Peer-to-peer fundraising is the practice of having a nonprofit’s supporters ask their friends, family members, and colleagues to raise money on its behalf.
Often, peer-to-peer fundraising programs center around specific events or campaigns, such as runs, walks and bike rides. But as the field has evolved — and technology has changed — so, too, have the techniques.
While many of the largest campaigns still center on charity-organized runs, walks, and rides, a growing number of programs are directed by the fundraisers themselves. Do-it-yourself programs — in which supporters create their own challenges or request donations instead of gifts for their birthdays or weddings — are growing in popularity. Nowhere was this model more evident than 2014’s Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised more than $16.2-million for ALS Societies of Canada.
But while the Ice Bucket Challenge opened many observers’ eyes to the value of peer-to-peer fundraising, Canada has long been a trailblazer in this highly personal form of fundraising.
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.
Today, Canadian charities large and small generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually through peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.
One of the most widely-known programs is the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, in which more than 128,000 participants raised an estimated $42-million in 2014 at walks across the country.
Other large programs include Ride to Conquer Cancer, a series of locally-organized events that raise money for Canadian cancer hospitals; Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Big Bike; JDRF’s Walk to Cure Diabetes and Ride for Diabetes campaigns; MS Society of Canada’s MS Walk and MS Bike campaigns; and Aga Kahn Foundation’s World Partnership Walk.
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