In the nonprofit fundraising world, spring is peer-to-peer event season. From Relay for Life to March for Babies, communities around the country will be participating in walks, runs, and dance-a-thons.
As you plan your event, it's important to consider which version of P2P fundraising will work best for your organization.
At a high level, P2P can be divided into three major categories. Terminology can differ, but for our purposes we refer to them as traditional “a-thon” fundraising, crowdfunding, and do‐it‐yourself (DIY) fundraising.
Today a closer look at "a-thon" peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.
A-thons: Exciting but Expensive and Limiting
A‐thons (marathons, walk‐a‐thons, dance‐a‐thons, that sort of thing) are the type of P2P that people are most familiar with. Often, we refer to these organized fundraisers as 'traditional' P2P events.
In this kind of fundraising, supporters join part of an event, real or virtual, as participants, but they generally can’t “modify” the event. Well‐known examples of a‐thons include the Komen 3‐day, March for Babies, and Relay for Life.
Participants can be individuals or teams, and the event may or may not charge registration fees. There may also be fundraising minimums, or fundraising targets.
Many different approaches exist for this type of fundraiser, but in each case, the nonprofit organization creates the event and sets the theme, date, time, and so on.
Supporters can join the event and participate or choose not to participate. What they can’t do is decide to help out, but under a different approach, or on a different date.
If the walk‐a‐thon is on the 10th, they can’t very well decide to join in a week later. That sort of flexibility is better suited to a different approach to P2P covered later in this series.
While the now ubiquitous a‐thons are great for getting supporters involved and creating a buzz, they can place a tremendous strain on resources and be expensive to organize.
Securing a venue and coordinating event day logistics can put pressure on even the most resourceful of nonprofits. These events also give participants very little control over the structure of the event or the way they’re allowed to participate.
If you want to participate in a 5k or 10k marathon for example, you must walk, run, or somehow move or “race” for the cure. But if “racing”isn’t really your thing, you can’t raise money by selling lemonade or baking cookies (as tasty as they may be).
→ Related: Planning a DIY Peer-to-Peer Campaign
The bottom line? A‐thons impose certain limitations on whom they appeal to. This doesn't mean that your organization shouldn't pursue this type of P2P campaign, but all of these points should be considered before committing to the a-thon model.