‘The Ultimate Team Captain’ Honoured as North America’s Top Volunteer Fundraiser

oCash, Sweat & Tears Award Winner Chris McPhee’s Cycling Team Has Raised Nearly $700,000 for Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

Chris McPheeChris McPhee is the type of supporter nonprofits dream about.

The 42-year-old paramedic has personally raised $30,000 for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation through the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. But the ride’s organizers say his work leading the Paramedics for the Cure ride team — an effort that has raised nearly $700,000 for the organization — is both inspiring and extraordinary.

In recognition of his inspiring example, the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum is honouring McPhee as the 2018 recipient of the Cash, Sweat & Tears Award as North America’s outstanding volunteer fundraiser.

In addition to his fundraising work, McPhee also coordinates efforts to have paramedics and law enforcement officials donate their time and ambulances to ensure the safety of participants in the event — and shares his time and expertise to help organize other teams that participate in the ride.

“We wish we could clone Chris McPhee,” says Steve Merker, vice president of business development for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. “Good team captains are vital to the success of peer-to-peer programs like ours. But exemplary team captains are few and far between — and Chris is truly an exemplary team captain.”

The Cash Sweat & Tears award honours an extraordinary volunteer who has gone above and beyond to conduct peer-to-peer fundraising for charity. McPhee received the award during a ceremony tonight in Miami at the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum conference.

In peer-to-peer fundraising, a nonprofit’s supporters reach out to their friends, family and colleagues for donations often in connection with an activity such as a walk or ride. Collectively, these campaigns raise billions for nonprofits across North America.

The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer is Canada’s largest peer-to-peer fundraising program, raising more than $39.4 million in 2017, according to Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada’s survey of Canada’s 30 largest campaigns.

And McPhee has been a driving force in its success.

McPhee began participating in the ride in 2009 in honour of his mother and mother-in-law, both of whom had died following battles with cancer. In 2010, he joined the Paramedics for a Cure team — and was asked to take over as team captain four years later.

Since then, he has worked to build the size and impact of Paramedics for a Cure — growing it from 10 riders who raised more than $25,000 to a group that counted more than 50 riders who raised $130,000 in 2017. All told, the team has raised nearly $700,000 for Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation during the past seven years alone.

“It’s humbling and rewarding when you look back and know that this has made a difference,” says McPhee, who has been an avid cyclist since he was a teenager and is passionate about working to find a cure for cancer.

McPhee says he is constantly energized by the experience — and that he works to instill passion in others who care about finding a cure.

“You experience an overwhelming feeling of emotion when you cross the finish line each year. For me, it was images of all of the people I’ve lost and people I’ve encountered in my job as a paramedic,” he said. “I want others to experience that same feeling of crossing the finish line. That’s one of the huge motivating factors I have for bringing all of these people together.”

Merker says McPhee has become an ambassador for the cause — and has inspired countless supporters to not only take part in the ride, but to raise money.

“He’s not just passionate. He has this gift of being able to inspire others,” Merker says. “He has an amazing ability to create energy and get people excited. When he invites you to get involved, you can’t say no.”

These qualities are what ultimately set McPhee apart from a field of other outstanding volunteers from the United States and Canada who were nominated for the award, said David Hessekiel, president and founder of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum.

“Team captains are vital to the success of peer-to-peer fundraising programs — and Chris is really the ultimate team captain,” Hessekiel said. “Not only is he active in riding and raising money, his infectious spirit pushes countless others to get on a bike and support the fight against cancer. He’s an amazing example of what peer-to-peer fundraising is all about.”

In addition to the Cash, Sweat & Tears Award trophy, McPhee gets a $1,000 check from award sponsor Blackbaud.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Thirty Survey Shows an Industry in Transition

2017 Top Thirty Benchmarking Survey Results Released


Fundraising revenue for Canada’s 30-largest peer-to-peer fundraising programs declined 1.5 percent in 2017 to $238.8 million, according to the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada Thirty survey of the nation’s largest fundraising programs.

The modest drop follows several years of more substantial declines in revenue among these 30 bellwether programs and suggests brighter days ahead for many groups. More than half of the campaigns in this year’s survey, in fact, saw revenues increase or stay even in 2017.

“2017 was an encouraging year for Canadian charities that manage peer-to-peer fundraising programs,” said David Hessekiel, president of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada, which produces the annual survey. “A number of prominent programs are thriving — and a number of other organizations have been adding new programs and campaigns that augment their longstanding campaigns.”

A number of campaigns saw significant growth, headlined by Canada’s largest peer-to-peer program, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation’s Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. The campaign saw a massive 13 percent increase in 2017 and posted record revenue of $39.4 million.

Blue Sea Philanthropy’s Coldest Night of the Year also boasted another record year, with revenues totaling more than $4.7 million — a 21.8 percent increase over its total in 2016. The results made Coldest Night of the Year the fastest-growing large peer-to-peer fundraising program in North America.

“Coldest Night of the Year is leading a wave of newer Canadian peer-to-peer programs that are building strong connections with their supporters and spurring them to take action,” said Bill Wood, president and CEO of FrontStream, makers of the Panorama peer-to-peer fundraising and engagement platform, and sponsor of the 2017 survey.  “Each year, Blue Sea Philanthropy stays ahead of the curve by listening to participants and adjusting their online strategies to inspire 120 communities across the country to go the extra mile for good causes.”

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.

In the past, peer-to-peer fundraising was dominated by large national health charities that played host to multi-city events.

But the landscape has shifted in recent years with the explosion of social media and independent peer-to-peer fundraising in which individuals can easily launch their own campaigns to raise money for their favorite charities.

“Peer-to-peer fundraising is becoming much more diverse — and much more efficient — than ever before,” Hessekiel said. “Nonprofits report that they are taking steps to make sure they are managing their costs and getting more bang for their investments.”

Other highlights from the survey include:

  • SickKids Foundation is seeing significant growth among two of its peer-to-peer programs — Great Cycle Challenge and the Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk. Both campaigns are among Canada’s five fastest-growing peer-to-peer programs — an impressive achievement considering the fact that both programs are new. Great Cycle Challenge debuted in 2016, while the Great Camp Adventure Walk started in 2013.
  • The Terry Fox Run — the oldest campaign in the survey and Canada’s third-largest peer-to-peer fundraising program — saw revenues increase by 2.5 percent in 2017. It marked the second-straight year of strong growth for the program, which raised more than $24 million.

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

Download the Top 30 Narrative and Dataset

 Top 10 list

  1. Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation ($39.4 million)
  2. Relay for Life, Canadian Cancer Society ($25 million)
  3. The Terry Fox Run, Terry Fox Foundation ($24.1 million)
  4. CIBC Run for the Cure, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation ($17 million)
  5. Movember Canada, Movember Canada ($15.5 million)
  6. Jump Rope for Heart, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada ($12.7 million)
  7. MS Bike, MS Society of Canada ($8.5 million)
  8. MS Walk, MS Society of Canada ($8.4 million)
  9. World Partnership Walk, Aga Khan Foundation Canada ($7.6 million)
  10. Big Bike, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada ($7.5 million)

Webinar Recording: The P2P Participant Profile

Original Broadcast Date: Wednesday, April 18, 2018

In today’s competitive peer-to-peer event market, data is king. In order to retain participants and attract right-fit corporate partners for your events, it is imperative to know and understand as much as possible about who your participants are.

This one-hour webinar provides a strategic look into the average peer-to-peer participant, rooted in extensive data highlighted throughout the 2018 Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum conference. Catalist’s Brittany Hill and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ Sarah Waters will offer webinar attendees a unique opportunity to take the learnings a step further, including:

  • A deep-dive overview of the average P2P participant persona and supporting data
  • Translation of the participant profile data into strategic insights and actionable steps, driving event recruitment, retention and overall corporate partnership acquisition strategies
  • Guidance on how to apply the same methodologies and strategies to your organization’s specific data, highlighting application examples from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

An industry must-attend, this webinar is essential for organizations and nonprofit professionals seeking to differentiate and strengthen their P2P programs and sponsorship acquisition within a data-driven marketplace.

Free thanks to sponsorship by

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Webinar: The Social “Secret Weapon”
Peer-to-Peer Fundraisers Need to Talk About!

Date/Time: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at 2 pm ET

The worst kept “secret” in the nonprofit community is how many charitable organizations are seeing positive and measurable results from low-cost ad campaigns on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.

Sponsoring, promoting, or boosting your content is a sophisticated way to target the right supporters at the right time with the right call-to-action. Social targeting can deliver an impressive ROI for peer-to-peer fundraisers!

Don’t believe the hype? This webinar will prove it. Through case studies and benchmarking data, we will demonstrate how organizations like yours are using social ads to increase registration, boost corporate sponsorships and attract more attention for your event.

Think you need thousands of dollars to get started? Nope! You’ll learn tactics for organizations with limited budgets, as well as look at successful strategies from larger integrated campaigns.

Join this session with Brian Carney, CEO Blue Sea Philanthropy and Claire Kerr, Director of Digital Philanthropy, FrontStream to learn what business-to-consumer marketers already know: Your online audience can be motivated to take an action in your event by what they see on social networks!

During this webinar you will learn how to:

  • Use social ads to increase registration, boost corporate sponsorships and attract more attention for your event
  • Motivate your audience to take action by leveraging social media
  • Use integrated campaigns to make the most of a limited budget


Free thanks to sponsorship by

Register Now - Orange

Webinar: When did DIY and Third Party Events
Become so Important to Hospital Foundations?

Date/Time: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 2 pm ET

Please join us for this interactive webinar that will dive deeply into how DIY and 3rd Party fundraising is a key and growing part of income for Hospital Foundations.  Hospital and Healthcare Institutions have unique and deep connections to Grateful Patients and their friends and family. It’s this special connection that provides the fuel to fire passionate people who want to ‘do more but on their terms.’

Join Michael Johnston, President of hjc,  Hillary Freeman, Online Campaign Manager of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and Ingrid Gingras, Communications Coordindator for The Otttawa Hospital Foundation share their knowledge, approach and breakthrough thinking on how healthcare institutions can truly leverage the power of DIY and Third Party Events.

This webinar will be presenting the first-of-its-kind survey of healthcare institutions from across North America. It will highlight breakthroughs, failures, opportunities and a shared view of where we are now – and where we should go for DIY and Grateful Patient and 3rd Party P2P fundraising success.


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How Moves Management Can Improve Your P2P Results

If you are looking to convert more of your low-dollar fundraisers into high achievers, consider adopting Moves Management.

Moves Management is the process of stewarding donors from entry-level to major donors using a series of planned touches or “moves”.

And if it’s employed properly, Moves Management can help your P2P program move its revenues to an entirely new level.

Just ask Kristin Flickinger, who employed Moves Management strategy to engage donors who took part in AIDS/LifeCycle and saw an immediate $1 million increase in revenue.

“Moves Management in a peer-to-peer context is more about stewarding participants than donors,” Flickinger says. “While the ultimate goal is to raise more money, that’s done by inspiring and empowering the participant to make asks and steward their contacts/donors.”

To do that, Flickinger and her team developed goals and benchmarks for its participants using historical fundraising and participant data — then used those benchmarks and data to develop a series of communications efforts and incentives that aimed to move each participant to a higher level of giving.

The AIDS/LifeCycle team analyzes data to determine how much individual participants have raised, develops a series of incentives for participants in different fundraising levels and targets them with specific asks.

“Depending on what the data suggests regarding where people need to be with fundraising in order to be retained, or achieve a certain fundraising level, you develop calling periods to impact those brackets of people,” Flickinger says. “Incentives are placed to assist with the upward movement, and messaging is crafted according to overarching communication themes.”

You can learn more about how to employ Moves Management at your P2P program during a special webinar on Thursday, Oct. 26.

Register now to learn how AIDS/LifeCycle used Moves Management to increase its fundraising totals — and how you can use the same strategy to improve results at your program.

Will Your Leadership Go the Extra Mile for Your P2P Program?

When climbers began their ascent of Toronto’s CN Tower in April to raise money for WWF Canada, they stood alongside 9,000 athletes and passionate supporters.

But there was one participant who carried a special title up each of the 1,776 steps to the top of Toronto’s tallest landmark — David Miller, WWF Canada’s president and CEO.

Many top executives talk a good game when it comes to supporting the P2P programs at their organizations. But Miller was willing to go the extra mile to show his support for his team — and to give thanks those who are willing to raise money for the organization.

“He felt that it’s important as a leader to step up, as you will, and show that the organization supports the event,” said Carey Suleiman, WWF Canada’s Director of Community Giving. “Having the organization’s leadership be willing to put their tennis shoes behind it really resonated with a lot of the people who took part in the climb.”

Miller’s participation was one of many highlights of this year’s climb. Fundraising revenue totaled $1.4 million — a healthy jump from the $1.225 million raised in 2016 and a record for the event.

And for an event that is attractive to corporate fundraising teams, Suleiman said Miller’s support carries an especially powerful message — a message that is likely to resonate as they organization seeks to attract climbers for its 2018 event.

“Joining thousands of Canadians climbing 1,776 steps to the top of the Tower is an incredible experience,” Miller says. “I can’t overstate the energy, the enthusiasm and the unity of purpose as we all joined together, right here in Toronto, to raise money to stop the degradation of nature.”

Fewer Participants, More Revenue: A Reverse Model for P2P

Peer-to-peer fundraising has long been built on the idea that more is better. More events and more participants bring more dollars, which, in turn, more help to those in need.

But the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is proving that the opposite can also be true.

MMRF, which raises money to combat a specific strain of cancer that annually affects about 30,000 people in the U.S., has been experimenting with a new campaign that brings together small groups of passionate supporters to participate in adventure-based P2P events.

The campaign, Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma, succeeds because of participation is exclusive — as small as 12-15 people per excursion — and the level of interaction among participants is high.

To date, MMRF has played host to 6 treks to exotic locations such as Mt. Kilimanjaro, Machu Picchu and Mt. Fuji — and it has been able to underwrite the cost of staging the event through sponsorship from a pharmaceutical company that provides treatment for the disease.

And the results have been extraordinary — 112 participants have raised $1.2 million for the organization during these six events.

“This is a very different type of program,” says Alicia O’Neill, MMRF’s director of partnerships and business development. “You have to set up each group to be high touch. This is almost like stewardship of major donors in a development office.”

Such a model won’t work for every organization. But it can be highly successful, particularly if an organization is able to meet some or all of the following conditions:

A Strong Community

Unlike some nonprofits that raise money to fight diseases, multiple myeloma is a disease that affects a relatively small population. As a result, MMRF doesn’t have a huge base of supporters who have a close connection to the cause.

It does, however, have a highly committed group of supporters — many of whom have a close connection to the organization and its work.

This intimacy between the organization and its supporters lends itself to smaller, more focused events. It also means that some of its supporters are willing to take on extreme challenges and devote significant time to raising money on its behalf.

“We’re not an organization that is going to have a 1,000-person ride,” O’Neill said. “But we’re going to have 18 people who want to cross the country to raise $400,000.”

MMRF is careful to ensure that each person who takes part in the excursions has a close connection to the cause — either as a patient, a family member of a patient, or a medical professional who works with multiple myeloma.

A Committed Sponsor

Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma’s financial model is built, in large part, on the fact that participants do not have to pay for their trips.

Instead, those costs are underwritten by a sponsor, Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

The company agreed to sponsor the programs to help market a new drug that it had developed to help multiple myeloma patients.

“We don’t pay for people’s trips,” O’Neill said. “But with the support of Takeda, we have a grant that allows us to cover all of the costs.”

The sponsorship means that MMRF doesn’t need to cut into fundraising revenues to pay for the trip — and participants don’t have to worry about shelling out their own money for the effort. In turn, this frees them to focus on raising more money to support the organization.

A ‘High Touch’ Approach

Unlike larger events, Moving Mountains succeeds because of its intimacy.

Not only are participants carefully selected, they are also mentored by MMRF staff — and each other — throughout the process.

Participants are part of a private Facebook group, where they get to know each other as they train for the event, have personal get-togethers months before the event, and are guided through the journey by MMRF.

“I’m right there with them,” O’Neill said. “I’m training. I’m climbing the mountain. I’m fundraising. I’m experiencing everything that I’m asking them to do.”

To go big, sometimes it pays to think small!

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