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Downes Murray International News

Exceptional service key to succesful peer-to-peer fundraising

Peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising – where you encourage your supporters to raise money from their networks on your behalf – is one of the fastest growing forms of fundraising in the world.
Although peer-to-peer fundraising’s been around for years (remember running around in junior school with a sponsorship form, convincing friends and family to sponsor you 50 cents a lap for your school big walk?) the Internet
and social media have taken it to a whole new level – and as a result, charities that are investing in P2P are substantially increasing revenue from this type of fundraising.

In South Africa there are a number of local fundraising platforms (GivenGain; doit4charity and Back-a-Buddy for example), which make it super easy for your supporters to raise money for you. But is registering on these platforms all you need to do to boost your income?

I chatted to Natasha Johannes, Fundraising Officer at the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, to find out how she has driven the growth of their P2P fundraising income from zero to close to R1 million in just five years:

SS: When did you start peer-to-peer or challenge fundraising?

NJ: In 2010 we took a stand at the Cape Town Cycle Tour Expo where we just sold our merchandise to cyclists and their families. We did pretty well but realised that we needed to get cyclists riding and raising funds for us. We had our first Team SPCA cyclists of 57 riders in 2012 and they collectively raised R180 000 for us. We were so thrilled with the success that we took more entries the next year and so it grew.

SS: How big is it now?

NJ: From 57 cyclists in 2012 we’ve branched out into other mass participation events, like the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, Impi Challenge, Sanlam Cape Town Marathon and Wine to Whales. Last year we had a total of 260 challenge fundraisers taking part in big events and doing so in support of the SPCA. Collectively they raised close to R1 million for us.

SS: What investment has the SPCA made to achieve this growth?

NJ: We’ve invested in marketing and communication to raise awareness about our challenge fundraising initiatives across various platforms, like social media (Facebook and Twitter), our website, magazine, newsletters, flyers at our vet and charity shop, and some carefully placed advertising.

We’ve also always included fabulous goodie bags (filled with sponsored items) and a limited-edition Team SPCA shirt, which our fundraisers really love and look forward to receiving. More recently we’ve also sourced wonderful prizes for our top 10 fundraisers, which has really helped to encourage our challenge fundraisers to exceed their targets.

But our biggest investment has been in providing exceptional, personalised service to each one of our challenge fundraisers, regardless of how much they raise for us. As a result many sign up to ride or run for us again and recommended us to their family and friends. Nearly every enquiry I receive asking for a charity entry will start with: “I got your details from a friend…”. Nothing is too much trouble for us and we make it as easy as possible for people to help us, while consistently making them feel really good about what they are doing.

SS: What do you see as the major benefits of P2P fundraising?

NJ: It’s a wonderful way to build deeper relationships with existing donors and attract new supporters – either as challenge fundraisers themselves, or new donors; people who’ve donated in support of a friend or family member. Every person is thanked (we are big onthanking – we spend a lot of time on it).

SS: What would you say are the most important elements of successful P2P fundraising?

NJ: Focus on building personal relationships by getting to know your fundraisers and keeping in regular contact with them. Make them feel special and remember that being polite pays off. Sending them one email when they sign up is not enough – we are in touch regularly, offering tips on fundraising, training, linking them up with other cycling or running groups, sending good luck smss before the race day, and thanking them individually at the end.

We also organise a pre-race function at the SPCA for our cyclists and runners before each big event, where we give them their goodie bags and shirts and show them what their efforts are helping to support. The combined effect is that our fundraisers are made to feel like the heroes they are, and we benefit from their amazing fundraising efforts.

Sarah Scarth is a consultant at Downes Murray International, and is the Resource Alliance’s Southern Africa area representative.  

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