Peer Review Canada Header


Stay up-to-date on the latest in peer-to-peer fundraising in Canada


Make-A-Wish Canada’s Rope for Hope Builds Strong Ties With Supporters

When Make-A-Wish Canada set out to launch a new national-scale peer-to-peer fundraising program, it wanted to create an experience that its supporters would always remember.

With Rope for Hope, it struck gold.

Rope for Hope gives supporters the opportunity to rappel down the side of a building in one of 10 Canadian cities after they have collected at least $1,500 in pledges from their friends and co-workers.

While the fundraising minimum is steep, the chance to shimmy down the side of an iconic structure has become an attractive draw for Make-A-Wish Canada supporters.

In 2016 — just the fourth year of the carefully-planned event — more than 600 people took part in the campaign and raised $1.4 million for the organization at 10 sites across Canada.

“It’s not a typical walk or run,” says Cheryl Woods, Make-A-Wish Canada’s director of chapter development & support and the organizer of Rope for Hope. “It’s adrenaline based. And we see a lot of people repeating because of the experience.”

Rope for Hope is among a wave of new, fast-growing P2P programs that are giving hope to Canadian charities that are looking to find novel ways to engage with their supporters.

According to the recently released Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Benchmarking Survey, seven of Canada’s 30 largest P2P programs in 2016 were founded within the past 5 years. This marks a stark difference with their U.S. counterparts, as only one of the top 30 U.S. programs was founded after 2011.

It is also one of three new campaigns that joined the top 30 in 2016. SickKids Foundation’s Great Cycle Challenge and Princess Margaret Cancer Center’s Journey to Conquer Cancer are the others.

“Canadian nonprofits have had great success experimenting with new types of peer-to-peer campaigns,” says David Hessekiel, Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada’s Founder and President. “We’re seeing a great deal of innovation as nonprofits are looking for new ways to engage supporters beyond the more traditional walks and rides.”

Rope for Hope exemplifies this creative approach.

Because Make-A-Wish Canada is a chapter-based organization, Woods said it wanted to create a P2P campaign that would be easy to replicate, but would also capture the unique identity of communities across Canada.

Rope for Hope provides all of these elements. While walks and rides are common for chapter-based organizations like Make-A-Wish, rappelling is much more unique.

Supporters are eager to take part because it provides them with a rare thrill — a thrill that they are willing to raise significant sums to achieve.

It also draws considerable attention in each community. TV and print media love the visuals — and participants are eager to share pictures and videos of their adventures on social media.

These elements have helped the expand grow quickly — though Woods said Make-A-Wish has been careful to manage its expansion to ensure that it is scaling at a sustainable rate.

Ultimately, she said the organization would like to see it expand to 20 sites in Canada — and raise somewhere between $2 million-$3million annually.

“We’re being very careful about how we manage it and we want to continue to keep it fresh,” Woods said.

That approach should serve Make-A-Wish well as it looks to expand Rope for Hope — and offers an excellent reminder to other organizations that are nurturing newer programs.

Canadian Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Declined in 2016, but 2017 Looks Better

P2PCanada_30_4c Fundraising revenue for Canada’s 30-largest peer-to-peer fundraising programs declined 6.2 percent in 2016, according to the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Top Thirty Benchmarking Survey.

Since peaking at $278.2 million in 2014, the revenues for these 30 bellwether programs have dropped by 14.8 percent in the past two years to $237.6 million.

But behind these seemingly bleak numbers are a number of trends that suggest that Canadian peer-to-peer fundraising is poised for growth.

A number of large Canadian peer-to-peer programs have been deliberately recalibrating and downsizing longstanding programs and are complementing flagship campaigns with initiatives that will help them reach a new generation of supporters.

In addition, many Canadian charities are seeing rapid growth in their peer-to-peer programs — particularly among newer and more creative program types.

Perhaps most encouraging, though, is news that a number of top programs are expecting revenue gains in 2017. While the fundraising year is still young, some large programs — including Toronto’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre’s Ride to Conquer Cancer and Blue Sea Philanthropy’s Coldest Night of the Year — are already reporting record revenues for their events in 2017.

The overall decline in Canadian P2P fundraising revenue is highly concentrated among the very largest and most established programs.

Seven of the eight largest Canadian programs saw their revenues decline in 2016 — and five of the top six programs saw their revenues decline by 11 percent or more.

Other highlights from the 2016 survey include:

    • The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer saw its fundraising revenues drop by 13 percent in 2016, to $34.88 million. However, the campaign appears to be rebounding in 2017. The largest of the campaign’s four rides — the Toronto Ride to Conquer Cancer — is already reporting a revenue increase of 17 percent — to $20.5 million. Organizers say that the Toronto event is the largest single-event fundraiser in Canadian history.

    • The true standout among the largest programs in 2016 was the Terry Fox RunRevenues for the Run — the oldest P2P program among the top 30 — jumped by more than $4 million to nearly $23.5 million.

    • Outside of the eight-largest programs, revenues for the rest of the P2P Thirty actually increased slightly in 2016 — up 0.3 percent. And half of the programs on the list either posted increases or were brand-new programs.

    • Seven of the programs in the survey were 5 years old or younger in 2016 — spotlighting the fact that a number of new programs are seeing great success. This marks a stark difference with P2P programs in the U.S., where only one of the top 30 programs was founded after 2011.

    • SickKids Foundation’s Great Cycle Challenge — a brand-new program in 2016 — vaulted onto the list after raising nearly $1.8 million. This marks the first time that a virtual campaign has qualified for the top 30 in either the United States or Canada.

    • Blue Sea Philanthropy’s Coldest Night of the Year saw revenues increase by 27.5 percent in 2016, to $3.87 million. It was the third-straight year that Coldest Night has been Canada’s fastest-growing large program.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada conducts the survey with sponsorship support from Blackbaud.

Download the Top 30 Narrative and Dataset


Are Virtual Events the Next Big P2P Trend?

By Peter Panepento

Peer-to-peer fundraising runs, walks and rides are traditionally focused around central, in-person events.

But the growing popularity of FitBits and other wearable fitness tracking devices is making it easier than ever for nonprofits to organize P2P campaigns in which supporters can participate virtually on their own time — wherever they are.

For years, charities across North America have been incorporating virtual elements into their existing proprietary campaigns — offering participants in fundraising rides, for example, the opportunity to ride remotely or on stationary bikes.

Now, an increasing number of groups are organizing stand-alone virtual campaigns.

Virtual peer-to-peer campaigns have already proven successful in the United Kingdom, with efforts like the British Heart Foundation’s My Marathon and Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Running Down Dementia,

In addition, a number of North American charities — including Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Children’s Cancer Research Fund — are also experimenting with virtual campaigns.

“It’s social fundraising at its finest,” says Robyn Mendez, a senior product marketing manager for Blackbaud. “You don’t have to go through the cost of managing a physical event. You can reach people where they are.”

Sensing a trend, many fundraising software companies are investing in developing peer-to-peer fundraising applications that integrate with wearable fitness trackers and allow users to raise money based on how far their run or ride, how many steps they take or how many calories they burn.

Other companies are developing similar technology — making it possible for fitness-minded participants to build their own do-it-yourself campaigns or participate in virtual activities that are organized by nonprofits.

As a result, Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum founder David Hessekiel says he expects virtual campaigns to take over a larger share of P2P fundraising activities in the U.S. and Canada in the years ahead.

“These campaigns have tremendous potential — in part because they combine the freedom of do-it-yourself fundraising with the structure of a proprietary event,” Hessekiel said. “Virtual campaigns aren’t for everyone, but they do offer some great opportunities for organizations that are looking for new ways to engage supporters or are looking to experiment with peer-to-peer for the first time.”

Early Examples

Unlike proprietary campaigns in which charities organize in-person walks, runs and rides, virtual events often focus on individuals pledging to take on a physical challenge — such as running the equivalent of a marathon or engaging in 30 minutes of exercise for 30 days — and then soliciting donations based on completing their challenge.

Fundraisers track their results through wearable technology or through another system.

“You’re on your own, but you’re not alone,” says Ken Foreman of Alzheimer’s Research UK, which has started the virtual program Running Down Dementia. “While people participate as individuals, they are still able to participate in a community that’s on the same page and aiming for the same thing. You’re just doing it virtually.”

The concept of community is central to most of the early virtual campaigns. Some examples of successful virtual programs include:

Running Down Dementia

Alzheimer’s Research UK partnered with park run — a volunteer group that organizes 5k runs every Saturday at parts throughout the United Kingdom — to encourage participants to raise money in conjunction with their weekly runs.

The program — which challenged people to commit to running 100 km over a 5-month period in 2016 — raised more than £220,000, or $286,000, last year from more than 4,000 runners. Roughly 40 percent of those participants are women between the ages of 35 and 45.

Alzheimer’s Research UK is looking to expand the campaign this year — with the goal of continuing to engage new supporters, Foreman says.

Great Cycle Challenge

The Children’s Cancer Research Fund started the Great Cycle Challenge in 2015 to raise money to support research to develop treatments and find a cure for childhood cancer.

In 2016, the Canadian version of the campaign — which is held throughout the month of June — included more than 10,000 riders and raised nearly $1.8 million.

My Marathon

Rather than running a full marathon in one shot, participants in the British Heart Foundation’s My Marathon virtual campaign have 31 days to complete their 26.2-mile journey.

Participants track their distances using the Everyday Hero mobile app —and the charity can communicate with them directly through the app to provide encouragement and advice for completing their journey and raising money.

To date, more than 32,000 people have raised more than $1 million through the campaign. And the campaign is helping the British Heart Foundation reach a growing army of new supporters — as more than 70 percent of its donors are new to the charity, says Everyday Hero’s Neil Harkins.

Miracle Challenge

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has experimented with a pilot virtual campaign called Miracle Challenge in the United States and Canada — raising more than $750,000 in 2016.

The Miracle Challenge encouraged participants to engage in a physical challenge every day for 27 days across one of five tracks: walking, running, cycling/spinning, yoga, and boot camp.

Each day, participants were emailed a mini challenge that they are encouraged to complete as part of the program — and urged to raise at least $10 per day for a Children’s Miracle Network hospital.

The campaign offered participants 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 Staci Cross, the organization’s vice president of activation.

While Cross said the program was successful, she said the organization is now encouraging supporters to take on their own virtual challenges in support of the charity — rather than organizing a full-blown virtual event.

Why Consider Virtual?

As the above examples show, virtual campaigns don’t yet compete with the size and scale of longstanding proprietary programs.

But they are nonetheless a potentially useful option for nonprofits that are looking to dip their toes into P2P and for groups that are looking to offer new P2P options for their supporters.

Virtual campaigns are worth considering for nonprofits that are looking to accomplish the following:

Reach new audiences

Younger supporters — particularly millennials — might not be keen on participating in a walk-a-thon or participating in a cycling event. But they are willing to leverage their interest in fitness — and their comfort with technology — for good. By providing them with the option of a virtual fitness campaign, you have an opportunity to reach this important and growing group of supporters.

Engage rural supporters

In-person campaigns work great in areas that can draw from large populations. But they aren’t always practical for those who live hours from a big city. Virtual campaigns make it possible for those in rural areas to run, walk, ride or swim in support of your organization.

Extend an existing P2P campaign

Many proprietary campaigns grow quickly during their early years — then plateau as they reach maturity. Incorporating a virtual element into your next ride or walk provides you with an opportunity to offer a fresh twist on your event, engage new audiences and help it grow beyond its core group of annual supporters.

Experiment with P2P

Mendez says virtual campaigns offer smaller organizations and groups that are new to P2P fundraising develop programs without a large upfront investment. “It helps with risk management and offers a low barrier for entry,” she says.

Manage their brands

Some organizations are fearful about encouraging supporters to take part in do-it-yourself or independent fundraising campaigns because they have little say in what their supporters say and do to raise money on their behalf. With a virtual campaign, groups can create a more structured program — and more effectively manage their messaging.

“It’s safer than DIY because you can maintain your brand presence,” Mendez says. “You can give people to fundraise on their own terms, but you can do it within the structure of an actual program.”

Advice for Getting Started

While virtual campaigns are still emerging, those who have staged successful campaigns offer the following advice for getting started.

Experts advise those who are considering a virtual campaign to consider the following advice:

Make a Simple Ask

You don’t have to get fancy when you develop your campaign. Instead, develop a concept that is easy to understand.

Running Down Dementia, for example, asked participants to run 100 kilometers and raise £100 pounds.

“The simple ask got people engaged,” says Kenneth Foreman, sporting event manager for Alzheimer’s Research UK. “Some of the virtual events I’ve seen seem a bit complicated. By keeping ours simple, we were able to get people to quickly understand — and we had a quite a number who raised much more than £100.”

Create a Community

One of the challenges of virtual events is that supporters are dispersed. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be connected.

In fact, it’s important to develop a community for participants where they can share advice, push each other and draw energy.

Some virtual event organizers create private Facebook groups for participants where they can meet in a closed community and share information. Others host meet ups and other in-person gatherings to bring participants together.

Provide Coaching

Technology offers amazing opportunities for organizers of virtual campaigns to communicate with supporters.

While you should certainly use technology to push information and encourage people to raise more money, you can also use it to provide tutorials and coaching.

The British Heart Foundation, for instance, uses its app to send messages to runners who reach certain milestones — and to push them to achieve their next goal. Alzheimer’s Research UK, meanwhile, uses Facebook Live to coach runners.

Offer Incentives

Because they aren’t as costly as proprietary events, virtual campaigns offer organizations the opportunity to invest in incentives that reward those who reach certain fundraising thresholds — while still keeping the overhead needed to manage the campaign quite low.

Consider investing in T-shirts and providing them to participants who reach minimum fundraising thresholds. This will help them feel more connected to the campaign — and will help you spread the word, Foreman says.

Get Personal

Don’t forget to make sure you add some personal touches to help build connections with your participants.

While text messages through your fundraising app or emails are nice, consider taking the time to have staff members or volunteers call to thank your supporters for reaching fundraising goals or to offer encouragement along the way.

These extra touches can help build stronger connections with your supporters that extend well beyond the campaign itself.

Coldest Night Continues P2P Fundraising Growth

Canada’s first major peer-to-peer fundraising campaign of 2017 is in the books — and its results should provide a measure of optimism to Canadian nonprofits that are planning P2P programs this spring.

Blue Sea Philanthropy reports that Coldest Night of the Year, which raises money for organizations that help the hungry and homeless, raised more than $4 million in February — a record total for the fast-growing event.

Revenues totaled about $3.85 million in 2016, or roughly 17 percent more than the $3.3 million raised by Coldest Night in 2015.

 

3 Questions You Need to Answer About Your P2P Program

Do-It-Yourself FundraisingNonprofits across North America are exploring new types of peer-to-peer fundraising programs from do-it-yourself campaigns to attention grabbing new proprietary events.

Too many recent efforts haven’t performed as hoped.

Why?

One key may be that groups haven’t taken the time to answer these three basic questions:

1. What is the goal of the program?
The answer to this question can’t simply be ‘to raise more money’. Having a goal beyond raising money is likely to give your program a much needed strategic direction. Without it, experts say you’re better off simply doing direct outreach to donors through an annual giving or major gifts program.

2. Who is your key audience?
Many nonprofits mistakenly believe that their peer-to-peer programs will appeal to nearly all of their supporters. But new initiatives are much more likely to connect if they target a specific demographic — with communications tailored to suit.

3.    What is your risk tolerance?
Some organizations jump into creating new initiatives expecting big initial results (often based on management excitement and misunderstanding of “overnight successes” like the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Managing expectations is key — if your organization’s executive leadership or board is expecting big results right away and isn’t ready to accept the fact that new programs often take time to build, peer-to-peer might not be the best fit for you.

A new program might seem like a great idea for your organization. But without taking the right strategic steps up front, the program is likely to fall short of expectations.

Take the time at the beginning of the process to establish your goals, identify your audiences and ensure that your organization is ready to take this big step.

For more insights on how your nonprofit can launch a successful do-it-yourself fundraising program, download our free new e-book,DIY Fundraising: Its Promise and Perils today!

Facebook Tests New P2P Pilot With Movember

Facebook has been making it easier for nonprofits like Movember to raise money directly through its platform.

Facebook has been making it easier for nonprofits like Movember to raise money directly through its platform.

Facebook appears to be stepping up its game in the peer-to-peer fundraising space.

The social network is partnering with Movember to test a new system that makes it easier for fundraisers to share stories and solicit donations, according to a report by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Here’s an excerpt from The Chronicle’s report (available only to subscribers):

The social network is also doing testing with men’s-health nonprofit the Movember Foundation to integrate volunteer fundraisers’ pages on Movember.com and Facebook. They will essentially be synced so that Movember’s fundraisers can share personal stories, solicit friends and family, and log donations seamlessly on both sites without jumping between the two.

Facebook appears to be bolstering its ability to play a central role in “peer-to-peer” fundraising, or fundraising done by individual supporters on behalf of nonprofits.

This bears watching. It could ultimately help more nonprofits capture donations through the world’s largest social network.

The move might also pressure other social networking sites to make it easier for users to raise money for charities.

It also follows an effort by YouTube to add “donate” buttons to live video feeds.

 

Additional resources:

Blog: Read more about how Movember has been expanding its efforts to appeal to women and to fundraise year-round.

Webinar: 5 Rules for Building a Successful P2P Social Media Campaign

 

For P2P Success, We Sometimes Have to Give Up Control

It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that traditionally P2P fundraising professionals have been control freaks. We produced events and told people where, when and how to participate.

At our recent Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada conference, the Parkinson Society’s Jon Collins confessed that giving up control was one of his greatest contributions to the success of Pedaling for Parkinson’s.

Our 2016 Cash, Sweat & Tears Award honoree Peter Istvan started the 3-day bike ride in rural Parry Sound, Ontario six years ago to support the Society’s work.

When Collins saw the program gaining traction he thought of taking greater control of the event and perhaps spreading it to other markets. Istvan politely told him to back off – they did not want to lose the community nature of the event.

The friends manage nearly every detail of the event – from recruiting riders, to collecting donations, to enlisting family members to bake cookies and dole out hugs. Parkinson Canada offers basic support for the campaign, but it largely stays out of the way and lets the friends manage the event their way.

The result is nothing short of inspiring. This July, 250 people took part in the ride, raising more than $200,000. All told, Peter and his friends and family have helped raise more than $700,000 for the charity.

Bravo to Peter for creating such an impressive program – and to the team at Parkinson Society for knowing when to help and when to get out of the way!

5 Tips to Drive Better P2P Results

Peer-to-peer fundraisers from across Canada joined us last week in Toronto for our second P2P Fundraising Canada conference — and they were rewarded with a day full of advice and inspiration.

We invited participants to share advice that they learned during the event on Twitter — and our friends at DonorDrive used Twitter to help collect stories of inspiration from Canadian P2P fundraisers.

Below are some of the top tips shared by participants. We also invite you to check out DonorDrive’s compilation of inspiring acts.

 

Tip 1, Tell Fundraiser Stories

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-9-26-05-am

 

Tip 2: Use Photos

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-9-24-55-am

Tip 3: Embrace Your Repeaters

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-9-28-18-am

Tip 4: Segment Your Messaging

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-9-30-29-am

Tip 5: Create a Message Worth Supporting

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-9-34-58-am

What was the biggest lesson you learned at P2P Fundraising Canada’s 2016 conference? Share it on Twitter using the hashtag #P2PCanada16.

Pedaling for Parkinson’s Shows Amazing Power of DIY Fundraising

dsc_0339Peter Istvan, co-founder and organizer of Pedaling for Parkinson’s — an annual bike ride that has raised more than $700,000 for Parkinson Canada — is the winner of the 2016 Cash, Sweat & Tears Award, which honours Canada’s top fundraising volunteer.

Istvan offers an amazing story about the potential of Independent, or Do-It-Yourself, Fundraising campaigns.

He started the ride with friend David Newall in rural Parry Sound, Ontario, six years ago with a modest goal of using his love of cycling to raise money to fight Parkinson’s disease.

During the first event, 18 riders came together to raise $18,000. It has since mushroomed into a massive community event. In July, 250 people took part in the 3-day ride, raising more than $200,000.

“Peter’s commitment and vision are inspiring — and they demonstrate the amazing power that passionate people can use to help nonprofits raise money and achieve their missions,” said David Hessekiel, President of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada. “He has helped create an event that brings together his small town each summer to make a difference — and, in doing so, he is helping to transform the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease.”

The Cash, Sweat & Tears award honours an extraordinary volunteer who has taken on physical challenges or overcome tremendous obstacles to raise money for charity. The award was presented today in Toronto at the annual conference of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada, which oversees the Cash, Sweat & Tears program.

Pedaling for Parkinson’s is part of a growing trend in peer-to-peer fundraising — the explosion in the number of so-called do-it-yourself campaigns that are organized by individuals, rather than by nonprofits.

Parkinson Canada provides support for the event, but Istvan, a volunteer, does all of the heavy lifting — managing logistics, recruiting riders and volunteers, soliciting sponsors and collecting donations.

“Peter, and the whole team behind Pedaling for Parkinson’s, are a joy to work with,” said Jon Collins, associate director of events and partnerships for Parkinson Canada. “With dauntless energy, strength of spirit and compassion, Peter Istvan has built a community around a once-a-year bike ride in Parry Sound. His enthusiasm engages the community and serves as a powerful engine to support of our mission, through funding innovative research.”

While many Canadian charities organize large-scale fundraising bike rides, Pedaling for Parkinson’s is unique — in large part because of the work of Istvan and his fellow volunteers.

The ride has become a destination event for many avid riders in Ontario, largely because of its homespun feel. Istvan’s mother bakes cookies and gives hugs to weary riders. Riders receive hand made mugs from a local potter. A local butcher makes sausages for the post-ride barbecue.

“Despite our growth, we’re not looking to become a humongous event,” Istvan says. “We want to remain as grassroots, family, and personable as we can.”

Istvan says he also wants to make sure the event always maintains its connection to the cause by offering riders the opportunity to see the impact of their support and providing information about advances in Parkinson’s research.

“We work hard to connect the riders to the research and the research to the riders,” he says. “That’s an important connection to us. We want to make it clear to the riders where the money is going and why what they are doing is important.”

As the winner of the Cash, Sweat & Tears Award, Istvan will receive a $1,000 cheque from award sponsor Blackbaud, as well as a trophy.

Does Your P2P Campaign Have a Purpose?

24942234870_2599920139_kWhen you’re starting a new peer-to-peer fundraising campaign — or evaluating your existing campaign — it’s easy to get wrapped up in the tactics.

You fret about whether you have enough volunteers, how you’re going to attract participants, and even what you will do if it rains.

But Plenty Consulting’s Kari Bodell advises peer-to-peer professionals to take a step back to ponder a basic — and crucial — question before they do anything else.

“It is important to clarify the purpose behind your campaign,” said Bodell, who will lead two day-long workshops this month with the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum. “Chances are, your organization is complex, and constantly deploying many projects and campaigns that support your mission. Sometimes these campaigns are rooted in advocacy and education, others are meant to raise funds, which is why it is critical to know the goal of your campaign and to make sure it is the driving force behind your entire strategy – from brainstorming to execution.”

Once you decide on your purpose, it’s important to make sure that purpose is front and center in every decision you make.

This is especially true for P2P fundraising, where your success is determined by the ability of your supporters to share your message.

Bodell says your purpose should be clearly articulated in all of your communications with supporters so they, in turn, can relay that message when they’re out raising money on your behalf.

“The need for clarity is heightened in a P2P setting, because now we are not just communicating this purpose to our donor base, but we are also asking them to communicate this message to their own networks,” Bodell says.

“If you’re familiar with the telephone game you know how easy it is for communications to break down. While you can’t guarantee this won’t happen, you can strategically create concise and focused messaging that is better suited to withstand the natural deterioration communications face as they are passed through many channels.”