Small wins: How to crush your next peer-to-peer campaign

on June 04, 2018

Some things in life can seem daunting and overwhelming. Like building a house, losing 40 pounds, getting out of debt, or even cleaning up after dinner. And, as it turns out, people who have major success in these areas do so because of little wins, or as someone way smarter than me calls it, “the progress principle."

According to the Harvard Business Review, when it comes to the progress principle, “Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run.“

Small wins for the win

When you take a big goal like starting a successful peer-to-peer campaign, and you break it down into manageable minor goals (or small wins), it provides motivation to keep going and check off more boxes — ultimately leading you to accomplish your overall goal. So if you’ve never done peer-to-peer before, or if you have but have struggled with it, small wins might be just the thing you need to be successful.

Since peer-to-peer fundraising can be such a lucrative component to a modern nonprofit’s fundraising strategy, we wanted to break down some small wins that will not only get you started, but motivated for the long haul so you too can crush your P2P fundraising program.

Winning at peer-to-peer fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is when you create an event and invite your supporters to set up personal fundraisers on your behalf to support your event and your cause. It’s a multi-tiered approach to fundraising, and it’s rooted in the concept that, when individual supporters set up fundraisers and share with their network of friends and family, it creates an entirely new channel for donations and awareness about your mission.SmallWins_MoneyGraphic_v6Peer-to-peer is an incredible communication tool for your nonprofit because a supporter’s personal network is likely a group that is not already on your list. With peer-to-peer, they’re getting a personalized glimpse into what makes their friend or family member love your cause, creating an authentic and trusted ‘review.’

Let’s break it down

Now let’s take the makings of a successful peer-to-peer effort and break it down into nine smaller, step-by-step wins that add up to campaign you can be proud of:

1. Assign a point person

Choose someone within your organization that can be responsible for heading up the program. Seems like a no-brainer, but when someone is ultimately in charge, the responsibility and the execution is more likely to stay strong. Be sure to align with them in the very beginning and set concrete goals for your peer-to-peer campaign. Even if you have to modify the goals later, having something to measure against is invaluable.

2. Find the right fundraising platform

Make sure the platform you’re using is equipped to handle peer-to-peer fundraising.  You’ll want to make sure your supporters can create individual fundraising pages that can effectively tell the story of your mission and your nonprofit’s brand. Additionally, the capability for you to message your supporters through the platform gives you opportunities to motivate, encourage, and celebrate milestones throughout the campaign.

3. Seed early fundraisers

Talk to your board members and your most loyal supporters and ask them to start off your peer-to-peer campaign by starting their own fundraiser. Having others on board before you go out to the larger group helps to ease any concerns about being the first to commit. Plus, board members and your best supporters are the most passionate about your cause and should want to jump right in and help.

4. Start the recruiting process

Recruiting fundraisers can seem like a daunting task, but with a few fundraisers already on your page (hi board members), you are ready to start the process. First, reach out via social media channels and email to let supporters know about the campaign. Send some words of encouragement and use messaging that empowers them to join those already fundraising. Make sure to include details about how starting a fundraiser can impact your cause.

5. Create a messaging toolkit or plan

Successful peer-to-peer fundraising is all about the fundraisers. Make sure you’re ready before, during, and after your campaign launch with messaging that speaks to your supporters with encouragement and appreciation. Within this, create small goals. For example, send a ‘welcome’ email in the first week, follow up with a  ‘motivation email’ in week two, etc.

6. Encourage the share

Sharing is a vital part of a successful peer-to-peer program. Having access to your supporters network is one of the big benefits of running a peer-to-peer campaign in the first place. When your supporter shares their fundraiser, it can lead to, on average, another $45 in donations. So make sure sharing is at the forefront of your messaging to your fundraisers because the value of a share is real.

7. Set an attainable goal

Goal setting is important, not only to have something to work towards collectively, but also to stay motivated. Message supporters about milestones as you work your way up. The best messaging is when you’ve hit your goal and then raise it as a stretch goal, so make sure your goal is realistic. If you think you can hit $10,000 but $25,000 is a major stretch, go for $10,000. That ‘small win’ when you hit $10,000 will motivate your team to strive for the next goal and take you even farther.

8. Get your first donation

It could be a board member (which, by the way, don’t forget to reach out to them and ask them to fundraise) or a loyal supporter. It doesn’t matter who it is, just make it a goal to get your first donation. Now the second donation seems so easy. What about a goal of getting your first $100 donation? Encourage fundraisers with motivating messaging or an incentive: “First to get a $100 donation gets a ‘your cause’ tee.” Celebrate the win with your supporters and then ask for the first $200 donation. Keep the small wins coming.

9. Create individual goals

An overall goal is super important, but motivation can also stem when you set individual goals. Take Cool Down for Warmth for example — they asked fundraisers to join them in helping local families maintain utilities over the winter by raising a goal of $1,000 each. Participating fundraisers had to stay in a house constructed of ice until that goal was met.


Once you’ve created and successfully hit small goals for your peer-to-peer fundraiser, you’ll see how these little successes add up to big wins overall for your nonprofit.

My goal was to say some form of ‘win’ at least ten times in this article and I got to 15, I’m feeling more motivated already. Small win for the win. Now I’m up to 17.

Ready to start your first peer-to-peer campaign?


Allison Capaldi

Allison Capaldi is the Brand Manager at CrowdRise. She lives and breathes branding and marketing and in her past life was the brand manager for Moosejaw Mountaineering. Her goal is to never write a blog post without including at least one food analogy.