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

A Strong Community Fuels More Growth for Coldest Night

cony-bv-700For Blue Sea Philanthropy’s Brian Carney, successful P2P fundraising campaigns aren’t about money. They are about community.

Successful campaigns do more than raise money — they bring people together around a shared experience to advance an important cause.

Few P2P campaigns in Canada have been more adept at bringing people together than Blue Sea Philanthropy’s Coldest Night of the Year, which recently brought together nearly 18,500 walkers at 92 locations to raise money for organizations that help the hungry and homeless.

While the final numbers are still being tallied, the February event is expected to generate more than $3.85 million in donations for charities across Canada — or roughly 17 percent more than the $3.3 million raised by Coldest Night in 2015.

The strong results come on top of a particularly strong year for the campaign in 2014. Coldest Night saw its fundraising revenue increase by a whopping 62 percent to more than $2.5 million in 2014, making it the fastest-growing P2P program in Canada, according to a study by Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada.

Carney cites a number of factors behind Coldest Night’s continued growth.

Blue Sea continues to invest heavily in its systems — from a state-of-the-art campaign portal to its cutting-edge website. It has also put a heavy emphasis on building new corporate partnerships, which has helped fuel greater participation and generate new revenue.

But Carney says the campaign’s greatest resource is the community it has built. Unlike most P2P campaigns that represent a single organization, Coldest Night supports a coalition of local nonprofits — big and small — all of which work on addressing the same issues.

As the program has grown and developed, many of these organizations have developed their own partnerships — sharing information and best practices that are helping all of them succeed. Blue Sea has helped foster those relationships, setting up conference calls and providing opportunities for its charity partners to connect and share.

“If you spend the time on relationship development, you see wonderful results and amazing relationships form,” Carney says. “That, above all else, has been really rewarding to see.”

You can learn more about Coldest Night’s success during a free April 13 webinar hosted by Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada. Brian Carney will discuss the campaign’s growth and share insights with fellow P2P fundraisers.

Register now!

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

A Holiday for Canada’s P2P Pioneer

TerryFoxToronto19800712Manitoba has introduced legislation that would name the first Monday in August Terry Fox Day and the call the second Sunday after Labour Day in September Terry Fox Run Day to honor the legacy of peer-to-peer fundraising pioneer Terry Fox.

In 1980, Terry Fox became a worldwide celebrity when he began a courageous effort to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. Fox, who journeyed more than 5,300 kilometers during his run, raised more than $1.7-million. Since then, his namesake Terry Fox Foundation has raised an estimated $650-million through peer-to-peer events held in his name.

Three other provinces either have or will proclaim Terry Fox Run Day in September — British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland, reports the Winnipeg Sun.

Ice Bucket Scorecard: Canadians Gave More Than U.S. Neighbors

15116814611_d4470a74bb_hThe Ice Bucket Challenge might have gotten its start in the U.S., but when it comes to giving per capita, Canadians gave more, per person, than their neighbors south of the border.

In a new report on how ALS Societies of Canada is spending the more than $17-million windfall it achieved through 2014’s viral peer-to-peer fundraiser, Macleans noted that Canadians proved to be particularly generous during the Ice Bucket Challenge.

“Canada punched well above its weight relative to the U.S.—despite having a population 10 times greater than Canada on which to draw, the American ALS Association’s haul was just seven times larger,” the report notes.

The story also says that as much as $10-million raised through the Challenge could get pumped into a series of cutting-edge research projects by the end of 2015. By comparison, the organization has never offered more than $2-million in research grants in any previous year.