in 170 markets , the organization expects that it will become a significant new source of fundraising revenue.

The Miracle Challenge now comprises five tracks: walking, running, cycling/spinning, yoga, and boot camp. Participants choose a track and agree to participate for 27 days. Each day, they are emailed a mini challenge that they are encouraged to complete as part of the program — and are urged to raise at least $10 per day for a Children’s Miracle Network hospital.

The campaign offers people a way to support the organization without having to attend an in-person event. At the same time, they are able to participate in an activity that will improve their health, says Cross.

That’s an appealing concept to individuals. But it’s even more appealing to companies that are looking for opportunities to engage their employees. The Miracle Challenge offers a ready-made wellness program for corporate employees, which also doubles as a giving program.

“It’s a great way to engage companies without having to ask them for money,” Cross said. “This offers a different way to raise money, while also helping with employee engagement and employee wellness.”

You can learn more about the Miracle Challenge — and gain insights from Cross and other experts on building effective corporate sponsorships for P2P programs — during a special webinar on July 14.

Register now!

Master Class: Retaining Your P2P Fundraisers

DATE/TIME: JULY 13, 2016 >> 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM ET

Concept of creating ideas and achievement symbol of aspiration success as two hands holding a group of connected gears shaped as a human head and an open lightbulb as an icon of imagination and innovation.

Eager to boost your peer-to-peer program’s performance? There are many factors, of course, but one key factor is retention! You work hard to acquire new participants, but it can be hard to keep them involved. Donna Wilkins, CEO and Founder of Charity Dynamics will share a tactical guide to participant retention. Hint: It starts before they even cross the finish line.

Join us and learn these essential retention actions:

  • How to use persona targets to engage participants
  • When multi-channel messaging is essential
  • Which resources you will need
  • The importance of the tie between engagement and retention

You will receive:

  • Unlimited access to the recorded version of this webinar (a great option if you’re not able to attend on the designated date and time)
  • The opportunity to ask questions of the presenter (live attendees only)
  • A download of the PowerPoint presentation that accompanies this webinar

PRICE: $99

Presented ByCharityDynamicsLogo_CMYK_Large


By taking part in this webinar you are confirming that you would like to receive periodic emails from us with the latest in peer-to-peer fundraising. You may unsubscribe if you no longer wish to receive our emails.

Creative Ideas for Golf-Themed P2P Campaigns

Photo by Krzysztof Urbanowicz

Photo by Krzysztof Urbanowicz

Fundraising golf events are a summer staple for many nonprofits.

But you don’t have to play host to an expensive, day-long tournament to host a golf-themed fundraiser.

A chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Halifax,  for instance, has raised more than $50,000 during the past two years by playing host to a unique event called Nine at Night — the brainchild of Adam Fredericks, a volunteer at the organization.

According to Halifax Metro, Fredericks came up with the idea as a twist on the Society’s popular Light the Night peer-to-peer campaign. Participants collect donations and play nine holes of golf at night on a course lined with thousands of glow sticks.

Some nonprofits have also benefited from golf marathon events in which participants collect pledges and challenge themselves to complete 100 holes of golf in a single day.

For more creative peer-to-peer campaign ideas, check out The Big List of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising, which catalogs more than 125 distinct P2P programs.