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.

Cash, Sweat & Tears Canada Award 2015

2015 Cash Sweat & Tears Canada Award Winner: Lovisa McCallumr

Lovisa & teamLovisa McCallum, a tireless volunteer who has raised more than $285,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Canada, is the winner of the inaugural Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Cash, Sweat & Tears Award.

The award honors an extraordinary volunteer who has taken on physical challenges or overcome tremendous obstacles to raise money for charity — and McCallum’s consistent work on behalf of CARSTAR’s Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis Canada over the past decade is truly extraordinary.

“I’m deeply honored and surprised and a bit awed that someone noticed,” McCallum said. “I’ve never done this for recognition or honors. It’s something I do because I want to help make a difference and find a cure for this disease.”

During the past 11 years, she has raised $285,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Canada. In 2015 alone, she raised close to $45,000 — and she has been the charity’s top individual fundraiser for several years.

That figure does not include the additional $245,000 in sponsorship revenue that she has helped secure through her work as director of the financial products group with the Bank of Montreal. Through her leadership, the bank has been a presenting sponsor at the Toronto location of the walk for the past 8 years

Lovisa is a true champion for the cause. In addition to her work as a peer-to-peer fundraiser, she is also an exemplary volunteer — serving as the President of the Toronto & District Chapter of Cystic Fibrosis Canada, as well as several other committees.

Support for the Cash, Sweat & Tears Canada Award generously provided by

Blackbaud (new)

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2016 Conference Presentations

presentationsLearn more about our speakers

Opening Plenary
  • Download Presentation: Time to Grow
    • David Hessekiel, P2P Fundraising Canada
Sector Breakouts

Sponsored by Donor Drive 

  • Download Presentation: Challenge Programs Summit
    • Nick Hollowood, The Realbuzz Group
    • Andrew Press, Ottowa Hospital Foundation
    • Elana Shapiro, Gilda’s Club of Greater Toronto
    • Michael Jacoby, Canadian Diabetes Association

Sponsored by The Realbuzz Group

Sponsored by Charity Dynamics

CashSweatTears_Canada_4cLuncheon Discussion
Skill Building Breakouts

Closing Plenary

Cash, Sweat & Tears Canada Award sponsored by Blackbaud

  • Download Presentation: Closing Remarks
    • David Hessekiel, P2P Fundraising Canada

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It’s A Mobile World: Increasing P2P Revenue Thru Apps

Original Broadcast Date: November 16, 2016

kidney-walk-mobileP2P fundraisers want to engage with your organization when they want, where ever they are, and on their terms, but how do you know what those terms are? There is a lot of information available but it can be challenging to make sense of it all. In this webinar you will hear about current industry benchmarks for both Facebook and Mobile Fundraising Apps and learn how having a presence on these two channels can exponentially grow your event revenues.


  • Deanna Bucciarelli, Senior National Walk Manager at the National Kidney Foundation
  • Sue Dalos, Principal Consultant Charity Dynamics

In this session you will learn:

  • How providing both a Facebook and Mobile Fundraising experience, can result in significant growth in P2P fundraising and engagement
  • Current industry adoption rates, participant insights and revenue, by event type, being generated via Facebook and Mobile Fundraising Apps
  • How you can use Facebook Analytics and Google Analytics to track performance of Facebook and Mobile Fundraising Apps to gain deeper insights into your own participant experience


Watch now!

Download presentation here

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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.”

Donors More Likely to Open P2P Emails, Study Finds

Blackbaud StudyPotential donors who receive e-mail messages from their peers are significantly more likely to open those messages and take action than those who receive solicitations from nonprofits, according to a new study by the technology company Blackbaud.

Open rates for e-mails sent by participants in peer-to-peer cycling, endurance and walk events exceeded 40 percent — nearly tripling the 15.34 percent average open rate for nonprofit donation solicitations, the study found.

The new data, which is based on an analysis of the results of peer-to-peer programs managed by 186 nonprofits that use Blackbaud’s online fundraising software, confirms what many in the P2P fundraising world have hypothesized — that donors are much more responsive to appeals from friends and family than they are from organizations.

But the study also highlights the big challenge that many P2P programs face — getting participants in their events to take the time to send emails.

Blackbaud’s analysis, for example, found that only 9 percent of participants in walks send e-mail solicitations. That number climbs to 22 percent for participants in endurance campaigns and 30.1 percent for those who participate in cycling events.

Other key findings from the report:

  • Reports of the demise of the walk appear to have been exaggerated. The study found that online donation revenues for walks increased by 17 percent in 2015. Endurance events also showed robust gains of 21 percent.
  • While overall revenues were down 4 percent for cycling events in 2015, participants in cycling events are still the most active fundraisers when compared to other types of P2P programs. For example, more than one half of participants in cycling events collected 2 or more donations in 2015. By comparison, only about 13.4 percent of walk participants collected 2 or more donations.
  • Participants in Canadian P2P events tend to be more active fundraisers than those who participate in US P2P events. Roughly 15 percent of Canadian walk participants, for example, sent e-mail solicitations — compared with just 8.9 percent of U.S. participants.

Click here to download the full report.

The social “secret weapon” peer-to-peer fundraisers need to talk about!

Original Broadcast Date: September 27, 2016

One of the worst kept secrets in the nonprofit community is how many charitable organizations are seeing positive and measurable results from ad campaigns on social networks like Facebook or Instagram. Sponsoring, promoting and boosting your call-to-action is a sophisticated way to reach the right supporters at the right time.

This tactic is an especially powerful way to reach new participride-dont-hideants for a peer-to-peer event or challenge.

Think you need thousands of dollars to get started? Not so! Join this fun and fast-paced webinar where we’ll dive into real life examples showing how Canadian Mental Health Association BC’s national ‘Ride Don’t Hide’ campaign used Facebook advertising tactics to encourage participation in their event.

You’ll see tactics for organizations with limited budgets, as well as examine successful strategies from larger integrated campaigns.


  • Colin Edington, National Manager, Ride Don’t Hide, Canadian Mental Health Association BC
  • Claire Kerr, Director of Digital Philanthropy, FrontStream

In this session you will learn:

  • How to build a meaningful supporter profile for your organization
  • How social ads target your ideal participants and donors
  • How your organization can get started with your first campaign

Watch now!

Download presentation here


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Give Your Supporters Something to Believe In

Derrick FeldmannDerrick Feldmann, author of Social Movements for Good, will challenge attendees at Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada’s annual conference to do more than simply ask for their supporters to belong.

He will challenge them to engage them in a journey to become a part of something much larger — to inspire them to become true believers who see their participation in P2P campaigns as part of a larger movement.

Whether your organization is working to cure a disease, improve the environment, or feed the homeless, Feldmann says your message to your supporters should be clear: we have an opportunity to do much more than simply raise money.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada sat down with Feldmann to learn more about how P2P fundraisers can help build movements.

Here’s some of what he had to say:

P2P Fundraising Canada: Define a social movement and how is that different than the way charities and organizations work on behalf of a cause?

Feldmann: There isn’t a cause leader in the world who doesn’t want to lead a movement. Social movements for good happen when you have a very big collective of people who support and work together in the interest of the larger whole. The collective supports the needs of the collective.

The entity is not the movement. The movement is the people. The people involved have to believe that they are working toward something better together. The entity or, in this case the nonprofit, is really the infrastructure that keeps the movement going.

How does something become a movement?

We’ve found that there are three stages of movement that an individual goes through.

They start with belonging — and this is how a lot of people become involved in peer-to-peer campaigns. This is where I can say, ‘Pledge to me because I am trying to raise money by running in this race’. I’m asking my friends to belong to my movement. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re making a deep or a long-term commitment. It does mean that they’re belonging for that moment.

It’s very simple to belong to something where you have friends. That friendship and that relationship make that belonging so much more natural. But when we truly believe in a cause and you want to go out on your own and find and tell, that’s a different case. The person moved away from belonging to it and is saying that this is exactly what I care about it. This person has moved from belonging to believing.

The third phase is owning the movement. They own and self organize.

How do nonprofits get their supporters to move beyond belonging?

We have to move from assuming that just because someone is participating, or belonging, that they are a believer, because it’s not true for everyone.

Most peer-to-peer campaigns, for instance, are based on the owners of the movement going out and trying to get more belongers. Often, they get stuck in a cycle where they are pulling the lever each year and getting their supporters to attract more belongers.

To get them from belonger to believer often involves getting them to internalize the real reason why this issue is top of mind for them. When we see that connection really falter at times is when the organization has not really established their true peer-to-peer model. If you have a very shortsighted peer-to-peer model where they just say they want to have people join us and give to us, there’s an assumption that because we got them to give on a small level, we ultimately will be able to over time get them to give on a bigger level. But organizations don’t always take the time to plan it and figure out how to get them to that next level.

When you look at groups like Pencils of Promise that really have high engagement with millennials, they create a very very intentional strategy that takes them from belonging to a campaign, to believing and ultimately owning it.

What are these organizations doing to create right kinds of conditions for that progression to happen?

True movements are often started and led by those who are able to inspire those who are participating to feel as though they have the power to make a difference. Their message is that without you, the movement wouldn’t be possible.

Along the way, almost all of the movements we’ve studied have also presented participants with an opportunity to bring others along. It provides an opportunity for that person to escalate their involvement in the movement not just because they want to share something. but to escalate the feeling that they are doing something more. Always presenting the opportunity.

Providing the person with the idea that they are powerful and giving them consistent opportunities to help them link others, made it much more substantial than saying, ‘Hey, it’s peer-to-peer fundraising season again. Here’s another opportunity to gather your friends and get involved’.

The most successful campaigns move beyond that message and say ‘Here is your opportunity to share what you believe in.’

When you feel like you belong and own part of a movement and you’re given an opportunity to go further, it’s much bigger than just raising money.

Derrick Feldmann will provide the keynote address at Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada’s annual conference on Nov. 1 in Toronto.

— Peter Panepento

Is DIY fundraising making your day or driving you nuts?

By David Hessekiel
P2P Fundraising Canada Founder

Six years ago, a leader in our industry told me to keep an eye on independent or third-party fundraising. Nonprofits were uncomfortable with supporters “doing their own thing,” but the pendulum was swinging in that direction.

“Sure, sure,” I replied, but I didn’t prioritize that sector because my eye was fixed on the world of runs, walks, rides and endurance fundraising Fast forward to August 2016 and “do it yourself fundraising” is a hot topic for almost all Canadian organizations seriously engaged in peer-to-peer.

Numerous groups have set up portal pages encouraging supporters to dedicate their birthdays, arrange tributes, organize events or choose virtually any activity. Only a few groups are bringing in big bucks this way, but in age of social media it’s clear that DIY is here to stay and growing. Over the summer, I’ve spoken with dozens of members of our community in Canada and the U.S. about DIY fundraising and it is clear that:

  • they want to learn more
  • this area is the “wild, wild west” of P2P with lots of obstacles to be overcome

That’s why we’re excited to be undertaking a serious study of this marketplace to help establish a common language, identify best practices and provide guidance on major challenges.
Whether you call it DIY, independent fundraising, third-party events or something else, we’d like to learn about the status of your efforts and the questions you have.

Please email me today with your thoughts – and enjoy the waning days of summer.