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.
Let's explore crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding: Creative Yet Unwieldy
While “a‐thon” peer-to-peer fundraising is relatively locked down in terms of its approach, crowdfunding is at the other end of the extreme.
The term crowdfunding is used to cover the instances where supporters decide to raise money for an organization entirely on their own. Perhaps they throw a party, hold a bake sale, or use one of the new and popular web-based sites such as Crowdrise or GoFundMe.
In any case, the nonprofit not only has no input on or control over what the individual is doing, but also most likely won’t even know anything is happening until they receive the money.
→ Related: Planning a DIY Peer-to-Peer Campaign
Although crowdfunding can drive awareness and pump new energy into a campaign, it often fails to deliver long‐term results.
Sure, there’s no shortage in examples of nonprofit crowdfunding success (something the media loves to showcase), but the fact is that most crowdfunding campaigns fail to hit their monetary goals and often leave a mess in their wake that your nonprofit could likely do without.
If you're considering crowdfunding, consider the points below before you make a commitment.
It doesn't foster long-time donors. Crowdfunding really works best when aligned with specific programs or one‐time fundraising spikes but rarely works well for establishing organization loyalty. Many, if not all, of the spikes in giving turn into donors you’ll never hear from again.
In addition, with crowdfunding, the ability to empower and encourage supporters is difficult, if not impossible, and even with the best intentions, supporter pages can quickly turn stagnant and under‐perform.
It can quickly get out of control. Most crowdfunding campaigns are rushed and out of nonprofits’ control. Examples abound of crowdfunding campaigns that got “off message,” presented inappropriate or incorrect information, failed to appropriately thank or recognize supporters, and in general simply created more trouble than they were worth.
With crowdfunding, your organization receives funds, but not donors. If a long‐term donor is your goal, a crowdfunding campaign won’t foster that. In most cases, participants donate, and that’s the end of their connection to your organization. With crowdfunding, you most likely won’t receive donor information.
It can disrupt your brand. Because the nonprofit itself is often removed from the entire fundraising scenario, it’s harder for the nonprofit to maintain a clear message, a shared goal, or a real bond with those who may be learning about the organization for the first time.
Keep in mind that crowdfunding is a crowded landscape, and unless you’re a big name, your supporters are more likely to remember the event and not the cause behind it.