Building Awareness for Your First P2P Event

This post is the second in a 3 part series for small to medium-sized charities launching their first peer-to-peer fundraising event.

Two friends running on the lines at the stadium in a sunny day

by Shannon Craig, CanadaHelps

You’ve planned your peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising event down to the finest detail, prepared your fundraisers and volunteers for the challenging (but fun and rewarding) work ahead, and now you need to build awareness!

Here are 5 key avenues to help you get the word out about your event:

Fundraisers and Supporters
These are the people that truly care about your cause and your event. Make sure you encourage your fundraisers so that your awareness-building through their networks is maximized. Ensure that you thank them often and provide inspirational emails, tools, and tips periodically. Your emails should contain information that they will want to share with others through word-of-mouth and social media.

Another great way to keep the ball rolling is to offer incentives to your fundraisers. This can include having a sponsor match donations for a certain period of time or offering prizes.

Your charity likely has some strong donors who regularly donate or occasionally donate large amounts of money to your charity. Tapping into their enthusiasm for your cause can really build up your awareness. Make a special case of ensuring they have everything they need to support you and spread the word to their like-minded friends and family.

Sponsors can help cover costs, but they can also help spread the word. Often, they have resources, connections, and experience in the world of advertising/marketing. Securing a sponsor can be challenging, but there are things you can do to make it easier. Advertisement of their brand in general is good, but when coupled with your charity, their target audiences see that they are also a caring, trustworthy, and respectable brand.

If they’re not used to sponsoring charitable events, they may need a helping hand in learning about all the potential benefits they can gain from the partnership. Brainstorm a variety of ways they can help you advertise, from small to large, and traditional to nontraditional.

Explore your options in securing a local personality to endorse, donate, or participate in your event. Securing an A-list celebrity may be tough, so consider well-known personalities such as mayors, councilors, MPs/MPPs, principals, business owners, athletes, chefs, social media icons, musicians, etc. Try to choose a local celebrity that matches your cause or event. Their support can increase your awareness by letting you reach different segments of the community, by using their social media presence to your benefit, and by creating buzz around your event. Clearly establish beforehand if you’re allowed to use their name when promoting your event.

Public Relations and Local Media
Start early with local media because it can take a while for the media representatives to find an opportunity to feature your event and prepare a story. To get their attention, have key messages ready and a great photo to share with them. Send news releases or even just a paragraph of information to local news outlets so they know about your event and your charity. Ask fellow staff, volunteers, family and friends if they have connections. You can contact a specific journalist directly who might be interested in your work, especially if this person often covers stories like yours. Don’t forget to invite media to your event and provide them with plenty of photo-worthy moments and have a spokesperson ready and prepped.

Social Media
There are three important things to keep in mind when raising awareness about your P2P event through social media. First, post regularly and consistently about your P2P event. Use a tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to schedule some posts throughout the week to lighten the workload. Second, don’t just post but engage. Use social media as a hub where your fundraisers and donors can conveniently get in touch about the exciting things that are happening before, during and after the event. Third, make up a short, memorable hashtag and promote it in all of your communications. Since only a small percentage of your followers see your posts on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, consider allocating some of your marketing spend towards online advertising.

Read the other posts in this three-part series: “Five Tips for Right-Sizing Your P2P Event” and “Launch Your First P2P Campaign: How to Get Fundraising Results

About the Author:

Shannon Craig is the Chief Marketing & Product Officer at CanadaHelps. allows donors to safely donate and fundraise online for any registered Canadian charity and also provides charities the secure online fundraising platform and education resources they need to succeed. As a registered charity itself, CanadaHelps has facilitated over $500 million in donations to Canadian charities online since launching in 2000. Over 15,000 Canadian charities fundraise online using the CanadaHelps platform. Stay connected with CanadaHelps on Twitter @CanadaHelps.

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