Marketing Decent Humans

Live from P2P Professional Forum 2018: Activating Zero Dollar Fundraisers

on March 01, 2018

Do you have any zero dollar fundraisers at your cause? Sure you do. Every organization does.

In fact, only about 20% of event fundraisers *actually* fundraise. And that’s not even the worst of it. Chances are, it’s your zero dollar fundraisers that are costing you the most money (venue costs, food costs, insurance costs, etc.) and the most time. Because they’re the ones calling, asking for help and resources, and never actually following through.

So how do you begin to engage these zero dollar participants on a higher level so they don’t just want to raise money for your organization, but encourage their friends and family to do the same? We got some answers from a couple of the best ladies in the biz. (Sorry for saying biz.)

Here’s what Betsy Drach, Senior Experience Designer at Team World Vision, and Tracy Earll, National Director of Unite Walk for the National Hemophilia Foundation, had to say about activating zero dollar fundraisers at Peer to Peer Professional Forum Conference in Miami.

Provide them with tools to eliminate fear

A lot of people participating in high challenge events, like half marathons or full marathons, are first time participants. And that can come with a lot of fear. Fear of fundraising, fear of training, and even fear of the event itself. A huge part of the reason why fundraisers drop and don’t raise money is because they’re scared, so you need to try and eliminate that fear.

A big way to do that is to build up a supportive culture around the event and the team that’s fundraising. Create group runs, where teams and individuals can train together before the event itself. Use these opportunities to talk about ways that worked and didn’t work in fundraising efforts, and give people tips on how to fundraise better. “You’re not just asking people for a $50 donation, you’re asking them and inviting them to join you in changing the world,” said Drach. Make this support and encouragement a part of your language and culture, and create a fun community around the spirit of training and fundraising.

Add meaning and make it repeatable

A statement that Drach and her team uses over and over again when talking about fundraising is “lives, not dollars.” A $50 dollar donation gives clean water to one person in Africa, and that’s how they frame all of their fundraising goals. When someone runs a full marathon, they are asked to raise a minimum of $1,310 — $50 for every mile they are running. That way, they can ask for support in increments of $50. “Donate $50 to support my 18th mile.”

Team World Vision also make fundraisers earn their gear with the same messaging. If they raise enough money to support 40 lives, they get a special run hoodie. If they raise enough to support 60 lives, they get a hero medal. And they make a big deal out of it. “When they finish, we put the hero medal over their neck and tell them, 'We know it took you months of training, sweating, bleeding, crying. We know that was difficult. But this medal is even more important. With this medal, you helped 60 people get clean water. And with every step you ran, it took steps away from people who had to walk to get what was probably unclean drinking water. This is the most important medal you’ll get all day.'”

Model what you want your participants to do

You need to believe in the work that you are doing. It’s hard to ask people and donors to fundraise on your behalf if you’re not already doing so yourself. Live the culture you are creating, and inspire your team to do the same. Find what speaks to them and buy into the vision of your organization, and tell your story to your donors. They will resonate more with your cause when they see the power of it come through in your employees.

Ask them to raise more

This sounds silly. But if you want people to raise more money, you have to ask them to. If you set a minimum fundraising goal of $1,310, congratulate people when they reach that goal, then encourage them to go to the next level. “Instead of asking people to save 40 lives, invite them to change the lives of 60 or 80. They are working hard for their training already, so why not ask them to get the most out of it and change as many lives as possible?”

Tune into the communication they need

When you are training for a half or a full marathon, every week is different. There are so many ups and downs. So take an 18 week training plan, and break it down into an 18 week communication plan. What is your runner feeling like each week? When are they starting to worry about what they are eating? When are they most likely to encounter an injury? Understand what people are feeling throughout their training, and mimic that in your communication to them.

Also think about when to send your most useful, engaging communications. Most fundraisers are highly engaged in the beginning part of the fundraising process, so make your early emails the most impactful. Stuff them with tools, resources, inspiration… anything they need to be successful. The ones that are hooked early, and open and click early, are the ones that will continue to click.


A big thanks to Betsy and Tracy for such a great session. We learned a ton.

Want to keep up with everything else that we’re up to at Peer to Peer Professional Conference in Miami? Follow along with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as we live blog our favorite sessions from the conference and tweet our favorite moments.

If you’re in Miami, you can even stop by our booth and grab a free Decent Human tee and super fun photobooth pic. See you there.

Rilee Chastain

Rilee Chastain is the Content Marketing Specialist at CrowdRise. She is passionate about content optimization and all things social, and cares way too much about her Instagram aesthetic. She also has a life goal to eat mac and cheese at least 3 times a week.