Canada’s 30 Largest Peer-to-Peer Programs Raised $275 Million in 2014

P2P Thirty Canada

Canada’s 30 largest peer-to-peer fundraising programs brought in more than $275 million for charities in 2014, according to a first-of-its kind study released at the inaugural Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada conference.

Peer-to-peer fundraising programs engage supporters to solicit their personal contacts for contributions. These “asks” are often linked to a supporter’s participation in a rapidly expanding universe of events ranging from traditional runs, walks and rides to more unusual activities such as rappelling down skyscrapers, mustache growing and sleeping out in the cold.

Canada’s largest peer-to-peer fundraising program (in terms of gross revenue) was the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, a series of four cycling events that raised $42.4 million to support cancer research in 2014.

It narrowly edged out the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, a program that enabled nearly 130,000 participants in 400 locations to raise $42.2 million in 2014.

But while these two programs are Canada’s largest, each actually saw its revenues decline compared with 2013 — a common trait among the top 30. For 16 of the programs, revenues dropped compared with 2013 and collectively the top 30 programs posted a 6% decline in gross revenues.

That overall figure was weighed down by a significant decline of 32% (or $10.8 million) at Movember Canada, said David Hessekiel, president of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada. Remove the Movember figure and the other 29 programs declined by only 3%.

The fastest growing program in the top 30 was the Coldest Night of the Year, a winter walk series organized by Blue Sea Philanthropy in 80 communities that raised $2,534,761 in 2014 to help “the hungry, homeless and hurting.”

The second fastest-growing program was the Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk, a camp-themed event in Toronto that grew 41% to raise $1,900,000 for the SickKids Foundation.

“There is still room for growth for many traditional walk, run and ride programs, but it is notable that the two fastest-growing programs in the top 30 were novel, family oriented-events,,” said Amy Milne, cofounder of Beyond, a new Toronto-based peer-to-peer fundraising consulting firm that co-sponsored the inaugural Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Top 30 study.

The growth of these programs also shows the continued promise of peer-to-peer fundraising — especially as online and mobile fundraising technology continues to evolve.

“In our increasingly networked society, the prospects for peer-to-peer fundraising are tremendous for nonprofits that know how to leverage technology, personal outreach and the power of their causes,” said Hessekiel, who has organized peer-to-peer fundraising conferences in the US for the last ten years.

More than 200 development professionals hungry for such training attended the first Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada conference on Tuesday, October 20. Industry statistics, guidance on peer-to-peer fundraising best practices and access to year-round virtual training is available at

Download the Report


To explore the complete list of campaigns that made the first-ever Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Thirty click the link below:

2015 Canadian Top Thirty P2P Programs

P2P Participants Who Use Email Raise More

60963915_7146709e9c_oE-mail solicitations remain an effective tool for peer-to-peer fundraisers. But a new study suggests that charities need to do much more to encourage participants in their peer-to-peer fundraising events to utilize e-mail.

A 3-year review of peer-to-peer fundraising results for 169 charities by the technology company Blackbaud finds that only a small percentage of event participants solicit donations through emails. But those who do raise substantially more money.

For instance, only 5 percent of participants in 5k events raised money through e-mail. But those fundraisers achieved much higher fundraising totals — raising an average of $343 vs. the $34 raised by the average participant.

Participants in cycling events were the most likely to use email to raise money: the study showed that about 1 in 3 cyclists sent email solicitations. Those participants, in turn, raised nearly twice as much than the average cycling fundraiser.

“People who send emails are raising a ton more money,” says Blackbaud Senior Consultant Shana Masterson, one of the report’s co-authors. “But what concerns me is that we’re not pushing email as much as we once were. We tend to think that people aren’t using email as much as they used to, so we’re not encouraging them as much as we should. It’s becoming a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Masterson said there are a number of techniques charities can use to encourage their participants to use email — and it begins by making the act of sending emails as easy as possible. Sending emails might seem simple, but for those who aren’t professional fundraisers, the act of asking people to donate can be uncomfortable.

“Coach your participants to take one step at a time,” she says. “Emailing five or ten of your closest friends and family members is much easier to take on. It’ll build the participant’s confidence in sending emails because they’ll learn how to use the email tools, and also because that group of people is more likely to make a donation.”

As part of the coaching process, some charities develop step-by-step guides and how-to videos.

You should also consider creating and sharing a variety of email templates that participants can choose from.

The more help you can provide, she says, the more activity you are likely to see.

You can download a copy of the full report here.

Study: Donors Give More When They See Others Giving Big Gifts

How can you get your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign to grow the average size of its donations?

According to a new study, the answer might be to encourage donors who you know are already planning to give big gifts to pledge their support early.

The study aimed to learn how donors react during public online fundraising campaigns — and it analyzed more than 12,000 online fundraising pages for participants in the London Marathon.

Writes the Huffington Post:

The study featured in the June 2015 issue of The Economic Journal found that contributors were more likely to give bigger sums when the average donation spiked, and their decisions had little to do with their feelings about the cause.

Put simply, when donors are deciding how much money to give, they look at benchmarks — in this case, the value of donations from those who have already pledged — to help inform their decision.

When the average value of the donation is higher, these donors give at a higher level to help stay in line with their peers.

As a result, peer-to-peer fundraisers should consider encouraging their participants to approach their highest-value donors first before sending appeals to other potential donors. By doing so, they are increasing their likelihood of generating larger gifts from their entire pool of donors.

Father’s Day Brings Heartwarming P2P Fundraising Stories

Newspapers across Canada used Father’s Day as a hook for telling heartwarming father-son stories — and peer-to-peer fundraising played a central role in a number of these stories.

We were inspired to see the story of Andrew Sedmihradsky, who is undertaking a 600-km ride from Ottawa to Hamilton with his 4-year-old son, Max, riding in the front hold of his bike.

The 11-day ride, dubbed Max’s Big Ride, will raise money for Jesse’s Journey, a Canadian charity that funds research for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a fatal muscle-wasting disease. The Ottawa Citizen reports that more than $33,000 has already been pledged for the ride.

We were also touched by the story of Kris Steed, who took part in the recent Ride to Conquer Cancer for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. Kris rode in honor of his father, Paul, who died in January after a battle with skin cancer.

Stories like these show the deeply personal commitment that so many of our fundraisers bring to their work on behalf of Canadian charities.


A Heart Transplant Survivor Rides for Charity

When Dave Allingham was waiting for a heart transplant that would save his life, he made a vow.

“I made a promise that if there was a family out there that gave me the unconditional gift of love — that donated their loved one’s heart — that I would spend the rest of my life giving back,” he told The Toronto Star.

Allingham isn’t backing away from his personal promise.

On Sunday, three years after receiving a transplant, Allingham took part in the Becel Heart and Stroke Ride for Heart, the annual 75-kilometer ride through Toronto that raises money for heart disease and stroke research. An estimated 14,000 riders, donors, volunteers, and sponsors took part in this weekend’s event.

One of the joys of working in peer-to-peer fundraising is seeing and hearing the inspiring stories of fundraisers and volunteers who overcome immense obstacles and have amazing personal journeys.

Allingham, who participated in his third fundraising ride, is a prime example of the spirit that drives the success of Canada’s peer-to-peer programs.

If your organization has an inspiring fundraiser or supporter, we’d love to spotlight it. Please share your nominations with us in the comments section or send it directly to us at