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Top Canadian Peer-to-Peer Programs See 43.5% Drop in 2020 Due to COVID-19 Disruptions

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Peer-to-peer fundraising revenues at Canadian nonprofits took a massive hit in 2020 due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the annual survey of top campaigns by the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum.

Fundraising revenues for the 30 largest Canadian programs dropped 43.5 percent, or $103 million, to $133.5 million.

This decline represented the largest single-year drop in the survey’s history. It also marked the first time that revenues for the top 30 programs failed to top $200 million. In 2019, the top 30 programs collectively raised more than $236.5 million.

“COVID-19 created a perfect storm for Canadian peer-to-peer programs, especially those that rely on in-person events,” said Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum President David Hessekiel. “Nonprofits across Canada were forced to scrap long-planned events and move quickly to stand up and stage virtual replacements.”

Peer-to-peer fundraising is the practice of having a nonprofit’s supporters take part in an activity such as a walk, bike ride, or video gaming challenge and reach out to their friends, family members, colleagues and followers for donations.

Since 2013, the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum has surveyed Canadian nonprofits that manage peer-to-peer campaigns to provide an annual ranking of the 30 largest programs. This survey has become an important benchmarking tool for charities and a measure of field-wide trends. Results of the study, sponsored by Charity Dynamics, including the top 30 rankings, can be found at P2PFundraisingCanada.com.

Changes at the Top

The latest P2P Thirty survey shows the severity of the pandemic on peer-to-peer programs across Canada.

Only four of the 30 campaigns that appear in this year’s rankings reported increased revenues in 2020. The other 26 programs reported declines – and for many, the drop was steep.

The shock waves to the industry caused by COVID-19 created a major shakeup at the top of the P2P Thirty rankings, as Movember Canada now holds the title of Canada’s largest peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

Movember moved into the top spot after posting an extraordinary increase in revenues, despite the pandemic. Its campaign raised more than $24.1 million in 2020, up 21.1 percent from $19.9 million in 2019.

The campaign – which centers on men growing mustaches and beards to help raise money for men’s causes, including prostate and testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention – has seen its fundraising totals increase significantly since 2017, when it raised $15.5 million.

Todd Minerson, Movember’s country director for Canada, said the organization leaned heavily into men’s mental health in the face of COVID-19 – serving as a source of information and support and listening to supporters.  It also launched a do-it-yourself platform called Mo Your Own Way, which provided fundraisers with new ways to create their own fundraising challenges.

“Any of the success from our Movember Campaign is entirely due to the dedication, creativity and commitment of our Mo community,” Minerson said.  “Almost 68,000 Canadians registered to Grow, Move or Mo Your Own Way to raise funds and awareness for men’s health.  We asked our Mo community to step up, and they did, big time.”

Movember replaces the Ride to Conquer Cancer program as the top program in the survey. The ride had topped the list each year since 2014, when its fundraising revenues topped $42 million.

However, it was among the programs most negatively impacted by the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its revenues totaled $9.1 million in 2020, down nearly 76.7 percent from the previous year. In turn, it dropped to No. 5 on this year’s list.

Major Movers

While traditional peer-to-peer programs struggled across the board, a small number of programs experienced significant growth in 2020.

In addition to Movember, SickKids Foundation’s Great Cycle Challenge more than doubled its revenues from $4.5 million in 2019 to nearly $9.5 million – making it North America’s fastest-growing program in 2020. The Great Cycle Challenge’s revenue increase – which was driven by the fact that the already virtual campaign added more than 29,600 new participants – helped it vault from No. 16 in 2019 to No. 3 on the list in 2020.

Blue Sea Philanthropy’s Coldest Night of the Year was another big mover, jumping from No. 12 in 2019 to No. 6 in 2020 on the back of a 7.2 percent revenue increase. CNOY – held annually in February – had the benefit of taking place prior to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A second Blue Sea program, Ride for Refuge, also outpaced many of its large program peers. The ride’s revenues dropped by just 13.1 percent to $2.2 million.

Brian Carney, Blue Sea’s Chief Executive Officer, said the Ride outpaced many of its peers, in part, because it made an early decision to transition to a virtual campaign.

“What worked before COVID has worked during COVID – relationships, personal asks, and tying your compelling mission to every aspect of your recruitment process,” Carney said. “Nothing, not even a pandemic, need ever get between you and your supporters.”

Download the Top 30 Narrative and Dataset


 Top 10 list

The top 10 Canadian programs by total gross revenue in 2020 were:

  1. Movember Canada – Movember Canada – $24.1 million (+13.7%)
  2. The Terry Fox Run—The Terry Fox Foundation – $13.5 million (-35.8%)
  3. Great Cycle Challenge – SickKids Foundation – $9.5 million (+109.5%)
  4. CIBC Run for the Cure – Canadian Cancer Society – $9.4 million
    (-43.7%)
  5. The Ride to Conquer Cancer – Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and three other Canadian cancer centers – $9.1 million (-77.7%)
  6. Coldest Night of the Year – Blue Sea Philanthropy – $6.3 million
    (+7.2%)
  7. World Partnership Walk – Aga Khan Foundation – $5.2 million (-32.4%)
  8. Light the Night – Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada — $5.1 million (-22.3%)
  9. IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s – Alzheimer Society of Canada – $5.0 million (-19.2%)
  10. Relay for Life – Canadian Cancer Society – $5.0 million (-78.4%)

P2PCanada_30_4cPrevious versions of the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Top 30 survey:

2019 — Canadian Top Thirty P2P Programs

2018 — Canadian Top Thirty P2P Programs

2017 — Canadian Top Thirty P2P Programs

2016 — Canadian Top Thirty P2P Programs

2015 — Canadian Top Thirty P2P Programs

2014 — Canadian Top Thirty P2P Programs

New Survey Results: Physical, Virtual or Hybrid Next Spring?

As the fall peer-to-peer fundraising season winds down, organizations are beginning to take steps to map out their spring 2021 plans in the face of a deadly pandemic that is showing no signs of easing up.

A new survey of nearly 100 Canadian and U.S. nonprofits by the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum finds that more than half of groups that manage spring campaigns have already decided what form they will take.

Not surprisingly, most of the organizations that have made decisions are opting to avoid in person gatherings.

Nearly half reported that they are planning to hold virtual campaigns.

Another one in four said they planned to host hybrid programs, which combine elements of in-person and virtual events.

And some, such as Junior Achievement, say they are giving local chapters the opportunity to make decisions based on circumstances in their communities or are moving their spring campaigns to a later date, with the hope that they can safely host in-person events in the summer or fall.

Of the 48% that have not yet decided, half expect to commit by the end of this year while the rest planned to wait until 2021.

The takeaway is clear: in spite of uncertainty about pandemic restrictions in 2021, nonprofits want to make programming decisions early enough to filed strong programs than they were able to produce this year.

“This spring, the coronavirus forced almost every organization to scrap their long-planned events and create virtualized campaigns on the fly,” said David Hessekiel, president of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum. “It’s clear based on this latest research that most groups are taking active steps to avoid facing the same fate in 2021. Rather than waiting, they’re making decisions now so they can begin communicating with their supporters and get a jump start on fundraising.”

Keeping the door open

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention decided to make a call now so they can begin communicating with supporters about what to expect – even though restrictions might loosen before spring.

As a result, AFSP this month announced that its spring walk series – which is held on college and high school campuses between March and May – will be done under a virtual model. But the group has also left the door open to add an in-person component if conditions improve, said Nicole Dolan, senior director for its Out of Darkness Walk series.

“This is all very new in terms of how we look ahead to spring,” Dolan says. “We needed to take out some of the guesswork and just come up with a plan so that everyone is working with the same framework now.”

The organization is still waiting to make decisions on its late-spring and early-summer events – but expects to make announcements between three and five months before the launch of each program.

Hybrid models

The National Psoriasis Foundation is among a number of nonprofits who have decided to move forward with hybrid campaigns.

In fact, it is hosting a December gala in which a limited number of participants will attend in person while others will be able to watch the event online. The gala, which includes an awards program, will give those who are attending virtually an opportunity to congratulate its top honoree on screen.

For its spring Team NPF walk series, participants will have the option of participating in person. For those who choose this option, they will be able to pick up a gift bag and T-shirt and then walk on their own at a designated park in their community – observing social distancing. Like many other walks, the foundation’s walks will feature a virtual kickoff event to avoid pulling together a crowd.

“We have been successful in offering both the in-person and virtual option so there is no reason not to continue to offer both options no matter what happens in 2021,” said Kris Bockmier, the foundation’s director of field operations.

Forging ahead

While most P2P programs plan to stick with virtual or hybrid events, a small, but significant, minority are forging ahead with physical events.

Sixteen percent of the groups who have made decisions about 2021 report that they are moving ahead with some form of in-person campaign in the New Year.

Hockey Helps the Homeless, a Canadian group that brings together hockey teams to participate in tournaments and raise money for homeless charities, plans to move ahead with live tournaments starting as early as January 22.

The organization has created a strict set of protocols to help ensure player safety – and has developed a system for scaling up and scaling down the number of people who can participate in each tournament based on the current state of the virus.

“We’ve been able to do this because we’re hyper-focused on doing one thing very well,” said Ryan Bailie, the organization’s executive director.

5 Ways to Create Memorable Virtual Experiences

It takes a killer event experience to motivate supporters to fundraise in the pandemic era.

Simply saying “We’re going virtual, please walk and ask for donations” is a recipe for disaster.

So how do you create inspiring, engaging programming during this era of social distancing?

Five experts who make their living helping peer-to-peer pros tackle such problems recently provided us with some actionable advice.

Here are their tips:

1. Reimagine a live event

Blackbaud’s Shana Masterson is seeing a number of examples of campaigns that are finding creative ways to engage participants in person.

“Some participants are ready to connect with others safely,” she says. “Traditional events can become car parades, socially-distant rides, or drive-in rallies.”

The Autism Speaks Walk, for example, gave fundraisers the chance to leave their walking shoes at home and participate in their cars.

Virtual gives you the opportunity to throw your old rules out the window and try something completely different.

2. Create mission moments

You don’t have to be in the same place to create emotionally memorable moments, says Erica Helphand of OP3.

During the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Virtual Overnight Experience, the nonprofit used photos uploaded to a hashtag to create a powerful, mosaic-style photo of virtual participants that was generated in real time.

“It was powerful, engaging, and showed that your participation really mattered,” Helphand said.

3. Explore exciting places

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute used its partnership with the Boston Red Sox to create a virtual challenge to “Fill Fenway” Park by buying tickets to a future game and having the proceeds of their sale benefit the Jimmy Fund.

Visitors can take an interactive tour of the iconic ballpark and virtually experience some of the park’s hidden gems, says Eventage’s Jen Junger.

Those who purchase tickets also were listed on an online tribute board and get their photos on a Red Sox-themed trading card.

To date, the campaign has filled about half of Fenway’s 37,731 seats – meaning that nearly 19,000 virtual tickets have been sold to benefit Dana-Farber.

4. Use trackers

Many nonprofits have been experimenting with the use of virtual fitness trackers that help fundraisers log how far they’ve run, walked or ridden as a way to create challenges and help participants track their progress.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia used tracking technology to create a 31-Day fitness challenge that led to a 181 percent increase in fundraising compared with a similar campaign in 2019.

More than 1,600 fundraisers in 32 states took part in virtual challenges in which they ran, walked, or biked 31, 62, or 100 miles in May.

“People enjoy sharing their workout accomplishments, allowing them to connect that energy to your cause is always a win,” says DonorDrive CEO Marc Rubner.

5. Engage your super-supporters

Whatever you choose to do with your virtual campaign, it helps to build excitement early.

FrontStream’s Lucas VanGombos advises peer-to-peer pros to kick-start their virtualized campaigns by reaching out to your top fundraisers before you officially launch registration and invite them to start fundraising early.

“This gives your superstar fundraisers some extra attention and allows you to officially launch your event with some already-crafted great example of successful donation pages,” he said.

P2P Campaigns Pivot Quickly To Virtual In Face Of Covid-19

Nonprofits that manage peer-to-peer fundraising programs tried to move quickly to transform planned, in-person events into virtual campaigns in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, many organizations expect their existing campaigns to raise only about half of what they had budgeted at the beginning of 2020, according to a new survey of 120 North American nonprofits by the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum.

The Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum survey found two thirds of U.S. and Canadian nonprofits had already either hosted a virtual campaign to replace an existing program or had completed a new virtual effort in addition to what was already planned.

And three-quarters of nonprofits – an even 75 percent – had campaigns underway or were preparing to host a virtual campaign later this year.

“When Covid-19 started disrupting our day-to-day lives in March, nonprofits of all sizes realized that they needed to create virtual alternatives to their planned in-person events – and they needed to do it quickly,” said David Hessekiel, president of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum.

“Our research found that, in many cases, organizations didn’t just convert in-person campaigns into virtual campaigns, they also explored ways to stand up multiple virtual campaigns to help engage fundraisers who couldn’t come together for physical events in real life because of social-distancing requirements.”

Lowered Expectations

Peer-to-peer fundraising is the practice of having a nonprofit’s supporters take part in an activity such as a walk, bike ride, or video gaming challenge and reach out to their friends, family, colleagues, and followers for donations.

Collectively, the 30 largest U.S. peer-to-peer campaigns raised nearly $1.37 billion in 2019, according to the annual Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum Top Thirty study.

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to cause those totals to diminish significantly, according to the latest Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum survey, which was fielded in June.

While many large programs have yet to kick off their virtual campaigns or are still actively raising money, those that have reported fundraising totals report significant declines. Some notable examples from America’s largest programs include:

  • March of Dimes transformed its March for Babies fundraising walk series into a virtual campaign called March for Babies StepUp. The virtual campaign has raised $25 million – compared with the $48.9 million raised by March for Babies in 2019. The organization’s goal for the campaign had been $40 million before the pandemic.
  • National MS Society’s Walk MS walk series raised more than $41.7 million in 2019. Its virtual replacement has raised $22.5 million to date – though money is still coming in and totals are likely to increase.
  • The virtual version of the Arthritis Foundation’s walk series raised $3.5 million this spring. The organization had initially set a fundraising goal of $8 million for the campaign – and revised it to $2.8 million when it was forced to move to a virtual campaign.

Rays of Hope

The results have been somewhat more encouraging for a number of smaller programs, which are able to be more nimble than their larger counterparts. The ALS Association’s Greater Chicago Chapter had set a goal of $575,000 for its annual June walk – then revised its goal to $450,000 when it pivoted to a virtual campaign. Kendra Albers, the chapter’s director of development, reports the virtual effort is on pace to meet its revised goal.

Stamford Health‘s Hope in Motion Walk & Run in Connecticut made a similar move with its June walk and has, to date, raised more than $415,000 toward its revised $450,000 goal. It is extending its fundraising deadline to Sept. 30 to give supporters more time to raise money.

But while fundraising totals are down for most organizations, the news is not all bad.

Some of the revenue losses have been offset by reduced costs associated with staging virtual campaigns versus in-person events, pointed out Gary Metcalf, president of Cadence Sports which fielded a virtual cycling challenge for the Alzheimer’s Association in June that did not meet its gross revenue goal, but actually netted more for the group due to lower expenses.

In addition, many nonprofits are launching multiple virtual campaigns to help engage supporters who might not otherwise participate.

For example, American Cancer Society, which expects revenues from its signature Relay for Life series to be down 55% percent from its original 2020 goal of $151 million, has developed a number of new virtual events.

This spring, the charity piloted a virtual running event – DetermiNation Runs the Country – in which participants log their own miles and collectively attempt to run the length of the United States. Collectively, 426 runners covered 9,943 miles and raised about $68,000, said Paul Purdy, American Cancer Society’s strategic director, endurance events.

That figure, while small compared with the organization’s overall P2P budget, was a test run for a larger campaign – DetermiNation Takes on the World. The new campaign kicked off July 20.

“With strategy and key learnings from this first campaign, we are excited for where this will take us in 2020, as well as build the structure for renewing these initiatives in 2021,” Purdy said.

Additional Resources

  • Report: Check out these five key strategies for virtual program success based on in-depth interviews with dozens of professionals in the wake of their spring campaigns. 5 Spring Learnings to Make Your Virtual Campaign Shine.
  • Webinar: Don’t miss the Building Strong Virtual Programs recorded webinar in which we bring to life all of these findings with the help of three outstanding leaders in our field. Tracy Evans of AIDS/LifecycleWilliam White of Lymphoma Research Foundation and Kristin Gibbs of the National MS Society share candid insights of strategies they will build on and those they will NOT repeat.

Canada’s Largest P2P Programs Post Strong 2019 Results

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  • Revenues for the 30 largest Canadian peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns posted less than a 1% decline in 2019, according to an annual survey by the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada.

    Collectively the 30 campaigns tracked by Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada raised nearly $245.1 million in 2019, down 0.3 percent from 2018.

    And after removing the results of just one program, The Ride to Conquer Cancer, results for the remaining 29 campaigns were up by more than $2 million.

    “While it’s easy to look at the top-line revenue number and assume that peer-to-peer fundraising is struggling, this year’s survey tells a much different story,” said Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum President David Hessekiel. “The majority of large programs experienced strong gains in 2019. On the heels of a strong year in 2018, revenue has been trending up over the past two years.”

    Peer-to-peer fundraising is the practice of having a nonprofit’s supporters take part in an activity such as a walk, bike ride or video gaming challenge and reach out to their friends, family members, colleagues and followers for donations.

    Results of the study including the top 30 rankings can be found at https://www.p2pfundraisingcanada.com/.

    The survey is sponsored by CauseForce.

    Survey Highlights

    This year’s survey of the top 30 programs is led by The Ride to Conquer Cancer, which saw its revenues total more than $39 million, down 6.6 percent from $41.8 million in 2018. Officials say the revenue decline was expected following a 2018 in which three of its four events were celebrating milestone anniversaries.

    The Ride, which drew an estimated 10,000 participants in four cities, has held the title of Canada’s largest P2P program since the survey began tracking campaigns in 2014.

    “The Ride across Canada saw a slight decline year over year. However, the engagement of our riders, crew, volunteers, and donors remains as high as ever,” said Steve Merker, Vice President of Corporate & Community Partnerships for The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. “With over 11,000 riders and volunteers and over a quarter of a million donors, the Ride serves as Canada’s largest athletic fundraising program for cancer research.”

    The Terry Fox Foundation’s The Terry Fox Run, was Canada’s second-largest peer-to-peer campaign in 2019, raising $25.3 million — up 2.7 percent from 2018.

    Despite being one of Canada’s oldest and most established P2P programs, The Terry Fox Run has seen significant gains in recent years — even as other longstanding programs have struggled. Since 2015, its annual revenues have increased by more than 30 percent.

    “The Terry Fox Run shows that with a disciplined approach, long-running peer-to-peer programs can resonate with supporters for decades,” Hessekiel said. “The fact that it continues to draw more than 3.4 million participants per year 40 years after its founding is a remarkable achievement.”

    Strong Growth Abounds

    Movember Canada – which encourages men to grow moustaches each November to raise awareness and money for men’s health issues – posted the biggest revenue increase among large Canadian programs in 2019.

    The campaign raised more than $19.9 million – up $2.4 million, or 13.7 percent from 2018. The increase was fueled, in part, by a surge in participation. More than 70,700 people took part in Movember Canada’s 2019 campaign, up more than 14,200 from 2018.

    “Our campaign message to Canadians was simple: Whatever You Grow Will Save a Bro,” said Keith Sexton, Movember Canada’s Senior Manager of Community Development. “It paid tribute to the fun origins of Movember but was underlined with the importance of our why – which clearly resonated with the 70,000 Canadians who joined us this year.”

    While Movember and the Terry Fox Run were among the most noteworthy gainers, they did not provide the only highlights.

    Other campaigns that posted significant gains in 2019 include JDRF Canada’s Sun Life Ride to Defeat Diabetes for JDRF (up 17.1 percent), Blue Sea Philanthropy’s Coldest Night of the Year (17 percent), The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation’s Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer (14.5 percent), and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night (13 percent).

    Other highlights from the survey include:

    • Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada’s Big Bike campaign had the largest percentage decrease: 39 percent. The decline was part of a planned downsizing of the campaign according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, which noted that it was looking to focus on ensuring that it was focusing on events that had lower overhead compared to revenues.
    • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night is the only new campaign to break into the top 10 this year. It replaces Big Bike, which dropped from No. 10 to No. 17 on this year’s list.
    • Cops for Cancer – which provided data for the first time – is the only new entry on this year’s list. It replaces Ovarian Cancer Canada’s Walk of Hope. Cops for Cancer raised $3.15 million to land at No. 25 on the list.

Download the Top 30 Narrative and Dataset


 Top 10 list

  1. The Ride to Conquer Cancer – Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and three other Canadian cancer centers – $39.0 million – down 6.6 percent
  2. The Terry Fox Run—The Terry Fox Foundation – $25.3 million – up 2.7 percent
  3. Relay for Life – Canadian Cancer Society – $23.0 million – down 3.0 percent
  4. Movember Canada – Movember Canada – $19.9 million – up 13.7 percent
  5. CIBC Run for the Cure – Canadian Cancer Society – $16.7 million – up 3.1 percent
  6. Jump Rope for Heart – Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada –
    $13.1 million – down 1.6 percent
  7. MS Bike – MS Society of Canada – $8.4 million – down 2.9 percent
  8. MS Walk – MS Society of Canada — $8.1 million – down 0.8 percent
  9. World Partnership Walk – Aga Khan Foundation — $7.7 million – up 6.9 percent
  10. Light the Night – Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada — $6.5 million – up 13 percent

P2PCanada_30_4cPrevious versions of the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Top 30 survey:

2018 — Canadian Top Thirty P2P Programs

2017 — Canadian Top Thirty P2P Programs

2016 — Canadian Top Thirty P2P Programs

2015 — Canadian Top Thirty P2P Programs

2014 — Canadian Top Thirty P2P Programs

How to Use Email to Fire Up Your Fundraisers

You know the drill.

People sign up to take part in one of your programs with every intention of raising big bucks, but then life happens. They get distracted and, suddenly, it’s event day and they’ve hardly raised a dollar.

To change that pattern, fundraising guru Mandy O’Neill has a simple piece of advice: Give them a helpful nudge when they’re most likely to act.

People are most likely to start raising money right after they register for your event. That’s when they are most excited and engaged, said O’Neill, chief strategist for Connected Nonprofit

But here’s the kicker: you have to capture that energy before it wanes.

To do that, O’Neill recommends creating five automated emails that get sent to every new registrant over the course of eight days in the following sequence:

Day 1 — An instant welcome email

Day 2 — A prompt to self-donate

Day 4 — A script that shows them what to say when they fundraise

Day 6 — A sample fundraising email they can send to friends, family, and co-workers

Day 8 — A prompt to post on social media, with a suggested post and image

Want more practical advice and examples of what to include in those emails? Then sign up for our next Office Hours webinar featuring Mandy on Tuesday, July 9.

In addition to presenting practical solutions to get participants fundraising, Mandy will take your questions. She’ll also provide insights on how to engage donors who are about to reach fundraising thresholds, how to get them fired up before your event, how to thank them afterwards … and much more.

Register now!

Inside SickKids Foundation’s Bold Decision to End a Successful Walk Program

SickKids Get Loud challenged participants to reach new heights with their fundraising.

With a prominent title sponsor, 3,000 annual participants, and revenues of $2.44 million, The Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk had all the markings of a successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

But when Nancy Jordan and her team at the SickKids Foundation looked under the hood, they worried that the 5-year-old walk event had already seen its best days.

So they took a bold step and started over.

Instead of trying to squeeze dollars from what was still a successful campaign, the SickKids Foundation decided to pull the plug and replace the Great Camp Adventure Walk with something new.

The result was SickKids Get Loud — a campaign designed to reignite the interest of some of the previous walk’s participants while also attracting an entirely new group of supporters.

While the Great Camp Adventure Walk was a 20-kilometer walk aimed at families with young children, SickKids Get Loud! followed a different formula.

The new event featured a shorter, 5-kilometer walk, followed by a music festival featuring popular bands such as Barenaked Ladies and Magic! To attend the festival, participants need to hit a fundraising minimum of $300. But any participant can take part in the walk, regardless of how much money they raise.

This new formula gave participants a greater incentive to raise money — and it helped draw more people.

SickKids Get Loud debuted in the fall of 2018 with more than 4,350 participants, $2.3 million in revenues and a spot on Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada’s ranking of the top 30 P2P programs.

More importantly, Jordan sees growth on the horizon.

SickKids is looking to draw up to 5,000 participants and raise $2.6 million this year.

What’s more, the organization has provided a blueprint for when to make the often painful decision to move on from a successful peer-to-peer campaign at the right time.

Here are four key lessons:

Know your audience — One of the biggest factors in SickKids’ decision to move on from the Great Camp Adventure Walk was its audience. The walk was designed to be very kid friendly. This was appealing to younger children and their families, but the format made it difficult to get them to keep coming back as they grew older.

“It wasn’t cool enough,” Jordan said of how the walk was seen by older kids.

As a result, participation had plateaued — and the organization was devoting considerable resources to recruit new participants each year to replace those who had aged out of the program.

Create long-term agreements with sponsors — SickKids takes an uncommon approach to sponsorships — pushing to lock its key corporate supporters into 5-year contracts rather than year-to-year agreements. This helps the organization build consistent revenue bases for multiple years. It also gives SickKids an opportunity to discuss contract extensions years before their current agreements end.

Because of this approach, Jordan said the nonprofit was able to learn years ahead of time that two of its largest initial sponsors were unlikely to return for a second contract. While this news was painful, it also gave her a heads up about a potential revenue decline.

Assess what has changed — Like some couples, nonprofits and their peer-to-peer programs can grow apart. When SickKids launched its innovative SickKids VS branding campaign in 2016, it grew increasingly difficult for Jordan and her team to connect the Great Camp Adventure Walk to the nonprofit’s brand.

Rather than continuing to fit a square peg into a round hole, SickKids determined that it might work better to develop a new program that was more aligned with its new brand.

Break old habits — As peer-to-peer programs begin to age, it becomes more difficult to break bad habits. In the case of the Great Camp Adventure Walk, SickKids continually drew a large number of $0 fundraisers — or those who raised only a small amount of money.

And once that habit becomes a part of a campaign’s culture, it’s difficult to break.

Rebranding the campaign and giving it a new format gave SickKids an opportunity to start over, set new expectations, and change its messaging around fundraising.

Sunsetting a longtime peer-to-peer fundraising campaign isn’t easy — nor is it for everyone.

But by being thoughtful, deliberate, and creative, you can create something completely new and successful out of the ashes of a sagging program.

5 New Things Every Fundraiser Should Know

Summer is coming — and with it, you’ll hopefully have a chance to catch your breath between the hectic spring and busy fall event seasons.

Here are five things worth exploring during your down time:

Instagram’s Donation Sticker — Your campaign will soon have an opportunity to add Instagram to its social media toolkit. Instagram this month launched its new Donation Sticker feature, which allows users to attach attach a “Donation” button to their stories and connect money raised through the button to registered charities. For now, the feature is limited to a select number of nonprofits — but it likely won’t be long before your organization can leverage it for its own P2P campaigns.

Getting Your Fundraisers to Come BackA new report by Classy finds that peer-to-peer fundraising pages on its platform that are started by return fundraisers raised more than twice as much money on average as pages created by one-time fundraisers $501 vs. $222, respectively. But here’s the rub: only 14 percent of fundraisers returned for a second time. Luckily, we have some practical advice on how to get your fundraisers to come back.

Ideas for Your Next Campaign — Looking to reach a new audience with a new campaign? The ever-growing Big List of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising includes nearly 140 ideas for P2P campaigns. Our latest favorite? The “Don’t Talk-A-Thon”, in which supporters take an oath of silence to raise money for Project ALS.

Insights from Amsterdam — Peer-to-peer fundraising is growing quickly in the Netherlands — and new research from Peerworks Consulting includes some great lessons for fundraisers in North America. Learn more.

Building Better Corporate Partnerships — Cycle for Survival continues to set new records — reaching $42 million in revenues from more than 245,000 donors this year. Katie Klein, director of fundraising events for Memorial Sloan Cancer Center, will share how the series has been working with new corporate partners to help bolster its revenues in a webinar on June 13.

Canadian P2P Fundraising Programs Increased Revenues in 2018

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Fundraising revenue for Canada’s 30-largest peer-to-peer fundraising programs increased 1 percent in 2018, to $243.3 million, according to the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Thirty survey of Canadian fundraising programs.

It marks the first time in the survey’s five-year history that revenues increased for these bellwether programs and shows that efforts by a number of Canadian charities to retool their programs are paying off.

“All across Canada, nonprofits are seeing strong results in their peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns,” said David Hessekiel, president of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada, which produces the annual survey. “Growth is coming from some familiar names — as well as some newcomers who are energizing a new generation of supporters who are eager to raise money for their favorite charities.”

The Ride to Conquer Cancer tops the list of Canada’s largest peer-to-per fundraising programs.

The Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Thirty survey ranks the 30 largest peer-to-peer fundraising programs in Canada.    

Peer-to-peer fundraising is the practice of having a nonprofit’s supporters take part in an activity such as a walk, bike ride or challenge and reach out to their friends, family members and colleagues for donations.

Survey Highlights

This year’s survey of the top 30 programs is led by The Princess Margaret Cancer Center’s The Ride to Conquer Cancer, which saw its revenues total $41.8 million, up more than 6 percent from $39.4 million in 2017.

The Ride, which drew an estimated 10,000 participants in four cities, has held the title of Canada’s largest P2P program since the survey began tracking campaigns in 2014.

The Terry Fox Foundation’s The Terry Fox Run, moved into second place on the list, with $24.7 million — up 2.4 percent compared with 2017. The Terry Fox Run leapfrogged over the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life campaign, which posted $23.7 million in revenues and ranked No. 3 in the survey.

Despite being one of Canada’s oldest and most established P2P programs, The Terry Fox Run has seen significant gains in recent years — even as other longstanding programs have struggled.

“The Terry Fox Run shows that with a disciplined approach, long-running peer-to-peer programs can resonate with supporters for decades,” Hessekiel said. “At a time when many nonprofits are experimenting with fundraising via live streaming and other technology, The Terry Fox Run demonstrates that there’s still room for traditional programs to thrive.”

In a fitting bookend to the Terry Fox Run, this year’s survey also includes a brand-new program —SickKids Foundation’s SickKids GetLoud, an event that was part walk and part music festival.

This first-year event pulled in $2.3 million and helped the SickKids Foundation sunset a previous program, the Great Camp Adventure, which was discontinued in 2018.

Other highlights from the survey include:

    • SickKids Foundation had the fastest-growing large campaign in North America in 2018. Its Great Cycle Challenge saw its revenues increase by a 86.4 percent to almost $4 million. This was the largest percentage increase of any campaign in Canada or the U.S. in 2018.
    • Two hockey-themed campaigns were among Canada’s fastest-growing programs of 2018. Hockey Helps the Homeless, held at 13 sites across Canada, pulled in more than $4.2 million, up 21.3 percent over the previous year. Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation’s Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer, meanwhile, raised nearly $2.7 million, up 3 percent.
    • Blue Sea Philanthropy’s Coldest Night of the Year also continued its growth trend, raising just short of $5 million in 2018, up 6.1 percent from $4.7 million in 2017. Coldest Night of the Year’s revenues have doubled since 2014.
  • Another new arrival to the list is Heart and StrokeFoundation’s My Own Fundraiser, which raised $3.2 million — making it one of the few DIY themed campaigns to make the top 30 in either the U.S. or Canada.

Download the Top 30 Narrative and Dataset


 Top 10 list

  1. Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer — Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation ($41.82 million)
  2. The Terry Fox Run, Terry Fox Foundation ($24.65 million)
  3. Relay for Life, Canadian Cancer Society ($23.7 million)
  4. Movember Canada, Movember Canada ($16.87 million)
  5. CIBC Run for the Cure, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation ($16.2 million)
  6. Jump Rope for Heart, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada ($13.33 million)
  7. MS Bike, MS Society of Canada ($8.68 million)
  8. MS Walk, MS Society of Canada ($8.13 million)
  9. World Partnership Walk, Aga Khan Foundation Canada ($7.2 million)
  10. Big Bike, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada ($7.05 million)

Facebook is Coming: Is Your Nonprofit Prepared?

As we start a new year, I’ve been thinking a lot about what will impact P2P fundraisers the most in 2019.

And I keep coming back to one thing: Facebook.

While Facebook has been allowing individuals to raise money on the platform for about three years, it has only recently been stepping up its efforts to partner directly with charities and fundraising platforms.

The social networking site said in November that it has raised more than $1 billion for charities and personal causes — with roughly $300 million coming through DIY-style birthday fundraisers hosted on the platform.

Facebook’s huge user base clearly offers huge opportunities for nonprofits that manage P2P programs — and organizations such as the National Kidney Foundation, March of Dimes, and Susan G. Women for the Cure have already been integrating Facebook into their existing programs.

But partnering with Facebook also has drawbacks — namely that it requires nonprofits to give up access to donor data. As more nonprofits undoubtedly jump on board in 2019, it will be interesting to see whether they are able to successfully build relationships with the new donors who contribute through the platform.

To help you wrestle with how — and whether — to integrate Facebook into your program, we’ve put together some interactive sessions at our annual conference in New Orleans on Feb. 27-28.

During the course of this year’s event, you’ll have a chance to hear from Facebook’s Kendra Sinclair, P2P fundraising professionals from the National Kidney Foundation and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and experts from Blackbaud.

Register now!